Michael Lane (character)

Michael Samuel Lane is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. He debuted in Batman #665 (June 2007) as Bat-Devil, before later taking on the identity of Azrael, being the second character to do so, after Jean-Paul Valley. As Azrael, he is a member of a group of assassins created by the Order of St. Dumas to bring justice in Gotham City, and is usually depicted as a vigilante and ally of the superhero Batman, though the two have also been adversaries due to Azrael's violent nature and twisted sense of justice indoctrinated by the Order.

Michael Lane
Azrael (Michael Lane).jpg
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearance
  • As Bat-Devil:
    Batman #665 (June 2007)
  • As Azrael: Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1 (May 2009)
Created byGrant Morrison (writer)
Tony S. Daniel (artist)
In-story information
Alter egoMichael Washington Lane
Team affiliations
  • The Order of St. Dumas
Abilities
  • Master strategist and tactician
  • Rigorous military and police training
  • Peak physical conditioning
  • Skilled hand-to-hand combatant and martial artist
  • Artificially enhanced physiology, intelligence, combat skills, and metabolism given to him through genetic splicing with animals in order to create the perfect weapon by The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas
  • Suit of Sorrows
  • Sword of Sin forces the person struck with it to remember every sin over the course of their life which they must atone for.
  • Sword of Salvation forces the person struck with it to remember every past tragedy over the course of their life all at one time.

The character appeared in the Batman: Arkham series of video games, where he was voiced by Khary Payton.

Publication historyEdit

Michael Lane was introduced as Azrael as part of the Battle for the Cowl, a storyline told in a three-issue miniseries format written by Fabian Nicieza.[1][2]

Fictional character biographyEdit

In 2009, a miniseries titled Azrael: Death's Dark Knight[3] was produced as a tie-in to the Battle for the Cowl crossover event, with a later regular series.

The new Azrael is the Third "Ghost of Batman" to undergo Doctor Hurt's experiments, an ex-cop named Michael Washington Lane. He is approached by the Order of Purity to reclaim the mantle of Azrael after the Order's latest Azrael went mad and killed an undercover police officer. On his first night as Azrael, Lane fights Talia al Ghul (and her team of mercenaries led by Merlyn) and later encounters Nightwing.[4] After convincing Nightwing that he was not responsible for the murdered police officer, Nightwing persuades Talia to allow Michael to keep the Suit of Sorrows. In Batman and the Outsiders (vol. 2) #14, the character is displayed as a charming man who undergoes various purification rituals overseen by the Order of Purity.[5]

Ra's al Ghul later attempts to manipulate Lane into destroying Gotham by having him commit suicide and be subsequently resurrected by the Suit, which had been dipped in a Lazarus Pit. Lane worked with metahuman Crusader to 'judge' Batman, Catwoman, and Red Robin for their past 'sins' to determine if Gotham should be saved. These included the insane obsession of Selina's sister that Selina is 'possessed', Robin not showing due reverence when he destroyed a church window to save hostages, and a childhood incident where Dick let another circus performer get assaulted because he was jealous. Although Lane is manipulated into perceiving the Bat-Family as having failed his tests, Batman convinces Lane to use his swords to test himself, revealing Ra's' plan in time for Lane to stop the planned destruction of new metahuman Fireball. Ra's intended for Azrael to detonate Fireball and make it appear as though Gotham had been destroyed by terrorists, inciting a wave of violence that would cleanse Earth and allow Ra's to take control.

Michael Lane has also appeared in The New 52. Michael Lane was originally featured in Batwoman issue #2 as a cameo, which was written before the relaunch but published after, however the art was edited in order to remove him.[6]

In other mediaEdit

Video gamesEdit

Batman: ArkhamEdit

The Michael Lane incarnation of Azrael appears in the Batman Arkham series, where he is voiced by Khary Payton.

Batman: Arkham CityEdit

Azrael first appears in Batman: Arkham City. He is the focus of the "Watcher in the Wings" side mission. After events in the game's main storyline, he can be seen on the rooftops of certain buildings within Arkham City's districts, watching over Batman. When approached, Azrael will disappear in a cloud of smoke, leaving a symbol for Batman to scan. After scanning all the symbols and combining them to reveal a location, Batman meets Azrael, who tells him about the Order of St. Dumas and warns him of their prophecy of future events and the Dark Knight's end. Though Batman doubts this, Azrael tells him that, regardless of his belief, there are parts of it that are becoming true and they will meet again, disappearing into a cloud of smoke.

Batman: Arkham KnightEdit

Azrael returns in Batman: Arkham Knight, where he is once again the focus of a side mission, "Heir to the Cowl", though this time he is also briefly playable. During Scarecrow's takeover of Gotham, the Order of St. Dumas sends Azrael to Gotham on a mission to become Batman's successor. Azrael meets up with Batman once again, who puts him through several trials to test his abilities and see if he is a worthy successor, during which Batman takes away his sword and Azrael is monitored by Alfred Pennyworth, who then informs Batman that the vigilante uses the same fighting style as him, implying that Azrael has been watching Batman for years. After the final trial is completed, Azrael states that he is prepared to become Gotham's next protector, but Batman opts to wait until he says so, causing Azrael to depart. Afterwards, Alfred informs Batman of Azrael's secret identity as Michael Lane and that he has a microchip in his brain planted by that the Order of St. Dumas. Arriving at the hideout inside the old clock tower, Batman analyses the microchip and discovers that the Order have been subtly controlling Azrael's actions, as well as a secret encrypted message that reveals the Order's real plan: have Azrael kill Batman and replace him as Gotham's one and only protector, believing that his moral code against murdering criminals stands in the way of true justice. Azrael, having followed Batman here, then confronts the Dark Knight and prepares to kill him and complete his mission, but Batman tells him how the Order have been in control of his actions all along. He then allows Azrael to take back his sword and do as he wishes with it, which leaves the player with three possible options:

  • If Azrael attempts to kill Batman with the sword, he is quickly subdued by the Dark Knight and subsequently incarcerated at the GCPD Headquarters, where Lane vows to escape and kill Batman one day. During this time, Azrael will begin arguing with Deacon Blackfire over who is the true champion of God.
  • If Azrael picks up the sword and resists his orders, he breaks it in front of Batman, symbolizing that the Order no longer have control over him, before leaving to exact revenge on the Order for their actions. Batman tells him that he made the right choice and Azrael makes no further appearances in the story.
  • If Azrael leaves without picking up the sword, the outcome will be the same as choosing to destroy it, the only difference being that his sword will remain on display in the clock tower for the rest of the game.

Azrael was later added as a playable character for the game's challenge maps via DLC. He plays almost the exact same way as Batman, using the same fighting style and most of his gadgets.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Batman: Battle for the Cowl - Enter Azrael", IGN, December 18, 2008
  2. ^ "Fabian Nicieza Unleashes Azrael", Comic Book Resources, December 29, 2008
  3. ^ Newsarama.com : Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question - Batman and More, Newsarama
  4. ^ Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1-3 (May 2009 - July 2009)
  5. ^ Tieri, Frank (w), Benjamin, Ryan (p), Crawford, Saleem (i). "A Family Affair" Batman and the Outsiders v2, 14 (February 2009), DC Comics
  6. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Batwoman #2 Deletes Azrael And Lady Blackhawk From The DC Universe". Bleeding Cool.

External linksEdit