In Detective Comics #959, readers witnessed the post-Rebirth introduction of stage magician-turned-superhero Zatanna, whose relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman transcended the comic book medium, becoming an intriguing aspect of the 1990s hit cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. However, in Detective Comics #962, another key figure from ’90s Batman lore looks to be making a return, and that’s the iteration of the Caped Crusader that features Jean-Paul Valley, otherwise known as Azrael, beneath the cowl.
Detective Comics writer James Tynion IV tweeted out an image showing Yasmine Putri’s cover art for the upcoming issue of the book, and it features the unmistakable, though slightly updated, suit worn by Azrael when he briefly served as the primary protector of Gotham City.
— James Tynion IV (@JamesTheFourth) July 13, 2017
Created by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada, Azrael first appeared in the aptly titled Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 in October of 1992. One year later, when Bruce Wayne’s back was broken at the hands of Bane in the Knightfall story arc, Azrael would go on to assume to mantle of his one-time mentor, sporting a modified, armored costume that bore slight resemblance to the Dark Knight’s iconic suit. However, Azrael’s methods were far more merciless than Batman’s, as evidenced by him allowing the mass murderer Abattoir to fall to his death, and nearly choking the life out of Tim Drake. After a prolonged battle, a healed Bruce Wayne eventually managed to defeat Azrael and reclaim his superhero identity.
Given the direction of the current storyline in Detective Comics, it’s hard to say whether or not it will truly be Jean-Paul Valley underneath the Bat-themed armor. Nevertheless, the return of AzBats is sure to be a major selling point for longtime Batman readers.
Detective Comics #962 is available in stores and digitally on August 9, 2017.
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