Azrael & Bane: Knightfall

With Batman out of action (broken back and whatnot), Bruce Wayne assigned Jean-Paul Valley, the vigilante Azrael, as the new Batman.  It was the only reasonable choice.  Robin’s 5’5″ and in high school.  Nightwing — as Wayne believes — wants to be his own man and not in the shadow of Batman.  Batgirl and Huntress are girls and thus can’t accept that last half of that Batman title.  So it’s all Azrael, the religious crazy person that they doesn’t know that well.  We’ll definitely explore his story in a later article.

Azrael loses his first fight against Bane badly.  Embarrassingly badly and in front of many Gotham citizens.  So for round two, he creates his own Batman suit, that Gundam Batman you’ll see below in Batman #500, written by Doug Moench and drawn by Jim Aparo & Terry Austin.  We’ll finally be able to sleep at night as we find out if the meaner robot Batman can stand up to the might that brought down a tired and sick Bruce Wayne.

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Only Bane would enter the battlefield by dangerously jumping through an electrified billboard.  Azrael’s strategy involves stepping into the dark side — the same plan that worked so well for Anakin Skywalker.  If only Azrael can dirty himself down to Bane’s level, then the fight becomes the fair fistfight it needs to be.  Robin doesn’t approve, Bruce Wayne doesn’t approve, Nightwing doesn’t approve, but one can’t argue with three batarangs impaled in Bane’s forearm.

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Let’s be fair: Bane’s way physically stronger than Azrael even without the venom.  But Bane also doesn’t have projectiles, claws, armor, or the support of the entire Gotham police department. Look, I’ve played Injustice: Gods Among Us.  Bane’s tough, but I can’t win with him if Batman’s on the other side of screen spamming batarangs.  So ever the master strategist, Bane uses his genius tactical mind to formulate a new plan: run really fast.

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Train fight!  As far as battles inside transportation goes, train definitely tops the list.  Notice that both combatants enter the fight the same way: unnecessarily bursting through materials not supposed to be burst through.  If Azrael wants to stoop down to Bane’s level, then he has no choice but for property damage.

I imagine by this point you may be confused as to Bane’s cowardice.  Allow me to attempt to justify Bane’s fear.  Up first, he definitely didn’t plan for Mecha-Batman.  All the new sharp stuff throws wrenches in whatever idea Bane thinks the fight will go.  Also, no more venom.  He even fought super weak Bruce Wayne pumped full of venom, a man who didn’t stand a chance against Bane even if the big guy took a nap halfway through the fight.  And most importantly, the story demands Bane loses. Azrael begins his official reign as Batman as the event Knightquest starts and we can’t have Bane ruling the underworld if that’s to happen.  Plus, it always feels good when supervillains get what’s coming to them.  Like this:

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The future of Batman begins here.  Will Azrael fully dump himself permanently in Bane’s cesspool of murder and violence?  No, of course not.  That’s a silly question.  But for a city (and Robin) that just witnessed a wild brutality not representative of the old Dark Knight, they must question his superheroic motivations.  Can the city feel safe with Bionic Batman patrolling its streets?  Most importantly, note Bane’s acknowledgement of this new Caped Crusader.

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Next time, Azrael no longer earns the right to the costume!

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5 Comments on “Azrael & Bane: Knightfall”

  1. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Az-Bats was DC’s way of saying to to readers, “You want grim-n-gritty, like the characters at Image? Well, here you go! Choke on those damn pouches, assholes”, with the intent to get readers to appreciate the real Batman all the better. It was basically the New Coke gambit, if New Coke shot batarangs and beat people within an inch of their life.

    Also, Jean Paul was raised and brainwashed by the Order Of St.Dumas, an offshoot sect of the Manhunter Program, (which produced nutbags like Mark Shaw) so I have no idea why Bruce thought Azzy was the best candidate for the job.

    BTW – Azrael’s gauntlets were later co-opted by Kate Spencer, the most recent person to use the Manhunter title. She ended up saving Mark Shaw from his brainwashing by St. Dumas, which programmed him to slay the other people carrying the Manhunter name as part of his test to become the new Azrael. God, I loved how the pre-Nu52 DC was such a tightly woven tapestry of bat-shit insanity.

  2. Did I read this right that Azael let the train-crash happen, killing/endangering lots of people onboard?

    By the way, congratulations on your 400th post (this is the 400th, right?)! A fantastic milestone. I’m a very avid reader of your blog, and much appreciate how you share so many different comics (while enticing us to go and buy them ourselves) and bring out the fun, silly and the thoughtful in each of them.

    • Jason Levine says:

      Let’s assume that no innocent people got killed in that train crash, though I did I skipped a page or two where Bane demands everyone leave the current train car. And thank you so much! You’re a wonderful person!

  3. My freakin’ and gorgeous lord! The nostalgia! All the memories and pictures came back all of the sudden! This was the first comic I’ve ever read!!! Y’see, it was kind of difficult to have a decent collection or even have a single comic book in Guatemala back in the 90’s (now there’s ebay of course) and only rich people could afford such thing. Now, before I totally kiss your ass and tell how awesome you and your blog are, I have to say that regardless I love this Azrael vs Bane battle, I got a tremendous dislike for Azrael as Batman… I mean, his Gundam-Spawn-Batsuit ( At the time I was eight and I think it was awesome… Then I realized it was the 90’s) Anyways, congratulations for your 400 and plus articles! I’m a big fan of yours! ^___^/*****


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