Religion: Catholic (Order of St. Dumas)
Alter Ego: Jean-Paul Valley
Other Names: Batman II; Azrael V
Super? (Has Super Powers/Special Abilities/Technology): Yes
Number of Appearances: 210
Teams/Affiliations: Batman family
Note: temporarily filled in as Batman
From: "Christian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 30 August 1992 on the rec.arts.comics newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics/browse_thread/thread/d4f9b151adf6039c/bca0d7673c1ff593; viewed 21 June 2006):
Date: Sun, Aug 30 1992 5:14 pm
Recently there was an inquiry on r.a.c. about Jewish Superheroes... I have been following many different Marvel titles for a long long time. In this time I have really only encountered two genuine examples of Christian Superheroes, though one may be more technically termed a vigilante.
I submit that there are characters who hold to certain Christian faiths, but none but two who stand out as having their faith as the source of their power...
So given the above examples of La Espirita and The Crusader, are there any other Christian superheroes who actual powers are based on their religious beliefs in any other superhero books (even those outside of Marvel)?
From: John Bickers
Date: Mon, Aug 31 1992 8:01 pm
...The recently introduced character Azrael has strong Church associations, coming from an Order that was supposed to be an offshoot of the Templars...
From: "Banned for using this nic" forum discussion, started 4 April 1999 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Robert Justus
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
To keep this on topic (sorta), why are most heroes not as religious as they could be? ...it seems that most of the religious people in comics are the VILLAINS, and are presented as nut-cases... However, the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman... Anyone else...?
From: Bill Hay
Date: Tues, Apr 20 1999 12:00 am
Azrael/Jean Paul Valley? The order of St. Dumas seems to have been a Christian sect although what he believes in now is unspecified he's probably some sort of Christian.
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" forum discussion, started 7 June 2001 on the alt.comics.batman newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.batman/browse_thread/thread/93368626bdebcd58/4b93b3a1e10210c6; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Jun 7 2001 6:48 pm
We all know Catwoman/Selina Kyle is Catholic (and a bad one at that). The Huntress is probably Catholic too... Any other characters have religious convictions?
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 3:05 am
Well Azrael seems to think he works for God half the time, so that might qualify.
From: Josh Dull
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 11:25 am
...I'd guess that Jean Paul Valley is Catholic. The Order of Dumas broke away from The Knights Templar, a Catholic order. So unless they became a new sect of Christianity I'd say they are still Catholic.
From: "Christian comic book characters" forum discussion, started 27 December 2003 on the Christian Guitar Resources website (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-67487.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
12-27-2003, 06:02 PM
Where have you seen Christianity professed by comic characters?
01-08-2004, 06:36 PM
Azrael (temporary successor of Batman) was a die hard Christian, but was raised in what most people would call a "crizzity crizzazy cult."
01-08-2004, 06:38 PM
I was never sure if he was a believer or just warped. Those crazy St. Dumas folks. It was be a sweet storyline if Nightwing built him up in the faith as he sought to overcome the last influences of the cult.
01-08-2004, 07:00 PM
That would be an awesome storyline. Azrael always intrigued me, but he was raised in a rather warped "denomination", if you will.
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" forum discussion, started 1 March 2005 on the StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:11 pm
One presumes that most authors would rather avoid religious references in order to prevent offense to any parties; early PC, so to speak.
That said, there's Azrael, [the] guy who replaced Batman during the 'Knightfall' story arc, IIRC -- a monk of the Order of St. Dumas. That would make him distinctly Catholic. Not sure about any others, though...
Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:28 am
Well, IIRC [if I recall correctly], the order of St. Dumas was a section of the Knights Templar, (which were deemed heretics for various interesting reasons) and he took the form of an avenging angel, and lots of things about that sect seemed away from the Catholic norm.
Plus it's not like he showed he still believed it beyond subliminal conditioning, AFAIK. He harbored a bit of a grudge against them, and that might make him disbelieve (godless knows there's lots of ex-Catholics like that)...
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 21st, 2005, 08:05 AM
You know, I don't like too much overly obvious religious references in my comics nor do I like political ones because I read comics as an escape. But I do appreciate appropriate mentions...
As far as "well adjusted agnostic/atheistic character" goes, much the same can be said about the deeply religious ones. A character who is shown to be devoutly religious can be put in a story where he/she is manipulated by dark forces within that religion. Kind of like Azrael from Batman. I would like casual mentions without overt preachiness, but only when it's appropriate, such as a Thanksgiving story or Christmas story or some such.
From: "Religion in comic books" forum discussion, started 24 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:31 PM
Does anyone know if there are any DC Comics characters who are portrayed as being Christian or Catholic in religion?
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 1:34 AM
Azrael is a psycho who really believes in some demented form of something.
From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000077543&start=30; viewed 30 May 2006):
Posted: May 31, 2006 8:05 AM
Heh. The Angel of the Bat storyline might have made an interesting way for the return of Azrael, (who went by Agent of the Bat for awhile I think), and even the former Supergirl Linda Danvers, who was once an angel herself.
[Referring to DC Comics writer Gail Simone's pitch for story arc in which Batgirl becomes a committed Christian.]
Posted: May 31, 2006 11:12 AM
I'm not a fan of this idea, but it would have been better than the current LOA crap we're getting.
And yes, I would definitely say it is a much better Azrael plot than Batgirl.
Posted: May 31, 2006 11:13 AM
I kinda agree with black alice in that this has been done with Azrael, and Supergirl. I don't think you could do comics involving religion because it becomes to controversial, and takes away from the character and the story. Besides Cass wanted the mantle of the Bat, and I don't think religion and crime-fighting go to well together, anyone read about the crusades?
From: Ranuel, "Religion of Comic Book Characters", posted 26 June 2007 on the Why Am I In This Handbasket? blog website (http://ranuel.livejournal.com/25893.html; viewed 15 August 2007):
If you are a comic geek then you probably already know that Nightcrawler is Catholic and Kitty Pryde is Jewish but what about The Hulk? Or over at the competition you can't miss that Azrael is Catholic but what about the new Green Arrow?
Like real people some comic book characters are very open about their religions and some aren't. For regular day to day interactions it probably doesn't make much of a difference but once in a while, like around holidays, or when you are facing supernatural evil, it's helpful to know their beliefs.
It's especially helpful if you plan on writing about any of them. A person's religion influences a lot more than where they are going to be Sunday morning.
This page features a handy table of characters and their religious affiliations sorted by religion. If you click on the religion listed it will take you to an article with the supporting documentation as well as some nice illustrations of the characters. Clicking on the religions listed at the top of the page takes you to the section of the table for that religion.
The sidebars are fun too. They have a list of characters who are current or former members of the clergy and a list of characters who are angels.
This is a work in progress and they welcome input from readers. The list is heavy on DC and Marvel characters but there are characters from other publishers, including manga, although there aren't that many manga characters. If a favorite character isn't on the list and you can make a case for a particular affiliation by all means feel free to email them with your information.
From: "Batman's Serious Shoptalk" forum discussion, started 26 July 2007 on the Something Awful website (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2571078; viewed 20 August 2007):
Jul 26, 2007 05:55
I assumed [that in Batman #666], the other Batman that Damien kills is Azrael, with the reference to replacing his father and stuff like that. The religious stuff fits too.
Jul 26, 2007 06:28
Azrael is a good guy, though (the angel, not the character) if you want to go by the religious subtexts. He was the angel of death, but under command of God, who probably wouldn't want death and anarchy running rampant over Gotham. And does the DC character have any reason to turn bad or go crazy? I don't think it'd come out of nowhere like that, unless we get some backstory this next arc.
Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: