The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Jean Paul Valley
From: "Jean-Paul Valley" webpage in "Gotham/Bludhaven" section on "Brave and the Bold" website (http://braveandthebold.net/characters/traits/8240.html§ion=Personality; viewed 25 September 2005):
Faith: Jean-Paul is a devout Christian of the Order of St. Dumas. As such he buys into the tenets of the Order and has a great deal of belief in St. Dumas and the strength and purity he stood for. It's not unusual at all for Jean-Paul to pray to St. Dumas to intercede with the Almighty on his behalf, much like a normal Catholic would do with a favored saint. Much of the faith of the Templars, and by extension the Order of St. Dumas, draws upon a more gnostic Christian tradition which endeavors to bring the human condition to ascension through wisdom and theurgy . . . basically a practiced form of faith-based magic or alchemy. It is in this tradition that the genetic manipulation of the Azraels was seen, to help them ascend to a higher condition and become the avenging angels of the Order.
From: Scott Beatty, Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Dorling Kindersley: New York, NY (2001), page 70-71:
The destiny of Jean Paul Valley was writ centuries before his birth. Scientifically altered by the ancient Order of St. Dumas, Jean Paul was molded to be the Order's avenging angel Azrael. With Batman's help, Jean Paul defected from St. Dumas, eventually taking up the Dark Knight's armor when the hero's back was broken by the vile Bane. Too unstable for the role of grim urban vigilante, Jean Paul was forced to relinquish the mantle of the Bat, later embarking on his own crusade to topple the Order of St. Dumas and prove his worthiness once more to the Dark Knight, who now regards Azrael as a trusted Agent of the Bat.
Holy Warriors: Established in the 14th century, the Order of St. Dumas began as a small legion of clergy outside of Papal influence who swore to visit "wrath upon the infidels."
After donating her ova to the Order of St. Dumas, Jean Paul's biological mother was to be killed, but a merciful acolyte permitted her to escape. Her identity remains unknown.
As a developing fetus inside a glass womb, Jean Paul's brain and blood chemistry were genetically intermingled with animal fluids to enable greatly enhanced strength and agility. Upon his decanting, Jean Paul was further augmented by "The System," an arcane mix of physical and psychological training through hypnotic suggestion. Previously, donning the armor of Azrael triggered the transformation from the passive Jean Paul to the aggressive Azrael. However, Jean Paul has now broken the Order's conditioning by tapping into an even greater strength -- his own free will.
Haunted by macabre visions of St. Dumas, Jean Paul became an even darker Knight than his predessor (Bruce Wayne). With "The System" driving him on, Jean Paul redesigned the Bat-Suit, transforming it into Azrael-inspired armor in order to vanquish the venom-fueld Bane!
Jean Paul's original raiment denoted obedience to St. Dumas. A second costume showed fealty to Batman. But his current armor marks a new chapter in the saga of Azrael.
The avenging assassin now a wandering redeemer, Azrael makes his home north of Gotham in a mountaintop aerie built by the Order of St. Dumas.
Azrael Real Name: Jean Paul Valley
First Appearance:Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October, 1992)
From: "Christian comic book characters" forum discussion, started 27 December 2003 on "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 rasied in a rather warped "denomination", if you will.
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board 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
Azreal is a psycho who really believes in some demented form of something.
From: "Christian Superheroes" thread started 30 August 1992 on rec.arts.comics newsgroup (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 inquirey 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: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" message board started 17 May 2006 on 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 fomer 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 definitly 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 Azreal, 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 crimefighting go to well together, anyone read about the crusades?
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on 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 Judaeo-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, 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 harboured a bit of a grudge against them, and that might make him disbelieve (godless knows there's lots of ex-Catholics like that)...
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" thread began 7 June 2001 in alt.comics.batman newsgroup (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: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (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: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "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: Ranuel, "Religion of Comic Book Characters", posted 26 June 2007 on "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 "Something Awful" forum 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.
Webpage created 25 September 2005. Last modified 20 August 2007.
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