Sword of Azrael is a Batman storyline written by Dennis O'Neil with illustrations by Joe Quesada. It's published in the Batman: Sword of Azrael mini-series. The series introduces Azrael, who becomes a prominent figure in the Knightfall crossover. This makes the story part of Prelude to a Fall.
Ludovic Valley is killed by Carleton LeHah, ending his career as the assassin Azrael. Before dying he crawls to his son Jean-Paul Valley, to reveal his secret identity and give his son instructions. Jean-Paul travels to Switzerland, where he's greeted by Nomoz of the Order of St. Dumas. It's explained that Jean-Paul belongs to a long line of assassins modeling themselves after the angel of death. Nomoz introduces Jean-Paul to "The System," a hypnotic training method he has received since birth. Jean-Paul discovers he is a great fighter due to this sub-conscious implant, although his body is still weak. Batman's investigation of LeHah leads him to Switzerland with Alfred, where LeHah shoots down their helicopter. Batman and Alfred survive the crash. They catch Jean-Paul and Nomoz fleeing in a hovercraft, and Nomoz sends Jean-Paul as Azrael to kill Batman. Azrael loses and escapes, while Batman investigates the Order's headquarters. LeHah kills his accomplice, believing he is the servant of a demon named Biis. It's explained that LeHah was the Order's treasurer, which allowed him to steal their funds and become an arms dealer. Believing himself to serve their enemy, LeHah forges his own "Biis" suit and begins targeting the last Dumas acolytes. Azrael and Nomoz visit the first acolyte, but Biis kills this man and shoots Azrael. Biis captures Batman, while Alfred tends to Azrael. Biis keeps Bruce Wayne alive to try and steal his fortune. Nomoz suggests killing Alfred, but Jean-Paul rebels against the System and refuses. Biis continues killing acolytes, but Azrael tracks him down at the third victim. Azrael slaughters the guards, while Biis escapes wearing a Batsuit. LeHah retreats to his Texas oil refinery, where he decides to execute Bruce Wayne. Bruce short-circuits the security while tied up, allowing Azrael to enter. Biis is defeated, and the facility catches fire. Azrael rescues Bruce Wayne, despite Nomoz ordering that Azrael does not rescue. In the aftermath, Nomoz yells at Jean-Paul for disgracing his mission as an angel of vengeance. Jean-Paul replies that he is not an angel, he is a man.
- Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 -- Vanishing Angels & Sudden Death
- Batman: Sword of Azrael #2 -- Azrael Does Not Protect
- Batman: Sword of Azrael #3 -- Direct Action
- Batman: Sword of Azrael #4 -- No One is Innocent
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