WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Justice League Odyssey #5 by Joshua Williams, Carmine Di Giandomencio, Ivan Plascencia and Deron Bennett, on sale now!
The Batman Family is filled with folks from all walks of life who all share the same common goal of utilizing a billionaire’s resources (and unchecked emotional baggage) to distribute vigilante justice. No matter how committed everyone in an extended network of costumed heroes is toward their shared ethos, there is going to be the occasional loose screw in what would otherwise be a well-oiled machine.
The Batman Family is no different. It has had some rather questionable team members pass through its ranks (and no, we are not just talking about Jason Todd), some of whom do not necessarily subscribe to the Dark Knight’s “no killing” policy. Justice League Odyssey #5 has revealed one hero in particular is being used as a template for DC’s newest cosmic corps, the Order of Azrael.
The various Justice League titles have been buried deeply in the complex cosmic sector of DC Comics over the last year or so. It seems that if there are more than three superheroes on any give page, there’s a good chance they are in outer space or an alternate reality. This setting has extended to some rather unlikely characters, such as Jean-Paul Valley, who is absolutely out of his depth in Justice League Odyssey but continues to hang tough with the wildcard roster made up of characters who are far better equipped to handle space travel.
With the introduction of the character Rapture, Jean-Paul is getting pulled further into the spiral of cosmic consequences that have permeated Justice League titles. Unwilling to turn his back on his team, Azrael denies the devoted zealot’s request to join a holy quest, instead opting to help Cyborg come back from the brink of madness after seeing Darkseid’s master plan to destroy the multiverse using the power of the Other Box (look, it’s a weird book with a whole lot going on). But, oddly enough, this revelation wasn’t the most jarring aspect of Justice League Odyssey #5.
The biggest surprise came in the form of Rapture, who not only revealed himself to be a Colun (the same race of green humanoids as Brainiac), but also debuted a small army of people dressed as Azrael with the goal of destroying the Old Gods. Religious zealotry is a common theme in many stories surrounding Jean-Paul Valley. Even the character’s name is pulled from religious text. Seeing an army of people (or automatons) donning Azrael’s costume does not bode well for whoever is going to be at the business end of their flaming swords.
Comic books are rife with cosmic corps (Novas, Lanterns and what have you). For the most part, these corps are set up like any police force you’d find on Earth (more or less). They have a general sense of order and decency, and look to uphold justice instead a pointed mission statement or shared theology that is far too niche to get the general masses on board with. Now, strip all that away.
Instead, slaughter supplants any notion of justice, freedom or protection. The face that will execute this plan belongs to the person who battled Bruce Wayne for the cowl, the once rightful heir to the mantle of Batman. Azrael represents a certain superhero mentality, one that can be utilized to enact great change for the better when urged, but can also be used for chaos if twisted ever so slightly.
To be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an army of Azraels. In Old Lady Harley, the titular antihero runs into an army of caped robots programmed to uphold Gotham City’s curfew in the distant future. They were less like traditional police officers employed to uphold the law, though, and more like a home security system.
The group Rapture has cobbled together, however, is something else completely, with a mission far less innocuous, one that could have dire consequences if seen through. With the revelation of the Other Box, the Order of Azrael could be the last line of defense against Darkseid, or worse, the reason his plan comes to fruition.