Our story begins more than 400 years ago when the crusades were in full swing and a group of the Knights Templar had a falling out with the rest of them. The splinter group followed the lead of a man named Dumas, a self proclaimed saint. Details are sketchy at best but records indicate that the Order of St. Dumas came across the treasure of king soloman and after a bit of looting and pillaging placed the wealth in swiss banks and used the money to build a global organisation.
In order to keep control of their wealth and secrecy the Order needed a police force and so the Azraels were created. For several generations the Role of Azrael was passed from father to son untill the Order perfected genetic engineering centuries before DNA was known to exist. The new Azraels were part animal and once their fathers had impregnated a female the foetus was surgically removed and placed in a tank filled with simian body fluids. The unborn child would then be subjected to regular electric shocks and tortured to instill "wrath". In child hood these born assassins were hypnotically trained with "The System" to turn them into the most effeciant killing machines born.
Flash forward to the end of the twentieth century and an Azrael has been sent to "dispatch" a man named LeHah who had doublecrossed the order. This Azrael failed miserably and collapsed at the door of his sons room. What followed was the creation of the new Azrael, mandated with the task of seeking out and killing LeHah the new Azrael did not succeed, instead he rescued Batman and found a place as one of Bruce Wayne's protegés.
This new student of Batmans was named Jean-Paul Valley and he wanted to be the best he could. This determination impressed Bruce and helped him choose Jean-Paul to stand in for him during the time he took to heal his back. However during his stint as Batman Valley suffered a nervous breakdown and two deaths resulted as a consequence of his inability to cope with events. After losing the Mantle of the Bat Valley was reduced to vagrancy and homelessness.
Batman felt responsible for Valley and persuaded him to take up his role of Azrael and seek his identity. Travelling with the Alcoholic Brian Bryan to the Ice Cathedral Azrael met Brother Rollo, the Order's leader, Sister Lilhy, a powerful member of the Order and his replacement Azrael. Lilhy enlisted Azrael's aid in assassinating Rollo but the gambit failed and Azrael Lilhy and Brian fled from the Ice Cathedral. Azrael followed the information he had and learned the truth of his creation. This horrific revelation and his accidental murder of his unborn brother forced him into a catatonic state. In his desert journeys he made an ally of Ra's al Ghul and an enemy of the Grey Abbot his "creator".
When Azrael returned to Gotham and regained full use of his mental facilities he was assaulted and kidnapped by LeHah who was quickly defeated and locked in his own meat locker. That was when things went from bad to worse in Gotham. The Clench a strain of Ebola gulf-A was released in Babylon Towers by The Order. Azrael attempted to help by finding survivors who could help with a cure but instead had found the cure earlier and was instrumental in saving Robin(III, Tim Drake)'s life.
When the nefarious team of Nug and Kluber attempted to get payback for a previous defeat Jean-Paul inflicted serious injuries on them without wearing his Azrael costume, a development that worried Brian. Jean-Paul embarked on an oddessy that banished Azrael from him just in time to get into desperate trouble when Rollo ordered the death of Azrael and his friends. With Nomoz's help Brian reawakened the System in Jean-Paul and Azrael was reborn.
Realizing that the only way he could keep his friends safe was to destroy the Order, Azrael journeyed to Swizerland. After destroying the Ice Cathedral Lilhy set up a base in Mexico and sent Azrael on errands, becoming as domineering and manipulative as the Order had been. Jean-Paul left Mexico and went to the only other place he knew, the Batcave. Scince then he has embraced a quest to redeem himself in Batman's eyes fighting vampires, werewolves and parademons.
The most significant step in this quest was when he was delegated the task of capturing Bane. Things did not go well initially, and he was captured and addicted to Venom. Through sheer force of will Azrael endured withdrawl and beat Bane by outsmarting him. When bringing Bane back to Gotham, Azrael happened to turn Bane over to the police just as the quake struck and had to recapture him in the midst of chaos.
In the time during the quake Azrael tried to help as many people as possible but when events beyond his control caused a disturbing loss of life. Jean-Paul needed to escape Gotham and the memory of it. Azrael was reunited with Lilhy and Brian and had to contend with the sadistic Luc and the corrupt DEA Agent Vyce. After rescuing Lilhy, Azrael encountered Deathstroke and Calibax, and after Calibax's escape learned that Lilhy plans to rebuild the Order, he and Brian journeyed back to Gotham to prevent Calibax preying on the city's refugees.
In an attempt to save the city Batman sent Azrael to protect Senator Halivan, Azrael was however thwarted by Nick Scratch and the Senator was killed, Scratch further compounded this by framing Azrael for the murder. Batman condemned Azrael for his failure, but Azrael followed up on a lead he had and saved the life of Cheif Justice Rockfirth, one of the main proponents of Gotham's abandonment. Batman reconciled with Azrael, but Azrael was forced to give up his costume as it identified him as a muderer. Azrael was mandated the task of tracking Nick Scratch down. To this end he met with one Professor Lade but due to Nick Scratches Demon henchmen, and some rednecks Azrael had to adopt the costume Batman gave him. without his Azrael costume Azrael was no match for Nich Scratches henchmen when they returned, only a bolt of lightning which triggered his abilities allowed him to deal with them.
Following Nick Scratch back to Gotham Azrael was kept from taking him down by a seies of situations where a loss of life needed to be avoided. While In NML Azrael tussled with Calibax and the Joker, and has added them to his agenda. When Batman assembled his allies in his bid to retake Gotham he needed Azrael and teamed him with Batgirl in an attempt to reduce the number of wild cards by taking Nick Scratch out of the picture and containing Joker untill he was ready to deal with them.
While in No Man's Land Jean-Paul became aquainted with Dr. Leslie Tompkins. He sought to calm the violence in his life, and was blown up by a bomb while trying to save Batgirl and Lex Luthor's bodyguard Mercy.
After Gotham City was rehabilitated thanks to Lex Luthor and Waynecorp CEO Lucious Fox, and Luthor's scheme to illegally sieze prime gotham real estate was thwarted by Batman Jean-Paul began a new life. Drawing on his experiances with Leslie Tompkins he started a free clinic in a church with the help of his resurfaced friend Brian. Unfortunately one of their firstt patients is Nick Scratch who once again tries to frame Azrael for murder. Batman helps clear him of the charge and Azrael chooses to retire Azrael. and spend his time as jean-Paul.