When I bought a loose DCUC Wave 16 Azrael Batman on eBay last winter, he looked completely alien to me (a little more on that later in this post). The Knightfall series came out after I was well into college, and I just wasn't paying attention to comics anymore. I only bought the action figure because I thought it looked far out, and so when I happened upon this killer Detective Comics # 676 with an foil embossed cover at Bam's Labor Day sale, I had to pick one up!
Jean-Paul Valley was a Gotham University graduate student who fought alongside Batman as a superhero-in-training, Azrael. When Bane breaks Bruce Wayne's back, Azrael takes up the mantle of Gotham's Dark Knight, and hunts the villain down against Wayne's orders.The enhanced body armor he designed to defeat Bane is what the DC Universe figure above was modeled after. Eventually, Azrael's previous conditioning as assassin loyal to The Order of St. Dumas begins to conflict with his role as Batman, manifesting itself in increasingly violent tendencies toward his enemies, as well as Robin, who was banned from the Batcave & Wayne Manor alike. When Robin (Tim Drake) alerts Wayne to the situation, he resolves to reclaim his place as the Batman.
Jean-Paul is testing out his his new Bat-Suit in this issue, villain Gunhawk nearly getting the upper hand on him and the police, who nearly kill them both inadvertently. Gunhawk had taken a hostage at the local hospital when told to get in line to receive medical attention to his injured girlfriend. Jean-Paul's new suit holds up to Gunhawk's regular fire, but catches a lucky break when Gunhawk's anti-armor rounds jam up. Jean-Paul tackles him down a flight of stairs, hiding up in the stairwell while Montoya & Bullock read him his rights- lucky for Gunhawk, as Jean-Paul already let mass-murderer Abbattoir fall to his death at this point, setting in motion a downward spiral for this would-be hero.