Note: This page describes the current Azrael, Michael Lane, for the former Azrael, see Jean-Paul Valley.
In a pre-Crisis Golden Age story, Batman participates in an isolation chamber experiment which involved him being trapped inside a chamber for long periods of time. The experiment was conducted by the insane Dr. Simon Hurt. During that time, Commissioner Gordon was replaced by Commissioner Vane. After Batman left the project, Vane began to fear that Batman may not be around for a long time and began thinking of a way to replace him. He collaborated with Dr. Hurt to create 'replacement' Batmen if the original Batman should perish. According to Dr. Hurt, that Batman's most likely motivation for fighting crime was a great tragedy in his life. So they chose police recruits then psychologically scarred them in order to make them into Batmen.
Many years ago, Batman has a vision in which he encounters three Batmen who are 'figures' of what Batman believes will happen if he ever cheats on his war on crime. The first Batman is a marksman who uses a gun, the second is the Bane Batman who uses Bane's-Venom and Hugo Strange's monster serum and the third Batman is a man who sells his soul to Satan.
Years later, Batman fights the Bane-Batman and is almost killed when the Bane-Batman stomps on his back. Luckily, a hooker takes him to the Penthouse of an address he gives her. Batman later has a vision in which Damian Wayne tells him that the third Batman sleeper is the most dangerous of all.
The third Batman invades Gotham P.D. He begins spraying the headquarters with sleeping gas. Gordon bursts in to stop him, but the third Batman shows him a Police badge. James Gordon tries to negotiate with him, but he captures Gordon and takes him to the roof where he lights the Bat Signal. Meanwhile, Bruce is skydiving with Jezebel Jet when he sees the Bat Signal. Bruce tells Alfred that he is going to see what is going on and to tell Jezebel that his parachute veered off course. Batman arrives at the rooftop and fights with the third Batman. The third Batman shoots the real Batman in the chest, who begins to suffer a heart attack. Batman lies on the roof top and experiences a flashback from deeply buried memories. He relives the night when he was partly responsible for the death of Joe Chill. Sleeper then revives Batman and puts him in a chair and binds him with shackles. Batman then faces Sleeper carrying a drill in a vaguely familiar chamber.
The Isolation Chamber
While Sleeper tortures Batman, Bruce slowly begins to piece things together. The room is a chamber far below Gotham P.D. where Batman once participated in the Isolation Experiment (see The Three Ghosts of Batman). Batman deduces Sleeper's identity to be Lane, a man whose family is said to have been killed by Satanists. He is also a former police recruit trained and emotionally scarred in order to become a replacement Batman. Lane himself had participated in the isolation experiment. Batman himself begins to relive the nightmare of that experiment but manages to escape from his shackles by dislocating his shoulder.
Batman proceeds to knock out Lane with a punch, but then runs into Bane-Batman. Gordon meanwhile forces a cop named Officer Farelli to talk and reveal to him what is going on. As Bane-Batman is about to crush Batman's head, Gordon and Farelli come in and shoot Bane-Batman in the head. Lane, however, escapes. Batman gets up and begins thinking about his life and the direction it's taking. He fears that his years of training might not be enough to save him from the ultimate evil, if such a thing is really out there in the shadows. Batman meets Lane who is watching on the other side of a fence. Lane-Batman proclaims that Batman is finished.
Lane is next seen piloting the Batcopter for Dr. Hurt as they try to escape Arkham Asylum after the Black Glove's plan to kill Bruce Wayne fails. Before they can escape, Bruce Wayne jumps onto the helicopter and it crashes into the water, apparently killing Lane. There is no body found however, so he is presumed alive.
Azrael: Death's Dark Knight
Michael Lane becomes the new Azrael. He is given the Suit of Sorrows by The Order. After a run-in with Dick Grayson, Lane is given "permission" to continue operating as Azrael. Dick says he will keep an eye on Lane.
He receives his own ongoing book which lasts 18 issues.
Michael Lane has appeared in Batman Incorporated #10, when Batman recruits him into the organization.
666: Hour of the Devil
In the post apocalyptic future, Batman is dead and Damian Wayne (Robin) sells his soul to the devil in order to keep Gotham safe. Damian, as Batman, takes down a dolloid created by Professor Pyg and saves a little girl. Commissioner Barbara Gordon arrives and accuses Batman of killing Candy Man. Batman quotes the poet Yeats. He then flashes a powerful light: "Welcome to Bethlehem, where the forces of light meets the forces of darkness!" He then escapes in the Batmobile to his penthouse. He tells his cat Alfred about other murdered super villains and watches the news. The world is in chaos with war, famine, heat waves and dirty bombs being thrown. The world is falling apart and Armageddon is coming. Batman notices the locations of the deaths of the five crime bosses Barbara mentioned earlier form a pentagram. In the middle lies Hotel Bethlehem. The Anti-Christ Batman (Sleeper) arrives there to ensue chaos over Gotham on the eve of Armageddon. Damian/Batman arrives and slaughters Sleeper's henchmen. Damian then faces off against Sleeper and blasts him into a pool. Sleeper rises out of the water and walks on its surface.
Damian then claims that the devil did not tell the Anti-Christ Batman that Damian himself sold his soul to the devil when he was fourteen to keep Gotham safe. Damian/Batman proceeds to rip Sleeper's flesh open across his midsection and then kill him by twisting his neck as an explosion occurs nearby. Barbara Gordon arrives and orders the GCPD to shoot and kill Damian/Batman. Damian is shot several times in the chest but gets up unharmed. Barbara asks him what he is and Damian responds that he is the best friend she's got. Batman then claims that Apocalypse is over until he says so.
Powers and Abilities
Without the Suit of Sorrows, Michael currently possess no powers yet he maintains intensive exercise and currently has a large knowledge of Martial Arts and hand-to-hand combat.
While wearing the Suit, it grants him to utilize enhanced strength, speed, stamina and agility. Each one of skills has been said to be even better than The Batman's.
Weaknesses: Michael had developed some form of mental illness due to his past as well as extensive use of the suit. After he died and was resurrected, he gained a considerable amount of his mental capabilities back, yet not every single one of them.
Weapons: With the suit, he was granted two swords, the Sword of Salvation and Sword of Sin. Both of the Swords are capable of stabbing through a target, yet causing no bodily damage. Along with the swords being able to communicate with the wielder to show of specific moments of the victim's life.
Michael Lane appears as Azrael in the hit video game sequal Batman: Arkham City as a side mission character. First appearing in the first scene when Bruce Wayne is transported into Arkham City (if the player decides to look at the roof of the building before he disappears), he later turns up at various locations. Batman must track down each of his four hiding locations, revealing symbols that can be scanned to eventually find his final hiding place where Azrael warns Batman of an impending danger, possibly hinting at a sequal. His bio is unlockable after this, revealing it to be the Michael Lane version of the character though his first appearance is erroneously given as Azrael: Death's Dark Knight #1. This is his first appearance as Azrael but not his first actual appearance, which was in Batman #666. On the inside of the chrurch, a stained glass window can be seen with a red figure with pointed strips coming from it's back. People speculate this is either Azrael (meaning the church is connected with the Order of Saint Dumas), or a refrence to superhero, Hawk.