One of the coolest iterations of the Dark Knight was the assassin-infused Batman known as the Az-Bat. It was part of the fascinating multi-issue Knightfall story arc in 1993-94 that also introduced The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas, a splinter cell of the Knight's Templar and malevolent society of lethal assassins operating deep within Gotham City's crime community.
Originally created by Denny O'Neil and Joe Quesada, the avenging Azrael manifests himself as Batman when Bruce Wayne temporarily retires after a vicious attack by Bane left him with a busted back. Brilliant protege (and brainwashed legacy member of The Order of Saint Dumas), Jean-Paul Valley steps into the cape and cowl while Batman heals but his sadistic nature makes him the perfect prey for the evil organization to manipulate.
As Valley becomes more violent and delusional due to his careful psychological conditioning, he gives the Bat costume an Azrael makeover, incorporating some not-so-subtle futuristic armor and weapons enhancements. Bruce Wayne eventually prevails and reclaims his place as the Caped Crusader in a thrilling finale showdown in the Batcave.
Star Detective Comics writer James Tynion IV has shared a new variant cover to next month's issue #962 from Yasmine Putri, with Azrael returning to possess the Batman suit, and it's a glorious sight to behold! With interior artwork by Alvaro Martinez, Detective Comics #962 swoops into comic shops August 9.
Here's the official solicitation synopsis and incredible cover art below.
“INTELLIGENCE” finale! Ascalon, the deadly artificial intelligence created by the Order of St. Dumas, is ready to replace Azrael and purify Gotham City…and all that stands in the way of the world’s most flawless computer brain is the mind of Batman himself!