Tag Archive: Denny O’Neil


Sword of Azrael 1 Gatefold CoverJean-Paul Valley is one of my favorite characters in comics by a long margin. Created in anticipation of the “Knightfall” crossover trilogy that saw him take over as Batman for a year, Azrael became a hated symbol of 90s grimdark. But Jean-Paul is so much more than that. In fact, Jean-Paul was not only a refutation of Dark Age thinking but became an active example of the alternative. Over his ten-year story, Jean Paul became a unique and interesting character, examining concepts as varied as non-violence, childhood abandonment, addiction, toxic masculinity, and elective family.

Jean-Paul is a very special character in my mind, and yet he doesn’t have a lot of fans. So, if you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take you on a tour of Jean-Paul’s world. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll make a few new fans and you’ll walk away with a new character to nerd out over. If not, we can at least make fun of this character’s weird history together. So come with me and let’s take a walk.

This week we’re going to take a look at where things started for Jean-Paul, the 1992 mini-series Batman: Sword of Azrael. As in many superhero origin stories, the Jean-Paul of Sword of Azrael isn’t fully formed yet. However, Denny O’Neil’s vision for the character is definitely present and, perhaps more than it knew, Sword of Azrael lays the foundation of the character. Continue reading

SotB 19

The 90s were an interesting time. I was young then, finding my first taste of comics through the television each Saturday morning. Later I would discover the nearly laughable pains that Marvel went through to replicate the Jim Lee era X-Men comics, but little did I know, at the time, that things in the world of Batman were very different from what I knew. As the first season of Batman: The Animated Series came to a close, the role of Batman passed to a young man named Jean-Paul Valley in the second act of DC’s mammoth Knightfall storyline.

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Remember that episode of Justice League where Green Lantern is on trial? It’s like that, but with drugs!

Bound and Gagged

As stated in my previous posts, I thought we’d mix it up this week by reviewing something that had to be approved rather than something that was banned. Most books are innocent until proven guilty, however the need for literary content to gain approval before being circulated is far from an abstract concept. Throughout history and under many governments the world over, written works have required approval for various reasons. For an interesting glimpse into this legacy, be it the Catholic Church censoring books or the Nazis burning them, I recommend Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book.

THE DEFENDANT: “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” and “They Say It’ll Kill Me…But They Won’t Say When”, written by Denny O’Neil, artwork by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, DC Comics

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