Also a comic book character: the superheroic alias of Jean-Paul Valley, brainwashed and trained by the secret society Order of St. Dumas to be the ultimate crime-fighting machine. Wore the Mantle of the Bat and protected Gotham City after Bane had broken Batman's back in the Knightfall storyline. Eventually, Azrael's psychotic tendencies surfaced and Bruce Wayne reclaimed his title.

Azrael is the Angel of Death according to Islamic beliefs, who records the name of every man who ever lived (and erases them once they die). His name means 'who God helps' in Arabic, and goes by alternate spellings of Izra'il, Azrail, Ashriel, Azaril, and Azriel. In other religions this tedious office chore is done by other archangels, such as Yama (in Juadism), Gabriel (in Christianity) and Mairya (Zoroastrianism).

Azrael is unmistakeable. He is a big fellah, with one of his feet planted in the seventh heaven, and the other spanning hell and paradise. His body consists of four faces, 4,000 wings and to help him be omniscient he has many eyes and tongues as there are people alive at any one time.

Azrael has appeared in the novels as himself in Reaper Man and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett, and The Rose of the Prophet by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. His name has also been borrowed for other supernatural and/or evil fictional characters - a demon in the film Dogma, a terrorist in the anime series Kidou Senshi Gundam Seed, the ruler of the underworld in the Dragon King series by Stephen Lawhead, the leader of the Dark Angels chapter as appearing in the Warhammer 40,000 game, and Gargamel's bad-tempered smurficidal cat.

Azrael has also been used as an album title by no less than three music groups - Coil (an experimentalist group from England), Black Sunrise (a heavy metal group from Portugal), and Demons and Wizards (a power metal group from Germany).

Given the duties of the Angel of Death Azrael, it probably won't be long before a software developer with an interest in demonology will name an office automation product suite after him.

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