"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
Everyone has a a particular favorite in the X-Men. I mean, there’s so many to choose from! The list of Marvel’s merry mutants goes on and on, so it’s not surprising that someone’s a fan of that one guy from issue #86, third from the left (his name was Vindaloo). You may not be able to stand Meggan from Excalibur, but trust me. Someone has a livejournal devoted to her. Super fans dress up like Jubilee and campaigned to get her back in the X-books. Through staff dedication and fan outcry, we have two volumes of the Essential Dazzler. I am certain there is a comic convention by-law where for every so many people, there has to be a question posed for the return of an obscure X-Men character. Bring back Chrome! There are an amazing amount of X-characters contained in the Marvel Universe (despite Wanda’s wishes) and all of them are facets to the unique jewel of the X-titles.
So, who’s the guy who asked for Azazel?
I didn’t think he had a fan club. I didn’t think people wanted to remember the unbelievable “The Draco” storyline he came from. And now, he’s in a movie? Why? Out of all the characters who have had better origins, purposes and basic character design, why in Cerebro’s name did they pick a cheesy self-styled Satan for one of their antagonists?
WARNING: We are spoiler free!
To understand their direction, let’s go back to the comics and find the truth from which they pulled their onscreen devil. Oh, well. It looks like “The Draco” is it. From Uncanny X-Men #428 to #434, Chuck Austen wrote a story into his…. well, Wikipedia calls the run controversial, and we’ll leave it at that. Keep in mind, the flip side of this run was Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, so there’s a little Goofus and Gallant going on, where one book at the time set the bar for talking about mutant right, human evolution, the Weapon X project … the list goes on. Chuck Austen is best known for Sammy. He’s a fish boy.
But we didn’t come here to talk about that! We came for Azazel, who shows up in this story to sleep with Mystique in a flashback and terrorize Nightcrawler in the present with a terrible, no good, very bad monologue. His purpose through this book seems to be to sire demon-looking children, then unite them to form a great portal to the dimension Azazel had been banished to. The banishment, who exactly did the banishing, well… there’s a lot of air quotes.
Suffice it to say, Azazel is a mutant “from biblical times,” super old. He wanted to impose “rule and dominion and enslaving or removing the toxicity of humans” because they were a blight on the natural landscape. Then he was kicked off of probably a mutants-only island by people who possibly looked like Angel, might have been Angels, might have just acted as though they were angels. There’s a lot of air quotes. So they kicked him out into another dimension, the one that he later explains is where Kurt teleports through (mind you, I think that was already explained in an old Nightcrawler limited series). All of Azazel’s mutant kids can pass through this plane in some shape or form, so thus he sires a lot of mutant kids to finally teleport himself out of there and go dominate man.
Yes, this doesn’t make much sense. Yes, it’s incredibly ridiculous to use mutants as actual placeholders in the Bible. No, I don’t know where he’s getting all these kids either (pre-banishment nookie? Did a lovely harem get banished with him?) and the outright obscure villainy of it all has put it out of most comic fans’ minds. “The Draco” is the only story (yet) where Azazel appears, so nothing has been done with him since Nightcrawler found a way out of that dimension and let his father Disney-perish by falling off a crumbling cliff.
Maybe we need to look at this another way: another reason for Azazel to be there is the same reason we get a whole brutal parable with Sammy the Fish Boy and Charles Xavier’s foray into why Lorna was driven mad at the destruction of Genosha. All of these parts, while disparate and strange, all have an absent father issue going on. One, Sammy’s dad is abusive, and Cain goes to help him, doing more damage in the long run. Two, Lorna learns that Magneto is truly her father and watches what he built on Genosha perish by Sentinels minutes later. Even Charles and Cain Marko have a rather adult conversation about their abusive childhood. Now, while there’s not a lot to take from “The Draco” storyline, the theme of fathers is pretty big and comes down to no matter who your relations may be, the people around you are sometimes more family than DNA.
So why is Azazel here? I don’t think it’s to father Nightcrawler and take off. While this may happen in the movie, I don’t think that’s why he’s there. When looking at the First Class roster, I get the distinct impression no one was chosen for their canon history. After all, I know I’m not the only one who grinds their teeth at the lack of Scott, Jean, Warren and Bobby up there (one out of the four isn’t bad?), but these characters I think were chosen for visual style and general theme. That Azazel can assume the role of the devil means that he can get away with being an evil mutant on face value alone. No back story has to be explained, no issues re-read, just a guy in a suit with devil makeup on.
And then there’s the strangest part of all: that they would use Azazel to call in some actual history. Charles Xavier lost his legs in a fight with Lucifer, an alien using the name as he scouted out Earth for an invasion by his people. People can become crippled a lot of ways, and I don’t think there are that many fans demanding that Charles Xavier have a rock dropped on his legs so he can become canonically paralyzed but hey. I just sell comics.
When you see the movie, look out for Azazel. Maybe understanding his place in this prequel mythos will help you understand all of the changes they made to the X-Men legacy and what this new telling of the story will have to say.