Robot 6

The Fifth Color | Azazel, the devil you don’t know

Deviled Ham!

I can't get this out of my head...

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.

Uncanny X-Men #433

from Uncanny X-Men #433, I can't make this up

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.

X-Men: First Class - Azazel

Doesn't Actually Sell Ham

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.

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Comments

24 Comments

Whatever. Azazel rocks.

Hugo Sleestak

June 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

It just dawned on me that Azazel in the movie sort of looks like a Klingon from “Star Trek:TOS” …

Michael Sacal

June 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I just came back from the movie and Azazel is a good henchman type in it.

Much as Azazel is by all account the core of a terrible concept for a story, I don’t think that makes him a bad idea for this film persay. If you are willing to be very hack and slash to the point of retaining three things 1) hes called Azazel 2) he is Nightcrawler’s father and 3) he looks like a devil, there is plenty of room to take that basis and turn them into a perfectly entertaining character to watch. You can even make him extremely long lived and it doesn’t matter too much.

But really, I think the core reason for including him is so they have a character who does cool things like Nightcrawler (aka subject of by far the best scene of all the films so far), while not actually being Nightcrawler. He can also do evil things like stabbing people etc which you can’t with Nightcrawler. Basically – he has visually interesting powers and a distinctive look.

You know, of all the things that totally don’t make sense about Azazel, I think him asking Kurt to check out satellite photos despite having apparently been imprisoned since long before satellites even existed takes the cake.

Why they did not put Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (under the thrall of Shaw) in the movie instead of Underwooddeviledhamerine I will never understand. Superspeed is not too different from teleporting from a practical sense, and if Xmen Evolution is any indication, Wanda can be visually reinterpreted easily and awesomely. Plus they would be young and marketable. And pretty. Plus Wanda is scary when she’s evil, plus they are Magneto’s secret kids.

Azazel, really?

Azazel is actually one of my favorite “New” X-Villains of the past several years. Right up there with Cassandra Nova, Sublime and The Children of the Vault. I really liked the idea of an ancient race(s) of mutants (one demonic, one angelic) and Kurt’s revised origin. I’m upset that the concept never got explored further.

I now have to bleach my eyes after seeing Draco storyline pages.

Didn’t Azazel first appear in the storyline back in the day when Wolverine loses his adamantium. Seemed pretty cool back then.

Andrew Collins

June 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm

He makes a pretty good henchmen in the movie, though I can’t remember him speaking a single line of dialogue…

“You know, of all the things that totally don’t make sense about Azazel, I think him asking Kurt to check out satellite photos despite having apparently been imprisoned since long before satellites even existed takes the cake.”

I don’t know, I always enjoyed the fact that he escaped his dimension to father children who he needed to escape his dimension.

@Colin

Azazel has the power to teleport across dimensions and is the only one of his people with that mutant power. He fathered numerous children in his master plan to bring the rest of his people to Earth. Also, seeing as how he’s visited Earth on numerous occasions to do this, it is reasonable to believe that Azazel knows what a Satellite Photo is.

Rollo Tomassi

June 4, 2011 at 6:14 am

Hey, don’t be dissin’ on Sammy the Fish Kid! That adorable little scamp went before his time!

“You know, of all the things that totally don’t make sense about Azazel, I think him asking Kurt to check out satellite photos despite having apparently been imprisoned since long before satellites even existed takes the cake.”

“I don’t know, I always enjoyed the fact that he escaped his dimension to father children who he needed to escape his dimension.”

Yeah, but that’s so obviously ridiculous. This is such a stupid little detail that makes it that much more obvious that the character was more a hodgepodge of ideas than any one real thing. Complete with epicly awful monologue that if considered for a moment makes absolutely no sense in the context of the character.

It’s the little things that push it from ‘stupid’ to ‘unbelievably awful’.

My only complain about him in the film was how bad his hair looked. Other than that he was really enjoyable in the film, and it reminded me of how much that first fight with Nightcrawler blew my mind in X2.

Does that mean Azazel character and Mystique get it on during the new X-Men movie to produce Kurt/Nightcrawler so many years later?

akachris,

I think you have hit it in the black on why they chose him. Heck, I’d almost enjoy seeing ‘ultimate Azrael’ if he’s a BAMF like he is in the film

The Teleport effects are cool. Magneto’s awesome, but I’ll be honest, Raven’s story stole the movie for me.

CollectorsORPackRats

June 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

This has got to be the worse character in the history of comics with its stupid history and unoriginal powers. Its inclusion in the movie is probably Fox giving Marvel the middle finger and Marvel responds in kind by not doing anything to promote the movie.

CollectorsORPackRats

June 4, 2011 at 11:18 am

Also, Fox being their cheap self, using Mystique and this satan-thing, in order to recycle the CG special effects from the previous X movies.

I’m guessing they included him because they needed a parallel to the original X-Trilogy. Like you’ve got Havok being all Cyclops, Mystique (younger) being Rogue, White Queen being Mystique (older), Tornado Guy (Lord knows if I can remember his name) being Toad, and Azazel being Nightcrawler.

And you know what? It doesn’t bother me. For example, I personally think that Mystique and Sabretooth were totally wasted in the original trilogy when they were cast as henchpeople. Either could have carried a movie as the prime villain on their own. But get shunted off into the background? It was better to use some minor mutants to do all the henching.

The one that was wasted was The White Queen, who also could be the main villian all her lonesome but is now stuck to following orders from the alpha dogs.

Why is this the only Robot 6 post tagged “ham”? I demand more ham.

The reason they even put Azazel in the movie is because of night crawler.

In all honesty, I read the Draco series after seeing X-Men first class because Azazel left me with such an impression that I wanted to read more about him. And yes the Draco series was Highly Disappointing, However; I am very interested to see if they reinvent the character, which already seems the case since in the movie he is a henchman and in the Draco he would not be caught dead taking orders. So I look forward to the progression of this character despite his shakey beginning.

Knbaughman@yahoo.com

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