The Crusader is a man who is on and off, either being friends or enemies with Azrael. He kills members of religious cults in re-enactments of the martyrdoms of Christian saints. He claims to have been given power by God.
Azrael (Vol. 2)Edit
His first appearance is Azrael: The Killer of Saints: Part 1: The Hand That Burns, where a man known as the Crusader is going around and picking off the five members of the inner circle of the Order of Purity. Father Garrett tells Azrael that each of the inner circle are privy to an ancient secret. The Crusader is after that information. Not giving up that secret, they are being brutally murdered in reenactments of the martyrdom of various Christian saints. Father Garrett is worried, as he is one of the five members of the inner circle of the Order of Purity. The first victim met his demise in the fashion of Saint Christopher. The man was beaten until every major bone in his body was broken. He then had a helmet placed on his head and the helmet was set aflame. Still, unwilling to give up his knowledge, the man was beheaded. The body was found a day later, hanging from a hook on the ceiling in the bookstore he owned. His head, still in the helmet, was found sitting on a table next to the body.
Next, was a woman murdered in the fashion of Saint Christina. This was the most violent of all the saints’ deaths. She was bitten by vipers then had her skin ripped to shreds with nails. She was then burned and pierced with arrows. After that, her breasts were cut off. To end it all, the Crusader tore out her tongue and left her to bleed out. After hearing of these horrible deaths, Father Garrett finally has the Angel of Vengeance convinced to go hunt this maniac down and make him pay. Father Garrett has an idea of who may be next to bite it, and the pair head off to London. They are too late, though. They find the priest as he has been stripped and left arrowed to a pillar with many more arrows plunged into his body. The Crusader tells the men he has been sent by God and has been given powers. Azrael has had enough, calls the Crusader a blasphemer, and charges towards him with his flaming Sword of Sin drawn. Father Garrett calls after Azrael and tells him that the Crusader speaks the truth; that he actually does have supernatural powers. It is too late, however, because the Crusader took a swig of Holy Water and spewed it upon Azrael, and escaped.
His next appearance is Azrael: The Killer of Saints: Part 2: The Poison Tongue, where the Crusader has been attacking members of the Order of Purity, searching for the name of the Keeper Of Secrets. Recently, The Crusader takes Father Garrett Day. Azrael follows. He arrives just as the Crusader unleashes bees on Father Day, similar to what happened to Saint Ambrose. Azrael arrives to save Father Day, although he notes Saint Ambrose was not killed by the bees, either. Azrael, then demands to know what the Crusader is searching for. Day tells him he is searching for the Shroud of Turin, which was supposedly placed over the dead body of Christ. However, scientific tests have discovered that Christ was alive when the shroud was placed over him. There was no resurrection. For that reason, it must remain a secret. In Somalia, the Crusader confronts another member of the Order of Purity. The Crusader threatens a loved one and is given the information he needs. Meanwhile, Father Day decides he and Azrael will visit the Keeper.
His next appearance is Azrael: The Killer of Saints: Part 3: Heart of Fire, Heart of Ice, where after Grieve finishes telling his story, on cue, the Crusader breaks into the room with the body of Khalid. Knowing Khalid gave up the location, Azrael asks why he killed him, and the Crusader tells him he was sparing him from knowing he had betrayed his brethren, doing him a favor by killing him. To himself, Michael somewhat agrees with the Crusader and questions why he should even stop him. The Crusader demands to know the location of the Shroud of Turin from Grieve. Before he can say anything more, Azrael puts his sword to the Crusader’s throat and asks what he intends to do with the shroud. The Crusader tells Azrael that the Order will use it to disprove the crucifixion, thus destroying their entire faith. Azrael again asks “will you destroy the shroud?” to which the Crusader yells “It is a lie!” Igniting the Sword of Sorrow, Azrael then says if it’s a lie, God will disprove it, thus he will defend his masters. The two begin a fight that was foretold by the Book of True Revelation.
Grieve and Day make their way to an adjacent room where Grieve reveals that he has a copy of the Book of True Revelations. Pointing out that everything was foretold, the deaths of the keepers, Azrael and The Crusader’s fight, and finally his own death where he gives up the secret. With the upper hand, the Crusader is about to deliver the finishing blow to Azrael, Day hastily reads the final chapter of the book as Grieve offers himself up to the Crusader who asks if Grieve will reveal the information he wants. Grieve tells him he will under one condition, he must be able to chose the method of martyrdom, for he must comply with what the book foretold. The Crusader agrees, and the two leave. With a look of pure sadistic intentions, the Crusader stands over Grieve who is tied to a table as if on a cross. With a multitude of blades hovering over Grieve, the Crusader asks where to begin.
His next appearance is Azrael: The Killer of Saints: Part 4: The Soul Stripped Bare, where all seems lost for Azrael and Father Day. The Crusader is skinning Grieve alive, and it’s only a matter of time before he learns the location of the Shroud of Turin. Elsewhere, the Crusader has skinned Grieve almost completely as he puts his blade under Grieve’s neck, slowly tearing the skin off his face. Once he pulls the last bits of skin of Grieve, the Crusader announces he’s done, then demands to know the location of the Shroud. Outside, Azrael and Day find that the Crusader has already destroyed their car, along with the bridge to the castle. Feeling despair, Day says they should just go back inside, the Crusader would have found them anyway. Inside the Chapel, Azrael tells Day he can’t fight the Crusader, he’s legitimately scared of him. He tells Day that the order chose the wrong man to be Azrael. A skinless Grieve is brought into the chapel by the Crusader. Grieve tells Azrael that the Order didn’t choose him, the Suit of Sorrows did. Azrael begins to hear the voices of those who had worn the suit before him, as Grieve offers his skin to the statue of Mary. Azrael asks the Crusader if he’s a man of faith, and believes his is the one who is god’s warrior, who was destined to defeat his enemy that day. The Crusader agrees, saying the pope, who is infallible told him so. Azrael then asks him if he knows about the Swords of Sin and Sorrow, and how they do not harm those truly of god. So before they fight, Azrael asks if he can test the Crusader’s faith. The Crusader, believing he was chosen by god himself, agrees. Azrael takes the chance to plunge both the swords into The Crusader’s chest, who gives out a great cry. He sees a grotesque image of the pope mixed with the devil sitting upon a throne.
The Crusader realizes the truth, Azrael was in fact God’s warrior. Stumbling over to day, The Crusader asks to see the shroud. Azrael tells Day to show it to him. As the Crusader looks at the face of Jesus, he asks for forgiveness, then hurls himself out a nearby window.
Judgement on GothamEdit
In Batman: Judgement on Gotham: Part 1: One Good Man, at Devil’s Square, and Grayson assumes that it involves Azrael. He is correct as he arrives on the scene to find Azrael’s follower, the Crusader is creating a ruckus in the name of God and his boss Azrael. The Crusader has mental powers such as telekenesis and pyrokinetics. He utilizes these powers while quoting scripture or his own variation on it. Not only is the Crusader present, but so too are Catwoman and Red Robin. Azrael soon follows to tell them all that they will be tested to determine the fate of Gotham. Ra’s Al Ghul is involved, providing his “angels of death” with a meta-human named Fireball that will deal out Gotham’s punishment whether the heroes succeed in passing Azrael’s test or not.
In Red Robin: Judgement on Gotham: Part 2: A Soul in Silence, Red Robin follows after the Crusader’s trail of destruction saving lives left and right, his trek ending with a confrontation with Azrael himself who is holding Mayor Hady hostage. Red Robin is then stabbed by Azrael’s sword of sin and is revealed to have none. It would appear that he passed the test and Gotham will be saved. The Crusader claims that Tim is not a believer because he did not show the proper respect for a church that he saved people from as it was on fire. Azrael demands to know if it is true that Tim does not believe. Tim knows that if he tells the truth and says he is not a believer, then Gotham is doomed. But if he lies and says that he is to save Gotham, then he will fail the test anyways.
In Batman: Judgement on Gotham: Conclusion: Secret Sin, the judgement is high in Gotham City, as Batman faces down Azrael and the Crusader, who threaten to destroy Gotham City with the human bomb, Fireball! To save the city, Batman must confront an incident from his youth, and Azrael must face the truth behind his actions. Meanwhile, Ra's al Ghul plays with dominoes with the White Ghost.
Gotham City SirensEdit
In Gotham City Sirens #22, Selina finds what she’s looking for as she breaks into Jenny Lane’s apartment, and confronts her, who doesn’t believe Azrael would do such a thing as destroy Gotham. Selina realizes she’s not gonna be much use to her, so she goes off to face her test. She finds The Crusader in Devils Square, and goes on the attack. Tim shows up as well and joins in the fight, refusing to lay low after he “failed” the test. As the Crusader fights Tim, Azrael manages to trap Selina and stab her with the Sword of Sin, revealing he regrets about her sister, Maggie. Selina wakes up with Maggie standing over her, handing her a blade. Maggie asks her sister to kill her in the name of the lord. Azrael informs Selina that this is the test, and she is to sacrifice Maggie. Selina refuses to, and brings up the fact that under the god, these men serve, he is the only one allowed to judge. Azrael brushes off Selina’s words, claiming Satan’s true greatest feat would be to make the world think that the pious are insane.
Maggie turns to her sister and pleads for Selina to kill her in the name of God. Selina doesn’t know what to do. She stares at her sister, holding the blade, says “I love you,” and refuses kill her. Azrael informs her that she has failed the test, and turns his attention to Dick Grayson.