- I am the Dark Knight of God! I am Azrael
- — Azrael
Synopsis for "Book One: Simple Sacrifices"
A crazed man dressed in a similar fashion to Azrael, the Order of St. Dumas' Avenging Angel, has captured an undercover police officer who has been working for Johnny Stitches and using a flaming sword, he beheads the man for his supposed crimes.
The police soon find the body and Harvey Bullock investigates the case, which is similar to another case he is already investigating. Vicki Vale and many other reporters cover the events and the news about the murder reach the leaders of the Order of Purity, a faction of the Order of St. Dumas, who are responsible for this new Azrael and his activities. After learning of the unfortunate events, they decide that it's time to seek a replacement for their soldier.
Meanwhile, Michael Lane goes to a church and confesses his crime as an accomplice in Batman's death. The priest who hears the confession is part of the Order of Purity and he informs the rest of the group about Lane. They decide to investigate Lane's past and after finding that most of his family is dead and that he was part of Dr. Hurt's experiments on the search of a replacement for Batman, they decide that he is the most suitable candidate to become the new Azrael.
In the meantime, Michael Lane goes to the Gotham Cemetery, where he visits the graves of almost his entire family. His sister-in-law finds him there and tries to convince him to join her family, but he prefers to stay alone.
At the Batcave, Nightwing learns about the death of the undercover police officer and talks to Oracle about the possibilities and they think of Jason Todd and Jean-Paul Valley as their possible suspects, but none of them match the M.O. At that moment, they realize that someone has created a Bat-Signal with the letters R.I.P. on it and Nightwing goes to investigate.
The signal is seen all over Gotham and Michael Lane stops in the middle of the street, just like all the other citizens of Gotham, to take a look at the ominous sign. While all the people wonder if that means that Batman is gone, Adrian Paratino, from the Order of Purity approaches Lane and talks to him about his succession to the cowl. Lane attacks Paratino, but soon he tells him to join him and listen to his offer.
They go to the Church of the Holy Redeemer, where the Order of Purity introduce themselves to Lane and explain their mission and purpose. In the end, they explain that the Suit of Sorrows, which had been stolen from them, is finally under their possession once more and they offer him the chance to become their new Azrael.
Lane agrees with the condition that they erase the bat emblem from the armor's chest and he leaves the place, telling them to contact him when everything is ready. As soon as Lane steps out of the church, he is attacked by Merlyn and the rest of the Seven Men of Death, but he dodges the arrow aimed to him and he enters back in the temple. Lane goes to the room where the leaders of the Order of Purity are gathered and tells them to find cover, but it is too late, as the assassins have entered the place and they are eliminating them one by one. Lane takes the Suit of Sorrows and puts it on, painting a red cross on the armor's chest and activating the Sword of Sin. Armed with the flaming sword, Lane claims to be Azrael and he manages to defeat most of his opponents. However, the Sword of Sin starts losing its power and Lane is attacked by Talia, who is wielding the Sword of Salvation and uses the weapon to stab Lane across the chest.
Appearing in "Book One: Simple Sacrifices"
- Michael Lane (First appearance as Azrael)
- Gotham City Police Department
- Harvey Bullock
- Jimmy "The Bat" Burrows (Only appearance; dies)
- Jenny Lane (First appearance)
- The Network
- Order of Purity (First appearance)
- Vicki Vale
- Abraham Arlington (insane Azrael)
- League of Assassins
- Barbara Lane (Mentioned only)
- Chanté Jericho Coles (Mentioned only)
- Gotham University Nighthawks (In a photograph only)
- Gwendolyn Eliza Lane (In a photograph only)
- Henry Mitchell Lane (Mentioned only)
- Jason Todd (Mentioned only)
- Jean-Paul Valley (Mentioned only)
- Johnny Stitches (Mentioned only)
- M.J. Lane (Mentioned only)
- Marion Martin Lane (In a photograph only)
- Mitchell Douglas Lane (Mentioned only)
- Robin (Mentioned only)
- Sacred Order of St. Dumas (Mentioned only)
- Tamara Lane (Mentioned only)
- Three Ghosts of Batman (In a photograph only)
- This is a Battle for the Cowl crossover; based on events seen in this issue, it seems to take place simultaneously with the first issue. Nightwing is not yet aware of Jason Todd's whereabouts, and they watch the Bat-Signal appear with R.I.P. written on it.
- This issue establishes several facts about Michael Lane's origins.
- There is a special thank to Grant Morrison in the credit box.
- Abraham Arlington was first seen stealing the Suit of Sorrows in Outsiders No More.
- Harvey Bullock mentions a "hit at Nini's" which is a reference to his earlier investigation.
- The character Leland McCauley is a clear reference to the 30th Century businessman Leland McCauley, an enemy to the Legion of Super-Heroes. This man is probably an ancestor.
- The Suit of Sorrows was given to Batman by Talia al Ghul in The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul.
- The date on the Gotham Gazette is incorrect, as it lists March 18, 2009 as Monday. The real day was Wednesday.
- Cover gallery for the Azrael: Death's Dark Knight series
- Images from Azrael: Death's Dark Knight Vol 1 1
- Azrael Recommended Reading