Gotham – The Sacred Order Of St. Dumas


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On the fifth episode of the second season of Fox’s Gotham, titled “Scarification“, audiences were introduced to the Sacred Order of St. Dumas — a religious sect that was related to one of Gotham’s past powerful families, the Dumas, a.k.a. the Galavans.  In the final scene of the episode, Theo and a member of the order, Father Creel, exposed their plans of releasing their agents onto Gotham’s landscape and killing Bruce Wayne.  For people not well-versed in the comics, the Sacred Order of St. Dumas is not a creation of the show, it has its roots in the comics.  And one of their most famous agents, Azrael, a.k.a Jean-Paul Valley, would stand in for Batman after the Dark Knight famously has his back broken by Bane.

History of the Order

First introduced in Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (October 1992), the Sacred Order of St. Dumal were an offshoot of the Knights Templar.  A religious sect formed during the Crusades, the Order had a falling out with the Templars which caused them to break out on their own.  As the name suggests, the group devoted itself to the teachings of Dumas.  They first trained an Asian man named Stephen Forrest Lee who would go by the name of “Dumas.”  When Lee failed in a fight with Manhunter, the Order further broke into two groups.  The more extremist splinter of the two would go on to train the first Azrael, Abraham Arlington.

Azrael’s purpose was to be the splinter group’s enforcer and assassin.  The splinter group assured its own survival and growth by means of killing their enemies and assimilating knowledge via the abduction of the greatest thinkers in the world.  Jean-Paul Valley, a later recipient of the Azrael title and the one who briefly took over the Batman mantle, would destroy the splinter group.

There was also another group that called themselves the Order of Purity.  To protect their religion, the group created the Suit of Sorrows — a chain mail tabard made from the armor of one hundred Crusaders.  The suit would be given to the Champion of the Order.  However, most who have worn the armor have gone insane.  Some speculate that it may be due to the blood debt of the original owners of the armor or from the psychological weight alone.  The suit would later be taken by Ra’s al Ghul who would pass it on to his daughter, Talia.  She would then gift it to Batman.

In the Batman R.I.P. (May 2008 to November 2008) story arc, the Order of Purity stole back the suit from the Batcave for the purposes of bestowing it on Michael Lane — the latest Azrael.

Gotham‘s Interpretation

Gotham has once again diluted a lore that could’ve been a fascinating entry into the rich world of Batman’s mythology.  By introducing the Order of St. Dumas too soon and making their beef with Bruce Wayne a blood feud, the writers have created an uncompelling enemy.  There was no reason in taking so many liberties with this history.

Azrael is a key character in the Knightfall story arc, where Batman has his back broken by Bane, and makes a long and hard journey in order to reclaim his role as the Dark Knight and protector of Gotham.  If Gotham really wanted a story about the Order of St. Dumas, they needed only to introduce one new character and not have it tie into Bruce Wayne’s story so soon.  The reveal, due to its blatant nature, also makes the Order’s existence somewhat bland.

This is now the biggest question on people’s minds: Is Theo Galavan Azrael?  Or an Azrael?  Are the writers now implying that Tigress is related to the Order?  Also, Will we be seeing a young Jean-Paul Valley?  What do you think?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Fox’s Gotham airs on Mondays at 8:00PM EST.

Next: Catch up on Gotham with a review of 'Scarification'

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