As a patrolman, Michael Washington Lane took part in a secret attempt to create replacements should Batman ever fall in his war on crime. The project was overseen by Doctor Simon Hurt. In order to reproduce the tragedy that drove Bruce Wayne, Lane's family was wiped out.
With the part he played in Hurt's attack on Batman, he seeks redemption. And this is a desire that the Order of Purity seeks to play upon, asking him to take up the Suit of Sorrows and the mantle of Azrael. The original spliter group of the Order of St. Dumas that created the Suit of Sorrows, they know full well the terrible price it's bearer must pay.
But Talia, daughter of Ra's al Ghul gave the Suit of Sorrows into Batman's keeping. And she is determined to have it back, now that Bruce Wayne is presumed dead.
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