Batman has had quite a few different bat combinations over the course of his superhero career, and his most low-tech costume is one of the strongest.
Batman has worn a number of costumes over his 80-year history, including the mysterious Suit of Sorrows. This armor was created at the end of the 12th century by the Order of Purity, an offshoot of the Order of Saint-Dumas. The original wearer of the costume was Sir Geoffrey De Cantonna whose combat prowess and efficiency have become legendary. The battle rage the suit bestowed upon him gave him the strength to defeat hundreds of his enemies, but at the cost of his own sanity. His thirst for blood and the horrific number of bodies were blamed on the Moors, to absolve the Order of all blame.
Batman received the armor from Talia, the daughter of his nemesis Ra’s Al Ghul. As with De Cantonna, Batman’s prowess has been enhanced exponentially. The Dark Knight has fought well beyond standard levels of human endurance, even with a badly broken arm. As Batman realized that Suit of Sorrows was a great tool, the way he pushed him beyond his physical and rational limits led him to consider destroying him. In the end, he decided to lock her up in the Batcave instead.
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Batman isn’t the only DC hero to have worn or been affected by the Suit of Sorrows. The events of Grant Morrison and Tony S. Daniel’s “Batman RIP” in Batman # 676-681 led to the Dark Knight being listed as missing, presumed dead. At that point, the Order of Purity collected the armor and gave it to Michael Lane, the second official Azrael. The early heroic Azraels, Jean-Paul Valley and Lane were originally the instruments of the Order’s divine retribution.
Legends surrounding the Suit of Sorrows were told that the armor was endowed with the fighting spirit of anyone who had worn it before, as well as the rage of Azrael, the Angel of Death. Over the years, wearing the costume has taken its toll, both mentally and physically, on both Lane and Valley. It has been said that only those who are “pure in heart” deserve to wear the costume, but human beings are, by definition, imperfect creatures. Batman and Jean-Paul have proven themselves to be heroes countless times, but both have human flaws and weaknesses.
Over the years, Batman’s suits have varied in style and power, from the Rainbow Bat and Silver Age Zebra suits to the motorized armor that allows Batman to take on each other. against Superman and Darkseid. In “Endgame”, the dark knight wore armor powerful enough to fend off a “jokerized” Justice League. Unlike the grief suit, however, most of this armor used power and resources, rather than Batman’s rage, psyche, or physical well-being. Closest in terms of cost to Batman’s health was the “Hellbat” armor. This costume gave the Dark Knight superhuman strength and stamina, but could end up killing the Caped Crusader if he used it for too long.
The original Suit of Sorrows may have been low-tech, but it turned out to be a force to be reckoned with. The Dark Knight is a powerless superhero, but he’s arguably the most respected and feared crime fighter in the DC Universe. He had to don armor to win fights, but it was his drive and heart that ultimately won him the victory.
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