During Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s acclaimed run on JLA, many offbeat and unorthodox superheroes joined the roster of the DC Universe’s premier super-team, but none of these new Justice League members were more unusual than Zauriel. As a literal avenging angel, Zauriel was an agent of The Presence — the DCU’s incarnation of God that similarly commanded the Spectre — that secretly protected Earth since the dawn of time.
After an impromptu rescue of Aquaman, the character was officially inducted onto the team, but he’s faded into the background of the DC Universe since the DC Rebirth era began in 2016.
Created by Morrison, Porter, Mark Millar and John Dell in 1997’s JLA #6, Zauriel’s role was originally intended by Morrison to be filled by Hawkman. However, with DC Comics placing a temporary moratorium on the character while the publisher sorted out his convoluted backstory following Zero Hour, Morrison decided to create a new character altogether. Zauriel discovered the angelic general Asmodel planned to overthrow The Presence with his own heavenly host while falling in love with a mortal woman in San Francisco. Asmodel had Zauriel cast out of Heaven, which made him mortal and caught the attention of the Martian Manhunter.
As Zauriel acclimated to his new surroundings, he was attacked by agents of Asmodel before successfully repelling them and saving Aquaman’s life. With his incredible abilities and knowledge of the spiritual and supernatural, Zauriel joined the Justice League as its new magical expert.
Even as a mortal, Zauriel possessed superhuman strength, speed, endurance and enhanced senses. Zauriel could use his wings to fly into the cold vacuum of space and into the depths of the ocean without the need to breathe. Zauriel can also unleash a sonic scream — which he refers to as the “Sonic Flash” — to obliterate any target, including fellow angels. And while Zauriel has been cast out of Heaven, he still possesses a telepathic link to The Presence and other angels and retains the ability to sense the good and evil in individuals around him. Zauriel’s powers are augmented while he wields his signature flaming sword, which also gives him dimensional teleportation and the ability to project heavenly fire.
After Asmodel entered an alliance with the demonic Neron to boost Asmodel’s rogue ranks with demons in an invasion of Heaven, Zauriel was successful in defeating Asmodel and casting him into Hell to become Neron’s prisoner. Restored in Heaven’s good graces, Zauriel was given a set of divine armor and his own headquarters in the Aerie, a structure floating above Los Angeles. Continuing to serve the Justice League in a support capacity, Zauriel would be pivotal in helping Hal Jordan become a host for the Spectre as well as serving as a spiritual counselor to the DCU’s superheroes.
During the New 52, the reimagined Zauriel monitors the Phantom Stranger after the omnipotent figure is revealed to be a cursed Judas Iscariot, who was punished for betraying Jesus Christ. When the Phantom Stranger disobeys The Presence and attempts to protect his mortal family, Zauriel personally erases the Stranger from existence for a time, before he is restored by The Presence to carry out a new mission on Earth. Zauriel was last seen combatting the monstrous Blight during Forever Evil while the Phantom Stranger and Pandora team up on their own mission to save the DCU from overwhelming evil.
While Zauriel has yet to make a major appearance during DC Rebirth, the door is certainly open for the angelic superhero to make his heavenly return to the DC Universe. As the DCU moves towards the Dark Nights: Death Metal crossover event, the rise of villains like Perpetua and the continued threat of the Dark Multiverse may be cause enough for Zauriel to emerge again and rejoin his old allies on the Justice League bringing divine retribution against the resurgence of evil in the DCU.
In the '90s, Batman and Superman had adventures alongside an actual angel in Justice League, but this heavenly hero hasn't appeared in years.