Azazel claims that he is one of the oldest mutants alive, having existed some 1,000 years BCE. The truth of this claim is unknown; however, there have been sightings of mutants in his unique strain dating as far back as the mid-14th century.
Azazel claims that his strain of mutation, called the Neyaphem (or Nephilim or Nephalem) strain, is the origin of humanity's myths about the physical appearance of Satan. However, accepting this as truth would contradict the historically-accepted adoption of traditional Satanic imagery by Christian churches over the centuries from a wide variety of pagan sources, including the Greek god Pan.
What is known to be verifiably true is that Azazel is the overlord of a hellish parallel dimension, referred to as the Brimstone Dimension for its unique, ubiquitous stench, and that he is the leader of a group of mutants that refer to themselves as Neyaphem, all with similar appearances and powers, who all claim to be descended from him in some fashion. It is also known that other groups of like-powered mutants, namely the Romulus strain (a specific brand of zoanthropic ferals) or the Cheyarafem or Serafim strain (winged "angels" to the Neyaphem's "demons") seem to group together in similar fashion to the Neyaphem in some parts of the world, and that these groups have clashed with each other multiple times.
The only provable pubic records of Azazel himself begin in the mid-20th century, when he first approached Raven Darkholme and her longtime consort, Irene Adler, with a bargain. Azazel claimed that he had been watching Raven and Irene for some time, and was aware of both Raven's true identity as the shapeshifter Mystique and Irene's precognitive powers and "Diaries of Destiny". Impressed with their abilities and seeking to exploit them, Azazel offered a proposal to the two women; he would marry one of them and bring the other into his household as a high-ranking member of his staff, thus enabling the two long-time lovers to continue their relationship safely out of public eyes. Moreover, he would give the aging, ailing Irene a special potion, the Elixir Vitae, which would restore her youth and prolong her life. In exchange, they would use their powers in tandem with his own.
Raven and Irene amassed their considerable fortunes and combined them with Azazel's to create the Wagner estate, fabricating the myth of a powerful family within the Austrian aristocracy, ousted from their position after the first World War, but still possessed of their remarkable fortune. Under the guise of Adrian and Raven Wagner, and their handmaiden Irene, the three commissioned a beautiful manor house in the Bavarian Alps, where they settled into a position of comfort, privilege, and debauchery, all of them relatively free from the sexual taboos of the time. Outwardly they appeared to be the exemplars of upper-class gentry, but behind closed doors the three of them enjoyed an open, polyamorous relationship, with minimal jealousy on anyone's part. It was a moment of perfection, and the most benign Azazel had ever been in his centuries of interdimensional despotism and dark sorcery.
The Birth of Nightcrawler
The late 20th century saw an end to the idyllic existence enjoyed by the three mutant aristocrats. Mystique was impregnated by Azazel, and due to the Neyaphem strain in Azazel's genetic code - or perhaps as a side-effect of the dark magicks he practiced - their son was born with a mixture of his parents' natural features. Kurt Wagner had his mother's naturally cerulean skin and his father's fangs, tail, demonic features, and unique three-fingered hands and two-toed feet. Those who bore witness to the birth were shocked and dismayed, and word quickly spread of the demon child.
Attitudes being what they were in this part of the world at the time, the townspeople assumed Mystique, the mother, must have been a witch, a suspicion they felt confirmed when in her panic she reverted to her true form. In the pandemonium of the forming angry mob, Azazel simply vanished, abandoning his wife, her lover, and his son to their fates as he sought to plan anew. He assumed all of them slain by the mob, and so disappeared for a decade, living in hiding in his Brimstone Dimension, only returning to Earth a few times to attempt to sire more Neyaphem, with varying degrees of success.
The "Missing Wagner Heir"
Eventually, of course, Azazel grew bored with his life in hiding, and returned to Earth full time. By now, the story of the Wagner estate fiasco had faded into a vague local legend about some form of curse, the tale practically unrecognizable compared with the actual event. Taking advantage of this, as well as his long absence, Azazel adopted a new guise - that of Christian Wagner, a long-lost relation to Adrian Wagner, and thus entitled to all the estate's assets, financial and otherwise. The locals, believing those assets to be cursed, were only too willing to be rid of them, giving them to "Christian" with no qualms whatsoever, including the hundreds of euros' worth of interest.
Having reacquired his vast wealth through subterfuge, Azazel felt ready for a new step forward. The emergence of superpowered individuals in the early 21st century, including a significant boom in the mutant population, encouraged the despot to try his hand at world conquest. Rather than attempt a brute-force takeover as some less refined supervillains might, Azazel moved to England, where "Christian Wagner" allied himself with the Hellfire Club. Through a long game of alliances, manipulations, seductions, and bargains, Azazel managed to ally himself closely with the Hellfire Club's Red Queen, former Sorceress Supreme Margali Szardos, and become the Inner Circle's Red King. He had no idea that he was working with the woman who had raised the son he'd abandoned, and she was similarly unaware (thanks to his maintaining the sophisticated glamour of a human appearance) that "Christian Wagner" was secretly the absentee father of Kurt Wagner, the mutant she had loved like a son.
Powers & Abilities
Azazel is a mutant, the oldest known carrier of the Neyaphem strain of mutation, and a skilled sorcerer.
Teleportation: In addition to his unique physical appearance and characteristics, Azazel's primary mutant power is the ability to teleport himself, the clothes he is wearing, and an unspecified amount of additional mass which is in contact with him instantly from one place to another. He teleports by displacing himself into the Brimstone Dimension, traveling through it, and then returning to his own dimension at a destination of his choosing. The entire process occurs so quickly that Azazel is unaware of being in the Brimstone Dimension at all. However, when teleporting with "passengers", the Brimstone Dimension's arcane energies can often leave them shaky, sick, and weak.
- Subconscious Spatial Awareness: Azazel has a subconscious, extrasensory ability that prevents him from materializing within solid objects, to a certain degree. However, this does not always work well with blind teleports, so Azazel prefers to travel to a place he can see or somewhere he has already been, rather than teleporting into a new area.
Neyaphem Physiology: Azazel, like all Neyaphem, possesses certain physical attributes unique to that strain.
- Physical Adherence: Azazel can stick to objects with the surface of his body. This enables him to scale vertical surfaces, or even crawl upside-down, provided the surface he is on possesses enough friction for him to grasp it.
- Master Acrobat: Azazel's agility, balance, reflexes, and bodily coordination are enhanced to levels beyond the human body's natural limits, making him one of the best acrobats in the world. In addition, his bone structure allows him great flexibility, allowing him contortionist abilities and a degree of dexterity with his feet as well as his hands.
- Prehensile Tail: Azazel can use his tail as a third hand, allowing him to grab onto objects with relative ease. It is strong enough to not only support his body weight, but also lift an adult man completely off the ground. Additionally, it possesses the dexterity to write, or use a sword, as well as either of his hands.
- Night Vision: Azazel's distinctive glowing eyes grant him heightened night vision.
- Camouflage: Partly due to his dark red fur, and partly due to his connection to the Brimstone Dimension, Azazel can become completely invisible when in deep enough shadows, even to electronic devices like night-vision cameras. However, he remains detectable to thermal or telepathic scans unless he takes appropriate countermeasures.
Brimstone Dimension Mastery: Azazel seems to be the master of the Brimstone Dimension through which he and his son Nightcrawler teleport. Within the realm, he seems to be able to alter reality itself to suit his whim, commanding that plane's elements, conjuring objects from thin air or banishing them back into it, creating mindless demonic servants to do his bidding, and even complete control over the passage of time within the dimension. Parallels have been drawn between the Brimstone Dimension and Limbo, the extradimensional realm currently ruled by the X-Men's Magik. However, unlike Limbo, most travellers through the Brimstone Dimension forget everything that transpired while they were within it, and travel through it occurs instantaneously from the perspective of people outside it. Azazel is, of course, immune to this memory loss.
Sorcery: Azazel is a practicing sorcerer with centuries of experience. He possesses power roughly equivalent to a Sorcerer Supreme, however, he has little interest in protecting either Earth or his own Brimstone Dimension from external influences or invasion, so he does not hold the rank itself for either realm. However, he is possessed of many powers and abilities, some unique only to himself.
- Glamour: Azazel's most used supernatural ability while on Earth is the ability to mystically alter his form to appear in any way he wishes. He usually prefers to take an attractive male form of roughly his height and weight, though that is hardly his only option. His glamour skills are such that even psychics or other sorcerers, like Margali Szardos, cannot break it or perceive his true form through it, though in some cases an astute mystic will know that there is a glamour being cast. His glamour spells can only be broken by the Eye of Agamotto, or a similarly powerful artifact of truth.
- Summoning: Azazel can conjure demonic servants within his Brimstone Realm, of varying sizes, shapes, and forms. These creatures will be of limited intelligence and awareness, with no will of their own, only able to perform simple tasks or fight for him, but once created, he can summon them to do his bidding.
- Brimstone Energy: While most sorcerers tend to use the ambient magical energies of Earth or their own innate energy for energy blasts, or else wield elemental powers, Azazel can draw raw power directly from the Brimstone Dimension and focus it into a deadly purple energy, which he can then wield as he chooses. As one might expect, constructs and blasts composed of this specific type of energy carry the distinctive stench of brimstone.
- Blood Magic: Azazel can, in times of need, enhance his magical powers or teleportation ability, either through shedding his own blood or the blood of someone else. He carries a sacrificial knife with him at all times, so that he can make quick use of this ability should the need arise. The more blood is spilled, the greater his power grows. These power surges will often fade after one or two spells or "jaunts".
- Longevity: Azazel is at least 600 years old, possibly as old as 3,000, but retains the appearance and physicality of a man in his early 40s at peak physical condition.
Swordsmanship: In another curious parallel with his son Nightcrawler, Azazel is a master swordsman, extremely skilled in the use of cutlasses or rapiers, equally adept at using both his hands or even his tail.
Brimstone Dimension dependency: The vast majority of Azazel's magic comes from the Brimstone Dimension. If his ability to access it is cut off (i.e. with a mutant suppression collar), his ability to cast spells is diminished to nearly nothing, and he will be rendered completely unable to teleport.
Inertia: Azazel ends a teleport jump with the same velocity as he is traveling when he initiates it. Therefore, if he is traveling at a high enough velocity, simply teleporting cannot slow his momentum. However, he can use teleportation along with his acrobatic skill to turn his momentum to its best advantage, or lessen the impact when he finally does land.
Blind Teleport: Azazel dislikes teleporting into any place that he cannot see, or has not been to in the past. If he teleports himself into an unfamiliar area, he runs the risk of materializing within a solid object. He possesses a limited sense of spatial awareness that prevents this, but without a mental "map" in his head of where he is going, the risk gives Azazel pause, though he is less squeamish about it than his son Kurt.
Displacement: Azazel displaces air and liquid when he teleports -- air being displaced is what causes the signature "BAMF!" sound whenever he or his son Nightcrawler do so -- but he cannot displace solid matter. If his body materializes within a solid object, he can be injured, maimed, or even killed.
Range: The longer the distance over which Azazel teleports himself, the more difficult and exhausting it is for him to make the jump. His range is exponentially higher than his son's, able to teleport hundreds of miles in a single "jaunt", but it is not unlimited. Teleporting upwards is even more difficult for him, though he can teleport upwards to the edge of Earth's atmosphere, and safely to the ground from nearly any height, provided he has not built up too much momentum.
Predictability: Likely in part due to his extreme longevity, Azazel's combat tactics are fairly predictable. Similarly, his larger plans usually involve a seduction of some sort, generally with the intent to produce another offspring.