Created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, Zauriel was part of Morrison's revival plans for the JLA comic book as a viable replacement for Hawkman. However, Hawkman's origins had become overly convoluted due to various rewrites, continuity implants, and retcons by a number of different writers. As a result, DC editors declared the Hawkman identity to be "off limits" and forbade Morrison from utilizing the name during his writing tenure on the JLA; even though his version had no direct links or ties to the character. Disappointed, Morrison tried to change the editor's minds and according to one interview, even stated:
"It's a good name and it seems a shame to let it go to waste. We're hoping that fans will figure 'For God's sake, let's just call him Hawkman and get him in the Justice League as Hawkman,' and the editors will relent. We're hoping to start a campaign." Grant Morrison; Wizard JLA Special
But DC held firm and resisted his attempts to change their minds; although Morrison did allude to the Hawkman connection by having Aquaman mistakenly calling him as Katar (Hawkman's civilian identity) when he first saw the shadowy winged figure of Zauriel.
Since the dawn of creation, Zauriel served The Presence as a guardian angel, protecting the souls of countless women, including Cleopatra, Mona Lisa and Joan of Arc. Finally (a few years ago, by mortal reckoning), he fell in love with his then-current assignment, Shannon Coyne, a woman with a boyfriend from San Francisco. At about the same time, Zauriel accidentally learned of the secret plans of the Asmodel (King-Angel of the Bull Host, the most war-loving and vicious of the hosts, and one of the generals of Heaven's armies) and a legion of Bull angels to attempt to succeed where Lucifer failed and overthrow the Presence.
In an attempt to kill two birds with one stone (finally being with his true love and escaping Asmodel's wrath), Zauriel pleaded his case before the four King-Angels (one of which was Asmodel), expressing his desire to abandon his position in Heaven as a guardian angel and seek his love on Earth. The King-Angels told Zauriel the story of Michael, a guardian angel from long ago who found himself in a similar situation: after leaving Heaven to meet his love, disaster struck, preventing Michael from having the life he sought. Michael found himself alone, broken-hearted, and unable to return to Heaven. Zauriel refused to listen to the King-Angels and they granted him mortality.
Upon reaching Earth, Zauriel immediately finds that a group of Bull angels followed him down, adopting temporary mortal flesh themselves granted by Asmodel himself, in an attempt to hunt him down and kill him before he could inform Heaven of their plot. Zauriel meets up with the JLA and they fight back. Zauriel's sonic scream proved especially helpful.
Asmodel appeared on the scene. He brought backup, a massive angelic chariot that slowly crushed San Francisco as it descended. Wonder Woman helped Zauriel slow the ship. Aquaman told the Flash (Wally West) how Zauriel defeated the bull angel earlier, and together with the help of Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), they discerned the angel's weaknesses and managed to defeat them.
The JLA was impressed, and Zauriel is later invited to joined the JLA during their first major recruitment drive. During his brief membership of the JLA, Zauriel eagerly volunteered to be team historian, documenting the League's many epic adventures. He also took on the role of Trophy Room curator, cataloging the mementos on display.
He tracked down his former charge, introduced himself and professed his love for her. However, before she could truly respond, Zauriel realized that Asmodel had returned, seeking revenge for his defeat.
Sentenced to Hell for his transgression, Asmodel met up with the demon-king Neron and joined forces with him, doubling the size of Asmodel's army by adding Neron's demons to his original army of angels. Zauriel tracked down the previously-mentioned Michael, seeking his aid. Meanwhile, Asmodel adopted the form of a child and mounted an attack on the JLA Watchtower, resulting in the actual death of the Martian Manhunter, who then aided Zauriel in Heaven itself. who was later brought back by Flash, who excited the unusual shape-shifting cells of J'onn's body.
From there, Asmodel and Neron led their forces to Heaven, and actually beat back the armies of Paradise. Slaughtering his way towards the throne-room of The Presence Himself, Asmodel finds an abandoned room instead, empty except for Zauriel himself. Confused, Asmodel demands to know where God is, and is informed by Zauriel that The Presence is, in fact, everywhere and in everything. Finally realizing that there is no true way he could ever defeat God, Asmodel turned to Neron for help, but the demon had abandoned the former King-Angel. Sentenced to Hell yet again, Asmodel became a prisoner of Neron.
After the object of Zauriel's affection decided to stick with her boyfriend, Heaven assigned Zauriel as their ambassador to Earth to be a beacon of hope and reassurance. He was granted a suit of Heavenly armor and a new headquarters, the Aerie, a structure floating over Los Angeles . Accepting the JLA's offer for membership, Zauriel joined them on various missions.
Asmodel didn't stay beaten for long, and soon bonded himself to the host-less Spectre in the Day of Judgment crossover. Gaining sudden, immeasurable power, Asmodel froze Hell and returned to Earth, leading to immense destruction. The heroes of Earth united, the bulk of which went to fight Spectre directly, while a smaller detachment, led by Zauriel, left for Purgatory to find a soul eligible to replace Asmodel's inside the Spectre. They found Hal Jordan.
Returning to Earth with Jordan's soul in tow, the group met up with the others and Jordan entered the Spectre, leading to an internal conflict that ultimately forced Asmodel out, establishing Jordan as the Spectre.
Zauriel also confronted a version of the Spectre, stopping him from delivering the death blow to Triumph, a former superhero turned villain. Spectre told Zauriel that his insubordination would not go well for him in the Courts of Light.
Zauriel's career with the JLA continued until the galactic threat known as Mageddon arrived, whose hate-mongering effect motivated Lex Luthor to join up with Prometheus, Queen Bee and General Wade Eiling, aka The General. With the Earth facing immediate destruction, both from itself and Mageddon, Luthor planted bombs on the Watchtower. As the JLA evacuated, Zauriel did what an angel should, he died so that others might live. With the Watchtower booby-trapped by the Injustice Gang, Zauriel gave his teammates time to evacuate, but was consumed in a thermonuclear fire.
Arriving in Heaven, Zauriel discovered that Paradise had abandoned all hope for Earth's survival and were already designing a replacement world. Zauriel begged Heaven for aid, His spirit pleaded humanity's cause in Heaven. As Mageddon neared earth, Zauriel tried to convince the angels of Pax Dei to fight for Heaven and Earth. But was turned down. They did, however, grant him the option to return to Earth himself and stand by the mortals he loves so much. Zauriel accepted, and asked the others to listen to the Presence in their hearts. He was about to leave when countless hosts of angels volunteered to accompany him back to Earth and aid in the struggle against Mageddon. Leading his army of angels, Zauriel returned and prevented the nations of the world from blowing each other to oblivion, while the JLA stopped Mageddon itself.
With the Mageddon situation resolved, a number of Leaguers parted ways with the JLA, Zauriel included. He later appeared for a memorial, commemorating the end of the modern JLA.
He gives advice to Hawkgirl about the future and the current status of the souls in her body, explains the angelic nature of that version of Supergirl while assisting her in defeating a demonic invasion of Hollywood. Zauriel even bonds with the Spectre power itself, during an incident where Hal deals with an ancient entity who wants to turn the Earth into a long-lost paradise.
Zauriel is shown leading a group of heroes in an ecumenical prayer service during the Infinte Crisis, and was also hit square in the chest and through his right wing by Superboy-Prime's heat vision. Zauriel then chronicles the events following Infinite Crisis. It may indicate that Zauriel was injured but recovered, or it may be that Zauriel returned quickly from death. Since Zauriel has died before and returned, these are all plausible explanations.
Ralph Dibny recruits Zauriel, along with Green Lantern, Metamorpho and Green Arrow, to infiltrate a resurrection cult supposedly based on Kryptonian theology. Dibny hoped that these four, because of their significant experience with the afterlife, would be able to judge whether the cult's goal of bodily resurrecting his dead wife was viable. The meeting ends badly; the heroes break up the cult but they had been on to something, the resurrection had brought back something...the resulting stresses drive Ralph Dibny temporarily mad.
One Year Later
Zauriel is dragged away from an awkward Sunday school 'Question and Answer' session in order to retrieve the helmet from the planet of Alstair, populated by plant-animal hybrids. Okeontis, a vampire-like fungus creature, plans to use its power to overthrow tyrant queen Hyathis. Zauriel ambiguously destroys Okeontis and her controlling intelligence, and sends the Helmet of Fate back on its quest for a new keeper.
Zauriel has recently been given the mission to destroy the Shadowpact member Blue Devil, who has been demoted to the rank of a Rhyming Demon in Hell's hierarchy. The angel Abariel told Zauriel that Blue Devil is leading humans to admire and even want to emulate his demonic path, and must be eliminated despite the fact that, as Zauriel said, "This world owes its existence to him more than once." Zauriel has accepted the assignment, although he does not relish the task of killing someone he considers a proven hero.
After getting into a small fight with Blue Devil he is then convinced to join the Shadowpact in the place of Blue Devil. He is given Michael's Battle Spear which is more powerful than his sword as he takes Blue Devil's place on the team.
Zauriel has a darker complexion, is bald and has sigils inked or carved across his body. His assignment is to help The Stranger find his wife and two children. Zauriel leads The Stranger and tells him that he must choose one to bring back from Heaven. The Stranger can not choose and realizes that Chris Esperanza, the babysitter, was the one that was meant to brought back from Heaven. Zauriel tells The Stranger he must never attempt to take another soul from Heaven or he will be erased from existence.
Zauriel tracks The Stranger, accompanied by Batman, Deadman, and Katanna, who is back to claim the soul of Dr. Light. The heroes are sent back to Earth while Zauriel erases The Stranger from time and history.
Powers & Skills
Zauriel's most visible special properties are his wings, which grant him flight at incredible speeds and with a high degree of control.
The most potent of Zauriel's powers is his devastating sonic scream (sometimes called a "sonic flash"), which is capable of tremendous amounts of destruction. An ability that is specific to angels of the Eagle Host, Zauriel's scream is acutely attuned to the vibrational frequency that angels adopt when temporarily descending to the Earthly plane, enabling Zauriel to vaporize an angel in milliseconds. It is speculated that his scream could liquify a normal person. This scream can shatter steel or disintegrate the bodies of betraying Bull-Angels, robbing them of material form in the Earthly plane.
A less-defined property of Zauriel's angel-hood is what he refers to as his angelic over-mind, Zauriel's mental connection to Heaven. This connection grants Zauriel various abilities, including the ability to communicate with any type of animal and a divine connection to the flow of magic on Earth. He can also sense good and evil around him and in people.
Zauriel has a number of other powers, including a moderate amount of super-strength, toughness and agility when compared to a normal human. He is an expert in the ancient warfare, customs, and theologies of the Abrahamic religious traditions. For example, he invoked the beliefs of the Gnostic Christians when counseling Hawkgirl, and he can also perform what he calls the "Red Sea trick," enabling him to part a body of water in much the way Moses did. He has also been submersed in water at length without drowning on more than one occasion. Zauriel does not have the mortal need to eat, drink, or sleep, and seems to have a moderate healing factor.
Zauriel has quite a diverse and versatile set of skills. Zauriel is an incredible swordsman, having wielded a flaming sword (see Weapons and Equipment below) since the dawn of creation as a guardian angel. He also has amazing flight capabilities, again considering his eternity of experience. His role as a leader and a guide are impressive, as he has led groups into Heaven and has served as guidance to various individuals, including the present Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders.
Weapons & Equipment
Zauriel has three major pieces of equipment. The first is his Heavenly armor. Although built of Earthly materials, this prototype is designed by the engineers of Heaven and is blessed with magical properties that are theoretically impossible to replicate on Earth. This suit of armor greatly enhances Zauriel's physical properties, including strength, durability, foot speed, agility, flight speed and stamina.
Zauriel's second piece of equipment is his flaming sword. This sword, which is characteristic of both guardian angels depicted thus far, is directly bonded to Zauriel's will. It is able to emit blasts of holy fire, and because it is controlled by Zauriel's will, the sword can cut literally anything, including otherwise intangible objects and people, and even dimensional fabric itself. Zauriel was once able to cut a hole in the dimensional barrier separating Heaven and Earth when the blade was magically pumped up by teammates, enabling himself and his team to transverse dimensions.
Despite it being a heavenly weapon, Zauriel's sword can be exhausted of power. It has been blown out at least once, but was re-ignited by one of the powers wielded by the then-Supergirl.
Zauriel's final piece of equipment is his headquarters itself, the Aerie. Floating high over Los Angeles, this shining, golden tower is much like Zauriel's armor in that it is made of Earthly materials but is of Heavenly design. The equipment far surpasses the technology of other humans, even going as far as to supersede the technology within the JLA Watchtower.
Michael's Battle Spear
Zauriel is given this as he joins the Shadowpact, it is said to be more powerful than his Flaming Sword.