Batman : Sword of Azrael Book Four : No One Is innocent
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Joe Quesada
Inker : Kevin Nowlan
Colourist : Lovern Kinzierski
Seperations : None
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Bill Kaplan
Editor : Archie Goodwin

Synopsis :

Azrael attempts to save Harcourt but Harcourt is dead by the time he arrives, while Azrael pauses by the body Lehah escapes. This earned Azrael a reprimand from Nomoz. Alfred suggests that they look for Lehah in his oil refinery in texas and Azrael journeys there to rescue Batman. Bruce Wayne tries to out smart Lehah but only manages to drive him into a more fanatical mood. As Azrael intervenes Lehah fires at him but punctures the pipelines carrying gasoline. Lehah's own blowtorch ignites the fuel and the refinery becomes a blazing inferno, instead of killing Lehah as he had been ordered to Azrael rescues Bruce Wayne. In this act of defiance Azrael breaks free of his programming and is able to recall his name, Jean-Paul Valley

Review :

Denny's skill as a writer is evident in Sword of Azrael he uses allegories and mythology to paint an entertaining portrait of adventure. The use of symbolism to furthur the Angel/Demon theme and Lehah's possible madness may or may not be obvious to the first time reader but become obvious with repeated readings. Denny's storytelling style is unlike any other I've seen, not dispassionate third person or constant use of first person, but instead Denny uses a succession of first person narrators to drive the captioned scenes. This allows us to examine the story from many view points and examine the psychological make up of these characters. An unseen side affect of this is that half the action is in the past tense while the other is in the present, this shifting approach to linear story telling has been used to great effect by Alan Moore in such stories as "Watchmen" and "The Killing Joke" and the use of it here in Sword of Azrael works incredibly well giving a distinct style to Azrael not seen in any other title.

Rant :

Jean-Paul's ability to cut through the mental fog of the system and reclaim his own identity brings up the question of whether it was due to a strong individual personality or whether genetic integrety of the Azraels was breaking down (, this one wears glasses ). What exactly happened to Nomoz after this, he didn't reappear for almost two years after the ongoing started? There is only one thing to complain about, Joe Quesada's rather frequent use of two page portrait layouts, at least he's toned it down a bit from what I've seen of his recent work and his stuff looks better than ever.

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