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Azrael #1 : Fallen Angel:1 Some Say in Fire
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Barry Kitson
Inker : James Pascoe
Colourist : Demetrius Bassoukos
Seperations : None
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Chuck Kim
Editor : Archie Goodwin

Synopsis :

A Demon Batman that resembles Biis demands Shoes from a Batman that resembles Azrael, the firey combat that ensues is a hallucination and when it clears Jean-Paul Valley is standing over a hoodlum who tried to rob him. Jean-Paul meets a man named Brian Bryan a former Psychiatrist who walks him to the homeless shelter where Jean-Paul is staying. The hoodlum he beat up meets with his freinds and they decide to exact revenge for the injustice done to them, having decided on their course of action they head for Brian's pile of cardboard boxes and attack him. Batman reveals to Robin that he feels a certain resposibility for Jean-Paul's situation and sets off to give him something while a contest is being fought somewhere to determine the next Azrael. Jean-Paul rescues Brian from the thugs before returning to the shelter, but the hoodlums who tried to attack Brian decide to set fire to the mission where Jean-Paul is staying, and as every one around him escapes Jean-Paul remains seated on his bunk reminding himself that if he sees something that should not be there he should ingnore it.

Review :

The introduction has an incredible power in that it induces a strong sense of the hallucination in the reader. Denny's dialogue is the key to this, rather than the artwork, the banter beteen Azrael and the Bat-Demon achieves this with the off key speech. The off key dialogue includes such gems as wet tissue metaphores and pistacio ice cream melting in a toaster oven, banter of a type not often seen in comics.

The treatment of the hoodlums also is a point of interest. Both a sideways swipe at society's general tendancy towards an I'm-the-victim-no-matter-what mentality and a subtle touch of humour. "I only told him I was gonna cut him and he did this to me." says one pointing to a black eye, when contemplating the two beatings he's recieved at the hands of Jean-Paul that day. In fact he decides it's because Jean-Paul cheated that he was beaten and that the only way to stop him cheating is to set fire to his home.

The art is reminiscent of the art in Sword of Azrael and the colouring is magnificent, the detail is incredible, look at the lenses of Jean-Pauls glasses and you will see finely detailed flames. James Pascoe's inks in particular remind me of Kevin Knowlan's work on Sword of Azrael, finely detailed lines adding fullness where it's needed without adding unnescessary complication.

The gag ending while providing a couple of chuckles also provides a window into Jean-Paul's shattered mind, proving this will be no ordinary superhero title - how many superhero titles have no Supervillains or costumes in their first issue?

Rant :

Without a doubt this is a fine peice of writing, if Denny could keep this level of writing up he'd have a top 30 book in no time. Denny is also starting with what is pretty much a clean slate he could take any direction from here, the homeless concept has great potential and could be exploited well at the hands of such a talented writer.

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