Azrael leaves Gotham on a boat to escape a traumatic event during the quake. He is related a pirate story by a fellow passenger. As the story finishes a storm rises up and sweeps Jean-Paul over the side of the ship. When the storm clears Jean-Paul is wearing his Azrael costume and is in the water next to an old sailing ship he finds himself on the ship with "The Devil" Latour a pirate from centuries ago who was prophesised to be killed by an angel. Azrael fights the crew but realises they would give up if he defeated Latour. He disarms Latour, trying to avoid bloodshed, but when Latour pulls a knife and accidnally impales himself. Azrael is returned to the sea where he fell over board in his Jean-Paul clothing and is rescued. Jean- Paul thinks this is a dream but the head peice to his costume is missing.
A complex issue a great deal of thought went into the plot, but you don't have to keep track of it all to enjoy this issue. This single issue story has it all Pirates legends, cliffhanger endings, action and an odd bit of humour. The flash back was well handled with a wonderful opening with Latour saying "I yam what I yam." Dr. Harry Mckinn provides the same acerbic humour that Brian used to provide back when he was his old drunken self, and he makes an interesting analysis of Jean-Paul. The flashback to the quake was equally well done, getting across how deeply Azrael was affected by death, and most dramaticly provides a contrast with his former self. The art brilliantly illustrated the effort Azrael made to save the little girl. The ending with it's twisted and confused logic entertains and intrigues providing the reader with something to puzzle over.
I loved this issue. I liked the Pirates and took me right back to the Watchmen Pirate-Story-within-a-story which I loved and provided some good all round reading. The last lines on the second last page were a bit weak probably the only thing wrong with the whole issue. Ron Wagners art fitted in seamlessly with the rest of the creative team and definately povided a more normal element to the story. My main complaint is that the letter column seems full of fanboys with the same amount of stuff between their ears as the avarage Bad-girl. I don't want to see crossovers with Spawn Witchblade or whatnot. Starman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Birds of Prey, and the outside chance of Gen13 ,which would be an entertaining study of opposites, would be nice though. I want to see Azrael as a champion of the light, not consumed by the darkness. It would be natural as he was concieved of as the dramatic opposite of Batman.