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Azrael #48 : Scratching the Surface
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Roger Robinson
Inker : James Pascoe
Colourist : Demetrius Bassoukos
Seperations : Prismacolor
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Frank Berrios
Editor : Mike Carlin

Synopsis :

With Senator Halivan Lying dead at Nick Scratch's feet, Nick's associates lead into his presence the perfect person to pin the murder on, Azrael. Scratch makes Azrael jump through Machiavellian hoops to engineer an out come where he is portrayed as a hero and Azrael as a murderer. Quickly learning of Azrael's failure Batman warns him to abandon his Azrael persona, but Azrael is determined to take Scratch down.

Review :

Dennis once again writes an entire issue in dialogue, some good layouts by Roger Robinson aid the storytelling. Denny is also adding depth to Nick Scratch, establishing a catch phrase and writing Nick almost with a satirical awareness of his own bizarre origin, while establishing everything a reader who missed last issue needs to know to enjoy this issue. Denny also seems to be foreshadowing the end of No Man's Land with the use of the phrase "let us dream of what will be a year from now" clearly referencing the end of NML in a years time, does Nick's plan focus more on what will come of Gotham's destruction than from the destruction itself. Is it also not possible that Nick's aim is nothing more ambitious than gaining political clout for a stab at the presidency. Denny has once more created a villain who is capable, let's hope future appearances don't reduce him to buffoonery as Bane has been.

This issue has furthered it's adaptation to mando format and the colour seps are achieving shade less with the use of colouring than with increasing the density of black ink. The colouring is still brilliant and although we won't be seeing colouring of issue 1-3's standard agian the mando paper and it's higher bleed and absorbancy means the colour is smoother and darker, suiting the books artistic feel. Pascoe is continuing to increase the amount of brush work going into his inking and it's paying off with a much better sense of texture, page 1 came off well and the Nick Scratch close up on page six has to be one of the best pieces of Azrael art in a while.

Rant :

Denny seems to be setting everything back in Azrael's relationship with Batman, any progress he's made is going to be undone following this blunder and his disobeying a direct order. I wonder what Brian is doing while all this is going on? Because of his nomadic nature Azrael is often leaving parts of his supporting cast behind while I felt that with his travelling the best thing you could do was to cut down the baggage, but cutting out Brian is too much, he should be in DC with Azrael. Nomoz should join Lilhy in rebuilding the order and them we'd have a supporting cast line up that would make sense. sure, Brian can't be in all the fighting scenes but Denny could at least acknowledge his presence, while Nomoz and Lilhy could be perfect villains in a Ra's al Ghul/ Talia sort of way.

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