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Azrael #52 : Devil Down Below
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Roger Robinson
Inker : James Pascoe
Colourist : Rob Ro & Alex Bleyaert
Seperations : Rob Ro & Alex Bleyaert
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Frank Berrios
Editor : Mike Carlin

Synopsis :

While Azrael tracks Nick Scratch back to Gotham Calibax holds a woman hostage in a ruined building. When Azrael is approached by the woman's mother he agrees to take her across the river and the pair stow away on the boat Nick Scratch uses to get across the harbour. upon reaching the other side Nick scratch is threatened by homeless people and Azrael intervenes allowing Scratch to escape. Azrael and the mother make their way to the woman's ruined building where azrael fights and defeats Calibax, knocking him off the building. When mother and daughter are reunited the mother pulls out a gun and shoots and her daughter, intentionally missing, to try and express the anger she felt at her daughters abandonment of her family.

Review :

Apart from a corny last line this issue has excellent writing. The use of calibax has a monster-under-the-bed property, highlighting the almost nightmarish quality that No Man's Land has. denny takes us Between Calibax and Nick Scratch in such a way as to build tension, infact the way calibax was introduced really brought the tension out as we have two stores converging on one another. Denny used the mother as an effective way to build the tension as she talks about her daughter and keeps repeating I just have to get it out of my system, this takes an ironic twist at the end. In terms of characterisation we see Azrael come up with a plan to get across the harbour, and we see him save the life of the man he's been trying to take out of the picture, while Azrael has never been a killer it's clear he's gained a lot of maturity.

The Robinson/Pascoe art team have come up with some interesting stuff for this issue, while retaining the noir eel the art takes and interesting turn, giving it an almost Jim Lee feel, epecially in terms of the texturing, primary examples are pages 11 & 12. This issue sports some of their best work in ages.

The big change in the art is the unannounced departure of colourist Demitrious Bassoukos. While some of his recent work wasn't up to his previous stuff, I was never too harsh with it, maybe beacause I remember his earlier work. Demetrius' colours had an edge to them, his highlights were sharp, and he often worked with Wide areas of flat colour which graduated in one direction while the highlight would graduate in another. The new colourist seperator team had some odd moments particularly in pages 1 to 5, but from then on, we were treated to a similar stylae as Deitrious' early work. Not as detailed or fine, but in the same vein, these new colourists use built up areas of colour to create depth, and they do thier est work during the fight scene while it's snowing.

Rant :

I can't believe Demitrious is gone!was this a budget or quality descision? How come we were never told ?I really liked this issue for it's some what differant storyline. It really only hintd at cliche, as oppsed to obiously reeking of it which some books can be accused of, and Denny actually utilised his skill as a writer to make the story work incorprating the literary devices that power the story so well. If you'r not buing Azrael now, You'd better be cause the books on a quality upswing.

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