The Joker has built one of his patented death traps and wants to lure the Dark Knight into it, but Batman is nowhere to be found. Batman meets Azrael, while Azrael is preparing to track Calibax down after he fell from the building. Batman Tells azrael Calibax can wait as he wants Azrael to take down the Joker. When Azrael meets the Joker, he finds a child strapped into the deathtrap, and a Joker who is decidedly unimpressed that batman didn't deign to deal with him himself. The Joker talks Azrael into getting into a pipe, not wishing to waste his work-of-art death trap on "the farm team". Azrael escapes and the Joker flees after azrael puts on a good impression of batman in a bad mood.
The bizarre aspects of the Jokers personality are played out very effectively, and Azrael is given a good dose of analysis through dialogue too. Denny's introspective monologue as Azrael wanders the steets gives the reader further insight into the psyche of our hero, he still has JP's compassion, but doesn't feel Azrael's rage. Ken Bruzenak also does something interesting, as Azrael removes his mask his thoughts change from Azrael's to Jean-Paul Valley's, and when he puts his mask back on his speech goes from Jean-Paul's to Azrael's. Denny also uses this story to mark Azrael out as competant and compassionate, although Batman would have found a way to take down Joker and saved the boy Azrael still put the fear of the batinto the joker. The main drawback in the story is a touch of Deus ex machina on pae nine, while it is explained that the Joker is putting the word out, the way this page is written makes it feel a little forced.
While the art wasn't as interesting as last issue, The Jokers hair had a life to it making it memorable. While on the most part the art is cometant and solid, page nin and panel 1 of page tendidn't strike he as excellent. On page nine Jean Paul looks strange, way too old and certainly part of it is his chin, it's too big and overly superheroic, not to mention it makes the covers look daft. The covers, specifically this one and next look odd because Azrael is grimacing and has this ridiculous chin. The Colouring is stronger than last issue and there is a strong feel of open space brought about by the brighter colours, and the colouing work on the cathedral at the end is excellent.
Where on earth did Joker get all the stuff he made that death trap from? This is one thing that echoes in the back of my head. I was hopeing that this would be better than Angel Insane, but I'm not really sure it is, the emotional payoff while of the same magnitude does exist in greater quantity in this issue, but I wonder about the validity of the story as a peice of work. Joker refusing to waste his death trap on Azrael seemed in character and broke out of the expected mould that Joker stories often seem to take, but I still don't know whether the plot just marked time. This was by no stretch of the imagination a bad issue, in fact it seems to continue a streak of strong stories that is putting Azrael on a quality upswing.