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Azrael #57 : Scratched Out
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 : L.A. Williams
Editor : Mike Carlin

Synopsis :

Captured By Nick Scratch, Jean-Paul tricks him into putting Azrael's costume on. Azrael then quickly escapes his execution, and hands Nick Scratch his head.

Review :

Another very linear plot, Unfortunately too much an example of two guys slugging it out, this was probably a decent one issue story shamelessly dragged out into two, to give more of a spotlight to the shamelessly over hyped Batgirl.

Artistic and general minor issues make up the bulk of the commentary material. There is too little writing of note within the issue, very little intensity, and no real emotional engagement. This is disappointing given that Azrael once boasted some of the most engaging and emotionally intense writing being published. Issues #8 and #9 make great examples of this.

Perhaps the only parts worthy of commentary are Azrael's "things couldn't be better" speech. Perhaps only mildly let down by an indistinct portrayal of what may be a smile. Azrael's "they lied" was also a defining image in the story, but probably aided more by the strength of the art than the writing itself.

Somewhat disturbing was Jean-Paul's initial instinct to flee, maybe that's the vestigial animal instinct, (last manifested in Azrael #40) But it seems a regression of the character, It seemed this was over and done with by issue #39.

The Art is just as atmospheric as before perhaps better, with a greater consistency strong on language and communication. Inking style varies little from before, but most remarkable is the colouring. During Azrael's battle with Nick Scratch photoshop special effects are utilized (To a degree not used so overtly in a DC book since the Early JLA issues), and the colouring for the fight is paled out behind the overlayed silhouette, in an effective display that stands apart from the numerous fights in the book. This is definitely building toward a much higher standard of art in Azrael.

Rant :

How many assistant editors can a comic possibly have? Chuck Kim, Frank Berrios, L.A. Williams, Harvey Richards. The last three have been in and out over the last twelve months

This issue really underscores how useless Batgirl is Denny had to stretch to find something useful for her to do. I hate Batgirl, the very idea of the character's existance is flawed. Not just this one though, I hate all batgirls it would be impossible to come up with one I could like. That this particular batgirl is a ripoff of Azrael means it chafes all the more that she be given a higher priority in Azrael's title.

Also Azrael's just had his identity busted wide open, how on earth can he expect to stay safe, and what are the odds on someone working out Batman's identity from that. I hope this gets retconned somehow. The cheapness of the starbeings explaination of Nick Scratch, and Scratch's take down itself undermines Azrael's Importance to NML. If Only the Angel Devil parrallels were further explored in a manner that didn't relect silver age campiness, Azrael would get more respect.

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