Batman mandates Azrael with the task of protecting Catwoman. Catwoman is being tracked by the security agency contracted to protect the disk she is to smuggle into gotham.
Some fairly nice aspects to this issue. Probably most evident in the art, in some ways Roger is really starting to cut loose in his storytelling. In issue 57 his fight scene layout really emphasised the most important aspects of the combat, cetralising and emphasising it with silhouette while filling the backgound behind it with the flowing combat. In this issue he does a similar thing on the second page of the fight emphasising the conflict between the comabtants by laying out a three time frame sequence outside the panels at the top of the page, placing a seperating space down the middle and laying smaller active figures as they throw themselves into combat over to close ups on the grim set faces of the combatants. It is quite an effective layout. Another example of greater freedom from panel borders can be seen on page 3 Where Roger uses flowing figures to illustrate Azrael's immense althetecism, as he launches himself from car to lampost to rooftop, and as he proceeds to - for lack of a better word - fly. Azrael's poise seems highly reminiscent of Olympic level athletes, very precise, no loose limbs, and his leap flip and swan dive of the building is very strongly reminiscent of this, legs together feet pointed. arms out. Also wonderfully illustrated during this sequence is his cape as it scallops and gives the impression of him having wings, making Azrael look very angelic.
In terms of writing the fight scene was superfluous Azrael could have easily done without it, Jon Ostrander eliminated it from Catwoman and when Azrael brought in stone it made his seem a lot more of a badass. The Catwoman Pages were very much redundant, and annoying. Even as exposition it could have been cut down by two pages.
However what really shines is the building inspector, as NML has progressed it has increasingly veeed away from telling stories that shed light on how the people who live in gotham are coping with their lives as it bacame incresingly concerned with moving the plot along. On the other hand Azrael has the benefit of interacting on the same level, and we've had some really geat moments in #'s 52, 54, 58. for example the abandoned gandfather was very strong point, but some how softened in the writing. It should have been way more horrific than it turned out to be. Denny's only real failing was not getting you to realise that you were sympathising and agreeing with paticide, perhaps getting an exta juicy bit of revulsion in the process, as it was he just made the father to pathetic and sympathic. The Death Dancer would have made an excellent point on suffeing, allowing a tie in to themes of euthenasia and the horros of a lawless society. Instead he came off as a weak seriel killer. It would have been much more effective were the general population of Gotham to protect him from Azrael's attempts to bring him to "justice". In this issue the building inspector seems to give a much more solid and powerful glance into what could happen were you to find your life under go a massive paradigm shift. His one page splash could be seen coming a mile away and yet it was still effective.
OUCH. The Azrael centric bits were great. The Catwoman bits bit and it felt like three quarters of Catwoman 75 was shoehorned into Azrael's book, my only question is WHY? Catwoman sells better than Azrael she doesn't need promoting. Azrael only got four panel's in Catwoman's book, he should have been in at least half the pages. Who felt that it was unnecessary to explain why Azrael was in Catwoman's book but why it was nessecery to explain every detail of Catwoman's involvemeent in Azrael's book? There's even a page devoted to Catwoman that wasn't in Catwoman and served no prupose at all! My fellow residence cohabitants have a term for this. Fucking Cunty Bollocks (thanks for that Rebecca)!.
I think there were about five pages that were redundant in story telling terms. the two fight scene pages are only prevented from being a complete loss by Roger's art.