Azrael must evacuate everyone from the Joker's territory and comes in contact with both the Joker and a Joker impersonator.
From just about any point of view the ending is a horrifically anticlimactic let down. To start with the Joker's new henchman Ozzie seems very much deus ex machina, a conveniant excuse to prolong the story another issue. Where things proceed to get worse is the trite and goofy mistaken identity ending. It's not ironic, it's not in any way some sort of inventive twist on the story, it just makes the main character come off as a cretin. That's not to say that there weren't any good bits in the issue. Yes once again the fight scene is redundant and only seems to serve as a device to allow batgirl to stop Azrael being attacked from behind, BUT, the aftermath is actually an interesting window on Azrael's character development. He thinks, he investigates, he comes to a conclusion, he ACTS like a detective. Last time we saw this was in Azrael #59 when he came to an instinctive conclusion about the bombs location, and explained it later. Another high point was the continuation of last months plot thread regarding the building inspector. Another example of what Azrael has managed to do best thoroughout NML, that no one except Bob Gale even tried to do, take the slugs eye view, the perspective of the people who don't wear spandex, who don't have a garaunteed continuing life and who aren't tools to facilitate the plot. The tradgedy and general resiliance of the human animal seems to be at it's best here. Too bad that there was one page of filler with Nightwing and Oracle six that compose the "fight" and two with the Joker. This issue could have been a lot more coherent, and vastly more focused without the inane distraction of the false Joker, It could have done without batgirl too but that's pretty much a given.
Artistically there were really no WOW panels, you can still see the preferance for brush work texturing in Pascoes inks, outlines are heavily textured and lines have a freedom of freenhand look about them rather that being crisply ruled off. That said it seems that certain lines do seem to say technical pen or crowquill. The intro pages seemed as if the colourist had keyed them, the colours lingered in the blue/violet range of the spectrum, perhaps the evoke a dark dawn feel.
Did I miss something? Batgirl has added nothing to any of her past appearances but once again she provides her polluting presence to Azrael if only the desperation for copyright protection and the need to sell lunch boxes didn't take precedence over at least the most basic artistic integrity. Alas a comic company can make more money of lunchboxes than comics.
Why didn't Azrael recognise the Joker? He's met him four times now he should be able to recognise him easily enough now. This story seems too much to be event driven rather than character driven and suffers because of it the reactions of the characters are dictated by the requirements of a story that makes very little sense in the first place.
There was something about Azrael that really emphasised his compassion and intelligence. He tried to empathise with the building inspector, and without pandering or contradicting him managed too divert him. A solution that he arrived at by using his brain. It would be nice though if Azrael were the main character in his own comic.