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Azrael #61 : Presents of mind
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 : None Credited (poss Harvey Richards)
Editor : Mike Carlin

Synopsis :

As No mans land is about to be revoked on Azrael gets a lesson on the meaning of Christmas. When he and Batgirl go to investigate Luthor's camp in search of the kidnapped children he is caught in a trap set by the joker while saving Batgirl and Mercy's lives.

Review :

I think it's important to point out just how anticlimactic this is as a ending to ANYTHING. This is possibly the worst resolution I've seen to a story ever. let's ignore the exploding Christmas tree. What's the point of this ending? it seems that there isn't one. Nick Scratch was defeated months ago and since then Azrael's book has been commandeered by guest stars. These four issues should have been geared toward setting up Azrael's conclusion to No Man's Land. as it is this conclusion is disjointed and divorced from previous issues.

While the Christmas part of the book wasn't something that should never have been there, it was at times just ridiculously goofy, perhaps the weirdest thing about it is page 11 which is just weird and confusing. The issue proceeds to jump about further afterwards as the story uncomfortably switches from the dance gift to a gratuitous fight scene. Perhaps one gem in the whole mess of irrelevancies is Azrael's "he never toaught me how to get my fathers voice out of my head. That scares me, I wonder why?" perhaps the only line really deserving of dissection. Does it mean that he fears that he can never be normal? or that he can just as easily regres and lose his personality again? or that he 's placed all his faith in a man who's not as omnipotent as he seems? Standard writers device for message emphasis on page seventeen, a set of adjectives set in three curt sentences. There do seem to be a lot of sentance fragments in this issue more so than usual. Denny has a very terse writting style, almost minimalist and this is an advantage, it's also one possible reason why the Azrael babbling dialogues come off so wierd.

The begining of the book seems once again keyed to a specific colour, this time green. Ultimately knowing the ending to the story pravents an impartial analysis of what emotions the colour keying is supposed to stir. The colouring throughout the book really is quite top notch, as was the pencil art when Azrael didn't look like Gerard Depardiu some really strong texturing work by James on pages 2 and 3 there's also a slick portrayal of Azrael on page 7.

Rant :

EXPLODING CHRISTMAS TREE!!!! If that's not worth four beatings with a lead pipe what is? here the hell did that come from in story telling terms? Batman is in NML to facce his ultimate challeng in his quest to save gotham. Joker is there to extend chaos, Azrael's NML arc is ... to be blown up by a christmas tree months after Nick scratch is revealed to be a major dissapointment.

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.

I think it's about time for another diatribe about Batgirl being redundant and boring and worse, a rip off of Azrael and an insult to readers of this book.

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