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Azrael Annual #2 : Night's Fall
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Barry Kitson
Inker : James Pascoe ~ pages 1-8 17-19 22-30 33-38 , John Stokes ~ pages 9-16 20-21 31-32
Colourist : Demetrius Bassoukos
Seperations : Prismacolor
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Chuck Kim
Editor : Archie Goodwin

Synopsis :

Earth is Dead. Those who once might have called it home are long scattered to the ndless stars. But in that scattering on a thousand worlds in a thousand differant ways Earths greatest legends live on. The legend of Azrael is related to a group of children by a village story teller. The story follows young Azrael's quest to claim his adulthood in Gotham and destroy the Order.

Review :

There are at least two levels to the writing in this story, at first it is an experimentation with all out humourous summation of the Azrael story, and on another level it predicts Azrael's future and is filled with portent and meaning. Maybe O'neil uses this story to exemplify his perception of Gotham and it's residents at least in the manner to which they relate to Azrael. Gotham is portrayed as an underground utopia masked by a decaying putrid city, Brian is shown to very much be Alfreds twin, Lilhy is said to either point to heaven or hell, while the Joker is parralleled with the fable of the scorpion. The meanings and parrallels are extensive and almost impossible to document, such as Azrael consulting the Oracle to know his mission and gain his adulthood, which is exactly what happened after the destruction of the Order, also the reunion with the Batking similarly parrallels Azrael's attempts to become accepted by Batman.

Slapstick humour is also a prominent element in Night's Fall, the title itself pokes fun at the mega crossover that it in part incorporates. One particular convention of comics that is ridiculed is "the accursed banter" between heros and villains, the straight laced manner in which these lines are delivered only adds to their humour value. The dialogue is brilliant sometimes poking fun sometimes illuminating ideas, "in Gotham...anything is possible provided it has absolutely no logic and cannot possible do anyone any good." is one such example, there are many others.

Artistically this issue looks wonderful, with nice detail and some very nice colouring, the inking was also very consistent even with two artists doing it. The Azrael costume is as good as the Quesada designed one while the redesigned Batman one wouldn't look out of place if Bruce Wayne wore it. The only dissapointing thing about the redesigns was the Bane Ogre it was very dull and seemed lazily constructed.

Rant :

This is one of my favourite Azrael stories, it's so dense and it's also entertaining at the same time. I would like to see Azrael in white some time and I've always felt that Batman should wear a full face mask. Of note is that three characters who aren't in the story appear in the metamorphosis splash page, Nightwing, Robin and Nomoz. The nice thing about this dead earth planet is that it's the only one which seems to have avoided enslavement, disaster or totalitarian rule.

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