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Azrael Annual #3 : The Vampire Bat
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Jim Aparo
Inker : James Hodgkins
Colourist : Demetrius Bassoukos
Seperations : Prismacolor
Letterer : Ken Bruzenak
Assistant Editor : Chuck Kim
Editor : Archie Goodwin

Synopsis :

Lilhy asks Azrael to find a statue of a Bat and so he travels to San Francisco to buy it from a mister Wrail. Wrail refuses and so Azrael attempts to steal it. He is unsuccessful and Catwoman turns up to save him. Catwoman goes to examine Wrail's place in an attempt to make a successful attempt later but Wrail drugs her. Meanwhile a man turns up dead at his door with the statue, Wrail calls him and arranges an exchange, but he is surprised by a PI Azrael lays him out and takes the statue. Azrael takes down Wrails gunsels and rescues Catwoman, but only by destroying the Statue.

Review :

Jim Aparo is getting on in years but his work is better than some of the stuff being turned out by the newer artists. His art is clean and beautiful, it's representations of the characters more realistic than most, it's a shame that he doesn't do much work anymore. Glen Orbik's cover painting is in much the same vein, he produced the most realistic paintings from the year's annuals. The armour is highly reflective, like real metal, only this is being portrayed with paint. The colouring is also of a high quality and we see the use of computer effects which is always welcome.

Denny's writing is the real gem here. He has taken the pulp theme and run with it. Not many of the pulp annuals actually went pulp or even made an attempt to stick to the theme, instead looking upon it as a chance to do a long story in a certain genre. Denny has given this annual all the trappings, dialogue that's a hundred percent metaphors, eccentric dialogue, PI's, but the pulpyness of the story isn't what makes it good, it's the irreverent humour. It's a laugh a minute and the gag ending is side splitingly funny.

Rant :

Pulp annuals were deemed to be a bad idea by Wizard, (shows how much they know,) but some were carried off with amazing skill and were a joy to read, Flash, Supergirl, Starman, all romance annuals that worked well, Nightwing was one that didn't for reasons listed above, The writer ignored the Pulp part of the theme and wound up with an overly long boring waste of time. Green Lantern had the pulp, and had a touch of the neverending story, but it was sterile. Azrael was by far the best of the ones I read, despite Jim Aparo's odd rendition of the Azrael costume, it is really worth buying, three issue worth of reading for the price of two you can't pass it up.

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