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Azrael / Ash #1
Writer : Dennis O'Neil
Penciller : Joe Quesada
Inker : Jimmy Palmiotti
Colourist : Atomic Paintbrush
Seperations : Atomic Paintbrush
Letterer : Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Assistant Editor : Chuck Kim
Editor : Archie Goodwin

Synopsis :

In New York Ashly Quinn arrives on the scene of a particularly bad fire, one which refuses to go out, and goes inside the building where he begins his transformation into Ash, a being capable of controlling and manipulating fire, and quenches the fire. In Gotham Batman asks Jean-Paul Valley whether he had anything to do with recent fires in New York, when Jean-Paul says that he didn't Batman tell's him to find out who did and to start by looking for Firefly. The arsonist turns out to be a man who has convinced an alien looking child called Alvie that the fires need to be set to contact mother the mother that had abandoned it. Azrael arrives in New York and tracks firefly to a factory where he meets Ash. Azrael and Ash prevent the arson but don't learn about the setting of the fires. After changing to street clothes they learn of another fire that had been going on while they fought the firefly, proving there were two arsonists. Azrael asks Oracle to search for information on Surtur the fire god and learns about a professor of mythology. The professor and Alvie set fire to the Queen Elizabeth Three and while Ash went to put out the fire Azrael went to the professor's apartment. As the fire goes out Professor Kissedy meets Azrael and thinking that he has manifested a real Surtur lets slip that he was manipulating Alvie. As Jean-Paul Valley and Ashley Quinn wrap up thier investigation Alvies finally is reunited with his parents.

Review :

This issue sports the most beautiful Azrael art ever. Joe Quesada's dynamic storytelling as was present in Sword of Azrael is still present, but he has improved his fine detail work and worked on depicting sleeker fresher faced characters. The greatest differance between this book and SOAz is the highly detailed and vibrant colouring and abundant computer effects. The impression of depth is most obvious in the scenes in Firefly's apartment. One thing that is most apparent when comparing Joes work is that his style has greatly changed, his figures are less realistic, instead crafted to emphasise emotional expression and movement. Although I have only a limited library of Jimmy Palmiotti's work to examine it is consistent in it's excelence, providing detail and depth without cluttering the panels. Consistency is the key word when dealing with this art team, their work is always good.

On first reading the story seems strung together haphazardly with gaping plot holes. After a second reading you realize you just weren't paying attention. The story is minimalist, no extra twists and turns, straight from point A to point B, with most of the writing focusing on the perceptions of the main characters, you don't get extrenuous details on the history of each character, just the details of what they do and Denny lets them do it. While Denny tries hard to share the spotlight, Azrael gets the lions share and Ash is often sent off to do his own thing. This doesn't mean Denny neglected the character, just that he wasn't sure what to do with him.

Rant :

1.) Joe's Oracle is beautiful, better than a hundred Image Babes

2.)I liked Oracle and Jean-Paul flirting

3.)I liked the Art. Full stop.

4.)I liked Oracle and Jean-Paul flirting

5.)No super villains in the crossover Yayyyy, Wooohooo.

6.)I liked Oracle and Jean-Paul flirting

The graphitti was cool, so many in jokes, can you name the Azrael creators listed in Azrael/Ash? Kevin Nowlan, Chuck Kim and I'm pretty sure that guy in the apartment over looking firefly's fight was Denny O'neil (though without the earring it's hard to tell), he even had a copy of Batman. There are other comic professional's names hidden as well see if you can find them all.

Check out Alvie's mother at the end. It turns out she's human, that ending isn't very clear, it's not even clear enough to be ambiguous, there's got to be an Azrael/Ash #2.

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