Walker Gabriel meets Gravesend, keeper of chronopolis and one time future extradimensional explorer. Gravesend restores Gabriel's time travel abilities, and in exchange asks him to retrieve the Tempesthold containing the essence of the other dimensional dark lords who saved Gravesend's life. After erasing his past to save his Mother, Gabriel travels to the capital of the byzantine empire, Constantinople in AD 1552, to steal the Tempesthold. As it was to be payment for the Order of St. Dumas' aid against the Ottomans, DuLac and Azrael resisted its theft. Azrael injured Gabriel before he escaped with the Tempesthold into the timestream. Knowing that the release of Gravesend's dark lords would be disaterous for the universe, Gabriel secures the Tempesthold in Superman's solar fortress of solitude in the future. Enraged Gravesend attempts to kill Gabiel but is instead killed.
The writing is clear and even minor details of the nine previous issues can be inferred. While Gabriel is a thief and has his own best interests at heart he seems to have no second thoughts about altering the timeline, and his attempts to re-live his erased past show a bizzare interest in other peoples liveseven as he tries to help.
The main strength of the writing seems to be in it's use of the unexpected, anything goes, even if the actual story plots are predictable. Clark Kent could be tending bar. Also, understated uses of humour in a self satirising manner flesh out the script. For example the comment on expecting some sort of polyhedron, was a knowing injoke toward time travel writers to come up with gizmos that seem to invariably have the word cube or sphere in them, as if it was a prerequisite. Lo and behold, to get his time travel abilities back it seems Gabriel is strapped into something curiously resembling a sphere.
The art was by turns ugly and annoying, while the sense of design in chronopolis is appealing with it's mix of victorian, baroque and alien styles, the figure work is stiff, the use of perspective is badly mismanaged at times so as to give an almost cartoony caricature of depth on some pages. Chronopolis is definately the artistic best the series has to offer with it's obvious crystal palace influence.
It was cool to see the strength and speed of Azrael appreciated by another writer. Wingnuts can just chew on that. Azrael is faster in two hundred pounds of armour than an unburdened human. I's kind of sad that Azrael was more likely to turn up in a fringe book than the core Batbooks, it's like main editorial are trying to keep him down.
For all the faults of the interior art the design work on the cover is exsquisite. I wish Azrael covers wouldstop featuring two guys beating on each other and embrace the religious influence of the book, designing the covers with an illuminati influence would make the book distinctive and hopefully make it sell.