I grew up reading my first comics in the early 90’s so this cover is pretty freakin’ nostalgic for me. Azrael was a polarizing character, but won some fans over with a cool costume and backstory. He was also one of the first characters to really change Batman for a period of time. Now he’s getting some much needed character work!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“INTELLIGENCE” finale! Ascalon, the deadly artificial intelligence created by the Order of St. Dumas, is ready to replace Azrael and purify Gotham City…and all that stands in the way of the world’s most flawless computer brain is the mind of Batman himself!
Why does this matter?
James Tynion IV has made a Batman team work. Period. Add in the fact that he has been building up once tired characters (Clayface is fantastic now) and you have a series that’s been doing great stuff for some time now.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Don’t ever change Clayface!
Visually Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez on inks, and Brad Anderson on colors have created something special. There’s a dreamlike scene to open the issue that’s believable, awe inspiring, and perfect. There’s a deeply emotional and personal story going on and the visuals connect the dots well. When Azrael eventually wakes up, we get a cool first person perspective through his unique visor that captures the scene in front of him well. Anderson’s red tones help convey the alienation Azrael most assuredly goes through just by looking around.
Unsurprisingly Clayface gets some of the best dialogue in this issue as he’s fun and always open to reflect about himself openly. Much of this issue is about Azrael and the villain he’s up against and Tynion IV does a good job establishing their connection. There’s clearly a lot more to mine in regards to Azrael’s past relationships and yet there’s a satisfying connection between technology and faith on display here.
Fans of Robin (and past iterations) better believe there’s a major reveal here too. It’s nice to see Batman so emotional over this reveal since he’s usually so tight lipped.
What a page!
It can’t be perfect can it?
I can’t say this issue made sense 100% with a lot of vague dialogue and even a reveal cut short in a too convenient sort of way. In a scene where the villain reveals what they’ve been up to I was lost as to the purpose of it all. There’s some heavy messaging going on here involving love and fear that comes out like gobbledygook more than a strong message. Clearly Tynion IV has been on a quest to show the frailty and emotional side of Batman in this series, but unfortunately, it comes off as schlocky here.
Is It Good?
A fine conclusion to a story arc that has made Azrael even more complex. There’s an interesting story underneath a lot of schlock so it’s not a total win though.