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Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Collection - AZRAEL [1995 Series]

Azrael [1995 series]
35 issues [1995 - 1998]
1 - 33, 42 - 43

Following the events of Knightfall, BatTemp Jean Paul Valley returns to his Azrael identity and gets his own series. This one lasted until #46, after which it was retitled AZRAEL - AGENT OF THE BAT for the rest of its 100 issue run. Denny O'Neil wrote throughout. Barry Kitson drew the first few years, followed by Roger Robinson for a long stretch, James Pascoe inking both.

I didn't really follow the Knightfall stuff, but I was a big fan of O'Neil's writing and the original SWORD OF AZRAEL mini-series, so I picked this one up from the start. I thought most of the first year was really good stuff. The second year was just okay, and I missed a few issues when it got involved in Batman crossovers (literally missed, as in I didn't see them, although I didn't make any huge effort to find them). Third year was also okay, but getting to be more of the same, not moving forward, so when it got into another crossover I decided to call it a day. Still picked up the book occasionally after that, liked it sometimes, but it was usually too involved in other Batman crossovers, which was too big a hurdle for me.

I did eventually find those year two issues I had missed. They're not bad, but parts don't make much sense without a dozen other books from that era. I occasionally consider getting the dozen issues I'm missing, but a few of them feature Bane, not a character I ever enjoyed.

Highlight of the series is probably the extended quest storyline in the first nine issues, where Azrael picks up a few supporting cast members and goes out to explore the mysteries of his origin, meeting Rā's al Ghūl along the way. Some good serial adventure, cliffhanger endings and the like, with a light thematic undercurrent about identity and destiny. Not nearly as deep as O'Neil's QUESTION series, but a nice companion piece to it. I also liked a few things in the story with the Joker in #27 - #28.

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