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About seven months ago, Fabian Nicieza introduced the DC universe with a new Azrael. Considering how legendary the last Azrael was, and not for anything good mind you, this definitely was a puzzling decision. Did we really need a new Azrael and what else could Nicieza do to make him interesting? Well in the time of the three issue mini he gave us a damn good reason to care. Mixing plots from Grant Morrison and Paul Dini stories plus also adding a deeply religious character under the suit; Nicieza created a great new character. With this new ongoing, can he keep the intrigue going?
I’ll tell you one thing, I think Nicieza can do a wealth of oppertunities with this character. He could do so many religious angles with this character that it could go either gold or sour with him. The fact that Michael Lane has a timeframe of wearing the suit, or at least as of now, is a good idea. We might see his sanity drop considerably which could also make this comic more interesting. With the first issue, I think Nicieza introduces all of these and some more characterization to make this a good enough comic. Lane is deeply religious and focusing his fight against crime within religion is a good angle. You also want some controversy with this comic? Well the first page introduces us to a corrupt preist with a love of…..boys. That raised eyebrows with me and just by adding small hints to what the preist did, it certainly goes a bit far for a DC comic. There is also a flashforward of sorts in this issue where….well we certainly know something bad is going to happen. Whether or not these events actually come to pass is up for debate. But the final page is more then enough promise ot keep me interested in this series.
All of this hype with the story almost goes completely down however thanks to Ramon Bachs. Look, I don’t think Bachs is a horrible artist, in fact he does some pretty good layouts in this. But this is not the comic book for him in the same way Red Robin isn’t the comic for him. This just feels like a flashback to the 1990′s and that is definitely not a good thing for me. I think he does a good fight sequence and his style for the swords Azrael carries is great to look at. But the character models are just plain medicore and add nothing to the book. Everyone seems to look the same or are the same height and/or weight. Other then Azrael nothing looks unqiue or interesting. Which is a shame, cause with a good amount of this comic of Lane not in his costume that is a big problem. What keeps me from not laying the hammer on the art is the coloring. This is a bright and coloring comic book and like a little kid; it kept me interesting what was going on. John Stanisci and JD Smith do a great job using colors like blue, orange, or red; to make these panels stand out. Literally I was like: “Oh wow look at that page.” (flips page) “Look at that one!”. So I’m more impressed with the coloring in this then the actual pencils. Which is a big problem to be sure, but at least it isn’t that ugly of a comic.
So yes the artwork is a bit uneven. But I know a lot of people who do like Bachs, especially with the Red Robin comic out right now. So if your a fan of nostalgia or like pretty colors, then you won’t mind the art in this. Overall though it’s the story that’s going to keep me intrigued with this series. Again with adding a timetable for the character it’ll certainly be interesting to see how Michael Lane goes from ‘savior’ to ‘suicide manic’ within a couple of months. Even if it doesn’t come to pass, Fabian Nicieza has certainly done a lot of good work to make Azrael an interesting character. It might sound crazy to say it, but maybe Azrael can be a great character in the DCU.
Art: 3 - Good