At this point, I’ve come to expect that Sword of Azrael will be a good read each month. After last issue left us with the reveal of the monstrous “Angel Satan” I’ve been eagerly awaiting the follow-up. So, does Azrael retain its luster for the fourth month in a row? Let’s see!
Okay, I won’t make you wait in suspense. Of course, it does. Dan Watters has proven himself to be a great storyteller many times over. There is a major elements of this issue that I’m not personally a fan of but I think it speaks to the quality of the writing that they don’t detract from my enjoyment.
It’s the biggest discovery of the issue so I feel the need to hide it under the spoiler tag.
I dislike this because I think it simplifies the motivations of the order. It’s more interesting for them to believe that they are serving God despite, in reality, being a force of evil. It does seem that most members of the order were still religious zealots, at least.
So, turning Dumas into a defined villain rubs me wrong conceptually but as I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t bother me in practice. This is because Watters isn’t just retconning without thought. This change is integral to the story and develops Azrael and Jean-Paul. It’s also tied in with the previous issue’s revelations about The Templar’s discovery of the Mother Box and the angel Satan.
I suppose it helps that nothing previously established has been outright rejected but it still shows the effectiveness of a skillful retcon. It will only ruin the story if it’s clumsy.
While I’m discussing spoilers I might as well add that Father Valley (a character initially introduced in Ram V’s brilliant Catwoman run) makes a reappearance here and I can’t wait to see him go up against Jean-Paul!
This issue is a very fast read with an emphasis on action as well as bringing Jean-Paul closer to the brink of despair and failure. The threat here isn’t a bomb going off in Gotham or a mass murder at the Hands of Ra’s al Ghul. It’s intensely personal for Jean-Paul and I really appreciate that. That isn’t to say this series doesn’t have scope but it’s only the backdrop to what is happening in Jean-Paul’s head. This is something that has always been key to the character and I’m happy to see that Watters understands that.
Nikola Cizmesija is still hitting home runs on the art as well! He has the opportunity to draw a few different environments here and as usual, they work exceptionally well. If I wanted to be hypercritical, I might say it looks a bit less refined than previous issues at times.
Some areas feel like they should have had more background, as seen above. The stark white takes me out of this scene because the environment has been established as a dark cave and the Satan is a hulking beast. Light, airiness just isn’t a feel that works but as I said, this is hypercriticism. This frequently happens as deadlines pile up and Cizmesija’s art is not suffering in a very noticeable way. He’s keeping it together very well so I’m not bothered by it.
- You don’t mind retcons
- Some big action sounds fun
- If you’ve been enjoying the story so far, you’ll be happy with this issue
I am very happy with this series. As I’ve said before it’s not something I ever expected to get, so for it to be one of the best things DC is currently publishing makes me very happy. To sum it up, the writing and art are both great. It’s that simple. You should be reading this.
PS: This issue should have a 90s-month variant cover. Definitely a missed opportunity.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.