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The New Face of Vengeance

January 15, 2010

     The latest Batman and Detective Comics annuals act as the hooks for starting the brand new Azrael ongoing series, featuring one of the former Three Ghosts of Batman as said character.  Someone killed a priest and started investigating the tombstone of Marco Cantonini, a man who founded the second wealthiest family in Gotham City.  Batman stakes out the Canton (descendents of Cantonini) house and stop a mysterious man from kidnapping the Cantons’ son.  To draw the man out again, Robin dresses up as the kid, and Batman dresses up as his butler.  However, due to the interference of Azrael, who wanted to kill the man, he gets away with Robin.  Batman starts investigating the new Azrael and finds out that this mysterious man, named Amon, is a part of a cult called La Saligia.  Elsewhere, Amon has captured seven kids, including Robin, and plans to sacrifice them to restore “the eighth sin.” People across the city get mind-controlled into guarding seemingly random places, and the Question and Batman meet up to investigate.  When Amon and his mysterious compatriots try to sacrifice the kids, they start with Robin, who reveals himself and escapes.  Azrael gets briefed on the situation (something relating to these kids being descendents of those who hold keys to unlock the eighth sign), and he then rescues Robin from one of the members of La Saligia who was chasing him.  In the meantime, La Saligia has kidnapped the real Canton son.  Together, Batman, Robin, Question, and Azrael manage to beat the cult before they complete their goal, though Batman obviously doesn’t like Azrael’s modus operandi.

     Although the cover to this story looks cool, it wasn’t exactly that exciting a story.  Although the concept of La Saligia is very interesting, it doesn’t make me want to go buy Azrael.  I assume that whole thing is going to be explored further in his actual title, especially since Fabian Nicieza is the title’s writer.  Again, interesting, but I’m not quite interested in the character.  The new Azrael is indeed Michael Washington Lane, the third Ghost of Batman, and there should be ample stuff to work with there.  But at least in this story, Nicieza doesn’t really delve into all those potential psychological issues, instead liking to spend way too much time on the La Saligia thing.  His treatment of Damian Wayne isn’t terribly nuanced either.  Plus, anyone who read 52 knows that the second richest family in Gotham is actually the Kanes (a.k.a. the current Batwoman).  Jim Calafiore’s art is as good as his usually is, though due to Mark McKenna’s weak inks, it doesn’t look as great as it did in that issue of Secret Six.  Tom Mandrake’s art was decent, if extremely muddy at times, and his colorist randomly decided that the top part of Azrael’s mask wasn’t even there, giving it skin coloring.  So although this story is entertaining, it’s not exactly worth going crazy over.  It’s sloppy, but a good time waster.

Plot: 6.2      Art: 8.0      Dialogue: 7.5      Overall: 6.6

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