Anyone who knows anything about the Batman series knows that Azrael is a character with promise that has never been truly realized. With the religious subtext and his strength alone, Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada’s creation is loaded with possibilities.
However, even with the release of the “Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight” graphic novel, something is still left to be desired. With Jean-Paul Valley Jr. dead for quite some time, Michael Washington Lane is next in line and is out to clean up the streets in a way that Batman never intended to.
By any means necessary.
With Bruce Wayne’s whereabouts unknown and Dick Grayson still finding his niche as the new caped crusader, as well as Wayne’s son taking Tim Drake’s place as Robin, the Boy Wonder, you’d think Gotham would embrace Lane and his alter-ego.
That doesn’t happen however.
Despite being an interesting character with an intriguing back-story, one similar to Wayne’s, he’s pushed too quickly into the limelight and is never able to hold his own. That’s partly the fault of writer Fabian Niciera, who gives him far too many one-liners and situations to get a cheap pop.
But even in spite of Lane’s dry wit and likeability, he needs a different background to develop his character. Overall, there’s just too much going on here, with Grayson as Batman and Damian as Robin and those are the parts of the book you’ll want to read, rather than learn about Lane’s doomed fate. In the end, you’ll like the character, but much like Larry and Moe from “the Three Stooges,” you know he’ll never be able to make it by himself.
Artistically, this series has some beautiful art work, especially the covers, done by Guillem March and J. Calafiore. Again, much like Niciera’s writing, the art is solid and does enough to give the series it’s own flavor, but it feels too much like a Batman comic with Azrael in it than the other way around.
In spite of all of this, it’s not enough to say that it’s a bad book or even that Azrael is a sub-par character, he’s just been cool by association for far too long. The crutches need to come off and the character needs to be developed by his lonesome rather than depending on the Batman universe.
Until that happens, the character and any series based on him with revel in mediocrity.