NML Crossing

NML Crossing, Episode 035 – Azrael: Agent of the Bat #47 (1998)

NML Crossing, Episode Thirty-Five

Azrael: Agent of the Bat #47 (December, 1998)
“… a Man of Wealth and Taste…”
Writer – Denny O’Neil
Pencils – Roger Robinson
Inks – James Pascoe
Colors – Demetrius Bassoukos & Prismacolor
Letters – Ken Bruzenak
Edits – Frank Berrios & Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $3.95 (flip-book)

We’re officially on THE ROAD TO NO MAN’S LAND… and, with it comes a three-part dive into Azrael-Land.  In today’s episode our Angel of Whateverthehell is sent off to Washington, DC to protect Gotham City’s last hope on the Hill.  He does so quite poorly.

We also meet the Sensational Character Find of 1998… Nicholas Scratch?!

All ‘at and a deep dip into the ol’ NMaiLbag!

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2 thoughts on “NML Crossing, Episode 035 – Azrael: Agent of the Bat #47 (1998)

  • I haven’t read this issue (and probably never will) but from your synopsis it sounds like it is Denny using a version of the playbook he had in GL/GA but without the bite and passion (he was certainly not afraid to single out a political party or figure there) or the relevant contextual details (that approach was relatively innovative in superhero comics when GL/GA came out). While those GL/GA stories are definitely dated, I enjoy them, especially for Neal Adams art. It seems like this Azrael story has some of the same elements from those GL/GA stories – it mixes a political story with a superhero/action thriller story – but it’s missing the dynamics that made GL/GA more entertaining and memorable: it’s seems to be missing an actual political statement or agenda, and it seems to be missing the stronger characterization that GL/GA’s arguments helped build (and GL/GA are just better characters).

    A thought I had about this 3 part story: I know you’ve committed to doing an episode per comic, but I wonder if you’d find more enjoyment and sustainability if you did all three parts for this storyarc in one episode. It’s too late for that in this storyarc, but something to consider if you run into a similar storyarc in this project. Maybe that would irritate some of your listeners who want more of a completionist approach (and it might rankle you too) but I think it might be an interesting approach to spend more time on the issues you enjoy.

    Finally, I’m also a fan of Superman’s parents being alive. I think Krypton’s destruction and his loss of his Kryptonian family is enough tragedy for Superman, and instead Ma and Pa Kent should be a constant source of inspiration, connection, and light for Clark. I, too, loved how The Death of Superman portrayed Ma and Pa’s reactions, especially Pa’s near-death experience/vision, and I thought that was something that set him apart from the rest of the DC Trinity, and it offers different types of stories than we can get from some of the other big-name superheroes.

  • Chris U

    This was bad. I have a love for the old comics when 40 and 50 year old writers were trying to write teen age characters, and the more they tried to sound cool the less cool and realistic they sounded. But while the silver age stories are quaint, seeing this trope in a more modern comic is cringeworthy. Another good reason to not read Azrael.

    Every time you mentioned Nicholas Scratch I kept picturing the Marvel characters of the same name. I guess Agatha Harkness’ son had a bigger impact on me than this DC character.

    The best thing John Byrne did during his reboot of Superman was to keep the Kent’s alive. They were a great part of the Bronze Age Superboy comics and made Byrne’s Superman more “Man” than “Super”. Having the source of Clark’s morality be there for Clark to seek reassurance from when he was having a crisis humanized the character of Superman.
    The problem with Jack Drake is that he didn’t know Tim was Robin. There was no support from him for Tim in his hero persona. If Tim was troubled by something happening to him as Robin he couldn’t seek advice from his dad. It was really a conflict for Tim to have to keep his dad in the dark about being Robin, while having this other father figure in Bruce that he could be completely honest with. Jack didn’t add anything to Tim’s character. He was just someone to sneak past so that Tim could go out as Robin.

    Thinking bout it now, I seem to remember Jack Drake as always being sickly after surviving the experience that killed Tim’s mom. Tim was worrying about his father a lot. It seems like maybe they were going for an Auny May vibe with him. Why not copy the blueprint for Spider-Man with a teen hero that DC wanted to be a solo hero and not just the back half of Batman AND.


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