Upon realizing that this was the conclusion to the Judgment of Gotham crossover, I didn’t really know what to think. In my head I was telling myself that no matter what, there’s no way that this book will be worth my time. This is Batman, not Azrael. Azrael had his own title and it failed. I was judging this issue by its cover, but it was hard to fight. That being said, I actually enjoyed this one mildly. This has nothing to do with low expectations; I just felt that David Hine did a fairly decent job of wrapping up the Judgment of Gotham in Batman #709.
What we have here is a situation where it’s up to Dick to stop Azrael from allowing Fireball to destroy Gotham. Azrael has decided that Gotham is not worthy and deserves to be punished, therefore it will be decimated. When Jenny Lane and her children arrive on the scene, Azrael is startled because he had told them to leave town. Upon their arrival, we learn Red Robin and Catwoman had sent them and Jenny causes Azrael to question himself. Azrael allows Batman to stab him with the swords of sin and truth and it is revealed that the destruction of Gotham is not God’s will, but rather that of Ra’s al Ghul. Azrael realizes he is being used, but Fireball begins to lose control. In order to save Gotham, the Crusader creates a telekinetic field around fireball, containing the explosion but in turn, killing Fireball.
This one was able to squeeze as much good story out of the tired Azrael saga as possible and the result was a surprisingly enjoyable conclusion. There was tension, good connections between the characters and although it had a somewhat predictable, anti-climactic ending, there was some resolution and closure. I found the link between Dick and the Crusader to be very intriguing and the inclusion of Ra’s and the White Ghost added to the ominous feel. Talking about ominous, the art was very good and like I said in the first part of this story, I feel that it suits this tone well. Where will Azrael go from here? Who knows, but I will openly embrace the return of Tony Daniel and the return to a Batman-centric story next month.
Reviewed by Josh Gobble