TITLE: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight – Issue #63
YEAR: August 1994
COMPANY: DC Comics
Writer: Denny O’Neil
Penciller: Barry Kitson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Colorist: Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor: Chuck Kim
Associate Editor: Jim Spivey
Editor: Archie Goodwin
Batman created by Bob Kane
From 1993 to 1994, DC Comics wrote one of the largest hyped stories in those two years revolving around Batman.
As Batman’s back was broken by Bane, out of nowhere came an armored protector of justice named Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael. Problem is… he has issues…deep issues stemming from being unconsciously trained since birth to be an assassin for an ancient religious order. Some may say he’s a bit crazy but as he assumes the mantle of Batman, unlike Bruce Wayne, Azrael kills and hurts those who stand in his way and believes violence is the key to stop Gotham’s criminals
Needless to say, the storyline was featured on all “Batman” related books and also extended to other books of other characters close to Batman and unfortunately, collecting the entire arc was a pain in the arse.
So, one of the best things to finally come from this long series is the climax when Bruce Wayne the Batman returns to reclaim his mantle from Azrael.
Needless to say, Azrael is not very keen of letting Bruce Wayne back. Claiming him to not be Batman and that he is Batman.
It leads to Azrael on the offensive and doing whatever he can to defeat Bruce but this battle shows why Bruce Wayne is the Batman. In fact, Bruce doesn’t even have to put up a fight, if anything, he uses his words and his wit to get through to Jean-Paul and knowing that Jean-Paul is suffering inside, he defeats him with intelligence and showing Jean-Paul the light. And I mean that literally.
Sure, there are people who expected a major fight between the two but in the end, we see why Bruce is the better Batman, never needing to cross the line in terms of violence unlike Jean-Paul and using reasoning without chaos and in the end, Bruce Wayne once again comes out triumphant and as for Jean-Paul, he’s left picking up the pieces.
While I was expecting more of a wild climax to complete the long-running storyline, the ending does work. Maybe not the action-level that I was hoping for but how it works out makes sense, considering Jean-Paul’s mental state.
Overall, a good story by Denny O’Neil but it may come a bit short for those who had high expectations.