“Sword Of Azrael” – Book Five
Writer: Dan Watters
Artists: Nikola Čižmešija, Pablo M. Collar
Color Artist: Marissa Louise
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Review by Steve J. Ray
Sword Of Azrael #5 is here and, much like the scriptures our main protagonist is guided by, its pages carry wrath, revenge, and revelations within them. I may have said this before, but I’m really enjoying this series. This is because, while it’s always hugely entertaining, colorful, and action-packed, it also makes me think.
Over the years I’ve been asked many times what my religious beliefs are and, quite honestly, I’ve always been extremely conflicted about them. I possess a very rational, scientific mind, yet I was raised as a Catholic. I admire people who have faith and believe that it is a truly beautiful thing.
Organized religion, however…
As a deeply studious person, and one who’s studied both philosophy and religion and their impact on history in great depth, I’ve come to the conclusion that all faiths are inherently good and positive. Sadly, many of the people who practice them twist their teachings to suit their own beliefs, frequently in ways that are anything but. Because of this, whenever I’m asked about my own faith I answer, in all honesty, that I’m a “Recovering Catholic”.
Being brought up to believe that sinning will send you straight to hell doesn’t teach you to be good, it simply instills deep-seated guilt into a person whenever they do anything that’s seen to be, even slightly bad. The writings of many notable scholars (and two extremely talented comic book writers; surnames Moore and Gaiman) simply underlined the honest truth that all faiths share: treat others how you would like to be treated. “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Respect, love, and understanding are what separate humanity from the beasts and, because of this, are the basis for all true goodness (IMHO). The wonderfully talented Dan Watters seems to think the same way I do and, as such, so does Jean-Paul Valley, AKA Azrael.
Sword Of Azrael #5 shows a marked moment of true character development for our hero, one that’s been a long time coming. What I truly find impressive, though, is that while this series deals with faith and is steeped in theology, it’s not preachy or zealous while doing so. Once again, it’s just showing us that all we can be is ourselves, but it’s our duty and purpose to try and be the best selves we can possibly be.
The art in this issue feels a little different from the previous four issues, almost from the get-go. This time we have Pablo M. Collar joining Nikola Čižmešija… and I like it. I’m not sure if Pablo has inked Nikola’s pencils or done more than that, but the pages feel a little smoother, while still maintaining the great design and feel of the chapters that came before. While it does feel different, the changes aren’t jarring and still work with what we’ve already seen.
As always, the stellar colors and letters by Marissa Louise and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou are the perfect complement to both Dan Watters’ wonderful story and Nikola and Pablo’s gorgeous art.
Wow. Reading all of that back this review almost feels more like a Religious Studies essay than a comic book critique. As I said, while this series is consistently entertaining, it also always makes me think. I love it when a comic does more than help to just pass the time.
It’s great when a piece of fiction can present opportunities for discussion and truly shine a light on society and the human condition. Very few series do it better than this one, and Sword Of Azrael #5 could actually be the best issue of the run, so far.
Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment