Credits: Alan Grant (writer), Mike Vosburg (penciler), Ron McCain (inker), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), David Hornung (colorist)
Summary: Azrael spends the night with Gotham’s homeless. Only one person, a double-amputee named Legs, dares speak to him. Legs explains his past and offers Azrael liquor, Azrael responds by destroying the bottle. He leaves as Legs curses him, but soon returns when a group of men enters and accuses Legs of stealing their liquor. Azrael intimidates them into leaving Legs alone, then reflects on Legs’ words.
Irrelevant Continuity: Legs had a previous run-in with Batman and Anarky, based on the dialogue in this issue. Azrael also receives his longest origin flashback to date.
Review: Given Alan Grant’s seeming antipathy towards Azrael, I wasn’t expecting much from this issue, but it turns out to be one of the few Azrael stories at this point to even attempt to humanize the character. Surrounding the (anti)hero with a homeless supporting cast can quickly descend into cliché, see Spawn for a good example, but Grant manages to make the characters seem one notch above stereotypes in just a few pages. Legs, for instance, is the first to admit that he would be looking away from the homeless too if his life had turned out differently. And even if this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a story about the wounded Vietnam vet that loses everything after returning home, Grant still makes Legs feel like a unique character. Placing Azrael, who’s lost everything at this point, with the city’s homeless isn’t a bad place to pick up his story, and having the humbled former Batman realize the value of all humanity is a necessary step if DC’s serious about doing more with the character. Of the three main Batman writers, Grant is the last one I would expect to be telling this story, which makes it that much more of a pleasant surprise.