We now come to the final issue of Knightfall (but not the Knightfall Saga), and the unveiling of Azrael-Batman (or AzBat).
Written by Doug Moench
Art by Jim Aparo & Terry Austin, and Mike Manley
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Letters by Ken Bruzenak
Edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel & Denny O’Neil
Quick note on the cover – this issue has a double holofoil cover, with the main cover having Batman in the classic costume, and the inside cover having AzBats in the same pose.
We pick up right where we left off, with Batman II dangling at Bane’s mercy. Batman II manages to break free–barely, and Bane makes a break for it through the lobby. He runs right past Batman II, with the Successor being unable to follow.
Meanwhile, Tim calls his girlfriend, Ariana, because he just needs someone to talk to.
Back at the hotel, GCPD is taking Trogg, Zombie, and Bird back into custody again, and it seems Mayor Krol and Gordon are no longer on speaking terms again.
Robin returns to the Batcave, where Jean-Paul is working out. They argue over Jean-Paul’s methods and Robin makes it clear that if Jean-Paul keeps this up, they’re done.
After Tim leaves, Jean-Paul returns to the drawing board for a full costume re-design.
At the Mayor’s mansion, Mayor Krol informs Lieutenant Kirsch that GCPD is to stay out of Batman’s way. They are still to follow the rules like normal, but Batman gets carte blanche.
Back at GCPD, Commissioner Gordon wonders what’s going on with Batman.
In the Batcave, Jean-Paul continues to work, as Harold looks on from his hidey-hole, along with Ace the Bat-Hound.
At the lockup, Bane checks in with Zombie – he’s wounded and needs more Venom. Zombie provides the location of a cache, but Bane refrains from breaking him out for now.
Outside Wayne manor, Robin is sulking when Nightwing drops in. Apparently Oracle told him Bruce was okay, but didn’t give the context. Consequently, Dick doesn’t know about Bruce’s paralysis, nor the fact that the Mantle has been passed to Jean-Paul. Neither person is particularly happy with this. Tim blames himself, partly due to the costume he designed being too close to Metalhead’s, but Dick tells him that’s silly.
Elsewhere, Bane finds his cache of Venom, and is ready for round two.
At Santa Prisca, Bruce reflects how important Chandra is for him.
In Gotham, Bane kills the guy updating the display for a LED display, so he can send a message of his own.
And in the Batcave, Robin discovers the design of the new costume.
The second chapter opens with AzBats, in the full costume, gliding over the city when he sees Bane’s updated sign.
We get a sequence with some positively indigo prose in AzBat’s internal monologue as he makes his way to the fight. It’s like he’s a different person.
AzBats reaches the chosen battleground – Gotham’s Times Square, where Bruce was originally dumped – as the rain starts to fall. AzBats calls out Bane, and Bane responds.
GCPD holds the perimeter, as Lieutenant Kisch stops a sniper from opening fire on Bane. Commissioner Gordon shows up, and notices the scare quotes on the sign for “Batman”
Bane and AzBats exchange taunts, but the rain is coming down so hard that Gordon and Bullock can’t hear.
AzBat gets the upper hand to start, but a hit of Venom allows Bane to get control. The Dark Angel (the title of the issue and a fitting term for AzBats)) barely gets free, and manages to cut Bane’s venom tubes before he can take another hit.
Bane flees to the EL tracks, with Gordon stopping SWAT from firing for fear of hitting Batman. Bane boards an incoming train, hijacking it (killing the driver in the process) as AzBats grabs on with a Bat Line. Bane rams the accelerator to full, which (since this isn’t Densha De D) means that the train is going to go hurtling off the tracks.
Robin blows the link between the front car (where Bane and AzBats are fighting) and the rear car – saving the passengers.
However, this causes the front car to speed up further, causing it to go flying off the next turn, into a building.
Bane emerges prone, with the Dark Angel standing. Bane asks Batman to kill him as Robin and GCPD look on. Much to their relief, AzBats decids not to.
Robin even gives Jean-Paul an undeserved apology as the issue ends.
The letters column has another complaint about Jean Paul, though this one complaining about him looking like a “cutie-boy”. First, really? Second, I’m assuming this is before the haircut. Third, really? The rest of the letters are also bemoaning the decision to bench Bruce, with more than a few saying that they’re leaving comics forever over this, some after 35 years. To which I say, if you’ve been reading comics for 35 years, you know that nothing lasts forever, and that includes retirements.
Next week, with Knightfall over, the quest begins.
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