Why Brian Azzarello Is a Really Excellent Comic Writer


10.15.11BrianAzzarelloByLuigiNovi2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Decoding DC – Part 16


Extremites, what makes a good writer of comics?

In both Decoding DC and Journey Into Marvel ,the search for an answer to this question defines each series. I have found there is no absolute answer. However, one trait  is shared by each writer of successful comics. It’s the ability to subvert the reader’s preconceptions. Brian Azzarello shows this ability tenfold in Part III of his El Diablo arc.

Azzarello’s ability to write dialogue astounds me.

I am also astounded by his skill at creating vibrant and full characters, particularly when it comes to Moses Stone. Azzarello has spent the last two issues setting up Stone as a hammer of justice. He’s a reformed bounty hunter turned into a righteous sheriff. But this — “SPOILER” — is all a lie. Stone is the villain.

Let’s take a closer look at his role, shall we?

We’re in Halo.

Halo is Moses’ home town.

It’s a place that Moses hasn’t returned to in sometime.

Here his name has preceded his coming.

Names are extraordinarily important in DC’s Wild West. I saw this in Joe R. Lansdale and Tim Truman’s Jonah Hex. The writers always focus on how their hero’s names are known. This is also a larger direction of DC’s company writing style. That is why, once again, the story opens with an extended conversation about El Diablo.

As Moses and the sheriff of Halo: Cal Chaney walkabout the town they run into a grave digger who scampers off in abject fear. This is important.

$T2eC16J,!)EE9s2ufWVZBRum5kHgjw~~60_35Clearly, Moses is known. His bounty hunter days were legendary in their blood lust. Or is there more to it?

As Moses settles down for the evening, with a prostitute, we find out that Moses isn’t all he seems. In fact, Moses isn’t Moses. Rather, he’s known as Elmer Huskey which is the same name that that roustabout, last issue, knew him by. That last character ended up gunned down by Huskey/Stone.

Brian Azzarello is a fantastic writer. He has spent the last number of issues using one of DC’s most overused tropes: the protagonist who is out to fight for justice, then totally subverts that same trope by establishing Moses/Elmer as a villain. Although the art continues to fall short, the story is brilliant. I wish more writers infused this type of pathos and subversion into their arcs.

El Diablo only appears on one page in each issue so far. It is like his spirit is driving this downfall.

What a good ride this arc has been.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds


Story I Read:El Diablo Part III” (El Diablo #3 May. 2001)

Rating: 4 out of 5

Pros: Unexpected twists. The attention to character. The long time detail and planning on Azzarello’s part.

Cons: The art is fuzzy. The reduction of women as ‘whores to be killed’ nags at me.

Previous Review:El Diablo Part II” (El Diablo #2 Apr. 2001)

Upcoming Review:El Diablo Part IV” (El Diablo #4 Jun. 2001)






About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on August 9, 2014, in DC, El Diablo and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

Say something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: