“Shadows and Ghosts” is an alright issue, but nothing you necessarily need to rush out and grab unless you’re a particularly big fan of Harper Row. It’s merely a brief stand-alone issue that comes before the upcoming Wraith arc. Still, it’s a solid issue for Harper even if fill-in artist Scot Eaton tends to draw her most inconsistently of all the characters in the book. Layman does a fine job capturing the voice of her and her brother. Batman has a really bad-ass moment in the first few pages, but from then on it’s mostly the Harper Row show broken up by flashbacks to Detective Comics #0 and occasional hints to what I’m assuming will be an upcoming storyline with a very major Batman rogue. I’m excited about those teasers the most.

The villain, with her 6 arms (which are described as shadows yet the colorist made them a glowing purple) and belly-dancing gear isn’t very formidable at all and her design and gimmick are a bit silly, but if Detective Comics #0 is fresh in your mind, you’ll see that as a character she has potential. It’s not explored too much here, but I think we might get more whenever the villain hinted at in the final pages gets their own arc. Her relationship with Bruce could prove interesting.

The main story is short, sweet, and simple.

The backup goes in an entirely different direction and brings Kirk Langstrom back into the story and we get references to Batman: The Dark Knight #20 and Detective Comic’s 900 special. In fact, most of this issue is made up of short recaps be it to Batman #18, Detective Comics #0 or the other books I mentioned. Man-Bat’s story establishes an interesting mystery for issues to come, but for now the highlight of the back-up and, really, the entire issue is Andy Clarke’s pencils. He draws a really terrifying Man-Bat, one of the best interpretations of the character I’ve seen, and the imagery is quite memorable.

Overall

This was a perfectly average issue. Those who love Harper Row will enjoy it the most, but this chapter spent the majority of its time bridging from issue #0 to now in the main tale and issue #19 to now in the Man-Bat backup. Big things are clearly on the horizon, but nothing too spectacular occurred here. Today’s Batwing #21 was about as entertaining and it was a dollar cheaper.

SCORE: 6.5/10