Batman / The Shadow #1….LOVED IT!

Batman / The Shadow #2….LOVED IT!

Batman / The Shadow #3….um, I kinda loved it.

Now now now.  Before you pelt me with tomatoes, I’m not saying it’s bad.  It’s good!  In fact, I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I’m just saying it isn’t as good as the first two parts.  And that’s mostly due to the Joker’s inclusion.

Ok, ok.  Put down the knife and let me explain before you gouge my eyes out.

I completely enjoyed the Joker’s characterization in this comic.  He uses a bunch of silly pet names for characters, goes off on weird tangents, lets his train of thought take him where it may, uses unconventional vocabulary, and just has a very whimsical air about him.  He’s basically got a nice balance of joviality/weirdness to homicidal maniac ratio.  And I think that’s something that occasionally gets put on the sideline in exchange for a more carnage and blood-lust fueled Joker.  In that sense, I really enjoyed it.  What I didn’t like is that he was even included in this story to begin with.

It just seems to me that the Joker stole the entire show from every other character.  Up till this point, this comic had focused on Batman, The Shadow, and The Stag.  It had a really nice balance.  Including the Joker simply takes the focus away from where I think it should be.  It also made me think of all the Batman movies that have suffered from overcrowding.  Aside from the 1989 movie, every other Batman movie has had 2, 3, or even 4 major villains in it that could have easily carried a movie on their own.  So, that’s what I am saying.  Let The Stag carry the story.  He’s done a perfectly fine job of it so far.  Aside from the Joker’s presence totally upstaging The Stag, it doesn’t help that The Stag spends half the story sitting in a chair.

F.Y.I.: mannequins are creepy.

I mean, just look at that.  He looks completely deflated and nonthreatening.  So, not only is the Joker upstaging The Stag in the dialogue department, he’s also visually more interesting to look at.  Joker does stuff.  He jumps about.  He interacts with the mannequins.  The Stag just sits their.  The visual dynamic at play also adds a level of superiority to the Joker on a subconscious level.  So, even though I see The Stag as the main villain of this mini-series, I’m now seeing him as a subordinate to the Joker.  And that simply takes away some of his power.  Even if the Joker wasn’t here at all, showing The Stag sitting in a chair is so pedestrian.  This is an immortal killing machine that has hid behind a cloak of mystery throughout this entire story!  And you have him sitting in a chair?!?  It’s almost as bad as showing him going to the bathroom, sleeping, or eating.  I realize these are all things he probably needs to do, but by showing it, you are creating a connection between him and us.  It makes him seem too much like a normal person, and I really think that doing so takes away that otherworldly quality he had going for him.

Spoiler

Probably the coolest thing to come out of this issue was the realization that The Shadow wasn’t just Henri Ducard, but dozens of other individuals that trained Bruce as well.  But then it goes a step further, and what I thought couldn’t get any cooler…does.  The Shadow didn’t just train Bruce.  He trained dozens upon dozens of other characters.  I find all of this incredibly fitting and satisfying.  Why?

If you read my review for issue #1, I mentioned this: “The Shadow predates Batman by 9 years and is often seen as the archetype, not only for Batman, but superheroes in general.”  This story is essentially art imitating life.  Since The Shadow was the inspiration for writers and artist to create Superheroes in the real world, it’s beyond awesome to think that in the comic book world The Shadow had a hand in the creation of some of those very same characters as well.  Bravo to that, I say.  Bravo to that.

And really, in a way, he already is.

Odds and Ends:

  • I’m pretty sure Batman has smashed through a window/skylight in every single issue so far.  Yeah…that never gets old.

  • Man, I love Batman’s intimidation game.  And that close up on the mouth as he delivers the second half of the line is wonderful.

  • Hmm…doesn’t the cowl have a reinforced gorget?  I would think a garrote wouldn’t work on him.  Although, to be honest, I’ve seen Batman get strangled by one in another story.  So, I guess I have to let it slide.

  • But I’m not letting this slide.  Batman gets the fabric torn off his boot, and yet, after this moment in the story he is illustrated throughout the rest of the book as if this didn’t happen.  What?  Does he have some kind of high tech fabric that regrows or something?

Recommended if…

  • You love The Joker.
  • You like the idea of The Shadow being the grandfather of all that is.

Overall:

The story elements in this book involving The Shadow are beyond awesome because they transcends the page and draw parallels with our world and the comic world.  The book also received high marks because of the superb characterization done on the Joker.  This is probably one of the most enjoyable takes on The Joker I’ve seen in some time.  The only problem I have is that the rest of the story seems to slightly suffer due to Joker’s inclusion, as characters who were once the primary focus seem to take a back seat to The Joker’s larger than life persona.  It’s basically a case of “points taken off for distracting me from the central story but extra points added right back for doing it so well.”

SCORE: 8.5 / 10