This story no longer makes any sense.  What started out as a simple detective/thriller/noir story has devolved into super-powered inter-dimensional aliens.  Although, to be honest, I don’t have a problem with the inter-dimensional aliens/”Teachers”.  What I have a problem with is that the rules this world is governed by aren’t adding up.

The story starts off by explaining what Shamba-La is, and this I really liked.  Basically, the “Teachers” created hearsay in order to draw evil to them instead of having to go and search it out on their own.  And when it deliverers itself to their very doorstep, they expunge it.  Now, that is super cool.  Unfortunately, that’s the last really awesome thing this book has to deliver.

Like I said, the rules just don’t add up.

During a flashback, we see that The Stag cult was created by two brothers who ended up falling for the trap that the “Teachers” had set.  One brother got killed, and the second one swore revenge.  So, in order to open the door, you have to be super evil.  And, all the killing they’ve been doing has been in order to be evil enough that the doors would open for them again when they returned.  So, here is what I don’t get.  When all these Stag guys showed up at the door to Shamba-La, it opened for them.  But that’s what it was supposed to do.  It’s supposed to let in evil, so they can be killed or reformed.  So why didn’t that just happen?  How did they circumnavigate the choice?  Well, maybe they just rushed in and started attacking instead of choosing.  I can buy that.  But if you take a look at the flashback, they show the “Teachers” fry some dude in the blink of an eye.  If they’ve got that kind of power, how is it that a bunch of no-powered humans are able to overcome them?  I mean, they can instantly heal Bruce and basically gave The Shadow his powers, so why is it that they can’t simply stop The Stags in their tracks?

They make a point of mentioning the fact that they can be killed, and once killed, can’t resurrect themselves.  So yeah, they’re mortal.  But just because they can be killed doesn’t mean it should be easy for The Stags to do it.  The Stags don’t have crazy powers like the “Teachers” do.  They are just a bunch of normal people fighting super-powered inter-dimensional aliens (or whatever they are).  If you flip through the book, there’s not a single page where we see a “Teacher” taking out a Stag, but there are 7 instances where we see a “Teacher” getting murdered by a Stag.  It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Like I said, in the flashback that details the origin of The Stag cult, they show the “Teachers” fry some dude in the blink of an eye.  So I’d say they are more than capable of repelling whatever invasion force has been sent to exterminate them.

Here’s something else that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The “Teachers” tell Bruce that he could be a better Shadow than The Shadow.  All throughout this miniseries, we’ve gotten plenty of comparisons drawn between the two characters as to how they are different.  One of the big ones that’s been consistently brought up is the fact that Batman doesn’t kill and The Shadow does.  So, when the “Teachers” say that Bruce has improved upon the Shadow’s teachings, I have to assume they are referring to the fact that he isn’t a cold-blooded killer.  He fights evil without becoming evil himself.  So, it seems immensely peculiar to me that they would show a what-if scenario of a Batman/Shadow hybrid with him blasting away with a pair of guns.  That’s not different than The Shadow.  That’s just The Shadow wearing a Batman suit.

Anyway, onto the next bit of confusing business.

There’s this thing called a Ballast Torch which acts as a bridge between the “Teachers” plane of existence and Earth.  Batman suggests that if the Ballast is destroyed it will release a mental shock-wave that will incapacitate all the Stags.  But The Shadow is hesitant to enact Batman’s plan because he doesn’t want to banish the “Teachers” from Earth.  If you are thinking all of that is what’s confusing me, you’d be wrong.  I understand all that.  What I don’t get is why this would banish the “Teachers”.  I mean, the “Teachers” built the Ballast Torch to begin with, right?  Unless, of course, we are supposed to believe that this is a natural occurring connection between these two plans.  But the way I read it, the “Teachers” implemented this anchor between the two realms.  If that is the case, why couldn’t they just do it again?

Batman ends up spending 3 pages trying to convince The Shadow to blow the thing up, and then when he does, Batman has a look of shock on his face.  Why exactly?  I mean, when I look at that image it translates as, “Oh my god! What are you doing?  You’re going to kill us all!”  But clearly, that’s not what Batman would be thinking at this moment since he wanted The Shadow to blow it up.

Ok.  I said the only awesome thing in this issue was the fact that Shamba-La was really a trap.  But that’s not true.  This is also a great moment:

It’s about taking a tragedy and turning it into something that can help others.  In that sense, it’s a blessing.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve already bought the first 5 issues and see no reason not to complete the set.

Overall:

The narrative presented in issue #1, 2, and 3 feels like a completely different experience than that offered up in 4, 5, and 6.  Earlier this spring, Batman/The Shadow was literally the best thing I was reading.  So, to have it go from that to just another comic that I’ll all too soon forget is pretty disheartening.

SCORE: 6 / 10