The Shadow makes his presence known and we learn who the evil masterminds are behind all of the chaos in this month’s The Shadow/ Batman!

Last month, Steve Orlando debuted The Shadow/ Batman through Dynamite Comics, following the success of DC’s Batman/ The Shadow. Originally, I thought this was a separate story, but I’m happy to discover that it isn’t. This is actually a continuation of Batman/ The Shadow, and that means that Bruce and Cranston will most likely have some resentment towards one another.

If you remember, the debut left off with Robin throwing a grenade at Batman. Most of us deducted this wasn’t really Batman in the first issue, but the idea is confirmed here. Predicting this doesn’t make this moment any less impactful though. Damian still looks like a badass in how he deals with this imposter Batman, and the moment delivers some gruesome visuals. The imposter Batman is just the beginning of Damian’s woes, as an all-out assault is carried out by low-level muscle, an event that ultimately leads to the reveal of the big bad. And for me, the reveal can only lead to endlessly exciting stories, so I’m looking forward to how all of this unfolds!

If you were disappointed that last month’s debut barely featured the Shadow, you will be relieved to know that he’s fully integrated into this issue. Our three heroes (Batman, Robin, and the Shadow) are far from having a warm welcome with one another though, each of them irritated with the other two for various reasons. Unfortunately, our characters need to come to terms with a few things before they can move forward in this mission, so there’s quite a bit of bickering. Subsequently, the character moments also mean that there’s not too much in the way of plot progression, but it should lead to a more satisfying climax and conclusion a few months from now.

Despite the bickering, Orlando crafts the conversations in a manner so that they aren’t overly annoying or nagging to the reader. The war of words between the characters is impactful, and their feelings are validated. During arguments, I typically find myself siding with a character, but I found myself torn between who I would side with because they are all right in their own respects. This may derail the fun element of this title, but it adds a respectable amount of complexity. As you all know, there’s nothing that I love more than complex characters.

The Art: Giovanni Timpano handles art again, but his work isn’t as polished as it was in the debut. I think he’s a brilliant artist, but his work reminds me of Fernando Pasarin… Great art. Great storyteller. Questionable faces. As great as Timpano was at depicting Orlando’ script, there were moments where his faces pulled from the moment. It’s not a huge issue, nor is it a deal breaker, just something worth mentioning.

Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good:

Sequel. As I mentioned above, this, in fact, is a sequel to Batman/ The Shadow! I originally thought this would be a completely separate story considering the title is different and it’s published by a different publisher, but I’m happy that’s not the case. Continuing from Batman/ The Shadow allows Orlando the opportunity to jump into this story with an established foundation to pull from!

Robin. I love Damian under Orlando’s pen! He captures all of the attributes that I want to see in the character. First off, he’s a total badass! Yes, he’s arrogant and overconfident, but he should be arrogant and overconfident. The thing is, he can – usually – walk the walk after he’s talked the talk. But it’s not just his presence in the face of danger that I enjoy here. Orlando has really developed a complex character in Damian, especially in his outlook concerning his father. I’ve seen some complaints that he goes back and forth between being angsty to being a team player, but I believe he has a right to be angsty again. For one, he’s a teenager now, and we all know how teens are. Beyond that, Bruce still hasn’t fully embraced Damian – something Damian brings up in this issue. For me, this is hard to read, but a total win.

Hard Feelings. Batman and the Shadow have some hard feelings towards one another, and that dirty laundry gets aired here. After their confrontation with Stag and the Joker in Batman/ The Shadow, Batman is a little miffed that Shadow almost killed him, meanwhile, the Shadow is hurting from the loss of someone he loved. The tension leads to Bruce basically calling the Shadow reckless and selfish – something that could be viewed as ironic considering Bruce’s history. It’s a great dynamic and should lead to some great storytelling no matter which way this tension falls.

Evil Legacies. Last month, you’ll remember that I got extremely excited about the mention of Moriarty, and as it turns out, he really is dead (for now, anyway). So, who is the big bad? Well, it’s two people: Ra’s al Ghul and Shiwan Khan – a direct descendant of Genghis Khan.

The Bad:

Domestic Troubles. While this didn’t bother me too much, some readers might be annoyed by the arguments that occur in this issue. There’s some immaturity that comes through from Batman, Robin, and the Shadow, and it might be a bit much for some. At the end of the day, I feel like it’s needed so these characters can move forward though.

Recommended if:

  • You enjoyed Batman/ The Shadow.
  • You enjoy stories with strong, complex characters.
  • You love a good detective story.

Overall: The Shadow/ Batman #2 isn’t quite as strong as the debut considering Orlando has to pull back from the plot to handle some character moments, but I still highly recommend this book! Considering this chapter is ultimately just a piece of a larger story, we’re treated with some outstanding development before heading towards the climax. If complex and flawed characters are your cup of tea, then prepare yourself to drink up!

SCORE: 8.0/10