All good things must come to an end, and so is the case with The Shadow/ Batman. Of the many titles I’ve reviewed for Batman-News.com over the past few years, this is easily one of my favorites! I’m sad to see this book go – and hope that its absence is only temporary – but will forever look at this title’s content and quality with great admiration.
I feel it’s becoming more and more difficult to find comic book arcs that I completely enjoy. Something, somewhere in the story, tends to fall apart for me. So, coming into this issue, I was a bit hesitant. I had no justifiable reason to fill this way, but still, I was concerned. Would this be another instance where I’ve loved a story, only to reach its conclusion and be highly disappointed? I didn’t want that to be the case… Prayed that wasn’t the case… And I’m happy to say that it isn’t the case.
Over the past few months, Steve Orlando and Giovanni Timpano have delivered a well-planned, carefully crafted comic with excellent execution. Catching the momentum of his previous series Batman/ The Shadow, Orlando continued the titular characters’ narrative in this story and actually managed to improve it. With a bit of bad blood between them, Batman and the Shadow are required to join forces yet again to stop the Silent Seven, who are being led by Shiwan Khan and Ra’s al Ghul.
An addition to this narrative, and in my opinion the standout character of the entire story, is Damian Wayne. Characterization excels throughout The Shadow/ Batman, but this is quite possibly the best we’ve seen Damian handled since Grant Morrison’s run with him in Batman & Robin. Simply put, he’s a badass, and while he’s still an arrogant twat, he’s not as brash about it. While he does kick ass – and I mean, majorly kick ass – he showcases his other strengths as well, including his intellect, detective skills, and even a profound maturity. There’s such a balance to his character, that it’s damn near perfect.
In fact, that’s the key word for The Shadow/ Batman… balance. Damian isn’t the only character that is well balanced in his portrayal. Bruce, the Shadow, Khan, and Ra’s are also balanced, developed, and properly motivated in believable ways. Beyond character balance, there’s also balance with the plot itself, as well as incredible pacing. It’s a spectacular feat on Orlando’s part, illustrated incredibly by Timpano, and with this chapter, each of the elements set-up in previous issues come crashing together for the finale.
When this chapter kicks off, Batman and the Shadow are in a fight for their life against Ra’s, Khan, and Damian.
There’s a lot at stake here – literally, the fate of the world – but not in the overused “destruction of the planet/ universe” sort of way. No, the fate of the world in this instance relates to people, their liberties, and a prevention of manipulation and control. We learned early in the series that Khan and Ra’s have been infiltrating and controlling various aspects of the world for decades, maybe even centuries. The stakes are high, and they feel unique compared to what we often see in comics today.
The action is fantastic as well, with Timpano infusing emotion of some sort into each bout. Another testament to his work is the fluidity of his fights. Each character has definition in their presence: body language, the way they carry themselves, how they fight, and it really adds a special quality to the overall product. Much like Orlando, it appears as if Timpano also had a blast playing with Damian, as some of the best-looking panels involve the boy wonder. There’s also an amazing fight between the Shadow and Khan that looks unique and feels special. It might be one of the best bouts I’ve experienced in comics in years.
This chapter is probably the most action-packed out of the six issues, but even in this, the creators are able to infuse so much texture into the narrative that it doesn’t feel cheap. You get your money’s worth here, and by the end of the story, I promise you’ll be satisfied. The build that’s occurred for five issues receives an incredible payoff, and I’m willing to bet that – like me – you’ll desperately want more of this crossover in the near future!
- It’s Batman with The Shadow, Ra’s al Ghul, Shiwan Khan, and Damian Wayne. Damn near written and illustrated perfectly! Just go get the book!
Overall: If you’re not read The Shadow/ Batman, then you’re honestly doing yourself a disservice. Go buy this issue! Catch up if you need to! And when the collection is released, buy it because it’s worthy of a prominent, face-out display on your bookshelf! As far as I’m concerned, this is a classic in the making!