Welcome back to the overpriced “Shadows of the Bat” event. I don’t usually focus on price point in my reviews, but seeing as you would be spending a minimum of $60.88 if you were to buy the whole event in single issues, I think it’s important to bring this to your attention, especially since the quality isn’t there to justify this sky-high paywall. Bear in mind that you would likely end up spending even more when you factor in the 2021 annual, B covers and price mark-ups at your LCS. For a more detailed breakdown of the price point, please see the intro of my Detective Comics #1047 review.
This story continues to ramble on. We follow Kate Kane around Arkham Tower and see her interact with patients and staff. It seems that these interactions are meant to inform Kate’s relationship with Arkham Tower and how her being there is affecting her, and this could be an interesting angle to take. However, these interactions are all kept at a bare minimum and none of it is developed beyond her just being shocked or briefly reminded of a past encounter she had with a specific inmate as Batwoman. Furthermore, every time something interesting is about to happen that the creative team could build off of, the scene in question is cut short and we move on to something else. Even if the creative team is trying to give us the bare minimum on purpose because they intend to expand on Kate’s ordeal over the course of this event, I think that they do need to give us something to hold onto. As it stands, Kate’s sequences throughout the first half of this issue flash by and remain purely surface level.
Other Bat Family members barely make an appearance, and when they do, it’s not particularly memorable because they’re not doing much in the way of plot progression. For example, seeing the Bat Family meeting in their hideout could be an opportunity for the creative team to create more narrative focus, but just as Oracle tries to bring up the task at hand, Batwoman and Nightwing start arguing. Nightwing does raise some questions about the inner workings of Arkham Tower, but it seems very strange to me that these are all very basic questions that I’m sure most readers will have, and yet it’s presented as if only Nightwing is thinking about this and it hasn’t even crossed the others’ minds. Instead of spending an entire scene on pointing out the obvious and creating unnecessary conflict between our heroes, I think it would be much more engaging if we actually see how the Bat Family actively works as a team to carry out their mission. We need to see what each of them is doing in order to achieve their goals. We need to see them communicate well. We need to see them progress. We need to see focus. Right now, it’s like the writer is just kind of winging every scene as it feels like none of it is really going anywhere.
When we finally get some action, it’s a welcome change of pace, because at least we get to see Reis, Miki and Anderson flex their artistic capabilities. But the action itself feels hollow because of how it’s scripted: as cool as Batwoman’s movements are, and as impressive as the layouts, inks and colors are, it kind of just peters out in the end without any sense of fulfillment. Up to this point in the story, our heroes have barely accomplished anything, so when I get my hopes up for Batwoman once the action starts, I just end up feeling really let down when she’s back to where she started at the end of it.
Finally, I think that the creative team made a big mistake in #1047 by showing us what’s going to happen to Arkham Tower later. We know that everything will go to hell, and I’d rather continue on from there than being forced to watch all the boring details that lead up to that point, because this story is moving at such an incredibly slow pace that I’m already losing interest.
While I haven’t been a fan of the previous two backups, I do enjoy this one. Both Blanco and Bellaire bring their A-game to this story by creating an eerie world, and Rosenberg writes a creepy Scarecrow. This week we also get a much better look at our protagonist. We see how he relates to others and we see a little bit of character development in how he deals with his bullies. That said, I think the cliffhanger that this chapter ends on doesn’t quite work, as apparently Scarecrow is going to try to use a group of kids to kill Bruce Wayne. We all know that that’s not going to happen, and I’m still not sure what the point of “The House of Wayne” is.
- You want to get rid of your hard-earned cash.
Overall: “Shadows of the Bat” continues to be a mess. The creative team doesn’t commit to fleshing out scenes before moving on to something else; our heroes aren’t really accomplishing anything; and the story’s slow pacing is seriously getting in the way of entertainment. I recommend staying away from this book, but if you really must have this story, then it’s probably best to wait for the trade, as you’ll likely be able to get that with a nice discount somewhere. So far, I really don’t think this is worth your time and money.
If you’ve come this far you’ve spend at least: $14.97 (or $20.96 with the annual).
(It would’ve been a 5, but I’m taking away a full point due to the price.)
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.