Shadow War Omega #1 brings the Shadow War crossover event to a surprisingly shocking close. After a decent reveal of the big bad, the final issue allows room for a villain monologue, final battle, and subsequent consequences.
While I’m sure no one saw the identity of the fake Deathstroke coming, I admit the signs were absolutely there. The use of the classic Deathstroke costume and the mysterious tunnels in Shadow War Alpha #1 strongly piqued my curiosity but the biggest clues I overlooked were in the interrogation scene in Batman #123. Batman and Robin interrogate a Deathstroke impersonator dropping hints implicating someone with ties to Gambi, a connection with Batman, and a beef with both Deathstroke and Talia.
Shadow War Omega allows the culprit to explain their motivations that tie into years of DC Comics storytelling. It becomes all too obvious how often the truth was screamed in both dialogue and visual references all along. The conflict and character emotions domino from as far back as New Teen Titans in the ’80s all the way to Event Leviathan.
After Williamson’s exposition, the issue becomes a desperate fight against the mastermind. Visually the artwork immediately highlights a disparity in power between the combatants. Most notably Stephen Segovia renders the antagonist in a full page spread as a dark homunculus looming over the battlefield. The sense of scale is awesome to look at but hard to justify in context. It quickly becomes a fist fight instead of the metahuman battle he prepared for. Luckily the fighting isn’t bad on the eyes, easily delivering a few of the most pleasing panels of the entire event.
The multilayered relationships at play in the finale is its primary strength. Williamson’s tangled thesis on vengeance hinges on the notion that all of its participants are victims in their own way. Batman in particular is conflicted fighting a former ally and unsurprisingly pleads for clarity. It brings to mind the complex trauma of fighting Wally West in Heroes In Crisis or Jason Todd in Under The Red Hood.
Additionally, Damian juggles his mixed feelings for his parents as Ravager and Talia also suffer under the legacy of Deathstroke and The League of Assassins/Leviathan’s actions. Ultimately it is on Robin’s shoulders to not only condemn and defeat the villain but to heal his own family in the process.
Black Canary and Angel Breaker are the weakest links in the issue. After teeing them up in Shadow Warzone #1, as expected it goes nowhere. Their convenient involvement only amounts to Black Canary having a reason for being a short-lived getaway driver. Somehow it even leads to the worst page in the book, featuring an unattractive gray and orange explosion. The muddy colors might be doing their best to cover up how underdrawn the entire exchange seems to be. It doesn’t help that the artwork for the aftermath at the end of the book is just as ugly and inconsistent as the writing.
In addition, the same interpersonal relationships and emotional baggage that hold the story together are meaningless to readers who don’t know their significance. Isolating only what Shadow War has done in the event, the hunt for Ra’s Al Ghul’s killer has been a messy mustache twirling who-dun-it. Members of each team suffer losses to the story’s credit. Including two or three major deaths and one major resurrection. However, while a lot of the main characters have been emotionally developed by the events of the story, the consequences of those developments are relatively shallow.
- You are familiar with New Teen Titans Judas Contract, Batman Incorporated, Deathstroke Inc, Event Leviathan, and The Outsiders.
- Curiosity about the fate of League of Assassins and The Society of Supervillains was what drew you to the event.
Shadow War is a pretty messy story with a strangely satisfying third act twist. The long stewing culmination of years of DC stories is Shadow War’s best and only card, but may have been played too late. Many of the lead-in and tie-in stories have felt superficial and almost entirely disposable. In conclusion, Shadow War Omega has more good will than I can say for the mixed event as a whole. However, recommending this book depends on your level of investment with the characters involved. If you already were sour on the whole ordeal, this won’t change your mind.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.