“Shadow War” is over. For Aaron’s thoughts on the conclusion, see his review of Shadow War: Omega #1. Personally, I wasn’t really into it, and I hope we’re done with crossovers for a while. However, this issue isn’t connected to “Shadow War.” It’s a one-shot to close out Williamson’s Batman run, involving Abyss. Let’s have a look.
As a one-shot, this issue kind of works, but it isn’t entirely successful in what it sets out to do. While the limited page count forces the creative team to keep things concise, the side effect is that the main character arc feels rushed and therefore I feel like the book is keeping me at arm’s length. Moreover, the character that goes through this arc is underdeveloped in the sense that I am not given enough reasons as to why I should care about this character or why I should be interested in their arc at all. (I’m deliberately not revealing this character’s identity because it has to do with a plot point that I don’t want to spoil.)
The story structure doesn’t quite work for me, either. Batman is trying to track down Abyss. He runs into another character that tries to kill someone, and he tells them a lengthy story about something that he went through in the past, where he almost killed. First of all, I don’t think Batman has the time for this stuff because he’s in the middle of a case. Secondly, the stuff that’s covered in the flashback is nothing we haven’t seen before, countless of times. Bruce confronts Joe Chill and wants to kill him, but resists the temptation and lets him live. While a scene like this works to an extent for this particular story, because it ties in with the main arc, I just would have appreciated more originality and creativity. As it stands, the flashback just feels like padding and it’s boring.
The art in the flashback is anything but boring, though. Jorge Fornes draws simple but highly effective layouts, characters with strong and defined body language and expressions, and chooses various angles to approach each scene for dynamic visuals. Furthermore, the main artist is Howard Porter and his art can look a little rough around the edges in places; for example, characters’ proportions are off in certain panels, which can sometimes even make them look unfinished. Porter makes more than up for these issues by delivering very strong action sequences, though. Whenever characters are idle, his art doesn’t work for me; but when they are moving, solid sequential art emerges. My favorite two pages drawn by Porter is a double page spread, where Batman encounters Abyss, who stands on a rooftop looking down on him. In the layout, the inlaid panels almost look like glass shards, and it makes everything look striking. The art is rather busy, but it’s still easy enough to follow and highly entertaining.
The backup has excellent art by Dani, whose art I have been enjoying since first seeing it in the pages of Arkham City: The Order of the World. Dani’s art always looks unique and always remains consistent in its own style. The layouts, the characters, the environments and Mulvihill’s colors all look great, but I wouldn’t describe the story itself as a must-read at all. Don’t get me wrong, I like Poison Ivy #1 (check out Theresa’s great review here), but this backup is merely a setup for that series and you could easily skip this setup and jump right into Poison Ivy itself. To be completely honest, this reads more like an extensive ad for a different series than a full story in its own right.
- You are a fan of the Abyss story.
- You’re just here for Fornes and/or Dani.
- You want to complete Williamson’s run.
Overall: This is not a terrible comic, but it is entirely skippable. I don’t feel that either the main story or the backup really have that much to say and some parts of the main story are outright boring to me. The art is pretty good throughout, but even the good art doesn’t make me recommend this issue. My advice is to just wait a month for Zdarsky’s run to start. Keep your money in your pocket and sit this one out.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.