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Batman/The Shadow #2

by John White on May 24, 2017

Story By: Scott Snyder & Steve Orlando
Script: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia

The Dark Knight and he  “who knows what evil lurks in the heart of men” square off once again in this month’s Batman/The Shadow crossover by Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, and artist Riley Rossmo. This issue, and I suspect the entire series, will give credence to age-old adage that you should never meet your heroes. Although it is well known that The Shadow was one of the early inspirations behind Batman, this limited series has expanded upon that idea by suggesting that The Shadow, in his many guises, has acted as mentor and teacher to Bruce Wayne for sometime as he transitioned from orphaned billionaire to a defender or justice. The revelation that someone who is so cavalier about killing had a hand in forming Batman is not only a surprise, but may prove to be too much for Gotham’s defender to handle.

The issue picks up immediately after the events of the first books as Bruce Wayne struggles to make sense of what is in front of his eyes as Henry Ducard, his mentor and friend, morphs into none other than The Shadow. The man he sought for assistance in his search for a killer terrorizing Gotham is none other than the villain himself. Without anytime to spare, the cowl is on and Batman sets his sights on apprehending The Shadow and bringing him to just for the murders “he” committed. As the exchange blows with wooden training swords, The Shadow takes the opportunity to not only profess his innocence but also regale Batman, and the audience, with his origin story. Although the character has been around for over eighty years, this is a great way to introduce the character to those who only have a vague understanding of him. The idea that he and Batman are similar and that the letter copied much of the former, although grounded in truth, should not over shadow the fact that these are two very different characters. While one was formed by an evil that destroyed his world and reformed through a sense of justice, the other was the evil that befell others’ worlds. In setting up The Shadow as a one time ultimate evil, it allows the story to progress with these two as antagonists rather than only has the eventual partners they are sure to become.

The introduction of villain, The Stag, adds to the complexity of the story since it seems to be The Shadow’s equal in every way and with the singular goal of undoing all the good that he has done. The script by Steve Orlando is phenomenal as it carefully navigates an issue with two protagonists. Both are given their time to shine and I suspect that even a few die-hard Batman supporters may find themselves supporting The Shadow in his quest to rid Gotham of evil. The story is backed up by superb art by Riley Rossmo that excellently melds the modern style of Batman with the pulp noir of The Shadow’s 1930’s heyday. The twist at the end raises the stakes to a whole new level in a way that will surely leave you clamoring for the next issue.

Our Score:


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