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Batman/The Shadow #4

by John White on July 26, 2017

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

Maniacal laughter in the dark is rarely a good thing in a Batman book, but when The Shadow is on the scene things are rarely the status quo. As Batman hangs in the tombs of Gotham, surrounded by his greatest enemies and the Stag, one could be almost forgiven for thinking he was a lost cause. The Stag’s plan to use his heart to break the final seal to Shamba-La is nearly complete and the Joker with the rest of Gotham’s most wanted have proven too much for the Dark Knight to overcome alone. Although he has refused the Shadow’s assistance at every turn, the brutality and finality of his methods may be the only thing that can save not only Batman, but also the entire world.
Picking up right where the previous issue left off, Batman is at the mercy of The Stag. The immortal villain needs his heart to open the final gate to Shamba-La and the unlimited power contained within. The Joker’s admiration and kinship with towards The Stag has not diminished at all since the last issue, and not even Batman’s attempts to reach the clown’s inner narcissist are successful in breaking up the pair. Between the success of this pair of villains and the repeated failures Batman and The Shadow of endured, the first four issues might as well just be one big fable extolling the virtue of teamwork. However if this were a fable it would end with Batman without a heart and The Stag with unlimited power, which of course will not happen.

Seamlessly transitioning from the Jokers sadistic laughter to one perhaps even more frightening, The Shadow bursts through the ceiling with guns blazing to free his reluctant pupil and ally. What follows is a perhaps the most action yet in the series, as master and pupil fight side by side and back to back against some of Gotham’s worst. Refusing to be hindered by Batman’s no kill rule, the Shadow takes extra pleasure in exploring the “world of punishment between life and death”. The juxtaposition of The Shadow’s pure joy in destruction and Batman’s reserved need for control really goes to show that besides their affinity to subterfuge and dark colors, these two are more different than the same.

Steve Orlando and Scott Snyder continue to write a powerful story that pays homage to the greatness of the pulp age hero without feeling too dated. Their Shadow is still a man straight out of the 1930’s. He has no sense of the moral high ground. To him the world is simply good or evil and it is his responsibility to destroy evil. While Batman tries to be Gotham’s savior, the Shadow would rather just be its punisher. Their complex and intriguing story combine with Riley Rossmo’s beautiful art brings excitement to every page in this book. With only two issues left, I don’t expect them to slow down any time soon.

Our Score:


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