By Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, Riley Rossmo, and Ivan Plascencia
Having these two titular characters engage in a crossover tale seems like a no-brainer. The Shadow is cited as being one of the pulp influences in the creation of The Bat-Man. Now, this isn’t the first time these two have met in comics; DC published several Shadow comics in the past and in certain stories the two darkly-clad protagonists have met face-to-face It’s just been a long time since that last happened.
Having two of DC’s hot writers and innovative, talented artists like Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascencia (check out Rasputin!) tackling this comic are big draws, but what’s most impressive is their appreciation for both characters and their respective histories. Batman/The Shadow immediately thrusts readers into the pulp and noir elements that are cornerstones of both characters’ comics. The book opens with Bruce Wayne in the French Alps trying to find out about the mysterious man known as Lamont Cranston. The whole issue revolves around Batman trying to discover the truth behind this man, his relation to the mysterious Shadow and his connection to the Wayne family. It’s all a bit meta considering how intertwined the publication history of the two are.
As Batman’s investigation into Cranston unfolds, several easter eggs are organically integrated regarding the Shadow. Interrogations take Bruce to very familiar people who Shadow fans will greatly appreciate. Also, pay close attention to the names of the files the bat-computer references. Now, the nods and easter eggs are fun and show the writers did their homework, but that doesn’t make a good comic. Luckily, Steve Orlando and Scott Snyder have crafted a fascinating mystery that allows newcomers to Batman and/or The Shadow to understand their worlds and what they’re about. This issue is fairly straightforward in terms of the mystery and the narrative structure (flashback with contemporary setting bookends), but it works and reads like a strong, well-oiled machine. The dialogue is in character and there are more mysteries than answers given. The more Batman discovers about Lamont Cranston, the deeper the rabbit hole becomes for him. Only The Shadow knows what will happen…well maybe.
Experiencing Riley Rossmo’s interpretation of Batman and pulp/noir is a true treat! Seeing Arkham Asylum, some of its most notorious inmates, Batman, Bruce Wayne and, of course, The Shadow through his lead and inks is fresh, yet familiar. He doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but clearly makes his own beautiful statement with the locations and characters. It seems as if he relishes every panel and it looks as if Ivan Plascencia shares that sentiment and deepens it. Rossmo’s inks serve as the template for the noir tones and look he’s going for, but Plascencia is able to really illustrate that with how he colors characters and backgrounds. He doesn’t just use one shade; he blends several to create nuanced texture. Even in bright settings, such as on the first page, these choices are used to great effect and only serve to deliver a detailed, richly done comic that just feels raw and natural. This duo’s collaboration continues to strengthen and grow and if this issue is only a taste of what’s to come…then, bring on the main course!
Batman/The Shadow is absolutely worth the time and money to pick up and read. There is a clear passion for this project from all involved that will no doubt rub off on readers. It’s a cheerful thought that this comic could be someone’s first introduction to an age-old character like The Shadow because it’s being handled so well. The creative team behind this wantTthe Shadow to have his time in the limelight again and this series is on track to accomplish just that.