In Review: Batman/Shadow #2

Just as strong as the first issue. Absolutely recommended!

The covers: Three different covers for you to collect this month. The Regular cover is by Riley Rossmo, the interior artist. This features a gigantic purple bat symbol on a white background. Within the bat, the Shadow is battling a female who’s wearing a purple cape and sporting horns. It’s a bizarre character to be fighting the heroes, but then again the Shadow isn’t exactly a normal hero. I would have liked to have the image pulled in closer to the reader. The first Variant is by Tim Sale and Brennan Wagner. This is set on top of a building at night, with the Shadow racing forward, his pistols blazing. Behind him, against a wall, the Batsignal is seen, while in the distance another building is shown with a tremendous amount of steam (or is that smoke?) coming out of it. Nice composition, with a good tilt to the image to make it more intense, and the colors are outstanding. The next Variant is by Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, and it’s the image I chose to accompany this review. This has the heroes side by side, with Batman whipping his cape upwards to cover the top of the cover, while the Shadow’s cape is writhing about him, covering the bottom. Good illustration of both heroes and the colors are bold. Overall grades: Regular A-, Variant Sale A+, and Variant Burnham A+

The story: Seeking the Shadow, Batman sought out Henri Ducard, one of the teachers who he learned from to become Gotham’s iconic crime fighter. The last page of the previous issue revealed that Ducard was the Shadow. Donning his cowl, he takes a stance to battle the man he believes killed Lamont Cranston. As they fence with wooden practice swords, they also verbally spar, with the Shadow being very direct: “Reason softens you. Time slackens your mind. I did not kill Cranston…Only a fool trusts his eyes.” Batman disarms the vigilante, allowing him to reveal the name of the true killer that they both seek — The Stag. The Shadow reveals a little of his past to Batman before escaping, allowing each to pursue the Stag in their own way. Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando concocted this adventure, with Orlando writing the script. It’s very much a pulp tale, with each character remaining true to their previous outings. The first eight pages focus on the heroes meeting and it’s an absolute thrill to read. Either one could win their conflict, but the fighting halts when information is revealed. Margo Lane is revisited and Harry Vincent is with her. A different hero speaks with them and the past and the future are discussed. This is followed by a sensational rescue and battle that has a incredibly dramatic conclusion on 18. The tension ramps on 20, with one character doing something very surprising in the third panel on 21. If that page hasn’t shocked the reader enough, the final page will leave fans screaming. This is an unexpected twist, spinning this story into a new warped direction. This story is incredible. Overall grade: A+

The artwork: The first page is a slow close-up of Bruce Wayne, ending with him putting on his cowl. Smoke begins to billow behind him as he speaks with the yet unseen Shadow. Teasing this hero’s arrival is his scarf, which is just at the edges of the first three panels, until it final ends up behind Bruce, showing that he’s walking closer to the vigilante or that the Shadow’s scarf is about to snare the hero. Pages 2 and 3 is a gorgeous double-paged spread of the characters facing each other. Batman has a fighter’s stance, while the Shadow has an elegant pose of one used to sword play. The latter’s cape and scarf is all over the place, as if they are alive. This is an exciting image from Riley Rossmo. The battle between the two is good, but it’s the close-ups on 4 that are awesome, with the Shadow’s eyes flaring for emphasis as he speaks. The layout on 5 is awesome, with the smoke, cape, and scarf providing some fantastic background elements. Page 6 starts with some very slanted panel work, showing that the Shadow’s past and mission is not a straight path. I love the design of Margo and Harry. When shown with the hero it is a startling contrast. The fight that begins on 14 is outstanding. It’s easy to follow, it’s realistic, and the reactions from the characters during the tussle are great — with the first one at the bottom of 14 starting things off surprisingly. The entrance on 20 is fantastic, and the action on 21 shocking. The last page is a WOW! image that will keep readers wondering what hell has just been released. Rossmo is doing superior work on this book. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Ivan Plascencia’s work on this book is also exceptional. The first page has fairly neutral colors, grey and tan, with stark reds creeping in, symbolically showing that danger just lurks outside the hero. The double-paged splash uses red gloriously with the Shadow’s cape and scarf, plus his laughter is the brightest red of all in the issue. The violets in the home at Long Island create age, wealth, and undeniable style. The faded blues of the Batcave give the setting a subterranean feel. The Stag’s costume is primarily a sickly green, matching the villain’s dastardly deeds. This looks great. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Scene settings, Shadow speak, dialogue, sounds, the story’s title and credits, a newspaper headline, newspaper text, yells, and the tease for next issue emerge from the darkness courtesy Clem Robins. The difference between the scene settings and the dialogue is slight, but it’s there. The Shadow dialogue is incredibly strong looking, set apart from others to show that his voice is not that of a normal human being. The laughter from the Shadow is maniacal looking every time it appears and the sounds during the fights are incredible. Robins puts plenty of punch into this issue. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Just as strong as the first issue, you need to run out and get this. It is wonderfully faithful to both heroes, with both in a race to find a killer. An intense story with stunning visuals. Absolutely recommended! Overall grade: A+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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