In Review: Batman/The Shadow #6

A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic series. Recommended.

The covers: A trio of covers to find if your heart is strong enough to collect them. The Regular cover is by interior artist Riley Rossmo. Batman leaps into action with two machine guns that spray bullets at his targets. His cape has splayed open, but instead of having the traditional black colors it’s red. Behind the Caped Crusader, the Shadow’s scarf, which Batman is wearing, trails out to form the nose and eyes of the Joker, while the cape becomes the Clown Prince of Crime’s mouth. Terrific imagery that shows the hero and creatively shows the villain. The first Variant is by Tim Sale and Brennan Wagner and features the mythic and mystical land of Shamba-La. It looks both futuristic and ancient on a white background. Above this setting is Batman, his arms folded across his chest, and the Shadow, with guns crossed before him. This looks fine, but the colors are so dark it’s difficult to make out the heroes. This is the first cover by this pair that I’m not wild about. The final Variant is by Jock and it’s terrific. The reader is looking down upon Batman who’s located in the bottom left corner. His shadow stretches out before him. Next to the Dark Knight’s shadow is that of the Shadow, though there’s no body to create such an image. Great idea for a cover that is carried out brilliantly. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant Sale D+, and Variant Jock A+

The story: Scott Snyder and Joe Orlando’s saga closes with Batman confronting those that created the Shadow. One of the monstrous creatures of this dizzying dimension says, “Bruce Wayne. You are dead.” Another adds, “Shall we decide what comes next?” Batman looks upon the trio and says, “Who…Where am I?” They explain to Batman that Shamba-La is a trap to lure the world’s worst with promises of power. “Instead we offer two paths: redemption or death. One way or another, no evil men leave Shamba-La.” They tell the hero the origin of the Stag, the villain that the Shadow has been hunting for fifty years. They also say that Batman has to be the one to stop the villain. Meanwhile, back in Shamba-La, the Shadow is fighting the Joker, the Stag, and the Stag’s Army. It’s not going well. He’s outnumbered and without his weapons. Fisticuffs are not enough, especially when the Joker is using knives. The crux of the climax rests on Batman’s decision: should he become the next Shadow or should he remain Batman, a human who will eventually die over time? Once his choice is made, he returns to Shamba-La to assist the vigilante. Pages 12 and 13 take a huge turn when the solution to defeating the antagonists is revealed. One hero has to make a damning decision and it is not one made easily. The final six pages of the book have the heroes speaking to one another, with each taking a stand for something. The faces that appear on 19 are sensational, putting the spooky back into one hero’s persona. This book ends wonderfully, with their final words outstanding. Overall grade: A+

The art: Every issue of this series has been a wonder and the final issue by Riley Rossmo closes things out with superior visuals. The beings responsible for creating the Shadow were very surprising, looking more suited for a tale from Miskatonic University than those by Walter B. Gibson. Batman’s reaction to these beings at the bottom of the page is fantastic. The training at the tops of Pages 2 and 3 is excellent, with the smaller panels showing the birth of the Stag just as strong. The images on Page 5 are gorgeous. The battle in Shamba-La is stunning. When fighting alone, the Shadow obviously doesn’t have a chance, though the Joker is taken out momentarily in a very amusing way, thanks to the visuals. The scarf on the Shadow is amazing, twisting about constantly as if it had a life of its own. Page 8 is a full-paged splash and is beautiful for who returns to battle, who is already on the page, and the amazing architecture of the setting. 9 features a slick spiraling of panels to show recognition in the Joker, ending with a maniacal close-up of the villain. The first panel on Page 11 has Batman giving a right to the Joker and both characters look excellent. The heroes’ reactions on 14 are fantastic, followed by an incredibly important close-up of one of the characters on 15. 19 is my favorite page of the book for all the characters shown and how Rossmo set the page up — a perfect layout to tell this part of the story. The final page is a full-paged splash with one character making an exit. Both heroes look incredibly strong, but it’s the cape and scarf that command focus. What a gorgeous finale. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Ivan Plascencia begins this issue with some unearthly greens and browns against a light violet background to show who’s in charge of Shamba-La. The reds used on the origin of the Stag make his birth into a villain unholy. The Shadow’s scarf is a constant focus in this issue, with its scarlet colors dominating. This occurs often because of the white backgrounds it is on. The final panel on Page 7 has a character in shadows and this makes that individual terrifying. Shamba-La is comprised of browns and tans under a murky lime sky. This gives the setting an aged feel, and it allows the dark colors of the heroes and villains to really pop. There’s an explosion that’s beautiful in yellows and oranges. The final pages of the book are against the night sky, allowing these two darkly colored characters to return to the worlds they’re most comfortable in. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, Shadow speech, sounds, yells, and the story’s title and book’s credits (the same font) are brought to life by Clem Robins. The Shadow’s unique font has his speech visually stand apart from others, recalling its size from the character’s radio origins. The sounds are also done well, with FWACK being my favorite. The dialogue is the most important creation of Robins for this issue and it is easily read and never overlaps key elements of the visuals. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A fantastic conclusion to a fantastic series. Each hero faces a choice that could radically change them, but would stop the villains forever. Superior story and art makes this one of the best team-ups in some time. 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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