By Ben Snyder
Picking up exactly where the last issue left off The Shadow/Batman #2 is another enthralling entry into the second crossover of two of the most iconic and historic characters in all of comics. While certainly not perfect in all regards, Steve Orlando and Giovanni Timpano do more than enough to justify the existence of this comic.
Seeing Damian take on an entire crowd of Dead Men is quite a way to begin any comic, and seeing Bruce Wayne watching this happen and worry for his son only added to the fight. Bruce has hardly ever been a candidate for father of the year, but in this instance Timpano adds a tremendous amount of nuance to the character by not only making him watch the ensuing brawl go down but to attempt to depict the multitude of emotions he must be feeling knowing that the Spirit is going to save Damian. You can see the anger and fear that he feels because he’s once again being involved in the Spirit’s dangerous plans and you can even see some envy that he is not the one to save his son.
The entire premise for these two iconic characters to intersect makes sense as the common villains become intertwined. Of course, Ra’s Al Ghul is part of the silent seven; he’s an immortal assassin that rules a league of shadow assassin’s.
Out of all of the Robins, I think Damian will always be one of my favorites and Orlando captures why in this issue. With all of the Robins, Batman has offered a paternal influence on them, sometimes even legally adopting them as Bruce Wayne. Damian, however, is Bruce Wayne’s actual son and you see his defiant nature, as he demands the Spirit and Batman treat him as an equal.
Orlando does a very impressive job of balancing the tones of both of these heroes while making it feel organic. Having Batman and The Spirit trade barbs while fighting each other only to lead the two characters to a more mutual understanding felt very similar to comics from The Spirit’s era while other areas of this chapter felt more similar in tone to a traditional gritty Batman comic. However the closing image of this chapter of Bruce and The Spirit’s alter ego, Allard Cranston, waltzing into Wayne Enterprise, saying that tonight’s going to be “a night of scotch and warfare” seems like it was almost ripped from an 80’s buddy cop movie with “The Boys are Back in Town” blasting in the background.
The art by Giovanni Timpano in this issue is fairly balanced and adequate. However as noted before, Timpano’s faces are exceptionally detailed and do a tremendous job of getting the emotion across. I also really appreciated the opening scene of Robin taking on the crowd of Dead Men. The way it was sectioned off and paneled added a lot of fluidity to the scene, especially when the tides turn, and the Dead Men start beating on Robin. It all flows exceptionally well.
Every aspect of The Shadow/Batman #2 is great and served a purpose beyond a simple cash grab, which is probably more than anyone should expect from a crossover involving these classic comic book titans. However, while this issue is great from front to back and there are few flaws to be had, it's a shame it doesn’t do anything groundbreaking or earthshattering. In comparison to Tom King’s Batman run which is going on simultaneously in which something earth-shattering is happening weekly, The Shadow/Batman #2 feels like a letdown of sorts. But ultimately that is a personal gripe, and this issue is a great solid read.
The Shadow/Batman #2