If there were ever two characters that should compliment each other, with just enough of a difference to give each other legitimate concerns it would be the Worlds Greatest Detective, Batman and his one time part inspiration, the Man Who Knows, The Shadow.
Those whose Shadow knowledge is based on the Dynamite books, may be surprised to know that he actually pre-dates Batman. in fact, the pair have met a number of times, back when DC had its first stab at The Shadow; the pairing taking part in Batman #252, re-appearing in Batman #255 and Detective Comics #446. In this co-published book we get anther chance to see these two great characters side-by-side, fedora-to-cowl.
Lamont Cranston lies slain in his apartment in Gotham. This leads Batman to the case and an encounter with something that wasn’t there before. Batman being Batman, gives chase and the ensuing fight leads to clues; clues leading across town and to a handful of familiar characters before a visit with an old mentor leads to a greater puzzle.
The book is written by Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando, both names that Bat-fans will be familiar with. This type of meandering tale suits Snyder well, being as at times, he is stronger with the set-up of the story rather than the pay-off. Here he is ably aided by Orlando who has put some work in on various Rebirth books, before settling on the chaos of the Justice League of America. Between the two, they weave a story that is pretty much an ode to the long histories of both characters. In lesser hands, this could seem like playing to the fan-boys, but in reality it shows how much they respect this pair of darkness ensconced vigilantes.
Riley Rossmo provides the art which is very stylised and for fans of DC’s or even Dynamite ‘s “house style” you may well find the art a little off-putting. However, should you stick with it, you will be treated to some of the most attention grabbing art on the shelf. In many ways, the art lends itself to legacy as much as the story, with images that remind me so much of the great Bill Sienkiewicz’s work on the old DC “mature reader” Shadow book. As with Sienkiewicz’s work, Rossmo eschews curves for angles which makes the characters almost pop out of their environs. With colorist Ivan Plascencia on board, the painted look gives the book a more serious feel, almost daring anyone to call out the differences to the regular style of the Bat-books.
Readers of my reviews and listeners of The Definitive Crusade podcast, should know a few things about me by know. Fishnets rock, I am the DC Jeopardy king and I love both Batman and The Shadow. With a crossover like this, the temptation is to over critique as expectations are not normally met. Where this book is different, is that whilst my expectations were not met; they were surpassed. I would urge anyone who feels that current comic books rely on events too much to go and pick up this old school book, with two old school characters, created for the old school reader.
Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 Stars
Colors – 5 Stars
(W) Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando (A/CA) Riley Rossmo