Batman and the Shadow are back with another fabulous team-up, this time with Steve Orlando in complete control of the script.
A semi-sequel to the run we had earlier this year, in this six issue run we see the Dark Knight start on unequal footing. Out of Gotham — and seemingly out of luck when it comes to his bratty son — Bruce has got his work cut out for him as he faces down the Silent Seven.
Orlando’s writing in this book is beyond stellar, with a solid tone for each and every character. Damian Wayne is one of those heroes that can easily tip over into obnoxious territory, but here he’s perfectly balanced by his dry wit and Bruce’s heavy annoyance. If it was any other character, it’d be easy to hate him, but it’s hard to be irritated by anyone who so easily puts the Bat in his place.
In a similar fashion, Bruce’s melancholy is tampered by Alfred’s sass, holding him back from becoming a self-indulgent mess. In just one issue, Orlando manages to paint a perfect picture of the Bat Family. It’s hard not to be enamored with Damian’s quips as he throws down baddies or Alfred’s heavy sarcasm to Bruce’s brooding. And Bruce is far from written poorly — though he does seem to take a bit of a step back to allow the other characters their moments to shine.
The Shadow, though not appearing too heavily in this issue, is quickly humanized. To actually see the mysterious man thrown by both his own emotions and the actions of Professor Pyg creates a real sense of foreboding for his future. How he’ll handle these feelings, along with yet another forced team-up with Batman and the irritant that is Damian Wayne, is an exciting question.
Giovanni Timpano is doing the art for this run, and it couldn’t be a better match to Orlando’s script. Melding both the comic book aesthetic and the grittiness of noir creates a home run that made you want to savor each page. It easily fills in the gap between dialogue and expands the story as a whole.
The only unfortunate thing is that Orlando’s writing actually works against him in some ways. The “cliffhanger” twist ending of issue one falls just short of creating tension. I’d chalk this up to the knowledge you gain just from seeing Damian and Bruce interact. It feels off — and it definitely feels like Damian is alluding to something. I’ll be curious to see if my suspicions are correct come issue two.
Overall, it’s a fantastic first issue, and I’m already craving more.
The Shadow/Batman #1 is available now for #3.99.
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