5.2

Batman/The Shadow #1 is Less Than the Sum of its Pulpy Parts

Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando & Riley Rossmo Underwhelm in the DC Comics/ Dynamite Crossover Debut

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<i>Batman/The Shadow</i> #1 is Less Than the Sum of its Pulpy Parts

Writers: Steve Orlando & Scott Snyder
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: April 26, 2017

BATMAN SHADOW COVER.jpeg Batman is going through an era of crazy crossovers that involve the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, believe it or not, Elmer Fudd. So why not The Shadow? The ‘30s pulp detective is a far more natural team-up, since he was one of the main influences on the creation of Batman himself. This pairing would seem to be a great fit for a new series from DC Comics and Dynamite, written by JLA scribe Steve Orlando and All-Star Batman’s Scott Snyder and illustrated by Constantine’s Riley Rossmo. Unfortunately, the first issue underwhelms, and it remains to be seen if a more compelling comic lurks under the homage and grainy chiaroscuro.

Mild Spoilers Ahead

The plot involves the murder of Lamont Cranston, seemingly a kind orderly at Arkham (which would make him the first decent person in the building). Cranston is killed with a prehistoric dagger, which is weird, even for Gotham. But the true weirdness, as Shadow fans will know, is that that Lamont Cranston is also the secret identity of The Shadow, who has seemingly killed his descendent. The Shadow also knows some very personal information about Bruce Wayne’s grandfather, which he reveals in an encounter with Batman, setting off this detective vs. detective conflict.

BATMAN SHADOW 1.jpg
Batman/The Shadow #1 Interior Art by Riley Rossmo & Ivan Plascencia

Batman dominates the first issue, with The Shadow, appropriately, remaining in the shadows. Batman fans with a hankering for obscure elements of the Bat-mythos will find a lot to like here—particularly the use of Matches Malone, an identity Bruce Wayne uses to infiltrate the underworld. Classic Batman characters Renee Montoya and Henri Ducard are also present. While Montoya plays the part of Jim Gordon at his most ineffectual, Ducard seems to be more important to the central premise.

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Batman/The Shadow #1 Interior Art by Riley Rossmo & Ivan Plascencia

Riley Rossmo’s stylized art is serviceable but unremarkable, though it does have some charms—particularly the ludicrously large hair of Matches Malone. The dialogue is solid but also fails to exceed expectations, and is clunky in rare instances. Batman uses some real groaners including, “Bats live in shadows.” Oy. Orlando’s writing, as seen in Midnighter, is usually tighter and smarter.

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Batman/The Shadow #1 Interior Art by Riley Rossmo & Ivan Plascencia

Some intriguing elements hide in the recesses of this first issue, but this series isn’t off to a compelling start, which is a shame. A Batman/Shadow crossover should be a hardcore pulp-detective fan’s dream come true. Perhaps, like its core mystery, it will come together in future issues and make for better trade reading.

Mark Peters is the author of Bullshit: A Lexicon. Follow him on Twitter.

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