Batman/The Shadow #1
Writer: Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Clem Robins
Publisher: DC Comics and Dynamite
Review by John Dubrawa
Batman/The Shadow #1 might strike newer comic readers as a bit of a strange crossover given the massive pop-culture cache of the former versus the now relative obscurity of the latter, but the Batman we know today may not even exist were it not for The Shadow. Not only have Batman co-creators Bill Finger and Bob Kane acknowledged the pulp hero’s influence in the foundation of their character but even canonically, Bruce Wayne was saved as a boy by the pulp hero extraordinaire. One name may have gone on to surpass the other, but now DC Comics and Dynamite have coalesced to produce a six-issue miniseries showcasing both heroes. If this first entry is any indication, each one is due their proper respect as well.
Much of that respect is shown in the fact that DC wrangled an all-star team of creators to headline this project. Co-writers Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando are established and up-and-coming comic book heavyweights, respectively, and the two of them just get Batman. They lean heavily into the World’s Greatest Detective-side of the character throughout this issue, setting aside most of the ridiculous Bat-gadgets for some good ol’ fashioned hardboiled pulp-novel-esque mystery. The Shadow appears briefly under an assumed antagonist role but that doesn’t stop Snyder and Orlando from peppering their script with numerous characters and locations from The Shadow’s mythos to really establish him as a part of this version of Gotham. The story is set in modern day but the implications of The Shadow’s connection to Bruce Wayne suggests a playful tug at the timeline that I can’t wait for Snyder and Orlando to delve deeper into as the series moves further into its core mystery.
In addition to two top-tier writing talents, Batman/The Shadow #1 also boasts a powerhouse of an artist in Riley Rossmo. Rossmo draws a barrel-chested Batman that fits in perfectly with the pulp storytelling of Snyder and Orlando’s script. His panel layouts are bombastic and keep an incredible pace throughout the issue, particularly during a tense chase sequence between the two eponymous characters. Speaking of that sequence, it ends with a reveal of The Shadow that is one of the most striking visuals in this entire issue. It’s jaw-droppingly good, but that’s not exactly a surprise when it comes to Rossmo’s visuals. Ivan Plascencia’s colors do absolute wonders within these pages that lean heavily on the color red, which is fitting given The Shadow’s general aesthetic. Plascencia has worked with Rossmo before and the two are a match made in beautiful art heaven, as fully realized in this issue.
Buy! Batman has previously tangled with the likes of Judge Dredd, The Predator, and even the goshdarn Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but this is a crossover that has been a longtime coming and it does not disappoint. This isn’t the first time the heroes have ever met before yet co-writers Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando manage to make this first issue feel like a big deal. That’s also a byproduct of Riley Rossmo’s fantastic artwork, which transforms every page into something worth seeing.