Based on the big reveal last issue–and the cover of this one–we are getting a Joker issue of this fantastic detective comic. This series has been great at showing the detective minds of The Shadow and Batman and I can’t wait for more.
Writer: Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Joker has entered the fray, and he’s been offered unspeakable power in return for helping the Stag kill Batman! It’s up to the Shadow to protect Batman from the pair’s combined onslaught and the mystical powers of Shamba-La! Co-published with Dynamite!
Why does this book matter?
Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando have teamed up to show us how awesome The Shadow can be when entwined with Batman. So far, they’ve managed to tie these characters together closer than anyone ever imagined, which is pretty damn cool. On top of that Riley Rossmo draws a hell of a Batman (and comic!).
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Pink and red I think.
The detective comic you didn’t know you needed is back this week and the dichotomy in its storyline is genius. Alfred Pennyworth is interrogating The Shadow and Joker is interrogating Stag as both characters try to get to the bottom of what is going on. This allows Snyder and Orlando to play with Joker’s madness as he talks to Stag–a character a bit mad in his own right–and have Pennyworth drop a little parenting worry on the Shadow. Both plots develop very nicely in the issue, with Alfred’s revealing more of his past as MI6 and Joker discovering more about Stag’s long and storied past. As the scenes cut between each other it becomes clearer where the writers are taking Stag and his purpose until the very last page, in which readers will realize what these maniac writers are doing. Yes, they’re maniacs, because the very hint of where they’re going with this series will make your hair stand on end. It’s just that cool.
Meanwhile, the Joker characterization is fantastic, making this issue a must read for any Joker fan. He has a bit of the craziness of the cartoon, but the violence is there too. He’s a wild card and excellently written.
Batman has the coolest stuff.
Rossmo once again hits this one out of the park. Take a page drawing the reader into a harbor scene. As Shadow talks through captions, Rossmo shows us a trash boat, then circular panels–as if they were bubbles–running down the page (see above). One contains rotting bodies who were dropped down into the water with cement blocks tied to their legs. Another has a crab crawling on a skeleton. Another still has Killer Croc swimming past fish and then finally, at the bottom, a Batman underwater compound. How flipping cool that? There are so many great moments in this issue it’s hard to count. From Alfred discovering horrors in a cave to Batman’s fighting, it’s all tip top and very pleasing to the eye. Joker looks great too and he harbors a different look that’s excellent. With his thin and long limbs and short hair, Rossmo gives him an unnerving look that works very well. The colors by Ivan Plascencia add a dimension to the art too–like Shadow’s deep red cape–and a double page near the end of the book is poster worthy in part because the lighting is so perfect.
Alfred has seen some shit.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I guess one could argue there isn’t a lot of Batman in this issue, but those people might be missing the point of the Shadow scene and Joker scene. Stag also continues to be an enigma and not written in any compelling way. That said, this character is seemingly a force of nature so maybe that’s the point? I do want more from this character as they seem to be more in a haze than anything else.
Is It Good?
What a well told issue. This is an example of master storytellers coming together and making magic. The story comes together perfectly by the end and you’ll be hanging onto every word and panel throughout. Batman/The Shadow is about as good as supernatural comics get.