The Shadow is a mysterious detective who has incredible powers that are unexplainable. Batman is a mysterious detective who has no powers, but a mind that prepares for anything. Together they’ve teamed up to stop their ultimate enemies, but can they do it?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The Stag and The Joker have kidnapped the Shadow’s greatest allies and are preparing to enter Shamba-La. It’s Batman and the Shadow’s last stand–if they don’t stop the evil duo from entering Shamba-La, it will mean an eternity of darkness in a world ruled by crime!
Why does this matter?
Shamba-La is a sort of heaven and its end is nigh! Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando have written a solid series so far that’s made readers question Batman’s origin and also incorporated a rather cool detective story. Then you have Riley Rossmo drawing, who might be one of the best on a Batman title right now. Need I say more?
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Not looking good Bats!
The Shadow continues to be an intriguing character because of his mysteriousness, but also how sure he is — which is something Batman does well too, though he’s not quite as cocky. Snyder and Orlando tackle that topic in this issue well by having Batman question The Shadow’s methods of killing all that do injustice. A strong case is made for why Batman doesn’t kill that involves finding the whole truth and not destroying potential evidence. This, of course, is just an underlying element of the issue, which has a ton of action in this penultimate issue. Some detective work is part of all this too, which reveals new details on Stag and possibly why the character has been so good at what he (or she?) does.
The action is pretty damn cool. Really, the art throughout is impressive. Rossmo plays around with layouts for instance, with one page tilting the panels so they force you to read diagonally. This gives the scene an unnerving feeling which is perfect given the skulls and mysterious cave Batman and The Shadow are in. The Shadow’s cape continues to be a really cool element whenever he’s on the page. The thing always seems to go on forever, giving him a mystical look. Joker, in his Arkham bedtime clothes, has a thinner maniac look to him which aids him in a rather cool fight sequence with Batman. Speaking of Batman, he sports a brand new costume in this issue and it looks glorious. It’s got glowing yellow bits all over, which allows Ivan Plascencia’s colors to do their thing in the dark cave setting.
Anyone else humming the X-Men theme music?
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s never clear what the endgame is for the villains or why they’re doing what they’re doing. I guess the end of Shamba-La is bad but given there’s little detail on what this means if they succeed it’s hard to see how high these stakes are. For most, “beat the bad guys” is probably enough, but it does make the narrative feel less important.
Is It Good?
Another good installment of a series that’ll be a must-read for sure. The penultimate issue sets up a finale that’ll play to the strengths of Riley Rossmo, who without a doubt is an artist everyone should have their eyes on.