The final showdown is here this week as Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando wrap up their Batman/The Shadow miniseries with Riley Rossmo drawing some of his best work ever. To say I’m pumped to see how this ends is an understatement!
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In this final team-up issue, all-out war has broken out in the streets of Shamba-La! The Stag and The Joker are hell-bent on stealing all of the city’s secrets and ensuring absolute darkness falls across the globe. It’s the last stand for Batman and the Shadow, and the Dark Knight will have to decide once and for all if he’s going to embrace the destiny the Shadow has set out for him.
Why does this matter?
This series has toyed with the idea that maybe Batman’s origin isn’t what we thought it was and also toys with the idea of him becoming the next Shadow! The series has felt purposeful while maintaining a fun elseworld vibe that should make it fun for a variety of fans.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
What a weird dinner party.
Things get weird in Shamba-La for Batman and for the finale of this arc. Shadow is fighting to save everything while the villain, paired with Joker, is attempting to take it all down. This issue has some spiritual undertones mixed with a Cthulu monstrosity that makes it all kinds of weird. That suits the Shadow character just fine and does well to thrust Batman into an unfamiliar place. When Batman is explaining what a ballast torch is and how it anchors Shamba-La you just go with it. Usually, he’s a character of reason, but with some of the visuals he sees in this issue I don’t blame him going all in with the metaphysical stuff! This issue wraps things up in a suitable way and delivers on showing a version of Batman as the Shadow that’s quite cool.
It’s cool partly because Rossmo delivers on art. There are so many wicked layouts and pages in this issue it’s hard to fathom how Rossmo had the time to make them. From gorgeous symmetrical pages that have Cthulu tower over Batman, to pages with Batman crouched in the night as snow falls there’s just too much beauty here. It’s too much! Rossmo needs to be put on an ongoing Batman book and I wouldn’t doubt he’ll someday draw the next Long Halloween.
What the hell is going on!?
It can’t be perfect can it?
Things get a little too metaphysical for my tastes, especially with the buildup of Batman being sure this is all explainable. It’s a large pill to swallow at the very last second and it requires a lot of magical explanation to come off as successful. It’s also odd in how this conclusion is more about Batman going face to face with some kind of god entity while Shadow fights and does his usual thing. It feels much more like an ending for Batman than a team up book ending.
Speaking of team-ups, Joker gets the shaft when it comes to page time and doesn’t add much to the narrative. I suppose he was always a wild card, but there was a promise he meant more, at least symbolically which isn’t touched upon here.
Is It Good?
A good ending that goes way out there with the weird and focuses too much on Batman alone. The team-up angle of the series leans heavily in Batman’s corner and while this issue concludes things adequately it will leave you a tad surprised.