The Shadow/Batman #4 – Steve Orlando, Writer; Giovanni Timpano, Artist; Flavio Dispenza, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
The three main characters of this miniseries diverge dramatically in The Shadow/Batman #3, as Batman finds himself under the control of the evil Shiwan Khan, seemingly the result of dying and being resurrected by dark forces.
This forces Batman and the Shadow to go up against each other for the first time, in a battle between equals that plays out in one of the series’ best fight sequences. Batman, consumed by hatred for the gun he’s forced to wield, is able to fight back just enough for Shadow to avoid death, but Khan exerts a terrible revenge in the form of the destruction of Wayne Manor (it doesn’t get blown up nearly as much as Titans Tower, but that still feels like a fairly dramatic thing to do in a crossover miniseries). With Shadow captured by Khan and Batman digging himself out from the rubble, both leads are in a bad place.
And so, into the void steps Robin. Damian’s role in this series is massively increased from the first miniseries, and some of the stuff in the early going between father and son was a bit iffy. As Damian steps out on his own, though, the character becomes much more compelling. His journey into the desert for a high-tech battle of wills with his grandfather is easily the highlight of the issue, as we head into the final act.
Steve Orlando is picking up on a lot of the themes from the first, DC-published miniseries here, but his best achievement is probably working with the cosmic horror elements of the Shadow’s status quo. At one point, Bruce actually speculates whether Shadow wants to win this fight, which fits with some of the themes King has explored in Batman as well.
This series started off a bit rocky, but it’s reclaiming the quality of the first mini as it enters the second act.