Shadow War: Alpha #1 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Viktor Bogdanovic/Daniel Henriques, Artists; Mike Spicer, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: Joshua Williamson has been building plotlines for the better part of a year in three titles, and they all come to the fore in the first chapter of an epic crossover. We’ve seen the entire Al Ghul clan take a major step up in characterization over that year, primarily spurred on by Damian and some major secrets come to light. Now, losing faith in his mission, Ra’s Al Ghul takes a dramatic step—surrendering himself and Talia to authorities to take his message to the public and find a different path. But of course, it’s too good to be true. As Batman and Robin both come to town to make sure nothing goes sideways, it does—in the most dramatic way possible, as Deathstroke assassinates Ra’s in front of thousands of witnesses.
That was spoiled in solicits, but what comes next is packed with surprises in its own right. Death isn’t final when it comes to the Al Ghuls, so it becomes a pitched race to save Ra’s for the hundredth time—and it takes a shocking turn as Batman makes a fateful decision that may just sever the already frayed bonds between him and Damian. Something Batman says will definitely cause some controversy, but given the pitched emotions here, it’s believable. Meanwhile, Talia retreats back to base bent on revenge—and reveals just how deep the League of Assassins’ network goes, setting up the war of the title and bringing in a collection of fascinating new villains to plunge the world into chaos.
If it seems like Deathstroke is just a plot device here, just wait—because his role in this issue is one of the twistiest parts of the story and really shouldn’t be spoiled. Suffice it to say that Williamson has been seeding this plot for a long time, and now we have a fascinating mystery on our hands—if anyone survives long enough to investigate it. This issue is packed with deep-cut DC lore, including a cameo from a fan-favorite obscure Bat-villain. This story will be playing out in a mostly weekly fashion over the next few months, with Williamson writing the entire thing, and it seems set up to be a top-tier DC crossover.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.