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God of Comics – The Shadow / Batman #1

The Shadow / Batman #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Didn’t this just happen…?

Well, yes. Yes, it did. It started in April and wrapped a few weeks ago. DC Comics had their crack at this crossover earlier in the year, and even used the same writer. Steve Orlando told a solid and harrowing tale that worked with the constructs that both the Shadow and the Batman demand, and yet he sowed them together and showed where their similarities lie. Most importantly, he moved the mythology of both characters forward by weaving a tale rife with fated outcomes and the price of free will, the cost of perspective and redemption.

Heady stuff, but Steve is good like that.

This is the follow-up, the chance for Dynamite to publish the second half of Steve’s story – or so we assume. Previously, we learned that the Shadow is created from evil and given the task of redemption, and that someone who chose evil and murdered their way towards corrupting everything forever. Batman and the Shadow stopped that from happening by combining their efforts despite their differences: while both of them know the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, the Shadow kills and the Bat does not.

Interestingly, Steve put forth the idea that the powers that taught the Shadow were also shaping Bruce, preparing him to take up a different mantle; when Bruce turned them down, the Shadow imagined himself cursed to carry the weight of his struggle forevermore. It’s interesting that Bruce, offered immortality, would turn it down – but then, he has always been human, and always known that some day he was going to die.

So, here they go again: the path to those that taught the Shadow has been lost, leaving two men who cannot stand one another struggling to understand what one of them is and might become. In the process, they have discovered a taint that lies at the very core of both civilization and the human spirit. Can even minds such as theirs stop such a threat without killing everyone in the process?

This is the question that Steve Orlando asks: can evil be fought without destroying everything? Can one look unblinking into the Abyss without the Abyss looking into that one? Dynamite brings Giovanni Timpano for another crack at the Shadow, and if there is anyone that illustrates that character better you’d be hard-pressed to find him or her. The man lives in noir, regardless of what other genres he finds himself bringing to life with his clever pens: science fiction (Eclipse), horror (Infestation), Action (Justice, Inc), or even camp (Plan 9 From Outer Space Strikes Again!).

Do not miss this – it’s going to be incredible. And be sure to pick up DC Comics’ version of this when it comes out in trade, too.

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