The Shadow/Batman #1
Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Giovani Tiampano and Flavio Dispenza
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment & DC Comics

Review by: Mikey Wood

When Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s the Bat-Man (I’ve always like it when he was called “THE Bat hyphen Man”. There’s more mystery to it. “Batman” seems much more familiar) made his debut in 1939’s Detective Comics #27, Walter Gibson’s The Shadow had already been on the radio and in print for nearly a decade. Mr. Finger was never one to shy away from admitting the influence Gibson’s dark avenger had on the Bat-Man (Kane never admitted anyone’s influence, least of all Finger’s) going so far as using the 1936 Shadow story “Partners of Peril” as the basis of the Bat-Man’s first adventure, “Case of the Chemical Syndicate”. It’s more than apt, then, that the Invisible Avenger and the Dark Knight Detective should meet.

Dynamite/Dc’s The Shadow/Batman by Steve Orlando (Supergirl, Justice League of America) with art by Giovani Tiampano (Lone Ranger/Green Hornet, Eclipse) is the fourth meeting of the pair having met previously in Batman #’s 253 (1973) and 259 (1974) and in DC/Dynamite’s Batman/The Shadow by Orlando and Scott Snyder (with art by one of my recent favorites, Riley Rossmo) which, as of this writing, is about to wrap up with issue #6 (and is pretty damned fantastic). This issue gets is off to a pretty damned interesting start despite the trappings of having to set things up.

SIDEBAR: When publishing companies do crossovers like this, whichever company is handling the publishing/distribution of the book gets the character they own listed first. For example, the two Batman/Spawn crossovers were entitled Spawn/Batman (published by Image) and Batman/Spawn (published by DC) hence the reason this title is listed as “Dynamite/DC” and not “DC/Dynamite”. Not that any of that really matters, but I do try to educate y’all a bit.

Okay, so, what’s immediately noticeable for me, as a fan of both characters, is that, like the prior pairing, Orlando never finds the need to bother explaining how they Bat-Man and the Shadow coexist. There are no dimensional portals, no time travel, Superboy Prime doesn’t punch a continuity wall…At least not yet. The Shadow and the Bat-Man simply exist in the same universe and that’s all we need to know. The story begins with Professor Pyg, one of the Bat-Man’s creepier nu-rogues (created by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert), making an appearance at a New Year’s Eve celebrations with his Dollotrons in tow. Bat-Man makes his dramatic appearance followed shortly by Robin. This is the Damien Wayne Robin and he is currently estranged from Wayne Manor, having taken to fighting crime on his own in New York City.

Pyg, in the way only Pyg can, makes reference to a “Silent Seven” which sends Bat-Man into detective mode and finding that this mystery dates back to the 1930’s and the murder of a man whose name will ring familiar with those fond of detective novels and, along the way, passing mentions of copyright-free golden age heroes (of which Dynamite has an affinity for using).

The Shadow himself appears very little in this first issue but we are shown that he could be, literally, anywhere via the use of unique speech bubbles and he the two main characters never actually meet within these all-too-brief-yet-still-quite-dense 22 pages. Orlando’s script is tight and to-the-point with each character speaking in their defined voices (Bat-Man: Analytic and brusque, Damian: Defiant and snarky, The Shadow: Pontificating and pulpy, Professor Pyg: Babbling and mad). Tiampano’s art hits the right notes and I find myself enjoying it more in this book than in my prior experience (Lone Ranger/Green Hornet) which may have to do with the inking.

This first issue of The Shadow/Bat-Man certainly accomplished what a first issue should do and left me wanting more.

RANK: B+

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