BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 by SCOTT SNYDER, STEVE ORLANDO, & RILEY ROSSMO
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Despite some minor flaws, BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 is an engaging and thrilling installment in the series.
88 %
Thrilling and Action-Packed
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Beware, spoilers for BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 below!


BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 is an exciting, action-packed entry in this crossover series. Through the stirring character dynamic between the titular characters and some impeccable artwork, the alliance between Batman and the Shadow seems to be a match made in Heaven. Despite some flaws, the creative team behind BATMAN/THE SHADOW has done a great job thus far in colliding the worlds of DC and Dynamite Comics.

batman/the shadow #4
BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

A Band of Brothers

Previously in BATMAN/THE SHADOW, the Joker had teamed up with the Stag, a villainous character on a mission to eradicate the noble from the Earth. In an effort to take down these enemies, Batman infiltrates The Stag and Joker’s base on his own. Unfortunately, this results in Batman being taken hostage. So, BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 begins with the Shadow sweeping in to rescue Batman. A fight ensues, depicting the Shadow facing off against some notable Batman villains such as the Riddler and Clayface. Of course, Batman lectures the Shadow on keeping his enemies alive in the fight, stating: “They all go down, Shadow. But they all get back up.”

Unsurprisingly, the Shadow doesn’t listen. He shoots the Joker with the intention of killing him. Due to his strict no-kill rule, Batman jumps in to save his archenemy. Since Batman rendered himself vulnerable by attending to Joker, the Stag is able to stab Batman. Stag leaves the Dark Knight to die as he makes an escape with his injured ally. As Batman falls unconscious, Commissioner Gordon and the GCPD surround the Stag and the Joker. They seemingly shoot the Stag to death as well as arrest and transfer Joker to the hospital. Upon the conclusion of the issue though, we find that the Stag is alive and, well, plotting his next move with a recovering Joker.

READ: Missed the last issue? Here’s our review for BATMAN/THE SHADOW #3!

batman/the shadow #4
BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Shadow of the Bat

The majority of this particular issue is spent focusing on the action. Despite this, the work still succeeds in developing the relationship between Batman and the Shadow. Perhaps the most poignant moment of the work is when Batman saves the Joker from the Shadow. The Shadow is incapable of comprehending why Batman would perceive the Joker’s life as being worth saving, but Batman insists that every individual, no matter how evil, deserves a chance at redemption. Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando have done an excellent job in depicting the difference between the two titular characters. This issue complicates this juxtaposition as Batman is willing to risk his own life to save the life of his archenemy. Because of this, I look forward to seeing if the Shadow’s perception of life shifts due to Batman’s actions in future issues.

One negative aspect of this issue is the lack of development for the villainous characters. The Joker’s overall motives remain a tad too enigmatic in my opinion, particularly since he has had a history of working alone and betraying those he works alongside. With this, the previous issue spent some time focusing on the mysterious character of the Stag. I was hoping this issue would delve into his character even further, but this didn’t happen. Yet, characterization-wise, this installment does spend some time focusing on the differences between Batman and the Shadow. So, the issue doesn’t spend each page solely on action, despite being an action-packed issue.

batman/the shadow #4
BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 page 22. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Art of BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4

This issue’s artwork is engaging from the start. The opening page features a creative depiction of Batman’s capture.  The panels showcase his perspective of his entrapment as well as the objects keeping him bound. BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 is rich with these creative details, thanks to the contributions of Riley Rossmo. In one sequence, later in the issue, we see the Shadow cauterize Batman’s stab wound using a piece of skull burning in a fire pit, an image repeatedly depicted throughout this installment as though the reader is being told of the significance that image will serve. Another standout moment is when the Joker’s laugh transforms into that of the Shadow’s, alerting the Joker that his plans are about to be foiled. The attention to detail is wildly impressive, Rossmo’s lines are sharp and render each character’s expressions clearly.

READ: Want more DC? Here’s ComicsVerse’s retrospective piece on the DCEU!

I particularly enjoyed the format of the panels that depicts Batman falling unconscious. The contribution of colorist Ivan Plascencia brings a vibrancy and array of color that distinguishes each character. The Shadow, Batman, and the Joker seem to encompass their own palette that distinguishes their respective natures. With this, the action sequences are neither dull nor chaotic, since letterer Clem Robins balances his work in regard to the current action in the panel.

In Retrospect

BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4 is full of action, color, and focus on Batman and the Shadow’s alliance. The pair seems to work well together, despite their varying perceptions on criminals. Snyder and Orlando have brought an excellent depth to the story, which is furthered by the phenomenal work of Riley Rossmo, Ivan Plascencia, and Clem Robins. Though I personally wish to see more of the Stag’s backstory and attain a better understanding of the Joker’s motives, I’m optimistic that future issues will address these questions. Overall, the series thus far has been entertaining, so I’m confident future installments will continue the trend.

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