Beware, spoilers for BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5 below!

BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5 progresses the series’ narrative by revealing the truth about the immortal Stag. The crossover series as a whole succeeds in maintaining an intriguing dynamic between Batman and The Shadow, and this particular work develops that dynamic further. However, each individual character sustains static development. Because of this, the fifth issue falls into monotony at times, taking away from the various exciting twists and turns the work ultimately reveals.

batman/the shadow #5
Courtesy of DC Comics

A False Immortal

The fifth issue of BATMAN/THE SHADOW kicks off immediately after the events of the previous entry. Bruce is in critical condition after being stabbed by the Joker, but he somehow makes a speedy recovery anyway. He comes to the conclusion that Joker’s ally, the Stag, is not immortal after all. Rather, the villain is actually represented by a large group of mortals. With this, Batman shatters the Stag’s mythology. So, one can no longer perceive this “omnipresent” villain as a mythical entity since it is actually vulnerable.

In addition to this revelation, the disputes between Batman and the Shadow are particularly engaging. The Shadow continues to assert the narrative in which he played a part in training Batman. Once again, Batman refutes this claim and equates himself to the Shadow. Along with this, he references his former apprentice, Nightwing, by stating how Nightwing successfully surpassed Batman by becoming a superior hero. Ultimately, Batman claims that one’s protégée should surpass their mentor. This usurpation honors and maintains the mentor’s legacy while contributing to a successful future for the protégée.

READ: Missed the last issue? Find out what Batman and the Shadow were up to in BATMAN/THE SHADOW #4!

Though these aspects of this entry are enjoyable, it does feel repetitious at times. The plot line surrounding Joker’s involvement with the Stag and Shamba-La is somewhat stagnant. With this, Batman and the Shadow’s respective character developments have not progressed much either. Considering there is only one more issue left in the series, I cannot help but wonder if the upcoming final issue will adeptly strengthen the overall narrative.

batman/the shadow #5
Courtesy of DC Comics

The Panels of BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5

The artwork of this series has consistently proven to be a strength of the crossover. In places the story falters, the art ultimately prevails. The placement of the panels can appear chaotic at times, paralleling the tumult between the various characters of the work. It is a creative depiction of the progression of the events, maintaining a reader’s attention even when the story hits a snag.

READ: Catch up with other members of the Bat family with our review of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #13!

Within these chaotic panels are some beautiful images from Riley Rossmo. He expertly depicts action sequences in conjunction with colorist Ivan Plascencia. The vibrancy of the work is fantastic and even elevates some of the mythical elements of the series. Despite Plascencia’s colorful palette though, there is still a dark tone that is present throughout the issue. This tone perfectly grounds the work in reality despite the various supernatural aspects. With this, the darkness of Batman and The Shadow’s world continue to be present in this collision of universes.

batman/the shadow #5
Courtesy of DC Comics

To Shamba-La and Beyond

Overall, BATMAN/THE SHADOW has been a satisfying crossover series in which the titular characters naturally interact with each other, as though they had always existed in the same universe. Because of this, I look forward to the conclusion of the story surrounding Shamba-La as well as the syndicate that represents the Stag. It will also be interesting to see the outcome of Joker’s association with the Stag. In BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5, their partnership felt unauthentic and a little unnecessary on the Joker’s behalf.

So, though the series has been entertaining, there are still some loose ends the final issue needs to address in order for there to be a satisfying end to the overall work.

BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5 by Scott Snyder, Steve Orlando, and Riley Rossmo
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Though BATMAN/THE SHADOW #5 is ultimately an energetic work, it does feel monotonous at times since the characters remain static in their respective developments.
82 %
An electric yet repetitive work
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