Everyone knows Batman, but people tend to forget the just as exceptional characters that inspired him. Sherlock Holmes and Zorro are the major two individuals that comics historians point out, but there was another that they believe had a big role in the Caped Crusader’s development. He was Kent Allard to some, Ying Ko to others, a few watched him as Alec Baldwin (seriously, check that movie out when you get a chance), but he is more recognized by his persona that is feared by the criminal underworld: The Shadow. He wears a red scarf and dresses in all black, blending into the shadows like a chameleon to destroy all evil in the world. While I don’t know much about the Shadow, I was intrigued to see how he would interact with a character inspired by him that was given more time to develop over the years. And with countless great names on this book, I hoped that it would be an entertaining journey with two globe trotting billionaires that dress in all black and speak only in dramatic rhetoric.
The story is rather simple: Kent Allard is murdered after returning home from his job at Arkham Asylum. But this Kent Allard is nothing like the character from the pulps he came from, instead he is a kind and gentle man that is slaughtered in the night by a shadowed individual. Since this takes place in Gotham, Batman sneaks inside to study the crime scene only for the Shadow to dive in with no warning. Before he can get any answers, Bruce discovers that the masked figure knows his secret identity as he disappears into the night with an eerie laugh. Taken aback by what happened, Bruce decides to sink his teeth into the world of the Shadow to uncover the mystery of who this red-scarfed maniac is while also solving the murder of an innocent man.
The art in this book is perfect as Riley Rossmo manages to keep a consistent look while merging these two worlds together. He also finds a way to update the Shadow’s appearance with fantastic results, so much so that I would easily pick up a book continuing Kent Allard’s story with this artist attached. I’ve seen his work on the Constantine series by DC, so I think it’s safe to say that we’re in safe hands if the series goes bonkers with the concepts in the future. On a final note, I would just like to say that I love the new Batman costume that Greg Cappullo made that is now being used. It is just such a perfect blend of all the past looks while being it’s own thing. Enough with the amazing art, let’s talk about the story.
Scott Snyder has done a great job on Batman and Steve Orlando has apparently been kicking butt on the Midnighter comics, so I think it is safe to say that the rest of this run could be great if not at least solid. At the end of this issue, I am definitely intrigued as to where the story could go next. The mystery is solid and the characters seem true to their traditional interpretations. If I had to complain about anything, I would just comment that the book is mostly set up. Yes there is action and a nice reveal at the end, but there is still so many questions I still have. That said, it was still a solid beginning to a hopefully wonderful crossover.
Overall, I liked this book and am interested to see where it goes next. The action is brief yet cool. The mystery is deep though there aren’t any big answers given at the end of this first issue. The best compliment I can give this book is that both characters seem to be portrayed respectfully and play of each other pretty well. None of them, from what I can tell, are done in a way that betrays who they are. It looks like one hell of a team up is on the way, I just wish I could read it all now.