When I first got into comics, I picked up a copy of Batman #253 off the spinner rack of local drug store. It featured a “sort of” team-up between Batman and The Shadow. I say sort of because the don’t actually work together; they investigate the same case from opposite ends, and The Shadow saves Batman’s bacon a time or two.
At the end of the story, the two finally meet face-to-face, and Batman confess, “You were my greatest inspiration.” Wow, this guy is Batman’s hero? Cool! And thus began my journey as a life-long Shadow fan. Other heroes and fandoms came and went (and came back again), but The Shadow has been one of the most consistent.
Nevertheless, when a Batman/Shadow reunion was announced, I was a wee bit skeptical. They’re characters from different eras, and I wasn’t sure how they might pull it off. Similar projects have tried and failed, such as The Thing and Doc Savage (Marvel Two-in-One #21, 1976), and DC’s more recent First Wave line of comics. The Shadow is kind of like Sherlock Holmes, or the Lone Ranger, in that he belongs in a specific era (the 1930s). His skulking about in darkness is a greater challenge in this age of high-tech digital surveillance.
But after reading Batman/The Shadow #1, I am well pleased. It taps into the notion established in the 1980s, that The Shadow is ageless, so Batman fighting crime alongside someone more than 100 years old isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. And it’s loaded with surprises fro Batman fans, and few nods that fans of The Shadow will recognize.
Rossma’s artwork works very well, featuring the same kind of exaggeration that popular Shadow artist Mike Kaluta is known for. But rather than emulate Kaluta’s style, Rossma makes it his own. Perhaps he reviewed the Kaluta Shadow comics of the 1970s, and came away with a kernel of something he managed to capture as well. But it ends there, and Rossma’s rendering is fresh, and very welcome to the ongoing history of The Shadow in comic book for