Batman Investigates Who Killed Lamont Cranston in Batman/The Shadow #1

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Batman The Shadow 1 from DC and Dynamite

There's a great temptation to team up Batman and The Shadow. How could there not be? They're both controlling characters, obsessed with justice, maneuvering a team of operatives. They operate in darkness and strike from a position of inducing fear. They're literally the same person in different masks.

Dynamite's been doing a...well, quite frankly, dynamite job with the pulp heroes and the public domain supers, and it's great for the fans that they've been willing to share their sandbox with DC Comics, as they've done with their recent crossover with Wonder Woman '77 and The Bionic Woman. (JSA / PROJECT SUPERPOWERS anybody? C'mon, it's low hanging fruit!) Putting Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando together to chronicle this meeting of the masterminds is a natural pairing, and Riley Rossmo's art has just the darkness and deco feel to it to blend the two worlds together.

So how does it all play out?

Who wore it better? Batman 253 by Mike Kaluta

The first issue opens with Bruce Wayne seeking help from his old mentor, Henri Ducard. He relates to him a mystery he's encountered which he has been unable to solve, beginning with the murder of a man who does charity work at Arkham Asylum running a food cart to the inmates. The dead man's name is Lamont Cranston, and all indications point to him having been murdered by The Shadow.

Intrigued yet?

At the crime scene, Batman is accosted by The Shadow, and he gives chase, coming up empty. But he's got a photo, and he's got the best facial recognition software in the world. The Batcomputer soon finds a match in digitized microfiche records from the 1930s -- and the match's name is also Lamont Cranston!

Setting out on an investigation of Cranston's known associates (the ones who are still extant, that is) as both Batman and Matches Malone, the Batman follows a trail that leads to Cranston's old base of operations, which by all indications is still in use after all these decades.

This is the story Batman has brought to Ducard, along with the claim that he knows Ducard trained The Shadow. (If Batman thought The Shadow was old, he must think Ducard has a Lazarus Pit jacuzzi!) And that's when things take a hard turn into left field, setting up the cliffhanger to bring you back next issue.

I'm of mixed feelings about this issue. We're seeing a Shadow who is cruel, and potentially murderous of innocent victims. It may be that we're being set up, and that there is some further fiend of which we are not yet aware. I hope that's the case, and it's that hope that will bring me back next month to be sure.

3.5 / 5.0