The Shadow War crossover between Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. kicked off with unexpected assassination of Ra’s Al Ghul at the hands of someone posing as Deathstroke. That assassination set off a chain of events for several characters to make major decisions from the beginning of this crossover. With Batman and Robin we saw that there is still a large canyon between Bruce Wayne and Damian Wayne. For Talia Al Ghul she has already set her League of Shadows sights on killing Deathstroke and everyone connected to Slade Wilson. With the stakes already this high how will Shadow War progress next? Let’s find out with Batman #122.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Howard Porter (Shadow War); Trevor Hairsine (Secret Meetings)
Colorists: Tomeu Morey (Shadow War); Rain Beredo (Secret Meetins)
Batman works with D.E.O Agent Cameron Chase to investigate the scene where Ra’s Al Ghul was assassinated by “Deathstroke.” Batman notices that “Deathstroke” did not hit Talia Al Ghul with a killing shot.
Meanwhile, Angel Breaker leads a group of League of Shadows members to decimate Deathstroke, Inc. Prometheus is able to buy Slade Wilson and Respawn enough time to escape.
Elsewhere Robin (Damian Wayne) finds Rose Wilson at a bar and recruits her to help him find Slade and kill him. Rose unquestionably joins Robin in the hunt to kill her dad.
At the Demon Palace in Nepal, Batman easily makes his way through the facility, knocking out the members of the League of Shadows that try to stop him. He eventually finds Talia and confronts her about being responsible for the death of Ra’s. Talia questions why Batman would accuse her of killing her own father. Talia then reminds Batman about all her accomplishments and how she chose to follow her father when he decided to turn himself in.
Hearing this Batman believes Talia didn’t hire “Deathstroke” to kill Ra’s. Batman then reveals that Damian is going after Deathstroke. This pisses Talia off but she falls to her knees still in pain from her recent injury.
As Batman helps Talia back up she takes off his cowl. Bruce and Talia then share some tender words before kissing. End of main story.
Batman #122 was exactly what it needed to be as the second chapter of The Shadow War crossover. This issue gave the reader plenty of time to take in the consequences of Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassination. In the process we see how each lead character of this crossover event is going to be responding to the actions already taken.
Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. are all titles that Joshua Williamson was writing before this crossover event even started. You immediately what the benefit of Joshua Williamson writing all three titles as part of The Shadow War crossover is. Throughout Batman #122 Williamson makes sure that the reader is always aware of the all the characters that were part of those three titles. Even if Batman gets the bulk of the page count there is time dedicated to Robin, Deathstroke, Talia Al Ghul, Ravager, and Respawn so you know they are all key parts of the story. That is an important balance that hopefully Williamson continues throughout the rest of the chapters in this crossover.
Batman not wasting time in investigating what exactly happened with Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassination establishes how Bruce’s detective skills will be in full use throughout this story. Batman will certainly more than hold his own against every fighter that is part of this story. The more important role that Batman will serve is finding out what is really going on with Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassination and what it means in the greater state of the world.
Which is a great way to establish Batman’s own direction for The Shadow War crossover since the stakes are much more personal for Robin, Talia, and Deathstroke. We see that with how Talia wasted no time in sending her League of Shadows to kill Slade Wilson and everyone connected to him. This was a major statement for Talia to make as we got a strong idea of how powerful the League of Shadows is with how easily they decimated Deathstroke Inc. By the end of this part in the story you are left thinking that Slade and Respawn were lucky to survive the assault.
With this show of force it was interesting to see that Williamson wasted no time in getting Bruce and Talia to interact. Williamson makes full use of the chemistry between Bruce and Talia to make their meeting address their history and what just happened. Talia defending her name in the face of Bruce’s accusations made Bruce understanding that Talia did not kill her father was a strong development in their relationship. This made the unexpected kiss between Bruce and Talia be something that did not seem out of character. Though it does create questions as to how Williamson will go about developing Bruce and Talia’s relationship.
Those questions are made even bigger with how it appears as though Damian Wayne is going to be the biggest X factor of this crossover. Like his parents, Damian was quick to seek out Rose Wilson to help him get revenge on Slade. Damian doing this showed that while he is furious about his grandfather’s death he isn’t being blinded by that rage like he would’ve earlier in his Robin career. Damian knows he needs help if he is going to have a chance to kill Slade. Seeking out Rose, who he built a solid friendship with during the Lazarus Tournament, was a smart play.
For as intriguing as the plot developments were Howard Porter’s artwork was more of a mixed bag. The artwork was very uneven with how Porter tried to adapt his style to fit the tone of a Batman story. At times it appeared Porter was trying to be to edgy or gritty with his artwork that made several panels and pages messy. That was most obviously seen with the Deathstroke vs League of Shadows fight. That said Porter did do a good job with showcasing Batman’s skills as he took down the League of Shadows in his fight and worked was in full detective mode early in the issue.
What did not work at all in Batman #122 was the back-up story that featured a flashback to one of the first times Batman and Deathstroke crossed paths. There was so much that Williamson could’ve done with these pages to expand on The Shadow War crossover. Using the back-up to connect Batman and Deathstroke closer together was not the most inspired choice. I would’ve been much more interested if we saw Black Canary, Lady Shiva, or other characters previously connected to the League of Assassins react to Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassination. That would’ve added much more weight to the story as Ra’s death is something that would impact major parts of the DC Universe.
Batman #122 was a good follow-up to the assassination of Ra’s Al Ghul that kicked off The Shadow War crossover. Every major character that is going to play a role in this crossover is given time in the spotlight. By doing this Joshua Williamson is able to provide you with a good idea of what the scope of this event will have. Which is all you can ask for from a second chapter of a story and sells you on buying the other comics involved in the crossover even if they weren’t on your pull list before.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10