Even though the crossover series Batman/The Shadow doesn't end until late September, a sequel titled The Shadow/Batman has already been announced by Dynamite Entertainment and DC Comics.
Steve Orlando, who co-wrote the original series with Scott Snyder, is taking on this sequel solo, with artist Giovanni Timpano joining him after two previous runs with the Shadow.
Newsarama talked to Orlando and Timpano about the story, what's changed since the creators last worked on these characters, and what readers can expect from the overall tone in The Shadow/Batman.
Newsarama: Steve, we've noticed that the title has changed (from your previous Batman/The Shadow series) to put the Shadow first - The Shadow/Batman. Is there meaning to the change? Does that indicate a different type of story?
Steve Orlando: The change in title indicates the story's function as the final statement on the relationship between the Shadow and Batman. In Batman/The Shadow, we posit a crime-fighting culture thesis for the ages, and in The Shadow/Batman, with a second story, we cement and develop that emotional concept and make it shine. These two stories stand on their own, but also make a greater macro-textual statement together as well.
This is, at its very core, an examination and celebration of the heroic tradition both for our characters, and for fiction itself.
Nrama: We've seen what happens when these two mix. Is there anything different this time around?
Orlando: Batman/The Shadow leaves the characters in one of the most challenging places the two of them have ever been. We were lucky to have all the toys on the table, and we go out of our way to use them and break them if we have to.
Here, in The Shadow/Batman, we have a chance to build the characters back up out of where they finish the previous series and hopefully finally let them reach the sun.
Batman/The Shadow is in many ways pushes the characters to the edge, and in Shadow/Batman, the only way they can get back is together.
Nrama: Where does it take place? What's the setting in location and time - and tone? Is it the same as Batman/Shadow?
Orlando: We'll be picking up in the present, following the events of Batman/The Shadow. Tonally, The Shadow/Batman is more of a conspiracy thriller, more ominous, as our heroes come face-to-face with the predatory maw of history.
Nrama: Giovanni, you've worked on this character before. What's different for you this time around?
Giovanni Timpano: Basically, this is my third time on the Shadow. My first time was on the ongoing series back in 2012. I have jumped aboard on it from #12 until the end of the series, #25, and my first impulse was to use a realistic approach on him, drawing a simple man with fedora, coat and guns. I was attracted by the human side of the character, his supernatural side was something more subtle to me in that times.
Then there was the Justice Inc. series (6 issues) and the second series (5 issues), where I experimented more, playing with his dark side, starting to use as reference Michael Kaluta’s and Eduardo Barreto’s work and their way to play with this character and his powers.
Today, on my third attempt, I try to hazard more with him, with his figure and his movements. I don’t know if I’m a realistic artist or not, but what I know is that I usually don’t like to distort the figures, or the perspective, but with the Shadow I’m trying something new.
He has psychic powers, he is able to hypnotize the people, so I try to show him to the readers, as in that moment they are the Shadow’s victims in front of him, and these victims do not see a man with a fedora and coat, they see something evil, more evil than they are, a dark creature, not human.
It’s not easy to do this, but in this series, Batman is the man with a mask, and The Shadow is the one who needs to be seen as a real creature of the night, a supernatural being, a living nightmare for the criminals. That’s why I’m trying to force myself on this different approach, to also create a contrast between the two heroes and their nature.
Nrama: How is the Shadow differentiated from Batman visually?
Timpano: A lot of artists use Batman’s cape and cowl, or his silhouette, stylizing it, playing with the shadows, etc. to give to him a more terrorizing look and it’s okay. But I have also to consider the Shadow in this series, which is a more supernatural being, something more dark than Batman himself, so I prefer to use those kind of tricks with the Shadow, giving to Batman a more realistic approach. I’m trying to emphasize the flesh and bones nature of Bruce Wayne, because he is a human.
On the other side I want to give to the readers the feel that if you try to touch the Shadow, his figure vanishes through your fingers. He is more a ghost to me than an immortal human.
Their body language contrast has the same reasoning behind it: I try to emphasize Batman’s expressions and arms/hands gesture while the two are together, and I keep the Shadow always more calm, like what there is around him does not have affect him, like he really does not belong to that world and he doesn’t care.
Nrama: What attracted you to the idea of drawing Batman and the Shadow together?
Timpano: The relationship between the two characters. We all know how much this relationship was important in the comic book history. We all know that the Shadow was a huge influence for the creation of Batman.
Steve took this thing and transformed it into the plot of his story and I was attracted by this. I worked on the Shadow for so many books that I felt like this was not another Shadow book, but an important piece of his history, and I wanted to be part of this.
Nrama: Steve, who's the adversary in this story? How does that change the feeling and theme?
Orlando: The Shadow and Batman will face off with the Silent Seven, an organization whose criminal history predates either of them. The Silent Seven are so entrenched in our world that we might not be able to live without them.
For the Shadow and Batman, this is all about scale and mortality. Batman learned his limitations in Batman/The Shadow, and in Shadow/Batman it's time for the Shadow to finally face that same notion.
And as Dirty Harry says, "a man's got to know his limitations."
Nrama; We heard from Giovanni how his visual interpretation of the Shadow evolved. Now that you're on your second series, Steve, what do you feel like you've learned since last time that helped you with this second story? Or maybe learned in the experience of writing the last one?
Orlando: The get, in this case, is the time I've already had living with the characters. As they get to know each other, as they're forced to, I get to know their relationship with more and more nuance. And many of those details reveal themselves organically during the work.
And just as we start to get comfortable with the Shadow and Batman, we bring Robin in to the mix, to disrupt any familiarity they may have had with each other.
Nrama: Ah, that does mix things up a bit. And from the description, it sounds like it's going to really delve into each character's history. Are you adding to their past continuity?
Orlando: To me? It's all past continuity, so absolutely.
In my mind, all the meetings of the Shadow and Batman have happened. The Shadow suggests that very possibility in Batman/The Shadow, saying he clouded Batman's mind after each adventure. We'll not only be building, but connecting to the greater centuries long tradition of crime-fighting in subtle ways.
Nrama: Giovanni, is there anything else you want to tell fans about The Shadow/Batman?
Timpano: I totally suggest this series because it’s not simply a story in the middle of two big character’s history, trust me. This is a big piece in both character’s life - the way the Shadow see his life and his war on the crime, Batman’s relationship with him and with his son Damian, all this will affect their current life. This will be history!
Nrama: Steve, any last thing you want to highlight about the series?
Orlando: The Shadow and Batman versus the only thing bigger than them: an enemy the width and breadth of the world itself, who wields history as a weapon. Be there!
And wonder that if the Shadow thinks Batman has ignored all his teachings, then Robin might actually be a better student than his father ever was.