Batman: Shadow War by Joshua Williamson

Title: Batman.
Story Arc
: Shadow War.
Universe: Rebirth.
Writer(s): Joshua Williamson.
Artist(s): Viktor Bogdanovic, Howard Porter, Paolo Pantalena, Roger Cruz, Mike Henderson.
Colourist(s): Mike Spicer, Tomeu Morey, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Luis Guerrero, Hi-Fi.
Letterer(s): Troy Peteri, Clayton Cowles, Steve Wands.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format: Single Issues & Digital.
Release Date: November 1st, 2022.
Pages: 289.
Genre(s): Comics, Superheroes, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781779517975.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Previously in the Batman (2016) series:
Batman (Vol. 1): Their Dark Designs by James Tynion IV.
Batman (vol. 2): The Joker War by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 3): Ghost Stories by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 4): The Cowardly Lot Part One by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 5): Fear State by James Tynion IV.
Batman (Vol. 6): Abyss by Joshua Williamson.


With writer James Tynion IV’s Batman run completed with the Fear State story arc, DC Comics assigned writer Joshua Williamson as the temporary writer to continue the Dark Knight’s adventures. He began to do so with the introduction of a new villain called Abyss and teasing a new tale featuring Batman’s son and her mother. In the middle of the Batman comic book series, two issues of the canonical run were dedicated to a crossover event centered around Deathstroke, Robin (Damian Wayne), Talia al Ghul, and Batman. Reading both of those issues physically and the rest of the relevant and mandatory issues pertaining to this event digitally, there’s no hiding the hassle behind these comic book events but also the poor overarching narrative inevitably butchered by this publishing business endeavour. This nine-issue crossover event collects all the parts of the Shadow War story from Batman #122-123, Robin #13-14, Deathstroke Inc. #8-9, Shadow War: Alpha #1, Shadow War: Omega #1, and Shadow War Zone #1.

What is Batman: Shadow War about? Batman’s legendary adversary and international criminal mastermind, and also a twisted environmentalist at heart, Ra’s al Ghul, decides to surrender to the Markovian Embassy alongside his daughter Talia al Ghul and give the world surprising and unique access to the Lazarus Pits in the name of science and a better future for their world. During the press conference, Ra’s al Ghul is assassinated by Deathstroke who successfully manages to escape Batman and Robin’s sight afterward. With her father dead, Talia now sets off on a rampant quest for revenge and sends a group of assassins known as the Demon’s Shadow out to hunt down Deathstroke and Deathstroke Inc. Meanwhile, Batman suspects that something doesn’t make sense and reaches out to the mother of his child for clues that could elucidate the lingering mystery around this assassination. What follows is a manhunt and a race against time to find the truth before any more casualties fall to this devious scheme.

“I do believe this is a world worth saving… as are all the people here.”

— Joshua Williamson

Diving into this with low expectations played in favour of writer Joshua Williamson’s largely uncreative and lackluster story. This disappointing crossover, like many others in the past, suffers once more from the usual trappings of choppy story-telling mostly focused on incorporating as many characters from the different inevitably-involved comic book series in hopes of presenting wild, far-fetched, and ridiculous action scenes across splash pages without a care in the world for readers to be emotionally invested in these heroes or villains. The dialogue and reasoning that are squeezed in between all the chaos also stick to the bare minimum to introduce these characters, present a couple of silly lines to establish their core personalities, and quickly put them in a battle where no one wants to take a moment to investigate, listen to facts, and act intelligently. Even Batman seems a bit slow on his feet, desperately trying to play the middle-man, and unconvincingly trying to get everyone to stop the violence through words rather than action.

The story also loosely ties in with countless past stories, including writer Brian Michael Bendis’ Leviathan and Checkmate, making them quintessential to better understand the underlying motives of certain characters or even the big reveal by the end of the crossover event. While the story does contain key moments that are sure to affect future DC stories, it mostly serves as a transition story arc as the DC universe moves forward into Infinite Frontier. As for the artwork, it’s a terribly huge mixed bag where most of the artistic styles, never the same across this story, are more often than not mediocre, overly-crowded, messy, and rough around the edges. Thankfully, the two Batman issues, at least visually, aren’t that bad, but throughout this crossover event, readers are presented with an incredible array of styles and visions, almost like an exposition to give us all a chance to discover new artists within the comic book business. It would be difficult to say that any of them actually left a lasting impression though.

Batman: Shadow War is an unadorned crossover event playing around with a couple of sleuths in their quest for the truth amidst an all-out war between shadow-sworn ninjas and assassins.



21 thoughts on “Batman: Shadow War by Joshua Williamson

    1. Exactly, Bruce. If they’re going to work together on a project of this scale, they should work together to form something cohesive and memorable… This just feels like it’s aimed at a more naive audience who just wants to gobble up big battles and big moments with no particular depth, unfortunately… Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sorry to say, I saw this was about Batman and I cringed. You’ve had quite the run of these recently. It’s bad when you go into a series about one of your favorite characters with low expectations and are still disappointed. Grrrr…. I continue to keep fingers crossed you find a way through all these to some better stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah you’re right to have that instinct, Todd. I don’t expect any of the upcoming Batman/Detective Comics to be top-notch for a while. However, I am now caught up to Zdarsky’s run and I have high hopes that it will turn out to be way better than any of the Batman/Detective comics stories I’ve read so far in the past months! 😀


  2. You say that the story misses out because of the forced packing of a character cast. Being Batman’s die-hard fan, don’t you read/watch everything that includes Batman? Putting as many well-known characters into a story/movie guarantees $$$.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s no way for me to know if Batman shows up in other series unless the title is obvious about it hahah However, I focus my attention on the two main Batman comic book series (Batman/Detective Comics). If I read any other Batman-related story, it’s probably not canonical but still sufficiently interesting for me to look into hahah There are way too many Batman-related series out there too anyway. I don’t have that kind of time on my hands. 😛


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