Shadow War Alpha #1 is written by Joshua Williamson, penciled by Viktor Bogdanovic, inked by Bogdanovic and Daniel Henriques, colored by Mike Spicer, and lettered by Troy Peteri. It’s published by DC Comics. After centuries of serving as one of the most feared men who ever lived, Ra’s al Ghul intends to surrender himself to authorities and utilize the Lazarus Pits to guide mankind into a new age. Before Ra’s can turn himself in peacefully, he is assassinated by Deathstroke, sending Batman and Damian Wayne after the mercenary. But they’ll have to contend with a vengeful Talia al Ghul, who’s taken it upon herself to end Slade Wilson’s life.
This serves as the beginning of a crossover storyline between Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. Williamson serves as the main writer on all three books. As a result, the story feels more organic rather than “We needed a Big Event.” The smartest decision he makes is to explore the various ties between the main characters. After returning from the Lazarus Tournament, Damian has to deal with the friction between himself and Batman. Talia and Ra’s have a similar conflict when the Demon’s Head reveals his plan to turn himself in. Williamson keeps the story moving at a rather steady pace; between this and gearing up for “Death of the Justice League” and Dark Crisis, I wonder if he ever sleeps.
Bogdanovic, who joined Williamson on Robin, delivers a number of splash pages that tie into his co-collaborator’s script. The first page is a key example; it displays Ra’s rising from a Lazarus Pit surrounded by members of the League of Assassins, as well as his battles with Batman and the Justice League. If this is your first time picking up a comic, that page will tell you everything you need to know about Ra’s al Ghul. Other pages feature Batman confronting the villain Lock-Up and the Dark Knight swooping in to save Damian from danger before embracing his son in a bear hug. Henriques’ inks add speed and texture to the characters’ actions and emotions. Batman feels like he’s diving from rooftops.
Topping it all off is Spicer on colors, and he chooses to match different colors to different characters. Ra’s and Talia are usually seen wearing green or, in Ra’s case, surrounded by the green of the Lazarus Pit. Batman’s face is almost always shrouded in shadows; this makes for an unsettling effect when paired with his jet black cape as if he were a living shadow. That same sense of color permeates Peteri’s letters; a two-page spread is comprised of a “BANG” sound effect, which is depicted in a bright blood red that shows a bullet passing through Ra’s head.
Shadow War Alpha #1 is an action movie in comic book form, tying together various plot threads from Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. Whether you love any of these characters or have been following Williamson’s work in the DC Universe, this is worth a read. Between this storyline and War for Earth-3, I’m beginning to appreciate that more storylines are taking place over two or three titles rather than an all-encompassing crossover event
Shadow War Alpha #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.
Shadow War Alpha #1
Shadow War Alpha #1 is an action movie in comic book form, tying together various plot threads from Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. Whether you love any of these characters or have been following Williamson’s work in the DC Universe, this is worth a read.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.