Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Howard Porter, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: April 4th, 2022
Well, if you missed out on SHADOW WAR ALPHA #1, Ra’s Al Ghul is dead and Talia wants retribution! Yet, there is no need to worry because BATMAN is on the case! He’s out to locate DEATHSTROKE before Talia’s elite assassins do first! Nevertheless, BATMAN begins to parcel together with the details and quickly discovers who he must inquire for answers! Let’s dive into BATMAN #122 by Joshua Willaimson to see who this person is, as well as a backup of what very well may be the first encounter between DEATHSTROKE and BATMAN.
So, do we find out who killed Ra’s Al Ghul? Nope. Do we get any real clues as to who killed Ra’s Al Ghul? Nope. However, Williamson does appear to clip some of the potential killers off the board in BATMAN #122 while arranging the different cast of characters out to bring him down. Additionally, we put the entire clientele on the board for readers to see who we are dealing with throughout the series.
Now, my biggest question was answered this week, which was how on Earth did the person impersonating DEATHSTROKE get in to even make the kill unseen. Well, here’s the thing… Williamson certainly “tries” to explain how it went down but I don’t know if I entirely buy it. You’ll have to read it to let me know what you think but, it seems a bit silly. Nevertheless, to Williamson’s credit, it was definitely unorthodox.
Additionally, the ending was a bit unsettling. Recent BATMAN fans know that Bruce’s heart belongs to CATWOMAN. And yet, we all know of the past relationship he had with Talia. So of course, we understand the tension, however, the would-be cliffhanger insinuates a rekindled relationship. Really? This just seemed like a trivial way to end BATMAN #122 as if anyone thinks for one second a possible romance is in the future. It just felt like a throwaway cliffhanger that will amount to packing peanuts as we start the next issue of SHADOW WAR. And I hate being toyed with by a writer for no reason.
Yet the best part of BATMAN #122 was the backup by Williamson. It was a story about ROBIN (probably Dick) and BATMAN meeting DEATHSTROKE for the first time. The premise was easy to follow, interesting, and had a clever reveal as this short backup came to an end. Plus, the art seemed a bit more reined in, more sharp, clean, and authentic. It felt like a solid BATMAN issue from yesteryear that gave his reviewer some classic vibes I didn’t want to shake.
Something just seemed off with Howard Porter’s art this week. It was almost as if he was attempting to make things gloomy and gothic for no real reason. The edges were too sharp, the colors by Tomeu Morey were incredibly dark, and each page in BATMAN #122 was so dang busy. Heck, even the lettering by Clayton Cowles was a bit too agitated in certain spots. Their attempt was understood and the atmosphere they wanted to portray came through in spades. However, I think it was pushed a bit too hard. Why?
Well, the backup tells the story. That looked like Porter’s art to me. Heck, even the very beginning of BATMAN #122. Still, the DEATHSTROKE elements, as well as the Ninja hordes complicated the art and came across as a bit too involved, at times rushed, and inauthentic. I get it… Ra’s is dead and the darkness surrounding the League of Assassins would be extremely terrifying. But, I didn’t need that atmosphere overflowing in the art to understand that point.
I’m still interested in this SHADOW WAR. I really am… but I was expecting a bit more to iron out the story. Maybe a bigger clue as to which direction the story is heading and why? Sure, I don’t expect all the answers immediately but all Williamson did on this issue was explain how the DEATHSTROKE impersonator got in and who definitely didn’t do it.
These are great plot threads readers needed for sure BUT ultimately the story seems stuck without a direction insight other than the obvious. BATMAN realizes it’s not Slade and tries to protect him while everyone else begins to hunt him. So it becomes BATMAN and DEATHSTROKE verse ROBIN, Talia, the D.E.O., and everyone else for that matter. However, I hope that Williamson is using the backup as a clue to who’s involved. And if that’s true, it very well might be the Joker whether you find that good or bad news… Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!