“League Of Shadows “, Part Two
Artists – Christian Duce
In the second chapter of “League of Shadows”, we witness the first wave of their attack on Gotham City and finally learn who is controlling them.
The latest story arc continues with the action coming thick and fast. The world’s deadliest assassin, Lady Shiva, is back! This femme fatale is one of a very small group that has bested Batman in hand-to-hand combat. She is completely ruthless and has no compunction against taking a human life.
Another little bonus in this issue is a cameo appearance from Ra’s Al Ghul, one of my all-time favourite Batman baddies. While his methods are definitely questionable, it’s hard to call Ra’s truly evil. His aims are ultimately based on saving the world from the worst of humanity. Shiva’s goals are nowhere near as noble.
I always found it odd that in the comics Ra’s Al Ghul’s organisation was always called The League Of Assassins, where in all other media it was referred to as The League Of Shadows. Here, writer James Tynion IV has admirably given us an explanation: The two are separate entities.
The League of Assassins is exactly what it says on the tin. An order of killers designed to eliminate enemies and physically remove any opposition. The League Of Shadows, however, is something far more sinister. They are everywhere; pulling the strings, making the deals, greasing the palms and lighting the fuses.
In this chapter we see Shiva taking power of The League Of Shadows from Ra’s Al Ghul and making it her own, with potentially disastrous consequences for Batman and his team. After losing Red Robin (who everyone assumes is dead, but is actually being held captive by the mysterious Mr. Oz) Spoiler has rebelled against Batman and Batwoman and left the Batcave to go it alone.
Batwoman’s father, Jacob Kane, upon learning that The League Of Shadows have launched their preliminary strike on Gotham City, warns his daughter that this is a fight she and Batman might not win.
From Out Of The Shadows
Even with the strange mix of the main artist drawing the bulk of the story, with different artists drawing the intro and epilogue, the issue flows very smoothly. The prelude and coda that book-end the comic are a flashback at the start and a segue for what is yet to come at the finish, so the different art styles actually work quite well.
James Tynion continues to prove that his grasp of all these characters is strong. Batman, Batwoman and Shiva truly shine in this issue, but the true star of the piece is undoubtedly Orphan. Cassandra Cain really is one of my favourite additions to the Bat-Family. She is capable, yet vulnerable; intimidating, yet sympathetic. Her story of being raised from birth as a killer, with fighting and violence as the only languages she was ever taught is horrific, yet compelling.
We’ve always known that Cassandra’s father was the notorious Cain, but up until now we have never known the identity of Orphan’s mother. Alongside the revelations of both deadly leagues and the the return of Shiva, the secret behind the maternal half of Cass’ parentage is finally revealed in this issue and, while shocking, makes perfect sense.
James Tynion and his collaborators have delivered another hit with Detective Comics 952. The milestone 950th issue was truly just a taster of what is yet to come. My appetite is whetted and I really can’t wait to sink my teeth into the next chapter.
I give this tale a solid:
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment