Shadow War: War Zone #1 is an anthology issue that puts the spotlight on a few characters, highlight how they are being affected by the Shadow War event. The four stories are all mostly entertaining, but they don’t add much to the event, and should be considered supplemental reading.
This anthology opens with Old Friends, a short story where Black Canary has a run in with Angel Breaker after Ra’s Al Ghul’s death. The script by Joshua Williamson is actually wordier than you would expect, especially since the majority of the issue is the two fighting. Still, it’s a good way to catch readers up on the two’s relationship.
Otto Schmidt’s art is solid throughout the issue, even if there are a few odd poses here and there. The actual action scene looks fantastic though, with creative panel layouts that allow for the battle to play out smoothly. Steve Wands’ lettering doesn’t stand out in any way, but that should be seen as a compliment since it doesn’t take away from the presentation or character voices.
Inner Demon is a Talia Al Ghul story that gives readers a look at her history. Nadia Shammas writes this one, giving the character a fresh yet familiar take. The first half focuses on a young Talia as she grows tired of her life and expectations. Needing a mix up, she gets into a bit of trouble and eventually leaves for some answers. This young Talia is refreshingly raw and reckless, which is a nice contrast to who the character is today. The journey doesn’t have any shattering new revelations, but it’s still a nice read.
Sweeney Boo’s art has a soft feel to it, especially with the dreamy colors throughout the issue. It’s a nice change up from what we usually see in a Batman book. The story is light on action, though there are still some great looking panels here. One in particular shows a character falling, with time passing all within one panel. It looks great and is a creative way to show tons of action in little space. Like Wands’ lettering in the previous story, Becca Carey’s work is solid, with nothing standing out with the exception of an information box or two.
Ed Brisson gives Ghostmaker the opportunity to shine in Panic Room. The fun character gets to enjoy a story with Batman while he trains Clownhunter with a hands on approach. The League of Assassins is pursuing them, and he locks Clowhunter in a room with six ninjas and expects him to fight or die. It’s hard to buy into the rookie vigilante being able to take on all of them at once, but hey, that’s comics. It’s a fun little story that doesn’t offer much for the big picture, but is enjoyable nonetheless. Mike Bowden and Antonio Fabela do a fine job of drawing all of the action, though there is a lot going on in a short amount of time. Readers will need to use their imaginations to fill in lots of blanks between the panels. Troy Peteri’s letters are great here, giving every character a unique voice with change-ups in fonts.
Ninjas! At the Arcade
Stephanie Phillips takes on the last story in this anthology with a Harley Quinn tale. The issue is nonstop action from beginning to end, with Harley taking on the League in an arcade. Ann Maulina makes the setting as fun as one would expect. The creative team makes great use of the space, taking advantage of all of the fun ways that the environment can be interacted with. ANDWORLD DESIGN’s letters are a lot of fun, with tons of life going into every sound effect.
While this is a fun story, it doesn’t give readers much more than a long fight and a tease at the end. Phillips continues to give Harley a great voice though, so her quips throughout the story are entertaining and on brand. This story leaves a lot to be desired, but it is thoroughly entertaining, and probably my favorite in this anthology.
Shadow War: War Zone #1
These four stories are all mostly entertaining, but they don't add much to the event, and should be considered supplemental reading.