Interview: Steve Orlando on Batman/The Shadow

by Shaina Lucas
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For those of you who enjoy the Batman/The Shadow series, you’re in luck. Only two issues remain in the crossover Batman/The Shadow and DC Entertainment and Dynamite Entertainment recently announced a sequel series set to debut in October. Featuring art by Giovanni Timpano, The Shadow/Batman follows the events of the current limited series with another six-issue story.

CBR recently caught up with Steve Orlando to give us the scoop on the new series. Enjoy!

CBR: Traditionally, news of a sequel doesn’t break until a limited series/movie/novel is complete. Why was it important to get The Shadow/Batman announced when we still have two issues left in Batman/The Shadow?

Steve Orlando: It’s all about keeping the momentum. The reception for Batman/The Shadow has been overwhelming, with DCE and Dynamite being amazingly supportive. So we wanted to key in and build on that, to reinforce the confidence we have in the characters and the unique things they can say when paired together. Plus, when you have two of the icons of crime-fighting fiction, it’s hard to stop telling stories with them once you start.

Fanboys, myself included, love the concept of these types of crossovers: JLA/AvengersSuperman vs. Muhammad Ali even Archie Meets the Punisher but they don’t always generate actual sales and interest. Are you surprised by the success – critically and commercially – of Batman/The Shadow?

Working with these characters, and these creators, is first and foremost an honor. So the idea that people would come on board with our loves of The Shadow, Batman, and what they mean to each other, is amazing. I think, even though he is lesser known that Batman in the mainstream, The Shadow remains iconic. His look, the profile he cuts, and the mystery he represents, is nearly primal.

The meeting between them is so base, so simple in its opposition, and that gets people to respond. The World’s Greatest Mystery in The Shadow. The World’s Greatest Detective in Batman. They cannot help but stalk and orbit each other. It’s in their very nature. And we can’t help but watch.

You co-wrote the first series with Scott Snyder. This time around you are flying solo. Did you discuss the next story with Scott and what are the pros and cons are writing a series by yourself versus sharing the duties?

Scott and I did talk about where the characters could go, in light of where we leave them at the end of Batman/The Shadow, and where we leave them is certainly an Empire Strikes Back moment. Going forward on my own, it’s a huge responsibility to take these characters, and this legacy, through to its next step. But working with Scott showed me the true love of these characters at their core, and that’s what both these books are about: spreading that love, showing people why these are two of the most indelible heroes in the history of pulp and comic fiction.

In Batman/The Shadow, the importance of Lamont Cranston in regards to the origins of Batman – and really, the entire DC Universe – has grown with each issue. Not sure if these revelations are considered in continuity but if they are, it makes for a very interesting read of the current DCU and particularly, the World’s Greatest Detective. In writing a series like Batman/The Shadow, do you need to consider in-continuity regardless of whether it is or not to fully embrace all of the implications?

I think, with a character like The Shadow, the appeal is that most things he says could plausibly be true, and could also be completely false. And in that he is truly unknowable, we can simply gather our own conclusions. This is, at its heart, Batman’s very struggle in the book. And Batman has long stood for us, the best we can be. So his struggle to accept he may never know if what The Shadow says is true is one in the same with ours.

Now that you have spent time with both, who would you prefer protecting your city: The Shadow or Batman? And why?

Hard to say! [Laughs] I think in these instances, the emotional response is The Shadow, because when we’ve been wronged, the first thing in our mind is vengeance, and punishing those that have wronged us. But the real answer is perhaps Batman, who is in many ways the complete idea of crime-fighting, if The Shadow is the opening statement or thesis. We’d want someone that has compassion, and The Shadow cares mostly about punishment before justice.

While writing The Shadow – a well-documented inspiration for Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s creation – have you learned any more about Batman? Has that bled into your take on the character as he is featured in Justice League of America or are these two different versions?

I think they’re all the same Batman. Both in Justice League of America and Batman/The Shadow and The Shadow/Batman, Bruce Wayne is a personification of our best as readers. And like all of us, he is imperfect, no matter how much he trains, because like all of us, he is human. He is questing to know himself, as any of use does, when we walk out onto the street. And at times, he questions himself. He is not immune. It’s how he deals with the questions, and those imperfections, that make him inspirational in any book.

How do you think The Shadow would manage operating in a team dynamic like the Justice League?

He wouldn’t! [Laughs] It has been enough of a challenge, I think, for The Shadow to adapt and cede the floor to Batman, arguably the grimmest of the Justice League. The Shadow already thinks Batman is a naïve fool, so imagine how little time he would have for inspirational characters like Wonder Woman and Superman. For better or worse, the Shadow would think the Justice League has a lot to learn from him.

From the preview pages for The Shadow/Batman, it appears Robin is joining the action. It is Bruce’s son, Damian Wayne, right?

It is! As The Shadow/Batman takes place in the current Bat-Universe setting, we get the chance to work with Damian, a character who in some ways The Shadow sees as being more successful, and logical, than Batman. This drives further conflict, a Robin that is maybe more like The Shadow than he wants to admit, but will not be told how to live his life by anyone, including the Shadow, and Batman himself. In a book about the crime-fighting tradition, Robin is attempting to forge his own legacy under the wings of the two figures that loom largest in pulp and comics fiction.

Obviously, you don’t want to spoil too much about the ending of Batman/The Shadow but what can you share about what readers can expect in The Shadow/Batman, which features the art of Giovanni Timpano? Are we going to get more Joker and The Stag?

Batman/The Shadow is The Empire Strikes Back for Batman and The Shadow, and The Shadow especially. The final battle with The Stag and The Joker leaves the Shadow questioning himself and his mission more than he ever has. In The Shadow/Batman, The Shadow must overcome that darkness and that question in order to take down an evil bigger than he or Batman could even comprehend. All this time, throughout their careers, Batman and The Shadow have thought they’ve been fighting the threat. But they’ve been fighting the distraction, while The Silent Seven groped higher and higher towards the seat of control above the world.

Now that you’ve written these two iconic characters in a crossover, is there a dream team-up that you would love to write for Supergirl?

Absolutely! I would love to combine Supergirl and Miss Fury, the first female superhero created by a female creator in Tarpe Milles. In this meeting, you’d have a history and revelatory conflict of light and dark, of yesterday and today. The woman that started it all with the Girl of Tomorrow.

The next comic in the series, Batman/The Shadow will be released August 23rd, 2017.

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