Author: Peter Verra (Follow @PETER ILLUSTRATED)
Date: April 30, 2017

SYNOPSIS: “League Of Shadows” part five! All of her teammates are broken-or dead. There’s only one fighter left to stand between the League of Shadows and Gotham City’s total destruction. This is Cassandra Cain’s greatest battle-the fight she was born for! Do not miss the most astounding action sequence of the year!

“League of Shadows Part 5” showcases what I feel is Tynion at his finest. He weaves in and out of present day and flashes back flawlessly, all while making you enjoy having Cassandra lead the way. Issue #954 left us with Batman being abducted by Lady Shiva right out of the Batcave. With the entire Bat-family captured, it is now up to Orphan to face her mother.

Tynion seems to really adore Cassandra Cain’s character. I think he is at his best when writing stories around her. While Tynion takes us on a journey between past and present with Cassandra, we see where the rest of the Bat-Family is being held and what Shiva has in plan for her big finale. Flashing back to only a few hours before present Tynion brings back a minor character from issue #950. There we see Cassandra enjoying some ballet and see Christine practicing while being spied on from the shadows. Five issues later Christine is able to return the favor and entertain her audience with a soothing story called "The Girl Who was a Shadow". I found the two of them really driving the story and feel the chemistry between them. Christine unknowingly pushes Cassandra to do the impossible; all with a simple bedtime story that could very well have been written about Cassandra herself.

While Christine and Cassandra are undoubtedly the stars of this issue, there are a few other things that caught my eye. The page between Shiva and Batman shows how badly Shiva wants a chance to fight the Batman one on one and display her superiority. She is not very happy with Ra’s and his use of “trickery”. If you have been reading my reviews then you know I am no fan of the Colony but I did find Ulysses very fascinating. Not only is he trying on Tim Drake’s Red Robin suit on for size, he is also somewhat of a mad scientist. Also, is it just me or is he starting to look like Lex Luthor from Superman: Secret Origin? In issue #953 we got a beautifully drawn Shiva v Orphan fight, this time around we get that plus some real incredible dialogue. As you would expect it’s mostly Shiva talking and being absurdly obnoxious. However, when Cassandra speaks there’s emotion, determination, and meaning and is overall very powerful.

In the last issue, I was a bit hard on artist Marcio Takara but in this issue he was superb. I really loved his use of shadows on the faces of the characters in this issue. The cave where Batwoman, Batwing and Azrael are chained up, Shiva/Batman page come to mind. This book has a very dark and damp atmosphere surrounding it and Takara does a really great job translating that visually. Throughout the whole issue we are going in and out of Orphan action sequences. Nothing is ever choppy or misleading; all of it is very fluid. Takara delivers three incredible splash pages. Two of them have Orphan taking on the entire League of Shadows as she makes her way through Shiva's compound and the third one is in the finale. The fight between Shiva and Orphan was exceptional; not so much the fight itself but the emotion in the eyes of the two and their facial expressions while they go toe to toe. I’ve noticed that red backgrounds seem to have a strong presence for big moments in the past two issues. I am really getting the artistic feel for this. I hope this is a trend that continues.

The main cover is by Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira who give us a very cool low angle looking up at Orphan jumping down to take on some Assassins while Batman is chained up in front of what could be a courthouse building. Rafael Albuquerque draws the variant cover and it is amazing! We see Batman front and center chained up with Batwoman to one side, Azrael on the other in front of the Batsignal. Azrael looks knocked out while Batman and Batwoman are struggling to break free or reach that utility belt. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Overall, this was a really fun issue. Cassandra again stole the show. We get some moments from everyone from the Bat-family with solid art and writing. I even gave the Colony story some credit this time. I’ve really enjoyed this Shiva story line so far. We have had one bump in the road but that hasn’t changed how excited I am to see how this one is going to finish up.- Peter Verra


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