Crossover events can be a powerful boon to ongoing titles in an interconnected universe. One of the pleasures of reading mainstream comics (which have arguably been adapted for the screen in the form of the MCU) is discovering intersecting characters and plots, and pushing and pulling microcosms of the narrative world. A problem, however, with crossover in the comics, is when the pairings don’t match or are too similar. This creates a sort of narrative dissonance where the larger story being told does not match the specific aspects of the individual issues that make up the event. This dissonance can occur with aspects of a book, from its writing and characterization to its art and coloring. Once this dissonance appears, it’s extremely difficult for the crossover to realign itself and return to a more cohesive experience.
Shadow War Omega, written by Joshua Williamson with art by Stephen Segovia, Mike Henderson and Howard Porter, colors by Hi-Fi and lettering by Troy Peter, takes no time to provide context for the reveal of the event’s latest episode. , detailing why Geo-Force impersonated Deathstroke and started the Shadow War. It’s a surprise move to deal with the fallout from Brian Michael Bendis’ time on the Event Leviathan and Checkmate books, which felt largely forgotten at this time from DC’s publishing line. It’s commendable of Williamson to try to tie together these various divergent ideas of continuity over the past few years into a shared timeline, but the biggest problem with this issue’s script, and the event as a whole, is a line is missing.
Williamson tries to employ a parallel structure with Robin and Deathstroke as the two main forces in the event, bolstered by Batman, Rose Wilson, and Talia Al Ghul. This parallel structure almost works but seems to be missing from Deathstroke’s side at the end of the story. If the story centered around a singular character (which should have been Damian), it would have heightened the focus of the event. Instead, the end product is a stepping stone for Damian’s character and another new status quo for Deathstroke, with the current one having only been set up in a handful of issues before and during this crossover. Ideally, the desire to let Damian grow will persist beyond this series, and with the recent announcement of another Robin-centric event of Mark Waid and Mahmud Asrar, that chance doesn’t seem too far off.
The issue features the strongest and most consistent art for the crossover, which belongs to Segovia. His art has a modern and stylistic approach, combining simple, clear panel work with excellent kinetic linework. Segovia’s art does a great job of bringing the various pieces of this crossover together and gives the book a stylish twist for its final issue. Hi-Fi’s colors work in perfect sync with the art to give the issue an explosive palette and bolster Geo-Force’s meta abilities. With this incredible pairing in the main part of the number, it’s a shocking shift from Segovia’s art to Henderson’s for a denouement, before returning to Porter’s for the epilogue and additional setup.
This change is another example of the widening gap between the books featured in this crossover (BatmanDeathstroke Inc. and Robin) and highlights how important a shared aesthetic or art style is for a crossover event. On their own, the three artists are awesome and have proven consistently amazing sets, but when put together, the art collides and even the coloring can’t tie them together. Whether leaving a singular artist or more realistically due to the lineup, pairing artists with an aligned aesthetic or style would have helped create a more cohesive story. In place, Shadow War reads like a battle of the bands with multiple bands on stage at the same time, playing distinct genres of music.