The very first one-shot crossover had the talents of Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane. I made a separate post detailing my thoughts on that. Now, neither one of them actually worked on this second crossover. But that doesn’t mean they have fallen short on talent. Klaus Janson serves as the artist for this one-shot, and he does a solid job. The artwork is similar to a number of titles that had similar styles during the 90s, but it is still done well. However, the real eye-catching talent are the writers. Three men worked on this one - Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, & Doug Moench. There are a lot of accomplishments between all three of these writers. Collectively speaking, they are responsible for characters like Bane, Stephanie Brown, Anarky, Victor Zsasz, Black Mask and even Moon Knight over at Marvel. As for storylines & titles, they have - collectively speaking - contributed to Knightfall, the crossover with Judge Dredd called “Judgement on Gotham”, several Robin mini-series which lead to an ongoing, an ongoing for Nightwing and the Birds of Prey title. All of these writers have made massive contributions to the Batman mythos during the 90s. So now it is time to see how they were used for the second meeting with Image’s Hellspawn.
The story this time around involves investigating mysterious things centered around a building in Gotham. And the things going around connect to the event that resulted in Roanoke Colony vanishing centuries ago with the only clue being the carved word “Croatoan”. Truth be told, despite the attempt to connect the crossover’s story to this mysterious real life event, nothing new is really done with this story. Al Simmons comes to Gotham as Batman is doing his investigation in the tower at the center of the story. A brief fight during their initial contact but then they team up. But I’ll point out that this crossover has absolutely no connection to the Frank Miller crossover. It makes sense for both stories to remain out of continuity for Batman and for them to stand separate. It helps make sure that this particular crossover can be read on it’s own for anyone to pick up. But it is admittedly hard to keep track of how it connects to Spawn’s continuity. His comics never explicitly reference this crossover’s events nor does this one shot make any reference to the Frank Miller one shot. But that previous one shot does have a long lasting effect on Spawn via the face scar. So it is a bit hard to understand how that can be technically canon to Spawn while this one doesn’t.
However, all of that is admittedly nit-picking. As mentioned, nothing new is really done in this crossover. But it is a story that is still done well. Batman feels more like himself in this outing. We see him employ more stealth and detective skills. And the story does a decent job at including Al and focusing on his inner conflict that can be seen in his own stories. It shows that the people working on this have a solid, if basic, understanding of who he is. But I can’t really blame them for not trying to do more with him. He was still a pretty new character at the time this one shot came out. To do anything significantly more than what they did do would be tricky to pull off in a way that would satisfy those that were already big Spawn fans at the time.
If you read my thoughts on the Frank Miller crossover, you know I wasn’t that into how it was handled. Compared to that first crossover, this one is a massive improvement. On it’s own, it’s still a decent story. But it also isn’t really taking any huge risks with either of the title characters. It will be interesting to see how the third one-shot might improve on what has worked in this one. But this second crossover is still worth checking out in the meantime.