Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Batman: Battle for The Cowl #1 - A Review

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 (of 3)
Publisher DC Comics
Writer and Pencils Tony Daniel
Inker Sandu Florea
Colors Ian Hannin

After all my anticipation and dread I finally got to read the first part of the three part Battle for the Cowl. It lived up to both sides of my expectations.

The basic storyline is that Gotham is going to hell since the bad guys have recognized that Batman is no longer around. The police are overworked and ready to quit. Two Face and Penguin are squaring off the try and control the mobs. Black Mask (who was dead) shows up and frees a bunch of the rogue’s gallery and ensures their loyalty by having a device implanted in them that can kill them at Black Mask’s command. The dark side of Gotham has risen up and taken control.

In the midst of this Nightwing has called in lots of friends as he tries to take command back of the city. Robin, the Squire, Black Canary, Batwoman, Oracle, Wildcat, Batgirl and more are trying to keep a lid on the spreading crime wave. Nothing seems to be stemming the tide and the city is going to go under if something is not done.

Tim and Alfred both know that a Batman is needed, but Dick refuses to take the mantle and states that there was only one Bruce Wayne and he is gone. Alfred reminds Dick that just because Bruce is gone, Batman does not have to be.

The story progresses and we see that someone is taking the mantle of the Bat and is going around leaving tons of clues as to who their identity. Tim decides the heck with waiting for Dick and dons a Batman costume. The end game for issue #1 is Dick gets caught by crooks when he goes out to save Damien and right before he is shot an armored and guns blazing Batman shows up (who I have to assume is Jason Todd).

It all seems to be leading up to Dick being forced to become Batman and if that is the end result I can live with this series.

The artwork is very good. I think Tony Daniel is an excellent pencil artist, I think that at times his story telling technique leaves something lacking. Specifically on page three when Robin is being shot the flow of action to get to that scene just did not work for me. Nothing major is wrong, but every once in a while I have to work too hard or Tony makes me think about the layouts as opposed to just following the story.

As for his writing, that is harder to judge. I think he does a good job with the voices of Nightwing, Robin and Alfred and I was not bothered by dialogue from other characters like I get when reading a Bendis book. By the actual story is a little weak and I have to think he was told what the story was and then had to execute against it, so I believe my problems with the plot may not be 100% Tony’s fault.

What I’m having a problem with is the whole Gotham city going totally crazy just because Batman is not around. The reaction is too extreme. Crime should be rising, but the city should not be falling into total anarchy. Also the “friends” that Dick calls in to help are all on the low end of the power scale and you have to wonder if friends are going to be called in, at least put a footnote as to why Superman did not show up.

Overall Grade C. – At least the set-up has been better then I thought it would be and the good news this will only be three issues. If Nightwing ends up as Batman I can live with this.


  1. Personally, I think there is a clear explanation to Gotham's riots in the other issues.

    As you can see in the other Last Rites series and the aftermath issues, "Anarchy" ruined a lot of the city. Jason Todd obviously brought the gangs up thinking they are the "top dogs." And the arrest of the two crooked cops got a lot of the citizens riled up in Gotham. So, I think there is sufficient explanation, so long as you read the previous issues. Besides that, I'm sure there are things I've forgotten that helped fuel the fire in Gotham.

  2. In my opinion the story so far is very good,fun, and excited to read. I'll answer your quistion about why haven't Superman, or the rest of the big heroes aren't around.

    Superman is dealing with new Krypton, and Zod having power over new Krypton. Barry Allen is back and Wally West is still the Flash, until things are figured out between the 2 characters. The Green Lantern Corp are dealing with alot of problems that will lead into another big storyline called Blackest Night. as for Wonder Woman she has her own major problems going on.

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  4. Eddie - I guess the stuff from Robin explains the anarchy in the streets, it just seems to be almost too much. Batman (IMO) should not be such a force in Gotham. DC is making just his presence to be too much of a controlling force.

    bosox1 - I only wanted a footnote for Superman. There is a logic breakdown if it is not mentioned. In Tomasi's run on Nightwing he was using the rest of the DCU in a very natural fashion and this was obviously more of a pick and choose thing.

  5. See, this is why I follow writers more than characters and stories. A good writer will give me a good story most of the time. A good character can be taken down myriad blind alleys by a bad or mediocre writer. And a particular story line, like Battle for the Cowl, Civil War, or Dark Reign, is just an artificial construct with no intrinsic worth. If there's a good writer for a character or story, like Johns or Morrison, then I'll buy in, but I'm sure not buying in just because it's an artificial major moment or a particular character. I got over that sort of thing when I got out of my teen years.

  6. Thomm - That is the better way to go, because ultimately the writer is what should be driving the story, but I'm still a sucker for certain things, especially if it involves Batman, who is my favorite character.

    Take a new book from IDW this week the Life and Times of Savior 28, if JM DeMatteis was not listed as the writer I would not be trying that book out, which had a decent first issue, some flaws, but still enough to bring me back next issue.

  7. I looked at Savior 28 at the store but in the end didn't pick it up. Letting you take the risk and if it's any good I'll get it next week.

  8. Btw. Apparently this Black Mask is a brand new Black Mask all together. And there is new anarky that is shown in the last issue of Robin, is this the anarky that caused all the major disaster?