Writer/Pencils Tony Daniel
Inks Sandu Florea
Colors Ian Hannin
Price $4 - 30 Pages of Story and Art
My initial fear of what this book was going to be appears to be unjustified and perhaps I was a little tough on issue #1 of this book, because I enjoyed issue #2 quite a bit.
I have to admit that after some of DC’s editorial ideas, the Battle for the Cowl just sounded like it would be another Countdown Arena book or something else equally horrid, but instead Tony Daniel is winning me over with his writing and his art (which I have always liked).
The actual story was very straightforward and well done and touches on all the bases this story should touch on. We start off with Two Face thinking the Penguin is screwing with him and the Penguin wondering who is screwing with Two Face. The bad guys’ story line continues in the book as it progresses and we see that Black Mask has recruited some meta-humans and sends them to attack the police department. There is a great one page panel that shows Black Mask just raising his arms in triumphant at the top of a building as fires rage throughout Gotham. This is clearly letting us know a Gotham without Batman is a very dangerous place. I’m still wondering how Black Mask is alive, but that is a story for another day.
The bulk of the story is Dick Grayson versus Jason Todd versus Tim Drake. Not as a three way fight, part as the actual story line. The gun totting Batman (with the weird metal plate around his mouth) is of course Jason. Nightwing and Damian give chase and Jason actually shots Damian in the chest forcing Dick to take him to the Batcave for treatment. Dick is racked with guilt as he feels he let Damian down. Alfred lets Dick know he is the heir to what Batman represents better then anyone else. Dick laments that he tried to be Batman before and it didn’t take (nice nod to the Prodigal Son arc from years ago), but it appears obvious that he will have to put on the suit. The large panel of Dick shirtless standing on a rock in the cave was over the top drama, but overall the scene plays out naturally.
Meanwhile (Why did comics do away with that word?) Tim is dressed in the yellow circle Batman costume and tracks down Jason’s Batcave, we also see Selina has found Jason hideout. Tony did a great job of drawing Tim as Batman in these scenes, yet still obviously Tim in many panels, which I think is a hard job, but Tony pulled it off. The battle between Tim and Jason was excellent and Jason being his brutal self eventually wins, but leaves Tim in a bad way, setting up Dick versus Jason for the final round.
We are getting an actual Battle for the Cowl, but in a way that makes sense. Tony has done a very good job with getting the voices right for the characters and no one feels like they are acting outside their normal character, except Damian seems a little too tame and good in this series. I also did not get the feeling of any real story telling problems with the panel design and page layouts like I have occasionally with Tony’s work. All in all this was a great middle chapter as it advanced the story, had a lot of excitement inside the issue and set up the finale.
Overall Grade B – Batman’s coming back, but it won’t be Bruce. It has me really looking forward to the new Batman, long may he reign.