Woot!  Woot?  (chirp)


Rev up your excitement meter, because the biggest Bat event of the season is here, as anyone and everyone is stepping up to fill the boots of the man that saved Gotham City more times than that other guy.  Wow!  This is going to be the bestest thing in the world, right?  Yeah… about that…

cowl1cover.jpgWhile Battle for the Cowl could be DC’s biggest event of the Spring, it unfortunately falls flat from the very beginning.  It’s not that the reader already knows Batman isn’t dead, although that is part of it, but it has to do with how suddenly Gotham City has gone to crap following Batman’s “disappearance”.

One of the things (aaahhhhh… Matthewzptlk I’ll see you in 60 days…yes, that is an in joke for those who listen to the Major Spoilers Podcast) that keeps the ne’er-do-wells at bay isn’t that Batman is or isn’t there, but the thought that he might be watching, ready to pounce at any minute.  If anything, the simple act of turning on of the Bat-signal should be enough to frighten the superstitious and cowardly lot into thinking Gordon has summoned the Dark Knight.

There is also no mention of the events of Final Crisis, which should have caused the city to fall to crap, but then again, it seems Final Crisis is being bypassed at every chance.  Instead, Tony Daniel reveals the cause of all the chaos is a turf war brought on by Two-Face and Penguin, who are trying to gain control of the city (shades of Batman: No Man’s Land anyone?).  Granted, neither one of them appear in the issue, so we have to take the word of Robin, who narrates the entire issue.

To add a little fuel to the fire is the sudden reappearance of Black Mask who blows up Arkham Asylum, which has had the time to clean and repaint following the Black Glove’s shenanigans.  He is also able to free a horde of Batman’s rogues gallery (Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, hot girl who takes off her clothes on panel, guy who gets his face melted by Black Mask, Killer Moth, and anyone else who needs to be involved in this little story twist).  Black Mask has a very Task Force X method of controlling those who would rather rip his head off, but he does give them free reign to kill and maim however they see fit.

It sounds like a great set up to an epic story, which it very well may be, but considering how we got here, and how insane readers have been over the Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis debacle, I can’t help but feeling we’re seeing a train wreck in slow motion.

What’s good about the issue?  It contains nearly every Bat-Family member ever.  EVER!  Wanna see Wildcat bring a can of whoop-ass to a dandy fight?  It’s there.  Wanna see the Birds of Prey reunited cause it feels so good?  It’s there.  Wanna see Batwoman stand around showing her ass to the readers, simply because she can? It’s in there.  Batgirl making a single panel cameo?  Sure.  Knight and Squire?  There.  Riddler?  Bingo. Catwoman? Yup.  Damian Wayne?  Yeah, that punk is there, and Tony Daniel does the right thing by making him out to be less than heroic at the right time.  Azrael?  Perhaps.

The crux of the issue is not that Gotham City is falling apart.  It’s not that Dick continues to tell all the heroes involved that no one will replace Batman, but rather the mystery of the person who has donned the cape and cowl and is striking terror in the few pockets of Gotham City that haven’t been torn apart by Black Mask, Two-Face, and the Penguin’s little fight for control.  Since we never discovered what happened to Jean Paul Valley’s body, and since the impostor Batman is as hardcore as Az-Bats, and since no one ever stays dead in the DCU – my money is on the blonde haired crime fighter. It’s either him or someone from the Order of Saint Dumas, as there was a panel or two from another Bat-title that featured the Order.

Update:  I just read the most recent Previews that does confirm Jason Todd as the gun totting Batman.  My bad for not paying attention to tiny details.

For the most part Tony Daniel’s writing is good; the story moves at a fast pace, and while the major reveals ask the reader to suspend disbelief, Daniel is able to work with what he has given, as there’s only so much you can cram into a 22-page issue.  Sandu Florea also steps up to the plate to deliver art that is good, as he is also able to cram a heck of a lot of action into the limited space.

Will Battle for the Cowl end in a way that gets readers excited about Batman again?  I hope so, but realistically it is nothing more than the a way station on the journey to the six to eight new titles being dumped in readers’ laps in the coming months.  I’m giving points to Daniel and Florea for handling the story as best they can, but it’s the overall forced nature of the story that has me giving this issue 2.5 out of 5 Stars.


The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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  1. Jerardo Way
    March 16, 2009 at 12:23 am — Reply

    Wow i can’t disagree with you more i really loved this issue the art and story were great(To Each His Own I Guess) I also loved grants run on batman it really pisses me off when people automatcily discredits any thing i say once i tell them. Cant wait for his run on the new Batman and robin book any way much love hopefully you can continue to review Batman books without taking jabs at Grant Morrison in the future(i know that’s like asking marvel to stop using wolivering for one month) and please don’t call me a Morrison lover after reading RIP i bought everything and i mean everything he ever put out From WE3 to X-Men and i want my money back i do not know how this became a grant morrison rant and sorry for my bad grammar

  2. Crash
    March 16, 2009 at 5:07 am — Reply

    This is probably the umpteenth time I’ve now heard someone say they think Jean Paul Valley is the new Batman in Gotham but I just don’t see it. Azrael has his own miniseries running next to Battle for the cowl and with that hoping to appease the Azrael fans why would they go so far as to also resurrect Jean Paul? Seems a bit of overkill for me.
    Personally I think it’s probably as simple as either Jason Todd or even Thomas Elliot with some sort of ulterior motive. Of course I could be totally off. Plus the Batman with he guns at the end I don’t see that being anyone else but Jason Todd.

  3. March 16, 2009 at 5:28 am — Reply

    I try not to admit it most of the time, but Batman just needs a damn reboot already.

  4. crood
    March 16, 2009 at 8:00 am — Reply

    Gee, let’s let all the crazies out of Arkham. I’ve never seen that plan before. Can they just start sending Bat villains off to the same nebulous containment facility other villains go to? At least those breakouts are only one at a time. Even for a comic book, Arkhham’s security has become such a joke that any willing suspension of disbelief that they’d keep sending people there was lost a long time ago.

  5. Lifeisaglitch
    March 16, 2009 at 8:21 am — Reply


    Yeah and why havent anybody ever filled the batsignal with C4 and camped down on a nearby rooftop with the detonator and a binocular. Il tell ya its because…

  6. March 16, 2009 at 8:54 am — Reply

    Crash: Isn’t that part of the “fun” of the mystery – trying to figure out what DC is thinking, I mean, trying to guess who’s under the mask? That new Batman could also be the third brain washed cop still rampaging through the series.

  7. Brother129
    March 16, 2009 at 9:31 am — Reply

    I think I will forever dub comic events like these the “Brand New Day Effect”. You have an interesting premise by the way of a convoluted/controversial storyline. All of the Bat-Writers have to make the best of Grant Morrison’s and Dan DiDio’s crap sandwhich.

  8. March 16, 2009 at 9:31 am — Reply

    Amen Brother…and Daniel is able to do what he can with what he is given, hence the rating.

  9. Ricco
    March 16, 2009 at 10:24 am — Reply

    First, the art was gorgeous.

    Second, the Batman with guns is Jason Todd, remember the “I am Batman” buttons? (which they put in every other panel by the way, we get it: you are Batman) They had 4: Jason Todd, Two-Face, Hush and Nightwing. Of those 4 only one has mix martial arts trainning, access to bat weapons and uses guns, so Armored Bat is most likely Jason Todd. Hush would never risk life and limb to honor Bruce’s legacy, he’ll probably be used by the Ghuls to keep the illusion that Bruce Wayne is alive and protect the identity of Batman. Speaking of identity, everyone and their cousin knows that Casandra Cain is Batgirl and Bruce ressently adopted her, how come no one put two-and-two together?

    My guess is that Bruce’s message at the end of Robin 183 told Jason to become an antogonist so either Tim or Dick will pick up his mantle.

    I hate the fact that Oracle and the Birds of Prey are back together, didn’t they split up only a month ago? And how can Oracle use computers when Caculator can hack any computer she gets close to and kill her?

    P.S.- I don’t know tons about Damian, but last time I saw him in the “Resurrection of Rhas Al Ghul” he wasn’t a coward, has he always been this weak?

    • March 16, 2009 at 10:46 am — Reply

      Ricco: I will be the first to admit I am wrong if this is Jason Todd, and it appears more and more I may be in error about the identity of the red goggle Batman. And I agree the art is good, especially since so much is crammed into such a small space.

  10. BigEZ
    March 16, 2009 at 10:40 am — Reply

    I thought it was already spilled by someone at DC that Jason Todd would be running around as a gun toting Batman. I think it might’ve been a Tony Daniel interview. Myabe I was wrong but I could’ve sworn I had heard that.

    • March 16, 2009 at 10:44 am — Reply

      BigEZ: you may be right, it would make sense of course, but it seemed in recent appearances Todd had toned down his violent behavior to some degree.

  11. Ricco
    March 16, 2009 at 4:13 pm — Reply

    Stephen: there is also the part about Azrael comming back from the dead and wearing the suit of sorrows, his comming back is mystical and his suit is also magic and magic types don’t use guns but rather swords. Hence why I think the mystery killer in Gotham Gazette is likely to be Azrael.

    It’s weird in Gazette they say Two-Face and Johnny Stitches are fighting over turf, not Penguin.

  12. Ricco
    March 16, 2009 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    The first guy to make an “F’Continuity” shirt is gonna make a killing ;-)

  13. RichT
    March 16, 2009 at 10:00 pm — Reply

    DC previews for May gave it away that it is Jason running around with the guns. And the Preview for the Azreal Mini over on IGN gives it away that it was Azrael and his sword that commited the Murder in GG:Batman Dead. I was put off by the difference in who was having a turf war but must admit that I missed it on my first reading. I just put it in there that it was Sitches and not Penguin. All in all I liked what Tony did in the book. To me the art was an improvement over Tony’s RIP work.

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