Why canâ€™t they stay dead, again?
Things are heating up under that tight leather and mask everyone seems to be wearing in Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2.Â The Wheel of Destiny is spinning and someone is bound to walk away with the title of Batman.Â With a lot of animosity between the Wayne underlings, someoneâ€™s gonna get it right in the chest… perhaps even two somebodies. Yes, there are some spoilers ahead, but you’ll have to pick them out from my rantings.
After the Blackest Night storyline, everyone at DC needs to sit down and have a long discussion about death.Â And more importantly, why the company needs to make the decision that the next time characters bite the big one, they stay dead – forever.Â Now that doesnâ€™t mean time travel, flashback stories and the like canâ€™t be told, but if DC decides to kill someone on panel, that person, or being, is gone for good; never to be heard from again. If DC (or any company) wants to create edgy, dark stories that are ripped from the headlines, or whatever nonsense the story is borrowed from, then characters just canâ€™t die and then return in a couple of months.Â It takes away from the seriousness of the story, and makes the company look like a liar and a joke when The Leader proclaims this is the end, as readers are wise to these cash grab moves. Be it Jason Todd, Black Mask, or Batman, from now on DC, if you kill someone keep them dead.Â I donâ€™t want to see anymore dead people coming back to life thanks to some miraculous Tom Welling Prime Punch – KRAK-A-DOOOOOM!
That being said, there have been some very good swerves as of late, including the â€œdeathâ€ of Stephanie Brown, that make sense in hind-sight and brings the feeling of afternoon soap opera to the storytelling.Â However, if a character is shot point blank in the face by Catwoman, he shouldnâ€™t be walking around terrorizing Gotham City.Â That is unless Black Mask, really isnâ€™t Black Mask…hmmmm.Â But come on, this is DC weâ€™re talking about, and any chance to resurrect a character to force a story plot point seems to be the preferred method as of late.Â Â Â Likewise, the return of Jason Todd never sat well with me, and to see him going all gangsta on Gotham, killing and shooting willy-nilly with the intent on making people fear Batman again, cheapens that whole 1988 event.
On the plus side, Jasonâ€™s justification for killing does make sense. Batman had almost become that happy Silver Aged hero that walks openly in the sunlight ready to whip out a Bat-popsicle for the crying child.Â Thatâ€™s a bit of an exaggeration, but criminals have figured out Batman isnâ€™t going to kill, so the threat of death removes the fear from the criminal, thus creating the problems Gotham City currently faces.Â With jAzbats killing here and there, it does reinstate that fear, and thus makes Batman a more imposing figure for the superstitious and cowardly lot that shuffle through the underground of Gotham.
Which brings up another gripe – the concept of destroying Gotham City is getting quite old.Â It was a great story telling tool for the earthquake arc, but how many more times will the city burn to the ground before no one returns to live there? I think inhabitants of the DCU would be more comfortable moving back to Coast City, than sticking around in Gotham.
However, because readers of the series have no control over continuity (t-shirts for sale!), we have to work with the cards we are dealt, and to see Tim and Dick attempting to take down Jason does make for some tense moments.Â I like the aspect of the rouge hero going to extremes and stepping over the line, forcing his teammates to stop his rampage.Â I like the spirit of the fight that is present, and Iâ€™ll play along a while longer, especially when Jasonâ€™s actions serve as a means for Dick to finally admit he may have to become Batman.
Those actions by Jason include shooting Damian Wayne clean in the chest – a mortal wound for most, but thanks to field dressing training, it looks like the little bugger is going to pull through.Â Kudos go to Tony Daniel for attempting to rid the DCU of the worst new character of the decade. Although it is an interesting juxtaposition that the most hated Batman character of the 1980s tried to kill the most hated Batman character of the 2000s, the shooting and then recovery is just not believable in the bigger picture.
The same is true for the ending of the issue, where a character featured prominently on the cover (hint, heâ€™s in the middle), gets a batarang through the chest.Â It does come as a bit of surprise, but should readers be worried?Â Hell, no.Â If the bastard son can escape a mortal gunshot wound, then thereâ€™s no sleep lost on worrying if the hero bites it or not.Â Â Â DC could of course prove me wrong by next issue, which means this character will certainly return during Blackest Night, but seriously, by the end of the day, the return to the status quo is all that matters.
Without a change in the status quo, characters canâ€™t grow and develop, and writers arenâ€™t pushed to find new ways of telling their stories.Â And that hurts the franchise in the long run.
Unfortunately, there are also some jarring jumps in action from location and characters, which throw the pacing of the story off.Â Suddenly, the better than average paced story from the first issue has devolved into a series of burning buildings, explosions and fight scenes that by themselves work in a Michael Bay film, but donâ€™t fit in telling a good edge of your seat story.Â It feels like pages were removed from the story late in the game to satisfy the bean counterâ€™s page counts, and to ensure the seven page Power Girl preview story could fit in.Â Still, 30 pages of â€œBatmanâ€ and seven pages of Power Girl does make it easier to swallow the $3.99 cover price.
Battle for the Cowl continues the fast paced cage match infighting between the good guys and bad guys, but this series feels a lot like those realistic wrestling matches on the boob tube with the mantle of the Bat the grand prize.Â Iâ€™m giving points for lots of popcorn action, fantastic art by Sandu Florea, and Black Masking playing all the sides against each other, but deducting points for everything else, which earns Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2 3 out of 5 Stars, which is a slight step up from the first issue.Â I donâ€™t hate this issue at all, it just isnâ€™t living up to some of the better Batman event stories Iâ€™ve read over the last 20 years.