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The action between the lords of the Gotham underground has heated up to the point where villains are taking down villains, buildings are blowing up left and right, and the… what?  You don’t remember seeing much, if any, of that action in the pages of Batman: Battle for the Cowl?

BFTC_Cv3.jpgIf you only read the three issues of Battle for the Cowl, in hopes of understanding what is going on, I hope you went in knowing that the story was going to be all chopped up with little in the way of big picture exposition.

The biggest and best implication of Battle for the Cowl is that Jason Todd could be the gun-totting Batman, and the new Black Mask.  The shadowed figure sitting in a chair, wearing the Jason’s trademark garb was a pretty big clue, but having him spout out Black Mask’s name during his fight with Dick, even after Dick started the issue saying no one knew who was blowing up Gotham real good, seemed to be the revealing clue.   But knowing the writer’s whim, and DC editorial swing whichever way it wants these days, the Black Mask answer could still be up in the air.  After all, Jason did fall over the falls just like Sherlock Holmes (and the Joker, in Morrison’s last RIP issue).

One thing is for certain, by the end of this issue, we all know Dick Grayson is the new Batman… for now.  Even if DC jumped up and down screaming in our faces saying the ending wouldn’t be the ending we expected.  Really DC?  Really?  I think following this stunt, and the three stunts before this, readers are wise to the bull, meaning the company is really going to have to try harder to get back into our good graces.

It would be nice if DC pulled a Marvel by finally elevating Dick/Bucky to top of the hero list for longer than 24 issues.  The current change just seems so empty because we know Bruce Wayne is alive.  And this is the real problem with everything going on in the DC Universe right now.  When we know death is not permanent, that those that die will be back within a three year time-period, why should the reader care about the characters any longer?

For Batman, we’ve already been through the battle for the mantle in Knight Fall, which turned out to be a better story in retrospect.  Unless DC grows a pair, and keeps Bruce in the coffin for the next thirty years, Dick’s time as Batman is short lived, and it seems we all know it.  When Barry Allen died, readers had a chance to see Wally grow and become a very unique Flash.  If we don’t get thirty years – heck even five years would be interesting – of Dick as Batman, it will all be a waste of the reader/fan’s time, as comic publishers continue to scramble to snatch as much of the pie as possible with these get rich quick schemes.

Was it a surprise that Dick is now Batman?  Nope.

With Jason Todd out of the picture, and Damien wearing the new Robin costume, is it still a surprise who is appearing soon in the pages of Red Robin?  Nope.

Do we even care any more?

To be honest, I want to.  I really want Batman, Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Detective Comics, Gotham City Sirens, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman Confidential, and the hundreds of other Batman titles to be really good again.  I really want these series to succeed (even the grant morrison one).  I want these titles to be the top twenty titles on the Diamond sales list each month.  Why aren’t they?   And what needs to change to make that happen?  Here’s hoping the answer can be found in the next four months.

I really don’t think Tony Daniel is to blame for this mess.  He did give readers explosions, and big fight scenes, as we got to see Gotham fall… again.  Battle for the Cowl a predictable story; one that seems to have been cobbled together from all the big Batman events from the last twenty years.  On the other hand, Tony’s art was pretty good.  There were times when his art styles almost had me thinking I was looking at early Jim Lee work.

Sans Black Mask twist/reveal, Battle for the Cowl #3 was really anticlimactic as far as major events go, earning 2 out of 5 Stars.  A whole lotta predictable wrapped up in a shiny wrapper being pitched as new and Earth shattering… again.

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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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20 Comments

  1. Ricco
    May 25, 2009 at 4:17 pm — Reply

    The word “meh” sums up my feeling for this, RIP and anything related…

  2. steviecool
    May 25, 2009 at 5:40 pm — Reply

    I wanted to like this miniseries. Wanted to. Sigh.

  3. Ricco
    May 25, 2009 at 6:01 pm — Reply

    The first comic gave me the feeling of an ideologic fight between Jason and Dick/Tim on how far the new Batman will have to go to restablish “peace” in Gotham.

    I expected an awkward cooperation between Gun-Bat, Tim-Bat and Nightwing. Instead they went for a literal fight, with Tim as the Joker about to hit Jason with a crowbar no less!

  4. Brother129
    May 25, 2009 at 6:49 pm — Reply

    I’m still thoroughly confused….who is Black Mask and how do we know?

  5. andy
    May 26, 2009 at 12:01 am — Reply

    I don’t think Jason is the Black Mask, but I agree that the new Black Mask’s identity was unfortunately the only intriguing part of this series. I really wanted this to be good, I really did, but everything was just so predictable. I’ve been patiently waiting for DC to bless us with another great Batman story –another Year One or Dark Knight Returns or Long Halloween — and here was a great chance to do that. But alas…

  6. May 26, 2009 at 12:57 am — Reply

    I completely agree with you, Stephen, I really wanted this series to do well. I really want Batman to do well. I want DC to do well. However, they just keep on shooting themselves in the foot. Shut up instead of publicizing something that we know you’re lying about… there’s more mystery involved that way. Sure, the reboot of the Bat-verse has a lot of opportunity especially with the Red Robin series, but I feel like Bruce will be back within the next couple years and DC will lose out on another great opportunity opened for them.

  7. duckface
    May 26, 2009 at 1:46 am — Reply

    I don’t think there ever was a chance that this series would be good. I bought it for completion’s sake, but statements made by Morrison indicate RIP was all the lead-in needed for Batman & Robin. DC obviously wanted to cash in on the death buzz, make some money off of 3 months of a inactive franchise, or, at best, provide readers with some background for the other Bat books (Batman, Detective etc).

    The only thing that disappoints me is that they STILL have yet to admit that it is Dick, by playing that little trick at the end. This pisses me off for two reasons: a) if it IS Dick, don’t treat us as if we’re idiots, and b) if it isn’t, which is VERY UNLIKELY, I will be very angry.

  8. May 26, 2009 at 10:13 am — Reply

    To be perfectly honest, this a terrible review. 90% of it deals with the reviewers opinions about Batman RIP and not this actual issue of Battle for the Cowl #3. Was the issue paced well? How was the storytelling? Was the characterization good or bad? We have no idea as to what the reviewers opinions about these are, because no opinions were given.

    • May 26, 2009 at 10:50 am — Reply

      You might want to read that again, as I only mentioned RIP in passing as it relates directly to how Jason Todd bites it in this issue. :D

  9. May 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm — Reply

    Okay, I read it again. What does all of this…

    “Even if DC jumped up and down screaming in our faces saying the ending wouldn’t be the ending we expected. Really DC? Really? I think following this stunt, and the three stunts before this, readers are wise to the bull, meaning the company is really going to have to try harder to get back into our good graces.

    It would be nice if DC pulled a Marvel by finally elevating Dick/Bucky to top of the hero list for longer than 24 issues. The current change just seems so empty because we know Bruce Wayne is alive. And this is the real problem with everything going on in the DC Universe right now. When we know death is not permanent, that those that die will be back within a three year time-period, why should the reader care about the characters any longer?

    For Batman, we’ve already been through the battle for the mantle in Knight Fall, which turned out to be a better story in retrospect. Unless DC grows a pair, and keeps Bruce in the coffin for the next thirty years, Dick’s time as Batman is short lived, and it seems we all know it. When Barry Allen died, readers had a chance to see Wally grow and become a very unique Flash. If we don’t get thirty years – heck even five years would be interesting – of Dick as Batman, it will all be a waste of the reader/fan’s time, as comic publishers continue to scramble to snatch as much of the pie as possible with these get rich quick schemes.

    To be honest, I want to. I really want Batman, Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Detective Comics, Gotham City Sirens, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Batman Confidential, and the hundreds of other Batman titles to be really good again. I really want these series to succeed (even the grant morrison one). I want these titles to be the top twenty titles on the Diamond sales list each month. Why aren’t they? And what needs to change to make that happen? Here’s hoping the answer can be found in the next four months.”

    …have to do with the actual issue at hand? It tells me nothing of how Tony Daniel wrote or drew the issue. I mean seriously, you had exactly TWO sentences dealing with the art.

    I know you want to defend your review, but just face facts. It’s a bad one.

  10. Dave
    May 26, 2009 at 4:38 pm — Reply

    Uh, Josh…I have a Master’s degree, and I don’t see what you see.

  11. May 26, 2009 at 5:50 pm — Reply

    Okay, I’ll make it simple and break out the sock puppets.

    The bulk of the review talks about the Batman titles in general and how dead isn’t dead in comics and something about Wally West and Captain America and here’s a list of new Batman books coming out soon and DC has no balls and Bruce Wayne should stay dead and here’s something about the state of comics and oh, yeah, Tony Daniel’s art looked nice.

    It’s like one long tangent with some actual review thrown on at the end as more or less an afterthought. I mean, this is supposed to be a comic book review, and there’s literally no mention about if the dialogue was good or bad, or if the characterization was good or bad, or if Daniel juggled the large cast well. It’s just a badly written review.

  12. Ricco
    May 26, 2009 at 5:55 pm — Reply

    @Josh: To quote Mr. Mackey from South Park: “Drugs are bad, M’kay”
    Of course Batman RIP is used in this review, this craptacular series was sold as a “conclusion” to RIP , conclusion my foot, it doesn’t even have an actual ending.

    Unless you haven’t noticed this isn’t an English literary debate forum, it’s a comic book forum and 99.99% of people come to read the reviews here because they WANT to know Matthew and Stephen’s opinion on comics and not some insipid academic analysis of every panel.

  13. May 26, 2009 at 9:05 pm — Reply

    @ Ricco

    I wouldn’t want to read an insipid analysis of every panel either. Still, I don’t think it’s out of the question to expect a mention about characterization, storytelling, etc., in a review. These are the foundations of the medium. Imagine a review for The Dark Knight that spent 90% of it’s time dwelling on the Bat-franchise as a whole and ending with, “Oh and that Heath Ledger fellow was pretty good, too.” That’d be a pretty awful review.

    This is a silly debate anyway. Likely, it stems from my ongoing frustration with the lack of actual, professional journalism within the comics industry. It’s hard to take it with a grain a salt sometimes when it’s an industry that I personally have a lot vested in.

  14. Brother129
    May 26, 2009 at 9:22 pm — Reply

    All this post needs now is Cory to show up…

  15. Dave
    May 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm — Reply

    Josh, not only do I have a Master’s degree…I’m a former journalist. Trust me, buckaroo, a lack of professional journalism is a problem in far more areas than the comics industry. Sounds like you have the seed sprouting for a blog of your own.

  16. May 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm — Reply

    Josh, like we told Cory; everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you didn’t like my review, fine be me…

  17. May 27, 2009 at 10:30 am — Reply

    @ Dave

    Clearly, a lack of professional journalism is something a great many industries deal with. Since the topic at hand deals with just one industry–comics–I chose to voice my frustrations with that. I specifically mentioned that the comics industry is something that I have a vested interest in. And being that you have a Master’s degree (congrats, by the way), I’m sure you can understand my reasons for being especially frustrated with the lack of journalistic integrity in this industry, while still recognizing the lack of journalistic intergrity in other industries. I actually am capable of recognizing things like that. Are you not?

  18. Dave
    May 27, 2009 at 6:59 pm — Reply

    Josh…I didn’t say what I said to be a dick. If you took it that way, I’m sorry.

  19. May 27, 2009 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    Josh’s perspective is as valid as anyone else’s, and you both make good points.

    I should like to state that I don’t speak for Stephen, but I think of what we do as less journalism and more gentle critique and analysis. Either way, the review is honest in what it conveys, I think the question is more of what a review SHOULD convey from a specific perspective. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

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