Batman: Battle for the Cowl
by Tony S. Daniel (DC Comics, 2009)

For those not in the know where the world of comics is concerned, DC Comics has (seemingly) killed off Batman/Bruce Wayne. A new hero's head is needed on which to hang the cowl, and that was (ostensibly) the point of DC Comics' three-issue miniseries, Batman: Battle for the Cowl. I wish I could say that the result lives up to the hype and promising premise.

In a story written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel, the character of Nightwing (who is also Dick Grayson, the first Robin) struggles with his hesitancy to take on the role of the "caped crusader," while a dark usurper mars the Dark Knight's legacy with murder and mayhem, rather than justice.

With a huge supporting cast of Bat-allies, both frequent and occasional, there are some interesting and fun moments for longtime fans of the material. Unfortunately, there is not much in the way of character development, other than a villain's sliding further down the slope of madness. And, for those who have been away from the Batman books for a long while, there will be some head-scratching and confusion over some of the characters, such as Bruce Wayne's son, Damien.

The most glaring criticism of this series has to be the fact that readers are left unsure of the identity of the new Batman. Turning to the last page, expecting a payoff, I was left with the feeling of having my pocket picked, instead. Boos and hisses for DC, the real villains.

The best feature of this story is the art. Clear, dynamic and based in realism, Daniel's style is a wonderful storytelling vehicle for what is, if not much else, an action-driven tale, and Sandu Florea's ink work is icing on the cake.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl is recommended for died-in-the-wool Batman fans who have been following the character for the last few years. It's not for young readers, due to violent and disturbing imagery.

review by
Mark Allen

18 July 2009

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