Comic: "Batman: Battle For The Cowl #1"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Tony Daniel
Artist: Tony Daniel
Plot: Batman is crazy, or dead, or on another planet, or back in time hanging out in a cave with crazy cavemen, or all of the above, and despite the fact that about three dozen other costumed vigilantes currently operate in Gotham City, WITHOUT BATMAN THE WHOLE PLACE IS FALLING APART! Someone has to take on the mantle of the Bat. Dick Grayson doesn't feel like anyone should take it, Robin is too much of a pussy, Batwoman and Huntress have boobs, and Batman's son Damian is a seriously strong argument for abortion. And yet, a mysterious new Batman has appeared in Gotham, and Nightwing aims to find out who it is so he can beat him like a stepchild.
Review: For a book with this kind of premise, promoted as it has been, and featuring a cover that suggests the possibility of an all-out brawl between various heroic characters vying to take Batman's place (Wildcat?? Seriously? What the fuck is Wildcat doing on this cover? He's not even in the book! Why would he want to be Batman anyway? He already has a poorly chosen animal avatar), it was actually surprisingly... good?
I had naturally expected the typical heroes-can't-come-to-an-understanding-so-they-must-come-to-blows scenario and was pleased (and shocked) to find nothing of the sort here. Instead, as befitting a Batman book, the characters are puzzling over the mystery of just who the new Batman is and just how and why he was able to step into the role without anyone else's knowledge. All while dealing with a serious increase in crime that this rather large assembly of heroes can BARELY CONTAIN!
Penguin and Two-Face are involved in a turf war and all the major crime bosses have picked a side. Meanwhile Black Mask has busted out all of the freakish villains from Arkham, completely destroying it in the process (anyone want to take bets on how long it will be gone?) and forcing them to work under him by sticking radio activated (not radioactive, silly) DEATH IMPLANTS into their bodies. Silly, I know, but have you read a comic book before?
The whole thing was shockingly entertaining and far from the laugh riot I was expecting, but I'm okay with that. I'd much rather have Batman back than all this nonsense, but if DC are committed (and they should be committed for having "killed" Batman) to being without Batman for a while, things could certainly be far worse than this. I'm actually interested in following this story just to find out who the mysterious new Batman is (and there appear to now be two--as in Batmen).
Tony Daniel does a fine job on pencils as one might expect, but given that he wrote the thing as well I guess it's easy to see how it overshot my expectations. This book certainly isn't going to make any new fans, and if you haven't been following Batman for the last year you probably won't care, but for those of us dreading the worst out of this whole "disappearing Batman" nonsense, I'm pleased to report that it doesn't suck. That doesn't sound like high praise, I know, but if you'd heard Dan Didio talking about this thing the past several months you would have expected the cheesiest three-issue free-for-all that they could deliver. Thankfully, this is not that.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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