Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1
From: DC Comics
Writer: Tony Daniel
Artist: Tony DanielPreview: here
With the disappearance of Batman, the streets of Gotham erupt in chaos for no discernable reason and not even an army of Batman’s best allies can handle the madness. Unfortunately for this title, the issue falls into the trap of the infallible Batman and his ability to maintain control of Gotham’s underground. I understand the streets of Gotham are a tough place, but does one individual really have that much impact on the city? Well, according to Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 the answer is yes.
I’ll give credit to Tony Daniel for trying very hard to juggle a lot of story elements as there are a lot of developments that take place throughout the issue. Yet, despite his best effort, the plot falls apart rather quickly as there is little cohesion to the events that are taking place. Events just seem to happen randomly with little more than a throwaway line as a set-up for the moment.
For instance, Arkham gets blown-up, yet conveniently at that time all the inmates are being moved due to a new paint job at the asylum; and let’s not forget the ultimate of all conveniences – they are being moved at night. I won’t even mention how some of the DCU’s most dangerous characters are shuttled in buses because that would just be crazy. It is this type of story telling that can really distract from what should be a tightly paced story with some elements of believability.
Regardless of the story developments that take place between the pages, the story is still built upon a paper-thin plot that requires the reader to spend far more time suspending their disbelief than enjoying the actual story. What characterization there is comes across as cumbersome and completely misses the point of the established premise for certain characters. Damien Wayne is probably the most obvious victim of this poor characterization.
Daniel’s characterization of Damien completely misses the mark on what Grant Morrison set-up in his just wrapped run – a run that was partly illustrated by Tony Daniel himself. I could understand if another creator came to the title and did not understand Morrison’s portrayal of Damien, but for Daniel not to realize he’s writing the character like a young Tim Drake rather than a hardened member of the League of Assassins just rubbed me the wrong way. What little characterization could be garnered from the quickly moving story felt off, and sometimes misplaced, and while the scene between Dick and Alfred was well-done, it does come across as a bit oddly placed considering the death and dismemberment that takes place throughout the issue.
Daniel’s art, though, is well-suited for the story, as he does a good job of capturing the action throughout. However, the distractions of the story had a tendency to mute to effective nature of the art. Daniel does emotion well, but the colors seem a bit dark and take away from the mood rather than enhancing it. Also, what is up with the Pigs? Are those masks or mutated people? It was a bit hard to tell. Adding to the strangeness of the issue, there is even a scene where a wannabe Batman is rendered eerily similar to an Image spawned character.
While Battle for the Cowl may not be to everyone’s taste, it does have some interesting moments, even if the story does read more-like an editorial mandate rather than a creative endeavor. I still believe DC is missing the point about one of their more popular characters, but like most people I am willing to give them an opportunity to prove me wrong. On the other hand, if this issue is any indication of what I have to look forward to over the next few months, call me unimpressed.