Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2 Review

Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea

Ugh, this was a rough one. In all honesty, I thought I was reading some fan fiction off a random forum as opposed to a green lit, high profile event comic dealing with the aftermath of the death of Batman. Everything was just so over the top and lacked direction or consistency with anything that came before it. Almost like a child or overzealous fan going, "and then this and he'll have guns and then they fight and oh ya this guy did this and then he'll show up" and so on for every major plot point in the issue.

For those still wondering, the gun toting Batman is, indeed, Jason Todd. It never actually shows him with the mask off, but we do get his internal monologue throughout the issue, which was probably the only part of the issue I actually liked.

Speaking of gun toting, our new "Batman" does a lot of 90's extreme level killing in this issue. At least, I hope this is an attempt at a clever social commentary on 90's over the top extreme deaths and re-representations of characters. Unfortunately, I doubt there's any meta commentary intended here and we're supposed to be awed by how badass Todd is by killing random thugs and shooting everyone he sees.

If I had to pick the point where I realized this issue was going to be bad, it would have to be early on with the confrontation between Nightwing, Damian and Jason Todd. Todd easily takes it to both Nightwing and Damian. Damian goes so far as to get swatted away like some child that had no place tere and later stands flat footed and gets shot in the chest by Todd. Damian led the League of Assassins and took down Tim Drake without breaking a sweat. Yet, here, he's completely useless and a mere boy bunder to Dick's Nightwing.

Speaking of Tim Drake, he and Catwoman ended up at Todd's new batcave. While they're busy bungling around into traps like a couple of amateurs, Todd returns and, after a short fight, apparently kills Tim with a batarang plunged through his chest. Based on the final page, where half the oversized batarang is sticking out of his body, Tim is looking a lot like his father did back in Identity Crisis with the boomerang in his chest. I'm sure he'll somehow miraculously survive this, but based on the art, there's no way I can see how he lives after this.

Finally, the "gangwar", if you can call it that, between Black Mask, Two-Face and Penguin is overly simplistic and completely uninteresting. Black Mask is blowing up all of Gotham and there's not a single super hero (JLA? JSA? Anyone?) to be seen. Not even the National Guard or other government bodies are stepping in. And with how over the top this is, you can't help but wonder why the hell anyone in their right mind would want to live in Gotham.

As for the identity of Black Mask, no hints or clues given. My best guess is still Hush, who was solicited for this event, but mysteriously kicked out at the last minute. With a face like Bruce Wayne, he'd have reason to hide under the mask. Just not sure why he wouldn't stay as Hush with the bandages, but nothing else makes sense in this story, so why should Black Mask's identity?

Verdict - Avoid It. Series is confirmed as filler given to Daniel as a favour while DC awaits the return of Grant Morrison later this year.

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