Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 Review

Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel and Sandu Florea

I really don't know how to go about reviewing this. It's a badddddd comic. Probably one of the worst comics I've ever read in terms of craftsmanship. To paraphrase another would-be Batman, it's "f***ing amateur".

Take a Countdown-like comic or even a writer you can't stand (Jeph Loeb for me) and you can see that they, at least, are capable of writing the story. There's the basic plot, you can see the execution and, usually, a logical flow of storytelling. There's none of that here or in the entire series, for that matter, and it's very hard to describe the exact points where you can see it without actually having you read it.

One easy thing to note is the lack of research, such as having great white sharks in a canal in the north Atlantic that would, at best, maybe see a small blue shark or other smaller shark species, just to have a scene with Two-Face throwing a guy into the water to get eaten. Another is the military operating on US soil and taking over a domestic area instead of a National Guard-like organization. This isn't disaster relief military use, but an overt attack against freaking Two-Face and the Penquin. You don't have blackhawks and squads of soldiers taking over for the police and attacking in a city like this and anyone with half a brain would realize this.

While those two simple examples probably seem like nitpicking, there are numerous little things like this that are just plain wrong throughout the issue and series on the whole. This doesn't even touch on the complete lack of any kind of plot or resolution to anything brought up. What little is there doesn't even make sense in context of any other appearance by the characters.

Take the two "deaths" from last issue for Tim Drake and Damian Wayne. Damian was shot in the chest and bleeding out, but obviously going to be rescued with Nightwing taking him back to Alfred for surgery. He's up and about with most of the damage explained away as the kevlar in his suit stopping most of the bullet damage and has his timid, cowering personality replaced with some "badass" version, which is still completley off compared to how Grant Morrison portrayed him.

Tim, on the otherhand, had a, based on the drawing, two meter long batarang stabbed into his chest with a huge splashpage cliffhanger to explain away and the reasoning used? The batarang shattered on the kevlar in Tim's costume and barely even nicked him. He only passed out due to some subconscious blood clotting technique Bruce taught him, but is still relatively whoozy from the attack.

As for Black Mask, who played a huge part in the opening two arcs, he shows up on one panel in shadows with his mask off and some books on the floor patting himself on the back and is never heard or seen from again. Looks like Hush for those wondering, but no explaination for his actions is given and there's no follow up or conclusion or reasoning to it either. Daniel just wanted to draw stuff blowing up.

Finally, the whole battle for the cowl amounts to what looked eerily similar to the end of Knightfall with the scene changes and spillover into public and even with former Robins being maimed before the "real" Batman stepped up to stop the fake one and even had the mind games about how far gone the fake one was and Nightwing reaching out for Jason Todd's hand to end the conflict. The only difference was Jason Todd didn't take Nightwing's hand and choose to fall into a river (note: Azrael Batman chose to leave his armour behind and come out into the light with Bruce if you are wondering what I am referring to).

While it's not what I'd call plagerism or anything remotely close (it's far too poorly executed or written to even foster the notion), it's blatantly obvious to anyone that has read the two stories that this cribs heavily from the setup and execution. The biggest difference between the two is Daniel tries to cram it all into a three parter while Knightfall was a good twenty parts or so.

Verdict - Avoid It. Only thing you need to know from this entire event is that Nightwing became Batman on the last page, Tim Drake will probably be out of commission for a while due to superficial wounds and Damian is the new Robin, all things you knew prior to the event.

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