F*ck me with a batarang, a lot happened in Battle for the Cowl #1.
Battle for the Cowl #1 is totally worth the price of admission, if only because SO much happens – I’ll give my full review after the SPOILER filled summary, after the jump!
So what happens in Battle for the Cowl #1? So much!
- The issue is told entirely from Tim Drake’s point of view, which is interesting given the emphasis on Nightwing for the cover. Nightwing actually isn’t in the book very much. Then again, no one really is.
- Tim (Robin III) is swinging around Gotham City with the Squire (the UK version of Robin). Apparently, a “Network” has been put into place to help cover for the absence of Batman – some JLA and JSA members, the Birds of Prey, Batwoman, Huntress, and The Knight and Squire are all there to lend a helping hand.
- Robin and Squire are chasing some criminals through an abandoned hospital. The crooks escape into a room and, before Robin and Squire can get to them, gunshots ring out. They enter the room to find the criminals tied up, with a a note next to them – “I AM BATMAN.”
- Meanwhile, Arkham Asylum has been destroyed by The Black Mask, who breaks out all of its inmates – Killer Croc, Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow – and offers them a chance to group together with him as the leader.
- Commissioner Gordon is trying to avoid the pestering of the media and the now-reformed Riddler, looking for answers as to the location of Batman. Of course, the shining bat-signal in the sky, which now reads “RIP” over the signal, doesn’t help his case.
- Dick Grayson looks deeply at the Batman costume in the Batcave – he and Tim argue about Gotham’s need for a Batman, before discussing the mysterious new “Batman” stopping criminals in Gotham. Based on the evidence, the guy is definitely a pro. Still, he’s leaving clues – he wants to be found. Tim follows the trail.
- While Tim is on the hunt, Dick Grayson is letting his aggression out on some training dolls in the Batcave. Alfred gives him a prep talk, and actually schools him in combat – because Alfred kicks @$$.
- Barbara Gordon, Oracle, lets Dick know about the Arkham Asylum breakout – he meets with Commissioner Gordon to get the info about the breakout, avoiding any person questions about the loss of Batman.
- Black Mask’s group of criminals get in costume and ready to strike.
- Meanwhile, Catwoman sees a rather young looking Batman swooping across roof tops overhead – it’s Tim Drake, in the Batman costume, still on the hunt for the other “Batman.”
- Black Mask’s criminals attack Gotham Harbor, stealing weapons and explosives. Two Face and Penguin, meanwhile, are battling for control of Gotham’s underground.
- Damian Wayne is driving a girl around in the Batmobile, trying to impress her – Oracle takes control of the Batmobile, ejecting the girl and navigating the Batmobile to Gotham Harbor. As it approaches, Damian comes under attack by Killer Croc, who knocks the Batmobile off the road.
- The Birds of Prey mobilize to help Damian, but Dick Grayson is already flying overhead in the Batwing. Killer Croc eats the girl who Damian was trying to impress then, with Poison Ivy’s help, gets ready to take out Damian.
- At the last second, he’s saved by Dick Grayson, but they’re shot down out of the sky by Black Mask’s men. In an abandoned warehouse, they are cornered…until a guntoting, metal mask wearing Batman shows up, twin guns blazing.
Yes….that much really happens in one issue. Which I guess is my main gripe with Battle for the Cowl #1 – there is enough here for three issues, but it’s jammed all into one issue. Everything just seems to be touched upon, with no single storyline really gotten into with any detail. The issue reads like the first issue of what should be at least a 6 to 7 issue mini series, instead of a 3-issue one.
That’s not to say it’s bad – quite the opposite. Unlike coughFinalCrisiscough, you never feel lost. You can follow the storyline pretty clearly, and you want more, which I guess isn’t a bad thing. It just reads a little bit like those first couple of issues of Countdown a couple of years back, but with a little more coherency as to how the storylines connect.
A couple of issues leave me confused though – Dick Grayson is portrayed in the series as closed off, disconnected. However, at the end of Nightwing, he seemed to be moving past the death of Batman and connecting emotionally again with his family. Also, didn’t the Birds of Prey break up? Black Mask died a while back, but I think his identity is one of the main mysteries for the series. And when did Killer Croc become able to eat people whole? The inconsistencies won’t turn off new readers, but they are distracting for anyone who’s been reading the build up to this series. Also, it felt like Tim Drake just kind of popped up in the Batman suit. I would have preferred a little more drama and emotion with him putting on the costume. Again, a fault of the format and limited space.
One of the main story aspects just screams of “didn’t we just see this already?” with the Black Mask formation of a super-villain team. It just happened in Final Crisis, and in Infinite Crisis and Flash before that. Still, the fact that it’s entirely made up of Batman rogues makes this one the coolest.
Tony Daniel knocks it out of the park – he both writes and draws the book, and it looks great and reads smoothly, in spite of being so jam packed. The art definitely recalls Jim Lee’s run on Batman a couple of years back (especially his Catwoman). I like that, despite this being a one-man show, he really didn’t forget the little touches. Tim takes off his cape to drive his motorcyle. It’s a little thing, but it makes all the difference. The scene between Alfred and Nightwing? Priceless.
Pick up Battle for the Cowl #1 this week at your local comic shop. I know I just told you the entire story, but my summary doesn’t do this fun book justice – lots of fun action, great art – this is the type of Batman comic you used to read as a kid!
Check out the first couple of pages here!
Paul’s Awesomeness Score – 8 out of 10!