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Who Will Take Up the Cowl?

March 31, 2009

     Fun fact.  That’s not actually what the cover looks like.  Nightwing’s mouth is closed, and Black Canary is in the upper left.  Anyway, Batman: Battle for the Cowl is the story of the conflict over control over Gotham City and the ultimate choice as to whom the new Batman will be.  So the stakes area really high here.  The biggest players are the three Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake.  Let’s be honest.  Most of us are pretty sure that the armored Batman is Todd.  Anyway, with that out of the way, we have a three-way gang war between Penguin, Two-Face, and the new entry, the brand new Black Mask.  There’s a problem with this, though.  The Penguin went legit, so we need to know what happened.  But that’s the only problem.  There’s tons of fighting in this issue, and cameos galore.  Knight, Squire, Huntress, Oracle, Damian Wayne, etc., and a ton of villains, including Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, Zsasz, Firefly, the Great White Shark, and Scarecrow.

     Tony Daniel is doing the best work of his career here.  First of all, I had no idea he could write.  And his characterization of Tim Drake in particular is superb.  I always thought of him as a great artist.  But this shows that he’s an excellent artist, one of the best working for DC today.  All the art is much better than his work on Teen Titans and Batman.  This whole thing is going to be a huge brawl, and I love it.  Not only does it reflect the kind of Gotham that lacks a Batman, but it’s chalk full of characterization despite that.  I think that Tony Daniel should be given more Batman-related stuff to write.  He clearly understands the way that Gotham City works and the way so many of its denizens work.  And I can’t wait to find out who the new Black Mask is.

Plot: 9.4      Art: 9.3     Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.3

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