Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Batman: Battle for the Cowl #2

Batman: Battle of the Cowl #2 (of 3)
Written by Tony Daniel
Pencils by Tony Daniel

The appearance of a new gun-toting Batman, the resurgence of the Black Mask and rampant gang violence between Two-Face and Penguin's organizations has thrown Gotham into a violent maelstrom. Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, along with the rest of the network, struggle for footing in an ever-worsening situation. 

Almost a year ago, with the release of the Dark Knight, there was a lot of discussion about what new Batman readers could pick up on the shelves to fulfill any jonesing they might develop because of the movie. This discussion was to some extent brought about because there were few accessible reader-friendly Batman comics at the time but also because Nolan's film was so unlike that which could be found in the comics. It depicted Batman's world as something that was not only dark, but viciously brutal. While Daniel's comic may have some of the familiar elements from events like No Man's Land, it also pulls inspiration from Nolan's most recent Batman film. 

By pulling in Nolan as a source of inspiration, Daniel is crafting a comic that is exponentially more thrilling than many of the others that come to the shelf. This particular issue is filled with an immense amount of plot developments and twists that are nothing short of astounding. The problem being that the developments in comics are temporal, particularly those which happen to fall between issues. Nolan's Batman universe has an air of finality to it, while comics do not. This isn't to say that what Daniel has written can't be final, it simply feels improbable. Additional hope (or fear, if that's how the events take you) can be gleaned from DC editor Dan Didio, who said before the event began that it would fundamentally shake up the Batman universe. Though, the man is trying to sell a comic and his word should be taken lightly.  The other, less significant downside to Daniel's source of inspiration is a lack of overarching (provocative, thoughtful) theme-- which is in no way essential to a comic but would have been further evidence of his influence from Nolan and greatly helped the whole.  Regardless of the permanence of the events, the issue is a violent thrill-ride in a Nolan-eqsue vain-- which is certain to resonate with Batman newcomers. 

Daniel still uses a large amount of captions, but the switch of narrator provides a greater interest to the whole, and they generally work more effectively. Also, Two-Face and Penguin finally make an appearance in Daniel's comic in this issue-- within the first two pages-- and are then dropped quickly without return. Between all that is going on in Gotham, it almost seems that Daniel has written himself into a situation as tight as the one he puts his characters into. Battle for the Cowl seems to be guaranteed to have some lasting effects simply because there is no way Daniel could write the conclusion to all of these events within a single issue-- whether he does or not will prove to be the metal of the finale. 

RATING: 9 out of 10. 
Quick, and brutal-- it has exactly the appeal that a layman might expect a comic to have. Daniel's comic seems as though it will have some interesting repercussions on Batman universe and has generally shaken off all of my previous misgivings. Issue 1 shouldn't be too difficult to find if you're interested in reading the whole. 

1 comment:

Kiriska said...

Awesome to hear that this arc is playing out so well. I really, really look forward to seeing some kind of permanent change in the Batman continuity. Will definitely need to swipe this from you real fast next week. :P