Thursday, May 21, 2009

Comic Review Wednesdays - Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3)
Written by Tony Daniel
Art by Tony Daniel 

Things have not been going well since Bruce Wayne's passing; Gangs are at war, the Black Mask is terrorizing the city, and Jason Todd is running around in an armored Batman costume. The Battle for the Cowl ends here in an all out battle between Dick and Jason in a fight to see who has the right to wear the mantle of the Bat. Unfortunately little else manages to come to a head. 

The most absolutely nagging problem with the final issue of Battle for the Cowl is just how much is left unresolved. Yes, by the end of the issue there is a new Batman but the happenings within this event as so extensive that there is more to put an end to. In the tie-ins, things were often left unfinished but the reader was given a crystal clear picture of the new status quo. For instance The Network tie-in gave a clear indication that Hugo Strange would likely be serving as a antagonistic force against Barbara Gordon in the future-- likely something that will come into play in the upcoming Batgirl series. In this issue however, no questions are answered surrounding the Black Mask, or how he will act in the new Bat-verse, things mentioned surrounding Jason Todd are left unrevealed, and despite it being a huge part of the series, we're still left with virtually no pay off on the Two-Face/Penguin gang war. As expected, Battle for the Cowl was taking bites too big, and even refused to shallow what it could. Readers looking for a resolution to the conflicts, or even some closure will only be half-satisfied at best. It ultimately depends how you actually cared about the inevitable Dick/Jason fight. 

Also troublesome is Damian's characterization in this issue. I'm not very familiar with the character-- I actually only know the very basics of him but it isn't the accuracy of his portrayal that I'm concerned with. Jason Todd, despite all the huge events in this mini, is essentially the antagonist of this issue of Battle for the Cowl. Todd was a character so arrogant, and obnoxious that fans chose to kill him off back in the eighties when he was Robin-- and It seems that Damian is the same kind of character. He's bratty, violent, whiny and totally unlikable. Pair that with a Jason Todd story and the parallels are inescapable. Even if the writers at DC are aware of that fact, and have something planned, they should be aware that no one is clamoring for Jason Todd redux. Also troublesome in this issue is how Alfred is portrayed. It's well known that Batman characters often run a muck when they're half near dead-- and Alfred is often the neglected voice of reason in Wayne Manor. In this issue however, he encourages a wounded 14-year-old Damian to run out into a violence-ridden city to help his caretaker face a known psychopath. None of that would bother me if Alfred wasn't giving Damian the means to do it willingly. That's horrible, irresponsible mentorship, and completely unbecoming on Alfred. 

On top of everything else, there are also a slew of awkwardly written moments in the comic that come off as ridiculous. At one point a wounded character gives nothing short of an expository monologue to two characters in the heat of a fight-- not even referencing them as he does, but himself. Jim Gordon also has one hell of a melodramatic bomb-line on the page he's featured that renders the entire seriousness of the moment ineffective. 

RATING: 3 out of 10
Battle of the Cowl wraps up here (except for next weeks Batman Alive?)- this issue will inevitably be put into a trade, or you can pick them up at your local comic shop, however the series fails to deliver on all levels save one- actually picking the new Batman. 

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