The battle to replace Bruce Wayne has begun. Gotham City is descending into chaos as word spreads through the underworld of the death of the city’s protector: Batman. Now, Robin, Nightwing and all of Batman’s allies must join forces to stop the spread of the criminal element. But, all of the chaos serves to illustrate the underlying need for a Batman in Gotham. Now, the battle has been joined to decide who will take up the mantle. Batman: Battle for the Cowl is a three month event currently taking place and ending in May. Whoever wins the battle will be the new Batman when the Bat-titles relaunch in June.
Battle for the Cowl is taking place through several limited series and one-shots. Every major member of the Batman supporting cast is being used in some way. In this report, I am going to cover the first month of Battle for the Cowl, providing a short review for each title. Going forward, there will be a separate review for each title and a recap of the reviews at the end of the.
NOTE: The “main” title for this event is Batman: Battle for the Cowl. Every other title is a supplement to that book.
BATMAN: BATTLE FOR THE COWL – ACT ONE: MARCH 2009
Week One (3/4)
Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead?: This was the first book released under the “Battle for the Cowl” banner. It is a mostly unnecessary book and it is not necessary to read it to follow the story. It is notable, however, for the two returns it features. Two members of the Bat-cast who have been missing from Gotham for some time make thier return. The first is Vicki Vale, who is still an investigative journalist. The second is Leslie Tompkins, whom Batman banished from Gotham at the end of the “War Crimes” storyline. Other than that, the isuue is largely a throwaway. If you’re collecting the whole storyline, you have to have it, otherwise, you can skip it. 3 out of 5.
Week Two (3/11)
Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1 of 3: Ok, here we go. As Gotham descends further into chaos, Nightwing calls in every ally Batman has. Everyone from the Outsiders to the International Club of Heroes are involved. The story really takes off as Black Mask hijacks a bus of Arkham inmates being transferred back and blows the Asylum sky high. He assumes leadership of this motley crew, which includes Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc. Meanwhile, Dick and Tim are at odds over whether there should be a new Batman. Tim thinks there should, Dick says no. Tim and the Squire find evidence that someone resembling Batman is capturing criminals and leaving notes idetifying himself as Batman. Tim puts on one of the “old school” Batman suits, with the yellow oval around the bat on the chest and tracks the imposter to his hideout. At the Gotham piers, Black Mask has his new followers disrupt one of Two-face’s arms shipments. He plans to ignite a war between the two and then wipe them both out. Meanwhile, When Damian takes the Batmobile for a joyride, he is ambushed by Killer Croc. He is rescued by Nightwing, whose glider is then shot down. Damien and Nightwing are cornered in an abandoned building. A couple of thugs tell Nightwing that Black Mask has declared war on costumed heroes. As they are about shoot Nightwing, they are taken out by the armored, gun-toting Batman imposter. This is a great issue from start to finish, it packs a staggering amount of action and story into its pages. Every major supporting character, from Alfred to Commissioner Gordon to Catwoman makes and appearance and the stage is being set for an epic three-way war between Penguin, Two-Face and Black Mask. Jump on now and get ready for a wild ride. 5 out of 5
Week Three (3/18)
Azrael: Death’s Dark Knight #1 of 3: The avenging angel returns, but it’s not Jean Paul Valley in the suit. In fact, the new Azrael is one of the police officers from Grant Morrison’s story about the three officers chosen to take part in an experiment to attempt to create replacement Batmen. The suit he wears as Azrael is the “Suit of Sorrows”, last seen in Detective Comics #842. The armor was stolen from the Batcave after BAtman R.I.P. He is recruited by the Order of Purity, but Talia is looking for the suit as well. She sends some henchmen to acquire the suit and, unfortunately for them, they meet up with the new Azrael. Unfortunately for him, he meets up with Talia. I like what I’m seeing so far, but I’m still confused about how this series fits into the overall Battle for the Cowl event. 4 out of 5
Week Four (3/25)
Batman: Battle for the Cowl: Commissioner Gordon: Batman’s oldest and most loyal ally gets a special all his own. Gordon is having a particularly difficult time in the aftermath of Batman’s disappearance. In this one shot, he is kidnapped by Mr. Freeze and must defeat him by himself, without the aid from Batman he has relied so heavily on in the past. This is a fantastic portrait of one of the most important figures in the Btman supporting cast. 5 out of 5
Oracle: The Cure #1 of 3: It seems only fitting that the Commissioner Gordon and Barbara Gordon one shots should ship the same week. Oracle return to Gotham and does some hilarious rewiring of her apartment building to keep her network intact. The story deals with Oracle’s search for the remnants of the Anti-Life Equation, scattered across the Internet. Unfortunately, for Oracle, Calculator is also searching for them, planning to use them to ave his daughter’s life. The most interesting part of this issue for me is Barbara talking about the phantom pain in her legs. WARNING: this issue ends with a gruesome death, you have been warned! Looking forward to seeing where this one is going. 4 out of 5.
So, that’s the first month of Battle for the Cowl. Month two begins this week with the Man-Bat one shot. The Battle is on, who will be Batman?