Story – Army of One
Battle for the Cowl #2 was just what I was expecting it to be: Great artwork combined with one of those mindless summer blockbuster movies storytelling. Tony Daniel continues to be a much better storyteller with his artwork than his actual dialogue. In truth his artwork as has never looked better as his work in this mini-series is better than his previous Batman artwork. Though there were some odd moments in the art such as when in one second we see Nightwing confront the two-gunned Batman and in the next second we see Nightwing get hit by three batarangs with no sign of them going to be thrown in the previous panels. Also I cannot see how Tim is not dead since the way Daniel drew the batarang that is on his chest was the size of a football.
The problem Daniel has is that his story is completely predictable. At no point in this story was I surprised about what was happening. All of the dialogue was fine for showing Dick, Tim, Alfred, and the two-gunned Batman’s personalities but also felt so generic that the dialogue was dull.
The only actual conversation I enjoyed, even for its predictability, was the Dick and Alfred scene in the Batcave. Even though it is a scene that we have all read before it was still a conversation that felt natural and actually does belong in this event in order to give Dick that final push to take his rightful place and become the one true Batman as Bruce would have wanted all along. It is to bad that we aren’t treated with any other scenes like this as the rest of the issue was just a pure waste of characters from Daniel’s part.
Just like with the first issue this issue felt that Daniel was just setting up characters for there tie-in mini-series to Battle for the Cowl. For example we get a quick one of appearance of Birds of Prey members Black Canary and Huntress and instead of making them play an important part to the story by having them follow the rogue Batman they are stopped by Nightwing in order to take care of Damien and then we don’t see those characters again the whole issue. While I understand that the main Battle for the Cowl series is only for Dick, Tim and Jason it just does not seem that Dick would just stop Black Canary and Huntress from giving chase to the rogue Batman but on the contrary he would have them chase him as he could have easily taken care of Damien.
Also, this may just be me but I did not like the fact that Catwoman was so easily taken out by the rogue Batman so easily. Even though I am not a big Catwoman fan I would think that she would have fought back and that it would take more than one kick to knock her out. And also I just can’t see how the rogue Batman could actually seek up on Catwoman as she has always been able to tell when Bruce or any of the other character was behind her.
Another poor interpretation of a character was Damien. I just don’t get how someone who was able to beat Tim in a fight was shown to be such a chump in this, and the last, issue. Throughout these two issues Damien has really come across as a novice with very little training before hand and only does so in order to conveniently transform him into a rookie Robin for Dick to train.
But even though these are all cases of poor character work the worst case of just poor character development is the gun-totting Batman who is clearly Jason Todd. Throughout this issue Jason was treated as nothing more than DC’s version of the Punisher. Daniel has done his absolute best to give Jason no redeeming qualities as in this version he is willing to shot anyone even little kids in order to get what he wants. But I guess I should not be surprised as Jason has been poorly used since Under the Hood storyline. Jason just like with Bucky over in Marvel had a lot of potential when he returned from the dead. But unlike Bucky who has actually been developed well enough that he has actually taken over for his mentor and become the new Captain America that is just as, if not more, interesting as his predecessor Jason has been so underdeveloped that all that potential the character did have has gone away and has only just become another typical Batman villain. At this point Jason cannot play another role than just Red Hood as even before Battle for the Cowl he was rarely used in any of the Bat-titles that any involvement he does get after this event will feel forced and not a natural progression of his character like Dick becoming the new Batman, Damien becoming the new Robin, and Tim becoming Red Robin.
And again just like the last issue were Daniel overused Tim’s inner monologue we yet again get some more overused inner monologue but this time by Jason. While the opening inner monologue when Jason was escaping from Nightwing and Damien was interesting enough the rest of the inner monologue became very tedious to read as it was similar to Tim’s inner monologue from the last issue. Also when the hell did Jason or anyone ever call Bruce “Brucie” in any comic. That whole “Brucie” line by Jason was so lame that made me wonder if this was actually a professional writers words or the words from some sort of fanfiction.
Finally I will say that after reading Batman comics for as long as I have this whole gang war going as the back drop to this mini-series is nothing new and very uninteresting. The problem I have is that again it is a gang war with Black Mask as the main villain behind it as I have been getting annoyed by the character over the past few years. The only thing I may find interesting about the character is that if it is Hush disguised as Black Mask, as Kirk Warren points out in his review for this issue (read here), since it could be interesting to see why Hush choose to become Black Mask and not just continue to masquerade as Bruce Wayne. Though I will admit though that Daniel doesn’t write a half bad Two Face.
Story: 3.3/10 – Daniel’s writing was very generic that lacks any creativity.
Art: 8.6/10 – Again Daniel’s artwork shines over his writing as he is a much better storyteller with his artwork than his writing though there were a few odd moments with the artwork.
Overall: 5.95/10 – While I’ll admit that Battle for the Cowl is a nice jumping on point for new readers this series does not help long time Batman readers be excited about this “new” direction for the Batman franchise. So if your expecting a great read with good character work than you may be disappointed as Battle for the Cowl reads more like a summer blockbuster movie that looks great in the trailer but when you actually see the movie you are disappointed by the story and the characters.