Battle for the Cowl #3 Review

The Revolution continues to be totally unimpressed with Battle for the Cowl. This story has yet to show me an inkling of creativity or excitement that would warrant the $4.00 cover price to each issue. I am sure that Battle for the Cowl #3 will be a completely predictable and unoriginal ending to this editorially mandated “big event.” Let’s go ahead and put this mini-series to bed and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Tony Daniel
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea

Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Nightwing recapping the events of the previous two issues. If you missed them then you can check out our reviews for Battle for the Cowl #1 and Battle for the Cowl #2. Nightwing meets up with the Network which includes Nightwing, Black Canary, Oracle, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Wildcat, Batwoman, Black Lightning, Katana, Metamorpho, Owlman, the Creeper, Halo, Geo-Force, Manhunter and Ragman. (Really, this collection of heroes could not manage to do what just one man in Batman was able to do?)

Nightwing tells the Network that they need to find out who was behind the bombings of all the banks and government buildings. That they know it was not Two-Face or the Penguin. Nightwing tells Huntress to lead the Network in the search for the identity of the mastermind behind the bombings. Dick says that he is going to go find Tim.

We cut to Nightwing racing through Gotham on his motorcycle. Dick thinks how he has refused to assume the mantle of the Batman because Bruce Wayne told him to do so. Bruce felt that Nightwing and Robin would be enough. However, Bruce underestimated the psychological effect that the Batman had on Gotham.

Dick thinks how Jason has finally gone insane. That something set Jason off and Dick thinks he knows what it is. Dick has Oracle reactivate the old transponder in the utility belt that Tim was wearing so Dick can trace it.

We shift to the Gotham Police Headquarters. Gordon talks about how the U.S. military has been sent into Gotham to deal with the gang warfare. We see fighter planes in the sky over Gotham City. Gordon states that he has lost Gotham.

We zip over to the Batcave. We see Damien out of his bed and bandaged up. Damien refuses to sit out this fight. Alfred says that Damien is in no shape to fight and is nursing bruised lungs. Damien spits that he is stronger than everyone thinks he is. Suddenly, the Squire zips into the Batcave. Alfred tells Damien that it is time for him to earn his keep. Alfred is holding a Robin costume. (Wait, didn’t Alfred just tell Damien not to get out of bed?)

We slide over to Jason’s Batcave. Jason looks demonic and drags Tim’s “dead” body off to another part of the cave.

We cut to Vicki Vale’s news report about how the U.S. military attempting to take control over Gotham. We see that the military has captured the Penguin. Vicki interviews Batman “expert” Batman Jones. Jones says that Batman’s disappearance means that Gotham has no god. That Batman is more than a man. That Batman is fear, consequence and retribution.

We cut to Black Mask turning off the Vicki Vale news report. Black Mask has his skull mask off, but we cannot see his face. Black Mask is pleased with their success however he says that the real work begins from this point on. Black Mask says that for one tiny moment they will savor their success. The Black Mask says “We did it.”

We shift to the Gotham canal where Two-Face kills his assistant, Duff, for not figuring out who was behind the attacks on Two-Face’s operations. Two-Face knows that it was not the Penguin.

We hop over to Dick entering Jason’s Batcave. Nightwing comes across a wooden cross that has Tim’s cape and cowl draped over it. Jason talks through a speaker on the cross. Jason says that Tim is dead. Jason asks if Dick even knows who is responsible for the massive bombings all across Gotham.

Dick touches the cape and cowl and is shocked by a blast of electricity. Jason then appears on the scene. Jason and Dick begin brawling with each other. Dick thinks how Jason is farther gone than he thought. However, Dick hopes he can talk this through with Jason and bring him back to some kind of reality.

Dick then activates a hologram projector on his wrist. Up pops Bruce Wayne. Bruce says that he is dead and he is now going to give Jason the one thing he cannot give anymore: advice. Bruce says that of all his failures that Jason was his biggest. Bruce says that he takes full responsibility for the destructive and wayward path that Jason has taken in life.

Bruce says that he thought he could make Jason whole. Something that could never be done for Bruce. Bruce says that it is not too late for Jason to get the proper healing he needs. Bruce says that Alfred knows a brilliant doctor who can help Jason. (Doctor Phil! Yes. I can see it now. The latest issue of Brave and the Bold starring Doctor Phil and Jason Todd. Sad thing is that it would actually be more creative than the Battle for the Cowl has been.)

Jason screams “Enough!!” and throws a knife at Bruce’s hologram.

We then see that Squire and Damien arriving at Jason’s Batcave. Damien refuses to follow the Squire’s lead. Damien hotdogs it and grabs the GPS that the Squire had in her hand that they were using to track Dick and Tim. Damien tells Squire to follow him.

We cut back to Jason and Dick beating on each other. Dick screams for Jason to tell him where Tim is. Jason says that Tim had no pulse. That Tim is dead. We then cut to Tim waking up. (Of course.) Tim says that the Kevlar tunic of the costume protected him from sustaining a more serious cut. Tim says that Bruce taught him to slow his heart down to eight beats per minute to restrict blood loss. (Of course.) Tim then passes out.

We hop back to Dick and Jason still beating each other up. Dick thinks that the only way Jason believes he can heal is by overcompensating. That Jason’s path is self-destructive. Jason then sets off a bunch of bombs that he placed throughout his Batcave and then attempts to make a getaway.

We cut to Damien rescuing Tim from falling into a chasm formed by the bombs blowing up all around the cave. Damien gloats about having saved Tim. We slide back to Dick chasing Jason. The two hop onto the top of a subway train. Jason says that Dick was paralyzed by the fear of assuming the mantles of the Batman. And that allowed the Black Mask to bomb Gotham into ruins.

Dick and Jason begin fighting. Again. Dick thinks how the Black Mask is dead. Dick wonders who is posing as this new Black Mask. (Honestly. I just do not care.) Dick gets a good shot on Jason and the two fall from the subway train and land on a bridge over water. Jason falls over the edge of the bridge and holds onto the side with his finger tips. Dick tells Jason to give him his hand.

Dick tells Jason that Jason can reform. Jason says that he will be seeing Dick sooner than Dick thinks. Jason then let’s go and falls to the water and his apparent “death.”

We zip forward to Dick entering the Batcave. Dick puts on the Batman cowl. Damien is his Robin costume and standing next to Dick. Alfred is also there. Dick says that some people like Jason don’t want to be saved. Because that means changing. And changing is harder than staying the same.

Dick says that change can give you the courage to embrace your birthright, your destiny and finally realize that you are the Batman. We see Dick in the Batman costume striking a pose. End of issue.

The Good: Battle for the Cowl #3 was a dud of an ending to an unoriginal mini-series. Still, there were several positive aspects to this issue. I appreciate that Daniel did a better job writing Damien in this issue compared to the last issue. The Damien in this issue is more consistent with the cocky brat that Morrison gave us during his run on Batman. I still have no interest at all in Damien’s character, but I do appreciate that he was written more consistently with his established personality.

Like a summer blockbuster movie, Daniel certainly unleashes tons of action on the reader in this issue. Daniel attempts to distract the reader from the fact that the story was as thin as tissue paper by throwing at them a massive fight scene between Jason and Dick that ran practically the entire issue. If you dig fast paced action then you will probably enjoy what Daniel delivers in Battle for the Cowl #3.

While Daniel the writer fails to impress me; Daniel the artist most certainly does. Daniel cranks out plenty of nice artwork. Now, Battle for the Cowl #3 is not the best artwork that I have seen from Daniel. And part of that might be because he has had to handle the writing chores and, therefore, has not had the time to crank out his usual high quality artwork. Some of the panels are rushed and sloppy and not up to the high standard that I expect from Daniel. And this is another reason that I hope Daniel concentrates on art instead of writing. Having said that, Battle for the Cowl #3 is a nice looking issue.

The Bad: Battle for the Cowl #3 was a fitting end to an uncreative story. This title represents everything that I dislike in editorially mandated stories. Battle for the Cowl was nothing more than a collection of recycled plotlines. Gotham is in ruins. Dick must fight a psychotic Jason. Dick must become Batman. We have read these stories before in the pages of Batman and Nightwing. While reading Battle for the Cowl #3, the reader fights that nagging feeling that we had already seen everything in this issue before.

The writing was uninspired and generic. The story was incredibly thin and shallow. We got served plenty of clichéd moments like Jason plunging to his “death” into the river. I am sure no that no body was found. The worst aspect of this title was that every single step of this story was completely predictable. We all knew that Jason was the gun toting Batman the first minute he appeared in this story. We all knew that Dick was going to be Batman. We all knew that Damien was going to be Robin. We all knew that Tim was not dead.

The dialogue was stiff and wooden. Dick’s inner narration was average at best. The “drama” on this story was extremely forced and ham-fisted. The character work was non-existent. Jason acted more like a caricature. Dick was relatively bland. Daniel’s version of Dick was certainly nothing as enjoyable as what Tomasi had been giving us during his run on Nightwing. And to top it all off, there was a total lack of chemistry between the characters.

The double page splash shot of the Network had me chuckling in a highly unintended manner. Yes, the splash shot looked very cool. But, it also had the unintended effect of making the reader realize how insanely laughable the entire basis for Battle for the Cowl was. The idea that such a huge collection of eighteen heroes, complete with several heroes much more powerful than Batman, could not fill in for just one guy is ridiculous.

I know that Daniel was trying to show that Batman is more than just one man. And that the Batman has a powerful psychological impact on Gotham and its criminals. And that may be true. But, at some point, sheer firepower and manpower will compensate for whatever deficiencies that the Network might have in failing to properly intimidate the criminals of Gotham. I know Batman has been elevated almost to the level of godhood within the DCU, but this massive collection of heroes in the Network realistically should be even more effective at handling crime in Gotham than just the Batman by himself.

I understand that comic books require some suspension of disbelief from the reader at times. But, this was just asking way too much for me. And since the Gotham-in-ruins plotline was a major plank in the foundation of the Battle for the Cowl, it made this story that much more difficult to get into.

Daniel’s handling of Jason Todd’s character was just awful. Jason came across as a grossly exaggerated caricature. This was a complete and total waste of Jason’s character. Todd had so much potential as the black sheep of the Batman family. Having Jason operate as a hero, but determined to utilize his methods to stop crime in order to prove to Bruce, Dick and Tim that their methods of fighting crime are inferior would have been infinitely more interesting than what Daniel gave us.

It would have been interesting to making Jason a complex character that wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and fight crime, but that also completely rejects his father’s philosophy on how to fight crime. Unfortunately, Daniel’s Jason Todd is nothing more than an unoriginal and one-dimensional drooling psychopath. If this was all that DC was going to do with Jason’s character then they should have never brought him back in the first place.

I could care less about the Black Mask, who he is or what he is up to. Daniel failed to get me invested in this character and his story. The Black Mask plotline felt like nothing more than your generic standard issue mob war story. Of course, to be fair, I have to admit that I have never been much of a fan of the Black Mask. This is one Batman villain that I was not clamoring to make a return. If you are a fan of the Black Mask then you will probably enjoy this plotline much more than I did.

The ending to Battle for the Cowl #3 had absolutely no impact at all on me. The “dramatic” narration of Dick embracing his destiny fell flat. The main reason is because Dick has already assumed the mantle of the Batman before. It tends to lose its impact after we have already seen this story before. This ending is also robbed of much of its impact due to the fact that we all know that Bruce is alive and will be back to being the Batman in around twelve months.

We have been here before. And I have absolutely no interest in watching Dick in the Batman costume, again, and for what is going to be only a very limited amount of time. And I certainly have no interest in Damien as Robin. This entire year without Bruce Wayne is a real yawn inducing recycled concept. I will be dropping Batman and Detective Comics effective immediately. I have a feeling that both titles will be as poor as what we have been getting over in Superman and Action Comics since Superman’s departure. Someone please wake me up once Bruce Wayne is back.

Overall: Battle for the Cowl #3 mercifully brings to an end a rather pointless mini-series. This was a creatively vacant story that served no purpose other than to pickpocket the reader. Battle for the Cowl could have easily been a simple two-part story arc within the pages of Batman. There was no reason at all for this story to be stretched out over three issues and given its own mini-series. I mean, other than the obvious intended purpose of trying to bilk as many readers as possible out of as much money as possible.

I would not even recommend getting Battle for the Cowl in trade format. Just save yourself the money and read “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land.” They are both better stories and give you the same thing that Battle for the Cowl attempts to deliver. Battle for the Cowl #3 is certainly not worth the $4.00 cover price. I would only recommend Battle for the Cowl #3 to action fans and hardcore Batman fans.





  2. I’m actually thinking of picking up Detective once Batwoman moves in. The art looks interesting and I think Rucka has something special he wants to do with the character. I will be hoping that she stays as far from the rest of the Batfolk as possible, though. I really don’t want to give any money to a scheme of pointlessly dragging Tim and Dick out of where they worked so well. Batwoman, at least, doesn’t depend on the identity shake-up to be wearing her cowl.

  3. BATTLE FOR THE COWL was indeed a generic and solid miss – pretty, but with nothing else to recommend it. That Jason Todd jumps to his certain death in water simply underscored it all.

    For a moment, I thought they had a decent idea, because I thought they were making the returned Jean-Paul Valley the new evil Batman. Surely, that made more sense than reducing Jason Todd to a one-note psycho, and it was a fair swerve too. But no.

    However, I will disagree with you about one thing: I am looking forward to a new Batman & Robin, especially one with the fun dynamic of Dick Grayson and a blood-thirsty sidekick (Bruce never had THAT problem).

    Of all the generic typicalities of Batman comics, none so now disinterests me as Bruce Wayne himself – an over-exposed and not extremely complex character about whom there is nothing left to say (or nothing DC would ever let be said, since it would transform the character for good… or until the next Crisis), engaged in the same types of plots onto infinity. Like Captain America (or the Flash or GL – heh, sorry, just had to throw that jab), we're better off with the sidekick taking his place. It might lead to new (and thereby real) stories. We're lucky to have the new setup.

    I'll be purchasing the new Batman titles.

  4. I’m going demand Greg give me my money back for this piece of shit!

  5. I’m going to make Greg give me my money back for this piece of shit!

  6. DC is not earning any brownie points with me lately. The JLA is full of 3rd-stringers, Superman’s off-world, Barry’s taking Wally’s place after 20ish years, and now Dick is Batman and worse, Damien is Robin. I’m sure Damien will be an entertaining Robin, but Tim was so perfect as Robin. What’s he going to do now, be the new Nightwing? God, I hope not because that would be awful and horribly predictable. Anyways, I’m with you Rokk. No more Batman until the true Batman returns. Why DC pulls this stunt right after the huge success of the Dark Knight will always puzzle me……

  7. The writing was meh, and you could see the ending from miles away.
    Although it almost made me laugh when Tim actually says out loud how he managed to fool Jason. I mean, this is 2009! Comic book characters shouldn’t give this long over explanations anymore! I felt as if it had to be riddled with exclamation points! Just picture it. “Bruce’s heavily kevlar-fortified tunic shattered that rusty old batarang! The blood loss was sudden enough to drop me!”

  8. (Wait, didn’t Alfred just tell Damien not to get out of bed?)

    No, he said that getting out of bed would kill him. After being around Damien’s charachter for awhile, I think Alfred knew just what he was doing.

    “Bruce says that it is not too late for Jason to get the proper healing he needs. Bruce says that Alfred knows a brilliant doctor who can help Jason.”

    I for one look forward to the very special issue of Batman where Jason teaches us all that child molestion is wrong. I’m placing my bet now that that’s totally where they are headed with this.

    “Jason then let’s go and falls to the water and his apparent “death.”

    I love how people in comic books always assume that falling a few feet into mostly stagnet water is enough to kill someone. It might have had lsightly more impact if Batman had’nt had the same thing happen to him over in RIP. At least he had the flame helicopter.

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