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Posted December 12, 2009
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Fun, but poorly edited
Batman: Battle for the Cowl is Tony S. Daniel's predictable-but-entertaining follow-up to Grant Morrison's off-beat and mind-bending Batman: R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Morrison crafted a story arc that pushed Batman (Bruce Wayne) to his limits, testing the very fiber of the character before apparently killing one of DC Comic's biggest icons. Tony Daniel was the artist on R.I.P and several other Morrison storylines, and art is truly where Daniel shines. Every frame is iconic, giving you a visual sense of the underlying moods, emotions, and motivations of each character. Daniel wastes not one single pencil stroke in depicting the struggle of Batman's allies and enemies to fill the vacuum - or take advantage of it - left by the seeming demise of Bruce Wayne.
The story itself is fun, although very predictable. Bruce Wayne's long-time protege and former partner Dick Greyson, the original Robin who later became Nightwing, leads Bruce Wayne's allies in the continuing struggle to keep the citizens of Gotham City safe from the criminal elements that infest the city. The story goes through several predictable-but-entertaining turns until reaching a conclusion that fans of comics will find satisfying, though hardly surprising.
One of the strengths of this collection is also a surprising weaknees. Battle for the Cowl includes the two "book-end" Gotham Gazette stories by Fabian Nicieza. The stories show several of Bruce Wayne's friends and allies and what those people are doing to get by in a world without Batman. The stories were originally published to book-end the Battle for the Cowl mini-series, and their inclusion here is a nice treat. What is inexcusable, however, is the placement of these stories at the end of the book. Rather than editing the book to include these two supplements in their proper reading order, the editors chose to place these issues at the end of the collection. With DC putting out collected editions such as Final Crisis that include supplemental issues in their proper reading order, Battle for the Cowl just has a lazy feel to it by inserting these stories in at the end.
Although predictable, Battle for the Cowl has some great moments, highlighted by Tony S. Daniel's artwork. The story is worth reading, although only as a complement to Grant Morrison's far more interesting work on R.I.P., Final Crisis, and the on-going Batman & Robin series.
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