Sunday, 19 October 2014

Batman: Battle For The Cowl #1 - DC Comics

Batman is no more... and this time Bruce Wayne hasn’t just had his back broken by Bane. The man is actually dead, having been killed by Darkseid during the “DC Comics” event “Final Crisis”… or rather he’s dead for the duration of this three-issue aftermath mini-series anyway.

Dick Grayson, heir apparent to the Mantle of the Bat doesn’t want it, and that’s probably just as well seeing as he’s soundly bested in the sparring ring by his elderly butler, Alfred Pennyworth, midway through this issue. Tim Drake, the third and arguably best Boy Wonder, is simply too young to become the Dark Knight, and Bruce’s son, Damian Wayne, well he’s just a psychopathic brat.

However all is not lost, despite the mass riots and rise in crime in Gotham City, as a mysterious individual has decided to don the cape and cowl for themselves instead. Throw in the largest Rogue’s Gallery this side of the Joker, as well as more Bat-allies than you can throw a handful of bat-a-rangs at, and you’ve got a seriously action-packed thrill-ride of a storyline.

Unfortunately writer Tony S. Daniel’s artwork isn’t quite up to task of depicting all this excitement, and it’s clear the American comic book author and artist should probably have stuck to just coming up with the dialogue and plot for this mini-series. That isn’t to say his illustrations, nicely inked by Sandu Florea and colored by Ian Hannin aren’t competent. They’re just infuriatingly inconsistent. Daniel’s depiction of Robin and Squire chasing after three clown-masked criminals through a ruined building is superbly penciled, with plenty of detail and shadows providing some excellent atmosphere. But this is then followed by a series of panels showing Batman’s Network in action, where characters such as Nightwing, Batwoman and Batwing appear to have been hastily pulled straight out of an aspiring artist’s sketchbook; they’re all straight lines, inanimate and seemingly lifeless.

Things get worse towards the end of the book as Nightwing and Damian Wayne are literally blown out of the sky and into another derelict building. Long-limbed is an understatement as the artist struggles to illustrate the gliding duo both being shelled mid-flight and then staggering away from a team of masked gunmen without them anatomically resembling spider monkeys.

Fortunately the final full-page panel of the ‘new’ Batman, crashing in upon the armed criminals, pistols discharging shell after shell is very well drawn and definitely ends the first issue of “Batman: Battle For The Cowl” on a high note.
The Main Cover for "BATMAN: BATTLE FOR THE COWL" No. 1 by artist Tony Daniel

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