Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3 (of 3)

Surprisingly smarter than your average bimbo.

Surprisingly smarter than your average bimbo.

Author & Artist: Tony Daniel

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t anticipating the outcome of this series from the moment Bruce Wayne went AWOL (AWOL, not dead – nobody believes in character deaths anymore, you should know that by now), I’d be lying. Who will be Batman in his absence? Ponder the question for a few seconds and run with it, because that’s probably what happens here. Still, if I said it wasn’t entertaining to watch it all unfold on the colour-printed page, I’d also be lying.

Tony Daniel is a surprisingly decent writer given his outstanding artistic abilities. It’s probably a misnomer, but comic book artists are generally regarded as the bimbos of the comic world – they’re hot, but they’re not very good at talking. So maybe Daniel gives us the “World Peace” answer we’re all expecting, but he does so in a very satisfying and entertaining way, like a good, solid magic trick with plenty of cleavage involved.

Can you tell I’m trying not to spoil the ending for you? If you read enough websites, it’s probably too late for you anyway – I don’t care, as long as I’m not the one who spoils it for you. What I will tell you is this: the final battle feels emotionally weighty, perhaps even epic, and finally someone has the guts to make a definitive statement on Jason Todd (the long-thought-dead-until-four-years-ago second Robin, for those not in the know). It’s about bloody time.

What was disappointing perhaps was the length of this mini-series. It is a mini-series, though, and I think Tony Daniel knew just how many issues it would take to explore what was essentially a one-note premise. Having said that, the teaser posters did promise more fan service than what was ultimately delivered. Who here didn’t want to see Two-Face dressed in a half-and-half Bat costume? Broken promises notwithstanding, restraint should probably be applauded in this case.

Daniel-as-writer had a pretty good handle on most of the characters, especially Damian Wayne – he’s one of the few Bat-writers who’s dared to even touch him aside from Grant Morrison – and you can tell that his time drawing him with Morrison has lent him a rare intimacy with the bratty trickster. Nightwing, on the other hand, was a little confusing to read at times, and his full-circle monologues will require some small degree of blind faith. It was good to see him assume a leadership role in this issue, though – Bruce would be proud.

And it would be remiss of me to conclude without highlighting Tony Daniel’s art, which is great as always. He began on Batman as a relative unknown, but those who’ve followed him on Morrison’s run have no doubt come to appreciate his penchant for fluid, detailed action scenes. This issue, along with the rest of Battle for the Cowl, is no exception to that rule.

I have to admit, I didn’t think Tony Daniel could pull this off on his own, but what he has delivered is not only eye candy, but a solid read as well. What could have been nothing more than a contrived superhero brawl actually turned out to be an entertaining intermission between Morrisons.

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