Batman: Battle of the Cowl #1 Review

Following the events of Final Crisis, Darkseid had ‘killed’ Batman, in fact Batman managed to travel through time. But that meant that Gotham was without a Batman and thus more and more villains came out of the woodwork and try to take over control. And this is the story on how three former Robin decide to see who would take up the mantle of the Bat.

The story opens with Red Robin, Tim Drake, and Squire (a UK counterpart for Robin) who are on patrol where they stumble up on a group of Joker’s goons where they find them already wrapped up in rope with a note saying, ‘I am Batman’. Red Robin tells them that they are running late and we see them riding off on a Bat-bike where Red Robin narrates more about what has happening but the most important is that Nightwing and Batgirl forming The Network where we see in the smaller panels we see a lot of supporting characters with, Knight, Wildcat & Black Canary, Man Bat & Katana and Batwoman with Batgirl where they are all trying to help the GCPD with stopping the riots from happening. Red Robin helped Huntress by knocking out Professor Pyg goons, where he then informs Nightwing that they have a problem and he then informs the readers that Nightwing has started to be more like Batman since he ‘died’ by becoming cut off from his emotions and becoming unapproachable.

We then cut over to a prisoner transfer bus where it halted by a double- crossing guard and we see a masked individual standing in front of the bus where we see that Black Mask has stopped them. This seems to confuse one inmate since that he thought that Black Mask was dead. This is true since that Roman Sionis was dead and a new Black Mask had taken his place and in the main series that follows this we find out that the person behind the mask is Jeramiah Arkham. A lot of the prisoners seem rather sceptical about Black Mask leading them since that he wants them for his plan and one prisoners decides to step out of line in which he gets a harsh discipline. Black Masks has him killed with a chemical implant with what appears to be the prisoners head being attacked from the inside causing it to rot like a corpse. Croc asks him the reason for doing this in which he says that Batman is dead and then Arkham Asylum blows up. Going into this it seems rather strange but it does make Black Mask seem to be the bigger threat in the story since that the inmates that were going into Arkham are useful since that you have Killer Croc, Poison Ivy and Victor Zsasz since that Zsasz is rather psychotic.

Outside the GCPD reporters badger Gordon for answers asking if the GCPD have given up with the amount of gang’s that have sprung up but he ignores them all except for one, that comes from the Riddler. At this point in the Batman stories, I believe that Riddler had decided to step out of crime to focus on becoming a Private Detective of sorts. He asks if Batman is dead but before he can answer Bullock draws his attention to the Bat-Signal which was shining with a new icon of the cowl with R.I.P ripped into it.

Inside in the Batcave, Nightwing is staring at Batman’s Cowl in the glass and poses in front of the costume where Red Robin says that one of them should take up the mantle of Batman, but Nightwing reminds him that they have already discussed this, but he gets informed that there is already somebody that has beaten then to wearing the cowl and that they have experience. Nightwing questions him in what he means and brings up the evidence that he has found including a Batarang and Bat-Rope. We cut over to a page spread with this new Batman wannabe standing atop a gargoyle and for a design it did make me think that it was going to be Azrael since that the costume does remind me slightly of the costume that he wore during the Knightfall story arc. In the smaller panels, we see this new Batman attacking gang members and we see that he is using a lot of force since that we see him throwing Batarang in the eyes of some gang members. Nightwing goes through some evidence of the notes that are left from the scenes of the ‘Batman’ attacks but Tim decides to do something more drastic and decides to don the cowl and become a Batman.

Nightwing then starts training against some dummies in which he manages to break the head off and Alfred manages to catch it and he asks if he has something to say. Alfred asks to talk about Bruce’s legacy, that for him to take up the mantle of Batman, but he refuses and says that he has already been over this decision with Tim and Oracle contacts him to inform him on what has happened with Arkham and then we cut over to the top of the Asylum with Nightwing talking with Gordon about what has happened and Gordon comes up with the notion that it could have been an inside job. But Gordon think that it just seems weird since that there were hundreds of inmates that just disappeared without a trace, but Nightwing has an idea with that being that they are all being kept under control. But there is something that I am surprised that hadn’t been brought up and that would be the dead body that was left near the entrance since an inmate did try to step out of line and was killed by Black Mask. The only thing that I could think of would be that Black Mask had the body be disposed of. Meanwhile underground Black Mask is rallying his army on Arkham Inmates and they find out that they are going to start their assault tonight.

Back up top we get Tim narrating about the Network and we see Catwoman dealing with some criminals and then she spots a person dressed in a Batman costume going across the rooftops which catches her attention. In the next page, we see Tim in a Batman costume which appears to be the 1970’s costume with the blue cape and cowl. He continues his narrations saying that he is going to focus on tracking down the Other Batman and it appears that he had found something, but that something isn’t known to us as we then cut straight over to the harbour with Black Mask’s army attacking what appears to be Two-Faces thugs and we see Zsasz ripping the head off one, Croc eating one and Poison Ivy binding two.

Meanwhile, we see that Damian has ‘borrowed’ the Batmoblie to impress a girl, who I don’t think was given a name in the issue, and after accidently turning the GPS system back on Oracle manages to contact him and then sends Girl out of the roof via ejector seat. Oracle tells him to wash the car and stay out of Nightwing’s way but as he is about to reply to her Killer Croc rams the car and causes it to be flipped over. Oracle asks Huntress and Blackhawk to go out and rescue Damien, but they can’t get there quick enough however Nightwing says that he will go and get him. Damien manages to get out of the Batmobile, which is down bogged down in a marsh-like area where he is trapped between Poison Ivy and Killer Croc and Ivy suggests that Croc should eat Damian. We also see that Croc had ate Girl and Damian tries to bargain his way out of Croc eating him, but Croc goes for the bite and we see Damian being swooped up by Nightwing who flies in hang-glider. Damian asks if he was going to keep this quiet and he replies says ‘We’ll see’. But that could be up in smoke as some sort of projectile hits the glider and the two of them are sent crashing down inside an abandoned building.

Inside the building, Damian is the first to get up and he goes over to see if Nightwing is alright and manages to get him away until another explosion, possibly from the glider, sends them flying and a group of masked armed thugs enters searching for the duo. Nightwing tells Damian to stay out of site and we see Nightwing possibly surrendering to the thugs, who then try to kill Nightwing, but one of then gets riddled with bullets and in the final page we see the Second Batman, dual wielding guns with explosions that remind me of Power Rangers where monsters would explode behind the Rangers, and he tells them that he is Batman ending the issue.

Overall the first issue is a rather decent opening since a lot of the issue focuses around one major point. That being Nightwing’s reluctance of donning the Cape & Cowl since that he was the first to be trained by Batman, but he doesn’t want to and he wants to be his own hero, which is why he dropped the mantle of Robin and became Nightwing. I like the idea of Tim becoming Batman since that he and Batman have somethings in common, that being they are detectives and that Tim was able to deduce Batman’s identity. Plus with Tim taking the mantle of Batman for just the series we wouldn’t see him taking the mantle again until the New 52 in which he takes the mantle of Batman Beyond during the Future’s End story arc.

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