Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1

Story by
Art by
Sandu Florea, Tony Daniel
Colors by
Ian Hannin
Letters by
Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by
DC Comics

Following the events of "Batman R.I.P." and "Final Crisis," the DC Universe has found itself without a Batman. With a star-studded cover featuring Nightwing, Batwoman, Huntress, Black Canary, Wildcat, Catwoman, and Damian, this issue promises to be loaded. A state of emergency has been declared in Gotham and a gang war between Two-Face and Penguin is blooming.

The Network -- a collective of Batman-related characters brought together under the auspices of Nightwing and Batgirl (really, Batgirl?) -- tries to stave off the evil and insanity that has stormed the gates of Gotham.

Daniel does a decent job of making this a full-fledged action comic, but he tries a little too hard to include everybody and everything. In spite of his efforts, many pieces get overlooked or just plain squeezed out in this issue which Daniel narrates through Tim Drake. Most of the characterization is solid, but Nightwing is brooding and standoffish, something that just really grates against the general evolution of the character over the past decade.

The art is hyper-detailed, channeling Jim Lee in some spots and Don Kramer in others. Daniel definitely knows what he wants to draw, and most of the scenes play admirably to his artistic strengths. Daniel, no matter how hard he tries, however, cannot seem to shake the shadow of the early Image books he came up with and drops in some overly-posed characters from time to time in this issue. They never achieve the point of distraction but, in some cases, they do seem quite unnatural.

To complicate things further, there is a "phony" Batman running around meting his own brand of vigilante justice upon the scum of Gotham. Not exactly a surprise, but certainly another storyline to play with, otherwise it would seem like a rerun of Knightfall -- right down to Arkham blowing up.

This series has promise, but I'm not sure Daniel has enough time over the course of the remaining two issues to jam in every single character he has put on the covers and promised in the pages in between. There are a few plot points here, but by and large, this story seems hauntingly familiar. I only hope Daniel is more creative in his plot twists and resolutions than the initial set up.

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