Batman: Battle for the Cowl Companion

January 4, 2010

Batman is dead, long live the Batman! But in the time between, what is Gotham City, his categorical pride and joy, going to do? This slim title answers that question as a way to fill in the space between Batman R.I.P. and the Battle for the Cowl saga. The attempt is actually pretty decent as far as planned companion volumes go. If you want to test my judgement, just go look at the ill-assembled Final Crisis Companion or the non-collections that are Marvel’s Earth X Companion and Civil War Companion. Companions should really be treated as a genre in itself. They should do something specific like answer nagging questions we readers may have about loose ends, new, revived, and secondary characters, psychological repercussions, and wider implications. What they shouldn’t do is make us feel cheated of both our time and our little money.

This volume may feature 2nd-tier or rising DC writers and artists, that is, guys you don’t get much corporate hype on, but their unforgettably sensitive takes should win you over. Even the weakest story here — and it does depend on what kind of tone you prefer — is commendable. We explore the impact news of the Dark Knight’s demise has on his friends and associates, Gotham City’s police force and reform system, and its vast criminal world. Through the struggles of Commissioner James Gordon and Dr Jeremiah Arkham, we observe how ordinary heroes rise from the ashes of their razed world with extraordinary strength and vision. Through Man-Bat Kirk Langstrom, we experience how deep insecurities can be wrenched out of control and made real, adding a curious new sub-plot to future Gotham adventures.

The confusion whirling around Batman’s enemies and, in varying degrees, allies in the underground such as the Penguin, the Riddler, Harley Quinn, and Catwoman meanwhile explodes. An equal mess of work for a so-called “Network”, a hotpotch of crime-fighters operating in Gotham from Oracle, Batgirl, and Huntress to Ragman and the Outsiders, helps to show the city’s desperation in finding back its feet. These 5 stories are loosely connected but give enough space for one to imagine every unsaid terrifying thing and enough character depth to anchor mixed emotions. This book gets it right in so many ways that the absence of the Main Man is both palpable and irrelevant, mourned for and set aside. It makes you want to know how an attractively monstrous society moves on without its head, what the next surprise will be, how more wrong it can all go.

Gweek is thinking of buying a cowl off eBay at least 7 times.


2 Responses to “Batman: Battle for the Cowl Companion”

  1. ~autolycus Says:

    I bought this one and none of the rest you mentioned, except for the Final Crisis one. Ecch. One wants companionship from one’s books, not some sort of “let’s put all the loose bits together and call it a companion”.

  2. Gweek Says:

    Awww this is not that bad. The independent stories work for me.

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