The Battle For The Cowl Aftermath And You: What’s Next?

By | May 26th, 2009
Posted in Columns | % Comments

The Battle For The Cowl is now over and, to the surprise of no one, Nightwing has taken up the mantle despite his previous reservations. To surprise everyone even less, Damian Wayne has taken up some responsibility and is now Robin. So in a world without Bruce Wayne and multiple new Bat-related series, where does the quiet onlooker fit in? You know, the person who is only a casual reader of comics but likes the Dark Knight so much that Batman’s death was a travesty beyond travesties, who is still interested in where things go despite all of that? Well, that’s what I’m here for. I’m going to attempt to break down all of the upcoming series as well as make humorous comments in order to help you understand where you can fit in with the new world of Gotham.

Batman #687
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Ed Benes & Rob Hunter
Cover by Tony Daniel & Sandu Florea
Variant cover by JG Jones

Here we have the flagship title. With Nightwing in his new role as Batman, the first issue will act as an epilogue to the Battle and is recommended to anyone who was reading it in the first place. But will this title be good for new fans? Maybe. With all the high profile writers coming to do Batwork, Judd Winick is not exactly someone who I would expect people to know. Let me remind you who he is, though – Judd Winick is the guy who thought it would be a good idea to bring Jason Todd back to life, a boy who was the second Robin and then was beaten to death with a crowbar by Batman’s greatest adversary. Yeah, there’s a real great idea! While a controversial move, I actually ended up enjoying it to some extent due to the character Jason Todd then became in the Batverse, and was rooting for Todd to win the Battle even though I knew he’d lose. Besides that, Judd’s other claim to fame was being a member of Real World: San Francisco. While he has obviously done work since then, it’s nothing I am easily familiar with, so based on these two things, does he seem like a good choice for the relaunch of a franchise (so to speak)? Not really. I’m surprised DC didn’t go with someone more well known to be in charge and I’d like to call this move “gutsy” on their part. Winick has big shoes to fill, and while the art I’ve seen so far looks good, I’m not sure if the writing will match it. I won’t 100% knock it until I read it, but I don’t have the greatest confidence in this guy.
Should The Average Reader Read This?: Only if they read the Battle for the Cowl. Otherwise, there are other better new titles available.

Batman and Robin #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art and cover by Frank Quitely
Variant cover by JG Jones
Sketch variant cover by Frank Quitely

This title stands to be the best out of all the newly launched titles. Remember when Morrison and Quietly did New X-Men and All-Star Superman, and they made me love both series involved even though I gave up on X-Men when there were too many mutants hanging around and have never liked Superman? If I trust anyone with a new title, it’s Morrison, and I feel I’m in the minority lately after Final Crisis. First off, I think the whole Batman R.I.P. saga was genius. If you’ve read all of Morrison’s work on Batman, it was amazing to see the pay off in the end, even if it was a little esoteric. The thing that’s great about it, though, is that even if you might be confused by the end, when you go back and re-read it you see things in this incredible new light. It’s kind of what I imagine watching LOST will be like when that ends. Sure, if you look at the Batman R.I.P. arc on it’s own, it might not be that great, but you need to see where the writer was working from. It’s such an epic work. As for Final Crisis, I can see why people didn’t like that easily, and I don’t have a great defense for it other than “If you like it, you like it.” I’m one of those who liked it, but I also read every tie-in for it, and I agree with everyone who says that you shouldn’t have to read every tie-in just to get the main series. But look at all the other things Morrison has done, such as the previously mentioned New X-Men, All-Star Superman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory. It’s such a great body of work that you can trust that his work on Batman and Robin is going to be great.
Continued below

Should The Average Reader Read This?: Do birds fly? Is the grass green and the sky blue? Is Battlestar Galactica one of the best sci-fi shows ever? Yes, yes, yes, oh God YES. This shouldn’t even really be a question.

Detective Comics #854
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams and Cully Hamner
Cover by JH Williams
Variant cover by JG Jones

Greg Rucka is a pretty good writer. He’s written quite a bit I’ve enjoyed in the past, such as Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra, Daredevil with Ed Brubaker, and Final Crisis: Revelations. Detective Comics stars the new Batwoman, Kate Kane, who Rucka introduced in 52 and used again heavily in the aforementioned Revelations. While Revelations was a good read, I have my doubts about the new Batwoman-centric Detective Comics. Detective was always my favorite with the Batman books, and was definitely the second best part of R.I.P. with the Heart of Hush storyline. I understand that there are now three Batman titles, but couldn’t we have axed the new Dini one and let him work on Detective Comics more with the new Bat? Not only that, Greg Rucka is currently doing Action Comics and World of New Krypton, the former being something I’m not a big supporter of and the latter being something I enjoy but have reservations about. While I can say that Greg Rucka is a better name to entrust a big title to than Judd Winick, I can’t say this is a title I’m greatly anticipating. On the plus side, this series supposedly will also heavily feature the Question, and while I miss the old Question, the new Question is great too, and really proved herself to me in Final Crisis as a worthwhile character. Basically, the series boils down to a definite first read, but maybe nothing beyond then.
Should The Average Reader Read This?: I’ll be reading it, but I don’t think it’s a good place for new people to jump in unless you’re a fan of Batwoman.

Red Robin #1
Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Ramon Bachs
Cover by Francis Manapul
Variant cover by JG Jones

The former mantle of Jason Todd has returned for his own series, and the question is who is behind the mask? Could it be Jason Todd in his own series again? Quite possibly. But more likely, this will be the new place for Tim Drake fans everywhere to follow the life of the last Robin. The end of the previous Robin series by Fabian Nicieza was great and ended on an incredible high note for the character, forcing him to finally grow up and move out from behind the shadow of Batman to be his own hero. It really is safe to say that this new series will be about him. Furthermore, this series is look to be great considering it’s written by X-Force scribe Chris Yost. If you read Civil War: Frontline, you’ll recognize the artwork too. It’s a good pairing for a brand new series, and one that I have great confidence in. The opening arc will feature Red Robin searching the world for Bruce Wayne, refusing to give up on the death of the beloved hero, and while I think this is kind of a silly place to start considering we all saw his charred body in Final Crisis, we saw it buried, and we’ll see it rise again in the Blackest Night, but it does set to be a possible way to bring Bruce back from his fate (for those who have read the final three pages of Final Crisis). Not that I want to Wayne to be back so soon after his death, but we all know it’ll happen. Either way, Red Robin is looking to be a good new series, and it’s one I definitely recommend.
Should The Average Reader Read This?: On this, I’m not sure. I think that fans of the previous series will enjoy it, but for the average reader this is up in the air. I’d say that the first issue should definitely be picked up, and if you like it keep going.

Continued below

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1
Written by Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko
Art by Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs and Georges Jeanty & Karl Story
Cover by Dustin Nguyen
Variant cover by JG Jones

This is the third Batman title to be released post-Battle, and while it’s easily the one to ignore, I would suggest this be number two on people’s list over the main title. The reason I suggest that is because you have Paul Dini at the helm, and Paul Dini can write some great Batman stories. The thing is, though, that most people will be getting the normal Batman title and maybe the Morisson/Quietly book as well, so is a third Batman book really necessary? No. Not at all. In fact, if anything, this would be the book to avoid out of all the new titles because we’re kind of being overwhelmed with Batmaterial here. So does a writer’s strength over power a title’s strength? I would imagine so. While I can’t see this book taking the place of any other Bat-title, it is one to at least watch. Paul Dini really is a great writer and I’d hate to see people pass by his work just due to an over abundance of Batmania. I believe this book will focus mostly on Batman’s relationship with the Gotham Police Dapartment as well, so it should be a different angle than the other books and worthwhile if you’re like me and need to know everything that’s going on at all times.
Should The Average Reader Read This?: I would say no. This book will be for fans of Batman already and will probably be an odd jumping in point for those not already invested.

Gotham City Sirens #1
Written by Paul Dini
Art and cover by Guillem March
Variant cover by JG Jones

Now, before I was talking about how anyone should give Dini’s work a shot. This, however, I can’t really argue for. Those that read the Underground one-shot attached to the Battle will know exactly what this is leading into, and off that note I can’t say anyone is probably really interested. Essentially, this looks like Charlie’s Angels starring Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Harley Quinn with the Riddler as Charlie. Oh. Exciting? Not really. I can say that if there is any new series to skip, it would be this one. But it’s written by Paul Dini! Oh, how conflicting. I’m sure Gil relates to me in that I’m only picking this up to read because I love Paul Dini. I don’t think the premise is interesting and I don’t think that this will add any extra light to the world of Gotham that anyone really cares about. It just seems kind of odd to give this group of villains a spotlight as anti-heroes… or something like it. And having never been a fan of Charlie’s Angels, I don’t see myself really getting into the spirit of the Sirens. But someone out there probably will enjoy this! So if this seems like your kind of thing, give it a shot! There will be a review of issue 1 here regardless, so we’ll see how it goes.
Should The Average Reader Read This?: No, and I don’t think you’ll find the normal reader reading this, but hey, I’m a cynic.

There are, of course, two more Bat-related titles you could explore. There is Batman Confidential, The Outsiders, and Secret Six. However, none of these will feature events directly related to the end of the Battle for the Cowl, so I’m not going to write about them. Read them at your own volition (although Secret Six does come backed by this blog). I hope this helps narrow down what you end up reading in relation to the Bat. It’s a new era and a very exciting one at that.

Matthew Meylikhov

Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."