Jun 17, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 479: Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1, May 2009
I sat this morning with my cup of coffee and my bowl of cereal, and read Batman #702. When I came to the end of the issue, I realized that it, really, belonged much further down our Bat-timeline, so I'm going to set it aside for a little while until we get to the place it belongs.
I wasn't going to insert this series into the Bat-reading, but it was inevitable, I suppose. We'll take a little break from the Morrisonian madness for a few days, and slide back into a grimier, grittier Gotham, and a contest to see who should be Batman. Though, the real question, at least in this initial issue, is should there be a Batman?
Well, of course there should. Nightwing seems to be the only person in this issue to not realize that Batman is mostly myth, not man. After the events of Final Crisis, Gotham is, as happens, what? every six months or so, in a state of complete chaos. Black Mask has enslaved the most dangerous criminals from Arkham Asylum, and has promised them power, respect, fresh meat, etc, etc, etc. These crime bosses need to learn new lines. To combat this chaos, Nightwing, Oracle, and the rest of the Gotham crimefighters have called in help, so we've got a veritable cornucopia of characters prowling the streets, the good, the bad, and most definitely the ugly.
Since there has to be a Batman, this series is ostensibly about trying to figure out who that's going to be. There is a mysterious Batman stalking the night, using methods far more violent than Bruce would like. He dresses like one of the three Batmen we encountered way back in the opening of the Black Glove story. He's a bit sloppy, as Tim Drake is managing to track him with relative ease. More so than Dick, he also seems to understand the necessity of having a Batman in Gotham.
Can I spoil something? From this 7 year old comic? You know who's going to don the cowl, right? I mean, it's never really been in doubt. What this series does, though, is show us the process by which this character comes to his realization, deals with the trauma of having lost Bruce, and steps from the ranks of the superhero to continue, in his own inimitable way, the myth. And it's a glorious, though short, time.