Battle For the Cowl: The Underground


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Battle For the Cowl: The Underground


  • Words: Christopher Yost
  • Art: Pablo Raimondi
  • Colors: Brian Reber
  • Price: 2.99
  • Release Date: May 5, 2009

This is a curious comic. If the events of Batman (or rather his satellite titles since, he’s, y’know, dead) have baffled you, this issue isn’t going to help.

As is the way of DC, this is a tie-in to a larger event, namely Tony Daniel’s Battle For the Cowl mini-series. And as any loyal DC reader will tell you, tie-in issues are a gamble. Whacking a trade dress on a cover doesn’t mean it’s important to the big picture, and unfortunately in today’s budget stretching climate, such cynicism is needed.

The Underground one-shot need only be bought by Battle For the Cowl completists. There are far better stories out there, such as the recent special on Commissioner Gordon, or Arkham Asylum. While those issues weren’t exactly filled with details about Gotham’s further descent into chaos or wannabe Batmen, they were done-in-one adventures that made sense to the outsider.

Being only vaguely familiar with the latest happenings in the world of the deceased Dark Knight, this filled me with more questions than enjoyment. It wouldn’t take much to answer queries such as if Black Mask is dead then who’s the new guy who looks just like him, but apparently it was too much trouble. Writer Chris Yost does manage to successfully portray the swarm of characters well though. That swarm includes The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, Two-Face, and Poison Ivy. Plus others.

That’s one of the main distractions of this issue – too many faces in too few pages. It needs to be a double-sized issue, especially as the dove tailing plot touches on Penguin ‘hiring’ Riddler to kill the new Black Mask, Two-Face’s internal argument about running Gotham, while avoiding Catwoman’s justice, and Black Mask’s usage of Ivy and Firefly to kill Penguin first. Phew. In amongst all that there’s also a Harley Quinn cameo and a fight with the gun-toting Batman (once dead Robin Jason Todd).

Yost will be taking over the Red Robin ongoing in June, so perhaps he wants to play with as many Bat toys before then, but the only thing that saves this rushed issue is Pablo Raimondi. His art is crisp and clean and fills the pages with texture, windy rain soaked streets and purpose. He knows what he’s doing. Catwoman’s attack on Two-Face’s car is choreographed dynamically and she looks great, as she should. He also makes The Penguin look eerily like Danny DeVito from Batman Returns and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. He definitely should be on a series long term and shows off in this issue’s action scenes, as well as Harley’s great facial expressions.

If you haven’t been following Bruce Wayne post-death, then avoid this unless you want to see the best depiction of Catwoman outside of an Adam Hughes cover. It is a nice set up for the upcoming Gotham City Sirens series however, and made me realize the potential that those three great female characters have when they’re all in the same story.

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs May 5, 2009 at 4:23am

    thanks for the warning, now I can safely avoid this :)

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