The sole purpose of Battle for the Cowl, when you get right down to it, was to put Dick Grayson in the batsuit. In doing so the mini-series, now collected in a 160-page hardcover edition ($19.99), succeeds. In how it goes about giving us a new Batman, however, it leaves something to be desired.
Written by Tony Daniel and Fabian Nicieza, with art by Tony Daniel, Guillem March, Chris Cross, Jamie McKelvie, Alex Konat and Mark McKenna, the story arc gives us three potentials to take up the cowl for the fallen Batman (who was “killed” during Final Crisis).
It’s clear from the beginning the reluctant first Robin is destined to take the place of his mentor. In how the story constructs a way for Nightwing to become Batman against his own wishes it provides a good story. In how it ignores the other possibilities, it fails.
My major complaint is with how Battle for the Cowl wastes the character of Jason Todd. Instead of making him a legitimate contender who might find redemption in taking over for his former mentor, the series quickly present Todd as an unstable murdering sociopath and ignores what could have been the basis for strong storytelling. Instead the Todd we’re given attempts to kill both Grayson and Drake in an attempt to assume the mantle of the Bat for himself.
Nor is Tim Drake, given his age and smaller stature, ever really presented in a way that makes us believe he will get the call. We all knew who was going to wear the cowl at the end of the mini-series, and nothing in these pages ever gives us any reason to think otherwise.
In the end the storyline is an important piece of the Batman methos, and worth reading. As a Dick Grayson story it works well, but as a Batman story it’s nothing special.