Who Will Be America’s Next Top Batman?

battle for the cowl

Now that the first issue of the new miniseries Batman: Battle for the Cowl is out, I’d say that it’s high time we started kicking up the speculation on who will be wearing the cape and cowl by the end of this thing. People have been guessing at the answer since it was first announced that Bruce Wayne would be stepping down from the Mantle of the Bat some time ago, but, now, we have a pretty good idea of who all is in the potential talent pool of characters who could be plucked for the big job.

So let’s get into it. Here are the top contenders, for your consideration, along with their odds of actually taking over Bat-duties in Gotham City later this year:

Jean-Paul Valley:
Odds – 5,000: 1

Been there, done that. The former Azrael had his shot at being Batman back during Knightfall, and he blew it. Bruce eventually had to come back and take his cowl back by force, since Valley went crazy with power and was brutalizing criminals in the name of Batman. Oh, and, besides, isn’t he dead?

Odds – 4,000:1

Not only is she an on-again/off-again criminal, but I don’t see any reason why she’d suddenly decide to go completely straight and parade around as her former love. And I think she’d confuse herself if she were suddenly Catbatmanwoman.

Odds – 3,000:1

It looks like he’s acting as a force for good in Gotham City these days, but I’d like to see him try to fit those wings into a spandex shirt.

Odds – 2,000:1

He’s too old, he has a son, and he’s already firmly established in the JSA. Making him take over for Batman would be a huge stretch.

Odds – 1,000:1

One of the newest faces in Gotham, it’s not completely absurd to think a woman could take over the cape and cowl duties, but the odds aren’t in her favor. I think she’ll play a pretty major supporting role, but I don’t think the world is ready for a red-headed lesbian Batman just yet.

Odds – 750:1

While he might have what it takes to be the new Batman, he’s still got too much criminal blood in him, and I don’t think he’d have it any other way.

Odds – 500:1

He has Wayne and Al Ghul blood in him, so the odds of him eventually becoming Batman someday in the future are a lot higher than they are today. Fact of the matter is, he’s too young, and he has next to zero experience at fighting crime. I mean, look at the first issue of Battle for the Cowl; when confronted by Killer Croc, the little brat immediately screams for his mommy. Someday, though, this kid will be a force to be reckoned with. But it is not this day.

Ted Kord:
Odds – 450:1

In spite of an incredibly decent theory over on 4th Letter, the odds of Ted Kord reappearing in such a high profile position just don’t seem that likely, especially considering that his one live reappearance since his death was printed in a comic that very few people read. Hell, I actually read the thing and didn’t remember it. Still, you can’t argue that he wouldn’t be perfect for the role.

The Riddler:
Odds – 400:1

Ever since reforming a couple of years ago, the Riddler has spent some time solving mysteries around Gotham City, infrequently aiding Batman in cracking a particularly difficult case. No doubt, Ed Nigma has the detective chops to make it as the new Batman (after all, he’s one of very few people who has ever figured out the secret identity of the original Batman), but he’d have to undergo some serious physical training to come close to even holding Bruce Wayne’s jockstrap, let alone wearing his old mask.

Alfred Pennyworth:
Odds – 300:1

He has the training, and in the opening issue, it shows him sparring with Dick for a few panels before effortlessly disarming the former Boy Wonder, so never let it be said that Alfred isn’t a badass. And, having spent the better part of his life hanging around the World’s Greatest Detective, I’m sure he’s picked up a thing or two about how to fight crime. The only problem is that Alfred’s an old, skinny, bald guy. Batman can’t be an old, skinny, bald guy.

Odds – 250:1

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Harvey show up in a Batman costume at some point during Battle for the Cowl, but I would be surprised if he was still wearing it by the time the series concludes. He proved himself as a competent crimefighter during the missing year of 52 (kind of – – I mean, he still allowed Intergang to infiltrate Gotham and didn’t seem to do anything about it, instead opting to leave it to Batwoman and Nightwing and the Question while spending exactly one panel during WWIII fighting a guy on a rooftop), but I don’t think the subsequent years have been kind to him – – he kinda went cuckoo for Cocoa Puff’s again. Still, Harvey’s always a stone’s throw away from reforming.

Odds – 100:1

Well, it is a “battle,” right? The good guys probably wouldn’t care for the outcome, but I could see Hush stepping up and trying to take over the cowl by force. Would anybody stand for it (or, more importantly, would anybody stand at his side as his Robin?)? Damian might. With the surgically-altered face of Bruce Wayne, Hush will no doubt factor in to the proceedings somehow, but I’m not entirely sure if he’d take over as Batman.

The main problem is that I can’t think of a very good motivation for him wanting to take over, unless it’s to prove that he’s better than Bruce at everything, even being Batman. But that’s kind of a dumb motivation, and it’s almost certainly one that would unravel within a year, necessitating another change to the Caped Crusader.

nightwing batman #681Knight (Cyril Sheldrake)
Odds – 75:1

This is my Dark Horse candidate. He’s one of the guys from the Club of Heroes, and he’s, so far, featured somewhat prominently in Battle for the Cowl. He spends the beginning of the issue holding his own alongside Nightwing, at least, so we know he’s not a total slouch in the fighting department. If he were to take over Batman’s place, though, he’d have to drop Squire, his Girl Wonder, but I’m sure the Network could find her a new role.

I think it’d be a good fit to throw a complete unknown under the cowl for a little while, because it’s really just a matter of time before Bruce comes back, and there’s no point in teasing a big-named understudy’s promotion only to take it back a couple months (or years) later.

Tim Drake
Odds – 25:1

The first of three very likely candidates, the main thing going against Tim is his age. He has the experience, and he’s been groomed as the successor for the role of World’s Greatest Detective for years now. Plus, he’s matured a great deal in the past couple years, with the deaths of his dad at the hands of Captain Boomerang and Stephanie during War Games (is she still dead, or is she alive, or what the hell happened with that whole thing?), but he’s still just not quite old enough to fill the costume out quite right.

I have to admit, though, it’s pretty cool to see him in the old blue Batman costume in the first issue of Battle for the Cowl, though I doubt we’ll be getting much more of that. I think Tim has a shot, but I don’t think he’s quite there yet in age and experience, though it could happen. Wasn’t there some Titan’s Tomorrow storyline several years ago where it showed that Tim Drake was Batman in the future? Just before Infinite Crisis? I seem to remember something about that, but I forget.

Jason Todd
Odds – 10:1

I have a hunch this is the guy already running around Gotham City dressed as a gun-toting madman, killing bad guys and leaving notes about how he’s the new Batman. Unlike some other former Robins, Jason seems to know that Gotham City needs a Batman, and I’m glad to see that he’ll be playing a pivotal role in the months to come. His character needs something to get that OYL/Countdown stink off him.

Plus, a great argument to support the idea of Jason getting under the cowl is that it would provide an opportunity to redeem the character and salvage him as a good guy. Part of me thinks, though, that if he is chosen as the next Batman, it’ll probably be a temporary thing, and he could end up with a near cookie-cutter storyline that Jean-Paul Valley already went through fifteen years ago.

Dick Grayson
Odds – 2:1

I really don’t see how anybody else can take up the Mantle of the Bat other than Dick Grayson. To the masses, he’s easily the most recognizable name on this list, and he’s also the most skilled and appropriate choice, given the circumstances. Not to mention, after the aforementioned AzBat debacle, Dick had a stint under the cowl, and he did a pretty great job of it. The only person he didn’t fool was Commissioner Gordon, who figured out pretty quickly that it was a different guy. All these years later, maybe Dick has filled into the suit, though. Who knows?

The main reason I could see DC picking somebody else other than Dick is that putting Grayson in the role of Batman would have to be a pretty permanent decision. I can’t see them having him step down again in a year to give the cowl back to Bruce, because it would just further solidify Dick as a non-A-lister, and further tarnish his reputation; no, if they give him the mask, they’re gonna have to be willing to let him go with it for quite awhile. And, if that’s not the plan, if they’re just hoping to have a Batman: Rebirth storyline next summer, here’s hoping they keep the cowl far away from Nightwing. He deserves better.