Well, you can read Part 1 of our discussion at Chad's blog, and find out why we didn't like the issue very much. Then come back here and read the rest of our chat, which will probably contain spoilers if that matters to you:
Tim Callahan: What I have a problem with is the details of the writing. I have a problem with how Robin's monologue isn't recognizably Robin's without the little "R" insignia to identify it. Tim Drake's voice should be strong enough not to need that, but even if they decide to go with the labelled caption box, at least use it well. It's used overlapping a Catwoman scene at first, and then it's like, "wait, where's Robin? Oh, I guess he's in that Batman costume all of a sudden?"
And though I mentioned that I like the Black Mask as a Batman villain, he's just used here as a generic leader of villains. Take his dialogue and give it to the Penguin, to goddamn Maxie Zeus, and it still works the same. The whole thing about the Black Mask is that he's a screwed up parallel to Bruce Wayne. He's Hush, if Hush were a psychotic self-torturing creep. Oh, wait, Hush turned into that under Paul Dini. So basically Hush became the Black Mask because the Black Mask was supposedly dead. Anyway, Black Mask is back, and he's generic-er than ever! Wahoo!
By the way, might it be confusing to anyone that the whole second half of the Morrison "Batman" run was all about the Black Glove, and now the Black Mask -- who is completely unrelated to the Black Glove in every way -- shows up as a criminal mastermind? It would be like an Avengers comic giving us a big Doctor Doom story, and then following it up with a Doctor Droom story, no relation.
So, wait, Jason Todd is the rampaging Batman? And he just happens to use almost exactly the same mask as the psychotic ex-cop Batman who may or may not have been working for the Devil? That Todd kid has made some interesting costume choices since coming back from the dead, eh?
Chad Nevett: Yeah, here's the line from the solicits: "But when you add a deadly Jason Todd masquerading as a gun-toting Batman to the mix, things have definitely spiraled out of control!" The similarity to the Third Policeman's costume is striking, but, come on, if there's one thing that the Image-style of artist has always lacked, it's originality in design, so I'm not surprised.
Honestly, I don't know Tim Drake's voice or character well enough to judge the narration. I've seen him pop up in Batman books, I've read the odd the issue of "Robin," but, really, I have no sense of the character beyond him, seemingly, being a teenager and kind of responsible, maybe? Of course, those captions are generic enough that I see your point.
The Black Glove/Black Mask thing is a good point, especially because when we last saw the Black Glove, he was in a helicopter explosion. So, it's not a quick leap for a fan to think that, maybe, he was burned horribly or something, had to cover his face and has changed his name. Readers "in the know" know this isn't the case, but it would be an easy mistake to make.
I think my main problem with this book (and the larger "event" surrounding it) is that it doesn't feel that important or like there really is anything at stake. Yes, Gotham is falling apart (again); yes, the Black Mask has an army of bad guys; yes, there's a crazy Batman running around... but, come June, that's all behind us and... it just feels like there's no real tension or drama here. As I said before, the writing is obviously geared towards moving from post-"Final Crisis" to June, so what actually happens in the journey isn't nearly as important as the destination.
"Battle for the Cowl": It's all the pedestrian dullness of "Countdown" without the thrills of "Salvation Run"!
CN: And seeing as how I avoided both of them, I think the remaining two issues plus the various minis and one-shots will similarily get avoided. Bring on "Batman and Robin"!