Batman joins Commissioner Gordon on a brutal murder case. After examining the body Batman learns that the man's fingernails had scratched Dick Grayson aka Nightwing at some point. While investigating he learns that Bruce Wayne is next on the list to be killed, and his would-be killers represent an organization calling themselves the Court of Owls. But aren't they a myth? Batman is determined to find out. -summary
Although I originally supported the idea of DC rebooting their universe by pointing out people should give it a chance before harsh judgment. I also felt it was rather unnecessary, and Batman: Court of the Owls pretty much backs me up with its initial story. DC didn't need a reboot, it only needed for the company to have more faith in its writers and become a bit more creative. Here we have a Batman story that can stand up well on its own without relying on the Batman/Joker chemistry. Honestly, had this book been some type of encounter with the Joker, I know for a fact that my level of interest wouldn't have been very high. Written by Scott Snyder with beautiful, yet eerie artwork delivered by Greg Capullo, Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls contains Batman issues 1 - 7.
Scott Snyder is already familiar with Batman as he penned one of his last stories before the reboot being Black Mirror. He continues his gripping and thoughtful writing style to deliver a quite mysterious story on the Court of Owls. It appears that this organization are the true underground rulers of Gotham City, and they have been responsible for many murders going back maybe more than a century. Along the way, Snyder manages to deliver some background on the Wayne's, indicating that the ones who were murdered, were probably murdered for reasons. Before going into the usual characters, there's one character Snyder decided to focus on developing with great success, and that's Gotham City itself; as he explores the city from its superstitions on to the very architecture. Gotham city is a very interesting character with a sordid past. His writing style brought the place to life for me, and in the process he also shows us how important Bruce Wayne and Batman are as they represent hope, a better tomorrow for the populace to strive for.
Snyder uses Gotham City to help develop the Court of Owls giving them some very much needed depth. Had it not been for the superstitious beliefs and mythology on their namesake. They could have very easily came off as a very stale villain that probably would have had me screaming for a Joker appearance. The actual plot contains the usual detective work involving Batman trying to unearth the identity of this cult, but it's the mystery, the pace, and the characters that bring out the best here. I love the ubiquitous feel concerning the Court of Owls, as there's this strong possibility that they already know Bruce is Batman and has known for years. If handled right, this could birth some very interesting stories in the future that will no doubt effect the entire Bat-Family. Nightwing makes an appearance that doesn't feel tacked on, and I also enjoy how he plays into the story, by pointing out to Bruce that there's a strong possibility he doesn't know everything and he may be wrong this time. On too many occasions writers have written Batman as the super detective who will crack any case with zero error. Snyder instead forces us to ponder that Batman may be seriously underestimating this resourceful and near god-like enemy.
The artwork here is very close to perfect.The backgrounds do a splendid job depicting Gotham as a city screaming for a savior in some form. The ran down dark alleys and streets, tunnels, moonlights, all present this feel of an abused and heavily depressed person screaming for help. The level of violence is quite brutal, as there are very little punches pulled here. The character designs are very sharp, and even quite disturbing in the beginning when Batman pays a visit to Arkham Asylum. The only problem I have which is pretty light, is that I was actually confused between Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne on one occasion, as there was one scene of internal dialog that was clearly from Bruce, but it was Grayson who was actually the focus. It felt like Bruce's design was the foundation for several characters. I felt the dialog was neatly written and easy enough to follow.
It doesn't effect my overall enjoyment, but the one nagging thought that I just couldn't shake is that the story doesn't feel like a reboot. At least not what my vision of a reboot is. This story feels as if it could have fit into Batman's previous continuity at any point. I guess maybe I'm even a little confused at how DC is handling this thing. In any case, since there intention is to rope in newer readers, then they surely have a winner here. Plus I think there's enough of the usual Batman mystery and even psychological elements added in to appeal to long time fans. If you don't mind the violence, in which I don't believe is that serious, then you have yourself an interesting read. Also, be aware that the story does end on a cliffhanger indicating that this is part of a larger event.
-Fluid and gripping narrative, excellent artwork
-Cliffhanger ending, violence may be too much for some
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