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Batman vol 1: The Court Of Owls s/c

Batman vol 1: The Court Of Owls s/c back

Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“My point is, sometimes we become so concerned with little dangers that we don’t see the big one, right beneath our feet. That’s all. Bruce?”
“I’m sorry, Lincoln. I have to go. I’m going to have my own people watch your room. They’re the best. Get some sleep.”
“But, Bruce, if they’re watching me... who’s watching you?”

Ahh... methinks the battle for the post-Morrison* quill is over, and Scott Snyder is the hands-down victor as this easily is the finest Batman title I’ve read since Morrison’s extended run.

This is exactly what Batman should be all about, with mystery and misdirection teased and tormented out over several issues as elaborate, nay labyrinthian (you’ll see what I mean), games are played, and masterplans deviously plotted and callously executed. It’s just that here it’s Batman and indeed Bruce Wayne who find themselves, initially at least, being manoeuvred round the board, seemingly at will by players unknown, the faceless and until now presumed mythical Court Of Owls.

Exceptional storytelling here from BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR’s Scott Snyder as he creates a brand new set of Bat-adversaries, which have apparently been around since the founding of Gotham (more on that possibly in the ALL-STAR WESTERN part of the Court Of Owl crossover currently ongoing), yet which everyone believes to have no more reality than a children’s nursery rhyme. In fact the Court Of Owls referenced in said rhyme is something a very young Bruce Wayne tried once to investigate, in the distraught aftermath of his parents’ deaths, as he desperately searched for a deeper reason for their murder than the simple mindless thuggery of a single robber. He didn’t find anything then however, and hasn’t since on the rare occasions Batman has heard very vague rumours, leading him to conclude it really is nothing more than a fairy tale. Except now, for reasons yet unknown, it seems that the Court is ready to make a very public statement by killing Bruce Wayne, and yet Batman still isn’t convinced that they really exist.

“The man who tried to kill me made a comment about how much he loved killing Waynes.”
“No Wayne in the last fifty years has died suspiciously to my knowledge... other than your parents, of course.”
“I know that. But whoever he is, this man wants me to believe that he isn’t just a killer, but that he’s The Talon.”
“The Talon? From the Court of Owls folksong?”
“Except that he wants me to believe that the Court isn’t a fairytale... that in reality some secret group of men has actually been ruling Gotham from the shadows since colonial times. So I’m assuming the Wayne killing he’s referring to involves some incident from the past. Something to give credibility to the bedtime story. So again Alfred, what do you know about owls?”
“Just common trivia... they’re carnivorous, masters of camouflage... they’re natural predators of bats...”

Snyder is creating an epic storyline here, something that really sinks its roots deep, very deep into Bat-history, and producing something which will, I suspect, have profound implications for Bruce and for Batman for some time to come. Not a page or panel is wasted; every single bit of space is used to lay out an incredibly complex, dense tale. Anyone who thinks writing a Bat-comic would be child’s play would be well advised to read this and think again. There’s one superb sequence (out of many) which I don’t want to spoil, which oh so cleverly puts a completely different spin on one of the most pivotal parts of Bat folklore that had me absolutely gasping in admiration, and no, it’s not the death of Bruce’s parents. Snyder has put some serious thought into this, so just sit back and enjoy.

The art, from Greg Capullo, is of an equally high standard with some wonderful conceits employed liberally throughout which artfully (no pun intended just for once) match exactly what is happening on the page at that moment. He’s clearly read Gary Spencer Millidge’s brilliant COMIC BOOK DESIGN: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DESIGNING COMICS! Simply magnificent stuff, and if Snyder and Capullo can maintain this standard, I’ve every reason to believe this storyline will be added to the relatively short list of modern Bat-classics which we at Page 45 are happy to recommend to people who ask which are worth reading.

*Yes Bat-pedants, I know Morrison is coming back to finish things off with the new monthly BATMAN INC. title but I quite liked the BATTLE FOR THE COWL pun once I’d thought of it and I didn’t want to waste it, so there!