Quick review: Batman #9 (Court of Owls)
Bruce Wayne’s family has a long and complicated past that is interwoven with the history of Gotham City itself. One of the four founding families, the Waynes along with the Cobblepots, Elliots and the Kanes helped shape the metropolitan wonder into the magnificent city that it is today. But there is a dark heart in the city of Gotham, one that stretches back to the land itself before the structure was even begun. There are many myths in Gotham aside from the Batman, such as the owls, dark spectral creatures that haunt the spires and rooftops of the tall buildings, spying on the citizens like their aviary namesake. Alan Wayne, the black sheep of the Wayne family, was convinced that they were real and went insane before being found dead in the sewers.
Bruce Wayne has investigated the Court of Owls many times and is convinced that they are not real. When their Talons make a move to shape the future of Gotham, Wayne delves deeper and finds that not only is there a Court of Owls, but their lineage is long and twisted, consisting of undead assassins and arcane rituals held in secret rooms scattered throughout Gotham City, HIS city, which Batman never really knew after all.
A 15-part crossover running through Batman, Dark Knight, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Nightwing, Catwoman, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batwing, Birds of Prey, Batgirl and All-Star Western, Court of Owls is the first crossover ‘event’ story of the post-52 Batman family. Batman #9 is part 3 or 4 (I think), set after Batman escapes from the Court of Owls only to discover that they have followed him home to Wayne Manor.
The Court’s assassins (called Talons) have targeted several key individuals for elimination. Sending the signal out to his lieutenants, Batman is assisted by Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and others in a desperate attempt to protect the innocent. Batman has very little time to stop the Court of Owls and he is already too late to prevent many of the killings from happening. In addition, his secret identity has been blown and the Talons have made their way not just into his house, but to his cave as well.
Things are not going well for Batman.
I won’t mince words… this story is astounding. Batman faces a foe that is not only massive and well organized but predates him as well and has him out-classed as an urban legend. I have traditionally avoided the Batman crossovers in the past as the stories have been lame and also demand that I pick up several books I have no interest in. So far, not only is the Court of Owls amazing but I doubt I will miss anything by skipping Red Hood and the Outlaws (and I will, be sure of it).
This issue sees Batman in a mob fight using a mech-suit designed for an alien environment with state of the art life support and offensive armaments. Even so, he must drop the temperature in the cave to sub zero in order to slow down the Talons’ movements in order to gain an edge.
The scripting by Snyder is superb as Wayne remembers the bat infestation under Wayne Manor that was eliminated by introducing owls. But after the owls were gone… the bats came back. As the Talons tears away Batman’s protective suit and pierce it in some places, he doggedly fights on, refusing to give in to their over-whelming numbers.
I am also greatly enjoying the art of Greg Capullo, someone who should be remembered for his layout and stunning action sequences when the Eisners come around. I dread the inevitable fill-in issue, because he is firing on all cylinders here and surely he must get a break some day!
Batman is a character that nearly every comic book professional loves and nearly every fan adores. His series should be the top selling comic book, no exceptions. Every issue should be a knock-down brawl mixed with intrigue, horror and tension… and all of that is here in truck loads.
Not to mention the back-up story, a disturbing tale told in the form of a letter written by Alfred Pennyworth’s late father as he hurries to escape the curse of the Waynes… and runs straight into the Talons.
A superb book… I might just go read it again.