Filed under: Comic Reviews, DC Comics | Tags: Batman, GregCapullo, RafaelAlbuquerque, ScottSnyder
Ten months ago we got 52 new DC comics. From the start it was easy to see those books that had a structured plan of where they were going, and those that were simply meandering along, getting by on a simple plot thread. Lucky for us, Scott Snyder is a master of planning, knowing each and every step Batman would take from when we started back in issue #1 so that now, 9 issues later with everything aligned, he can start to give us even bigger twists and turns. Some spoilers ahead.
If you follow Mr Snyder on Twitter, you’ll have heard him talk on many occasions about how issue #10 was a big turning point in the Court f Owls storyline, giving away it’s biggest twist – so going into this issue was kind of like watching the season finale of you’re favourite TV show – you know that anything could happen at any point. Snyder plays up to this extremely well, structuring the issue in such a way that it feels like pages is a major turning point. The issue begins and BANG – Batman’s found a member of the court of Owls, and then BANG he’s found their secret hide out and then … and then it’s over. But the book’s not finished yet? Like the reader, Bruce sits unsatisfied with the resolution, surely there’s more to all of this? Oh yes, there is more! Suddenly 22 pages hasn’t felt longer.
The big reveal comes in two stages – leading with the “I always knew the answer” kind of feeling that Batman describes earlier in the issue, but then smacking you across the face with the “holy crap I never saw that coming” one shortly after. It’s this second one that has a lot of impact on the whole bat-universe – this is one of those moments in the character’s history which will be forever etched in there, along with the death of Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon being shot by the Joker and the reveal of who Hush is. It’s that big. And I’m really pleased that it’s come from the powerhouse creative team of Snyder and Capullo – these two have worked incredibly hard over these 10 issues to bring us an incredibly structured piece of work. You almost forget that the Court of Owls didn’t exist this time last year, their whole history and reputation only constructed since the start of the DC new 52, and it’s then you realise what an incredible piece of storytelling this has been. But it’s not finished yet – we’ve still got our actual season finale to go – the one where anything really can happen.
The art team on this issue also do an incredible job of bringing all of the previous issues together and neatly wrapping them up for this massive finale. Each scene captures an element of a previous issue, the dark brown skyline of gotham, the burnt sunset orange signalling something coming to an end, but also introduces us to new areas of Gotham, like the derelict children’s home and it’s dirty moss green colours across it’s walls. There’s always a tendency with Batman books to keep it focused on the blacks and blues, in keeping with the plot’s dark tone, but this series has shown us that Batman can be technicolor, with blood red skies and harsh white corridors of the Court’s underground maze.
I have to also give a massive amount of praise to Rafael Albuquerque for his exceptional work in this issue’s back up story. Having him work with Snyder on a bat book feels like one of those surprise cameos you can’t believe is real. Not only is the backup story perfectly timed (did you expect anything less?) but Rafael brings the whole story to life over just 7 pages. In all my time reading and watching Batman comics and cartoons, I can honestly say I’ve never seen an image of Martha Wayne that sticks in my memory as being the way she should look – when put in the right context you’ll always know who that painting on the wall or female character should be – but Rafael changes all of that. This story helps round out the strong and independent woman that Martha is, but her look and style feels like we’re finally seeing the way Martha Wayne should be drawn, pearl neckless and all. Once again this story proves that a back-up strip should only be use to help enhance the main strips enjoyment, not just bump up the price for the extra page count.
There’s few regular monthly books from the likes of DC and Marvel that I’d consider re-reading so soon after having read them the first time, but I know that once issue #11 has finished I’ll be taking an afternoon out to enjoy the whole Court of Owls tale from start to end in one go. This issue though, proves that it’s all been worth it and, with the exception of issue #5, is my favourite of the series so far.
Craig – @hastiecraig
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