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Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (2012)
Author: Scott Snyder
Illustrator: Greg Capullo
Genre: Mystery, Horror, Superhero
Pages: 176 (hardcover)
Series: Batman issues #1-7 (The New 52)

Following his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed run on Detective Comics, writer Scott Snyder (American Vampire) alongside artist Greg Capullo (Spawn) begins a new era of The Dark Knight as with the relaunch of Batman, as a part of DC Comics—The New 52!

After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he's sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?

Collects issues #1-7 of Batman.

Why I Read It: I love graphic novels. I was really into superhero graphic novels two years ago, but I stopped following a lot of them because I just didn't have the money to keep up with all the series I liked. I've been curious about the New 52 (I followed DC up until the end of the Blackest Night story arc), but never got around to checking it out. We received some of the hardcovers in at work the other day, so I decided to start off with Batman because he's one my favourite superheroes.

Straight up: I loved this. I was curious how they were going to introduce Batman/Bruce and the other characters from the Bat-verse, since this is a ret-con. I was wondering if we were going to have new origin stories or something, but that ended up not being the case: Batman is in full swing when we jump into things. You are expected to have some idea about everyone's origin story, so I wouldn't say this is 100% friendly for people who are new to superhero comics (for example: maybe not everyone knows that there has been more than one Robin; that the first Robin was an acrobat in the circus, or that he's now Nightwing; that the current Robin is Bruce's biological son; etc.)

The story itself was really engrossing. Batman comics are oftentimes atmospheric because Gotham is always so integral to the story, to the point where it feels like a character itself. This is also the case here; the story is very much about Gotham and the history of it, and how Batman has become so embedded in Gotham's identity. But the Court of Owls has come to retake that mantle, and they are quite the foe.

The only time that the story faltered for me was when Batman ended up in the labyrinth in the sewers. Things got a little too weird and surreal for me. I understand this was probably to reflect Batman's state-of-mind, and I respect that, but it still felt a little too bizarre. The way Batman was visually represented when he was making his crazy "comeback" when it looked like he was down was kind of strange too (though I understand that that also wasn't meant to be taken at face-value; Batman obviously wouldn't grow massive fangs). Anyway, this isn't exactly a fault of the story, but more an issue of personal taste.

The art was decent, but nothing amazing. I don't have much more to say in regards to that.

Final Verdict: I really enjoyed this ret-con; I thought we would get new origin stories or something, but we didn't, so a warning to new readers of super hero comics: you do have to have some pre-knowledge about certain characters and their origins. The story was tense and it actually felt like Batman was in DANGER, and I enjoyed most of the mystery aspects as well. It was really atmospheric as well, with Gotham being front and center. The only time the story faltered was about 2/3 of the way through, but it was more an issue of personal taste than it actually being BAD. The art was nothing more than your average, but I didn't hate it either. It was an all-around solid title and I'm excited to see more.

Cover Commentary: It's not my favourite of the issue covers, but it's dark and Batman-y I guess?

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
calico_reaction
Jun. 3rd, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the issue you refer to when he's in the labyrinth is a bit too surreal. I kept misreading it too, not sure which panel to go to next sometimes.

Still, this is a title I'm still following, though I told Greg I'll be happy when this storyline wraps up. While interesting, I'm a little tired of the Court of the Owls. There's this big crossover with all of the Batman-centric comics, and crossovers annoy the snot out of me. :)
intoyourlungs
Jun. 3rd, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Ugh, crossovers bug me too, especially when I'm not interested in one of the titles that are a part of the crossover but I need to read them for vital information for the titles I DO like.

And does the crossover happen during those first seven issues? I had a feeling it did because characters would sometimes say/do things as if they were referring to something that should be obvious to the reader but it wasn't obvious to me at all.

Edited at 2012-06-03 09:20 pm (UTC)
calico_reaction
Jun. 3rd, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
The particular crossover I'm referring to, no. It happens after. However, the New 52 has been, in all the issues, kind of vaguely referencing other stories, but usually those are marked with an asterisks and you're told where to find the storyline.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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