Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Batman - The Court of Owls (Vol 1) Review

Batman – The Court of Owls (vol 1 )

Writer – Scott Snyder
Artist – Greg Capulo
Inker – Jonathan Glapion

New Beginnings – The Court of Owls storyline began branching in the classic Detective Comics. It was one of the hidden nursery rhymes that haunted Bruce Wayne for decades. There were various mythos hidden within Gotham, including its past, present and future. However being part of DC’s “New 52” it actually keeps Batman’s roster of allies (especially after the recent dealings with Hush, and Bruce’s “death and rebirth” at the hands of Darkseid during Final Crisis, and the Black Ring incident that also brought the dead back to life.

So you’re probably wondering, how do these events connect to one another? First, Hush, Thomas Elliot was Bruce’s old friend during their childhood, who went through a traumatic experience that changed both of their lives. With one exception, Elliot is in fact a well-known surgeon who lost his mind during an operation one time and took apart his own face. (Actually he owed money to someone, and made it on their list) Oddly enough Elliot garnered a second personality, or was crazy to begin with.

During Batman RIP, Elliot as Hush barked out the nursery rhyme containing the riddle of the Owls. And eventually unveiling that everyone that Bruce knew was a lie. (Including his parents, that in fact were killed that horrible night, all planned by the “Court of Owls”) And during Bruce’s disappearance, Hush took Bruce’s face and identity trying to fool Batman’s allies and villains to see what buttons he could truly push.

Not long after RIP, Darkseid took a fatal shot towards Batman, eventually sending him into a time warp that was actually meant to take his life. Through this bizarre quest, Bruce found out origins behind his family’s dark history, and what type of society these Owls are a part of, and how possibly to fight back.

Finally, the Black Ring incident, long foretold across the stars an entity that could bring back the dead. However during this time, it in fact brought back Bruce’s parents as walking, living people. (Including a certain poser garnering the identity of Jason Todd) When all was said and done, Bruce found out more dark truths about his identity as a detective, and as a human being.

New 52 – The Court of Owls

Gotham – present. Batman dishes out a few words with some of Gotham’s infamous characters that have been locked up in the “happiest” place on Earth, Arkham Asylum. Entrepreneur Bruce Wayne solidifies Gotham’s restructure for a better future and community. Various crimes have been taking place during both day and night across the city. As it turns out, The Court of Owls has been leaving hidden markers that they wish an audience with Batman, even placing breadcrumbs to make sure it’s getting his attention. However, they also known his civilian identity Bruce Wayne, and will take any means necessary to take him down.

Nursery Rhyme – What makes this new chapter of the Batman series captivating is how dark it continues to be. It earnestly pushes limits that anyone would dare go towards. From visiting a few unfriendly faces, to grim incidents left as breadcrumbs. And this new hunter, Talon, is one of the fiercest characters yet. It actually shows what Scott Snyder is capable of, excellent storytelling. When I first saw Watchmen, it was an intense tale that actually pushed a few boundaries. In fact, I recall that the “Owls” were a hidden agenda movement within the series (including Owlman, besides his namesake) in fact as it turns out he is also a member.

Batman under Snyder’s direction will definitely go places that many fans have possibly written as fan fiction. Some have pictured Gotham being taken over, or some allies may turn out to be enemies. Anything is truly possible within the Batman series. But no one expected Snyder to take it this far, and he does an excellent job of bringing old and new fans together to see what happens next. In all honesty, its best to read any Batman story more than once, because you might have missed something.

Artistic – The team of Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion deliver excellent artwork like no other art team in the past. It feels refreshing, edgy and detailed enough to keep the reader engaged, even to turn the page to see what’s next. What surprises me most is that Bruce has become a bit younger. In the tales before “the new 52”, Bruce was in fact a bit older. It might confuse some as to how the new team wants to de-age Bruce and friends. That odd tidbit aside, from villains to old friends those readers will notice. Everything works with this art team, and they deliver a captivating story that will keep fans coming for more.

But some fans might be wondering is this a revamp? Or a continuation? Honestly I find myself asking the same question, but it does seem to connect several dots from the past. And somehow mixes everything into a delicious cocktail. As a longtime Batman fan, I realize that although it may be a revamp that doesn’t mean everything we knew of is over. In fact it feels like it keeps the ongoing story left behind from RIP, yet emerging from its cocoon reborn. It leaves the imagination of fans to wonder “where can we go from here?” Anything is possible.

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