ART: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Ladies and Gentlemen, "Night of the Owls" has begun!
Scott Snyder kicks things off for us this month with a stunning issue of Batman that sets up the infestation of Gotham City while pitting Bruce against more Talons than Alfred can count. "The Court of Owls" was a great storyline, one where Snyder attempted to convey the kind of enigma-shrouded terror that the Court and their Talon instilled, not only in Batman, but also the audience. While this might sound like a no-brained when it comes to comic books en masse, it's not often that writers want the audience to take the emotional journey with the main character. Too often, being a removed, third-person omniscient narrator allows writers too much leeway to show readers everything all the time instead of parsing it out over time.
While any regular Batman reader would, at this point, know what's going on, the emotional element is how Snyder creates such fantastic stories. The Court of Owls represents Batman's failures, not in defeating his enemies, but in truly understanding what it is that he's fighting. Bruce believed he was Gotham's Son, a man with such an intensely personal relationship with the city that it couldn't be rivaled. The revelation of the Court's existence crushes Bruce's esteem and confidence, turning him into a whining 12 year old girl who was called a "bitch" at school by Becky Johansen. Or - in the Batman version of this pre-teen - Bruce stands in the dark staring at a model version of Gotham City as he gazes past the buildings and into it's soul.
The actual attack by the Talons is truly terrifying. Written media rarely makes my skin crawl (the exceptions being Mark Z. Danielewski's fantastic House of Leaves, and the utter decrepit violence in Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s Kick-Ass) yet the threat of the Talons growing larger with every passing second sent chills down my back. I worried for Alfred, alone in the cave as a lone Talon came after him, and I worried again when the Talons start realizing that Bruce is Batman.
With fantastic art by Greg Capullo, a completely engaging narrative that ropes you in and never lets go, and a great lead-in to the main events in Gotham next month, Batman #8 is the best issue of the series to date, something Scott Snyder better stop doing soon before he can't outdo himself anymore!