ART: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Scott Snyder has spent the last year crafting one of the best Batman storylines in years - and it didn't involve a death of a main character! Snyder's Court of Owls is such a great metaphor for the unknown, the uncovered. This month puts Bruce right into the thick of the "Night of the Owls", first by finishing up his fight in the Batcave, then to save Lincoln March, a character Snyder developed fantastically early on in the series and is just now coming back...only to die.
Batman #9 is probably one of the least plot-heavy issues of the series to date, relying mostly on action sequences to push it forward. While this might normally be a problem, "Night of the Owls" continues on through issue eleven in Batman - while only crossing over with the other Bat books this month - so stretching out Bruce's plot isn't as detrimental as it could be. The first half of the issue is spent wrapping up the attack on Wayne Manor, pitting Mecha-Batman against a half-dozen Talons. Alfred is dropping the cave's temperature as fast as he can to counteract the Talons' regenerative abilities and the Bat-Gundam is slowly being torn to pieces.
Of course, the Talons finally freeze and Bruce makes his escape to go and save Jeremiah Arkham - a plot point added at the eleventh hour - before going after March. Bruce's visit to Arkham Asylum is depicted in the pages of last week's Detective Comics in rather dull detail. Fortunately, March's panels at the end of the issue are superb, and while his time in the Batman universe has been brief, he was such a good foil to Bruce that I still felt upset when he died. His last words are about how great Gotham can be, telling Batman to make sure Bruce Wayne knows that the dream shouldn't die. It's probably one of the best emotional moments in the series so far, and it simply pushes Bruce past the edge.