ART: Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
This month, Scott Snyder wraps up "City of Owls", the mega-arc that has spanned all eleven current issues of Batman as well as all the other Bat-books during the "Night of the Owls" crossover in May. It's difficult to explain just how significant the Cour of Owls has become in less than a year. While (pretty much) every other book is showcasing character history, new threats, or reimagined ideas, Snyder has built a new entity in the DC universe akin - in narrative scope - to the Green Lantern Corps or the Legion of Superheroes. The Court is now a major player in the going-ons of more than just Batman, and that's a remarkable achievement. DC is so invested in the Court affecting the future, that it's debuting Talon - a new ongoing series based on the Court of Owls - as part of the "Third Wave" of titles slated for a September premier. Along with last month's revelation about Bruce Wayne's younger brother, Snyder has truly made a significant impact on the DC universe.
Batman #11 is split into to distinct acts: Batman vs. Owlman, and Bruce's epilogue-y lament about the Court. While Snyder's inter-character dynamic has been phenomenal thus far, he slips a bit here with Owlman's monologue. The first 15 pages are dedicated to Lincoln March (I'm going to call him that because it sounds cooler than Thomas Wayne Jr.) and his issues with Bruce, his father, and Gotham City at-large. After a few pages, March's angry rant starts sounding whiney and pathetic. The whole speech is supposedly meant to give the readers a sense of how sad March's life has been. Unfortunately, condensing this aspect of the arc to a single issue makes it come across as a little disingenuous. March has spent years and years hating Bruce, so having a few choice words for his older brother wouldn't be that abnormal, but to seemingly have an entire speech memorized - one that has an ascending and descending flow - whilst dragging another person through the sky is a bit far-fetched, even for Batman.
Which brings me to my second big gripe with their battle. March's Owlman suit gives him flight abilities, so he jets around Gotham with Bruce flailing behind him connected to some tether. At one point, March shoots into the sky and dangled Bruce in front of a passenger plane turbine engine. It's a dramatically drawn scene, but the reality of having a conversation only inches away from a furiously spinning plane engine is that it couldn't possibly happen. The sheer noise emitted from the engine would drown out anything else. While this might seem trivial on some level, it's a sloppy mistake that should have been changed. There wasn't any meaningful reason why March decides to use a plane as a torture device, so there's no reason why the scene couldn't have been made to be more realistic. Fortunately, Act II fares a lot better than the Owlman fight.
Bruised and (mostly) broken, Bruce is visited by Dick Grayson. Their awkward conversation stems from their last meeting, in which Bruce bitch-slapped a Court of Owls gold tooth cap out of Dick's mouth. Dick has a vivid memory of this, while Bruce tries to breeze right past this subject and into his feelings about the Court. While I normally don't condone pages filled with speech bubbles, it's nice to see Bruce out of the suit and a little more relaxed than usual. Snyder recognizes that he's been putting old Bats through the ringer for some time now, and that a little downtime is needed. That being said, Batman's downtime is all about debriefing. Bruce understands that Gotham isn't his - or Batman's, for that matter - and that he can't know everything about the city he thought was familiar - "Part of me was doing [the Gotham expansion initiative] to have more lookouts. More bases for Batman rather than the city itself. But I see now that I was wrong." Snyder deftly handles this scene, giving an honest portrayal of a man finally understands his place in his own world.
The Court of Owls is poised to be a major part of the DC universe moving forward. Scott Snyder has done what many writers only dream of doing - making a significant impact on a character and their universe. If all comic books were this good, there would be a whole new mainstream appreciation for this form.