Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Comic Review -- Batman #9: Night of the Owls / Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and Rafael Albuquerque

This would be a slightly confusing cover if you haven't read this series up to now, with the Cylon-Batsuit staring out at you over what I assume is Wayne Manor.  It's exceptionally bad-ass if you know what's going on though, and the Talons caught in the reflections of the mask's visor actually look daunted.  This is why you do not mess with Batman, ever.  He prepares for everything!

Batman has picked up where he left off in the last issue, coming out of the Batcave's armory in a tank of a Batsuit designed to withstand environmental extremes.  He throws down on the group of Talons, taking a large number of them out before they overwhelm him... and then get trampled by Batman's dinosaur statue.  Batman heads out into Gotham, makes his way to Arkham Asylum (covered in Detective Comics #9), and heads to Lincoln March, who dies just after handing Batman a piece of paper.  Reading it, Batman tells Alfred he knows where the Court is... and that he's going to burn their house to the ground.

In a follow-up story, Alfred's father, Jarvis Pennyworth, recounts the story of his association with the Wayne family, and how he blames himself for the Wayne family becoming enemies of the Court of Owls.  He implies that, if Alfred has indeed read the letter, whatever Jarvis has done, Alfred likely knows what the cause is.

I've made no secret of how much I'm enjoying the Night of the Owls crossover going on amongst the Batman family of titles.  The last issue of Batman sent a shiver through me when I finally put it down, and the follow-up in Batman #9 continues to lay down the sense of epic, creeping dread that has been so expertly delivered in this series and the tie-ins to this story.  Now Batman has decided to actively push back, and as all Bat-fans know, things are about to get seriously ugly... for the Court of Owls.

One thing that is spot-on and which never falters is Batman's sense of confidence.  Whether it's commenting that he can simply play harder as he lays into the Talons or coolly knocking the last one out with the Batmobile as the Talon tries to escape, it never fails to impress me.  This is a guy who has looked into the abyss many times, and always makes whoever's on the other end blink first.

I was saddened by Lincoln March's death, but I'm also a little suspicious of it.  He hung in just long enough to gasp a message for Bruce Wayne to Batman.  I don't know if he's just a figure intended as a springboard of sorts for Bruce, or if he's faking his death and is somehow aligned with the Court, but I can't claim either would really surprise me at this point.  I really would have liked for March to have been an actual, live, genuine BFF for Bruce Wayne.  If anyone needs a civilian bromance, I'd say it's him.

The Jarvis Pennyworth storyline kicks off an interesting and potentially very vital look at the relationship between the Pennyworths and the Waynes, and seems to center on a secret they are keeping from the family they serve.  I'm eager to see what happens next, as the Pennyworths' influence over the Waynes, while subtle, must not be for nothing, and the sinister nature of whatever information they've concealed from them doubtless holds a vital link to the Court.  More, please!

I've said plenty about how much I love Capullo's artwork in this series, so I'll only say this time that he maintains his usual high standards very well.  I saw a lot of hate for Albuquerque's artwork in last issue's additional story, and am more than a little puzzled.  While I admit it's a different style than Capullo's, it's very beautiful and fitting to the tone of the stories.  I can't help feeling people are punishing the artwork simply for not being Capullo's, and I don't think that's right.  Albuquerque's artwork is sinister, evocative, and an excellent fit for the tone of the Night of the Owls storyline.  I for one hope to see more of it!

Overall, this is a strong continuation of this storyline.  I continue to bow to Scott Snyder's take on the Batman mythos, as well as the evocative and striking artworks provided by Capullo and Albuquerque.  If you haven't read Night of the Owls, do yourself a favor and start.  I think this will go down as one of the classic Bat stories.  Highly recommended.

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