Grant Morrison, Dennis O'Neil, Paul Dini, all of them made their mark on the Dark Knight Detective. In the so-called New 52, when DC de-aged their universe and rolled back the clock on some of their heroes and some of their own stories, it was Scott Snyder's turn with Greg Capullo, previously of Spawn fame.
The first time I read the first issue, I actually didn't get it. It didn't ring true for me how optimistic Snyder's Batman was, how he enjoyed his job of taking out the criminal trash of Gotham City. But c'mon, dude sticks a bat under the sole of his boot. He wants you to know it was him that kicked you in the face. How can you not enjoy that.
So join me as I explore Snyder and company's take on Batman. Starting with...
Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls
by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion
I was much more stingy in 2011 when they introduced the New 52. I was in college, with plenty of time on my hands but not so much cash. It was easy for me to be picky, and that made me refuse this title after the first issue.
What a mistake! Just when you think you know Gotham City, Snyder makes it feel brand new. He gives Bruce Wayne the lofty goal of revitalizing the city's infrastructure and making it a city of tomorrow. Bruce Wayne is a character, Batman is a character, and Gotham City is a character. With the narration that Snyder gives Bruce, you can feel the history and the love that Bruce feels for the city he grew up in. It's apparent in Issue 2 (I think it's issue 2), when the assassin comes to murder Bruce on the top of Wayne Tower. He's already explained to you the 12 "guardian statues" on the tower, as he and the assassin are falling from the height of the tower and trying to survive...
Reading Snyder's Batman is like peeling an onion....there are layers to the story that you thought you knew, when instead they reveal to you the actual truth. For example, when Bruce saw the bat through his window and decided to become a bat... that same bat on that same night got caught by an owl and was later devoured as a meal! The story is almost holographic...look at in one way and you see one story. Look at it another way and it's a whole different story. These issues are about Bruce Wayne's fight to claim his story, and his city. Or has he already lost to the 400 year-old court of owls, the cadre of elite Gothamists that have been planning his demise from the very start?
For the way every issue reads as its own story, I bet these would have read splendidly as single issues. There's so much content in each issue with palpable depth, taking the time to slow down is really worth it with this book. But I was disappointed to see the last issue hang on a cliff. Why even collect these issues together then? Why not collect the first 12 rather than the first 6? The Owls storyline was collected in full in the collection The Court of Owls Saga, so you would be better off reading that, or Vols. 1 and 2 together.
The court of Owls employs a "Talon," a highly-trained assassin with a convoluted method of reanimation from death. When Dick Grayson's DNA shows up on one of the Talon's targets, Nightwing tells Batman his alibi...
And Batman doesn't need to hear it from Nightwing. Because he already checked it himself. This is the Batman I know, the man who checks all his facts and covers every angle, even those against the people closest to him. The man does not discriminate.
Appreciation must be given to the art team...just look at all these broken windows man...
And lastly, check out this clever frame, after Batman's taken the mask of the Talon into the Batcave for analysis.
The frame gives the dialogue through the eyes of the Talon...how creepy is that! Even when the Talon is dead, the Court is still watching you!