Batman The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder

This one has been on my list to read for a long time, and now that this story is a few years old you can see that I am thoroughly behind on my comic reading. It is honestly almost impossible to keep up with all that is going on, and for the most part I have given up. So I now basically just pick and choose what I want to read as there is too much change happening too fast for me to keep up with. Not to mention the money it would cost to buy every new issue that was released, but I digress. With all that being said I will be discussing the Night of Owls, Court of Owls, and City of Owls all in my next reviews.

Scott Snyder is a comic writer from New York who graduated from with a degree in creative writing from Brown University where he also received his MFA (Master of Fine Arts). What is interesting is after he graduated he worked as a custodian for Disney, kind of reminds me of a real life Good Will Hunting. Brown is an Ivy League school, not sure why he was working as a custodian with that type of education. I am sure there is an interesting story there and would love to interview Scott, but for some reason I doubt he would indulge me. Eventually he published a few of his short stories and the rest is history. He has won an Eisner, Harvey, and Eagle awards for his work. He has mostly worked with DC but has also done stories with Image and Marvel. He has also written Wytches, A.D: After Death, Severed, and The Wake, which are all on my list to read at some point. So many great stories so little time.

Batman is out on the prowl and is eventually summoned to a murder scene. There is a lot of evidence pointing to an ancient order known as the Court of Owls, this supposedly rules Gotham from the shadows. Batman is certain no such Court exists, and that the legend is nothing more than just that. But soon he thrown into a situation that he cannot deny, and must accept the facts that even the master detective himself may have overlooked. Hopefully it is not too late for the Dark Knight.

For the most part I thought this was not a bad story. I did feel like DC was trying too hard to go back and insert things into Bruce Wayne’s past to make the story work. While I certainly understand that you have
to do this from time to time, especially with characters like Batman who have been through almost everything, it felt a little cheapened. I am not the biggest fan of DC but I have never heard of the Court of Owls before in terms of villains in the DC universe. Again my DC universe knowledge only goes so far, but I have never heard them mentioned in any other story before. After I looked them up this was their first appearance in this story line. So to me I feel it hurts the story to just all of a sudden throw something into a character’s past just for this story. That is my overall complaint.

With that being said I did feel that Owls were a pretty cool villain, or should I say the Talons were really cool. They all had really cool costumes and armor. Plus there is the fact that Owls prey on Bats. I felt that was a really cool line and tidbit to throw into the story. I looked this up and it is true, owls actually do eat bats. So that ads a little more intrigue to the story and creates the perfect setup. 

Something else I did not like, but it was more because I felt sorry for the character was how Batman was so near death. I mean honestly after seeing what he went through battling the Court, I really felt sorry for him and am not sure how he survived at all. I will also say that I know this is a comic but the beating that Batman took was, in my opinion, to the extreme and un-survivable. I know I am being a bit ridiculous as it is a comic book, but I mean no one in the editing room said: “Hey wait a minute, maybe we should not put that scene or this scene because Batman is not a “metahuman” or has any superhuman powers at all.” I don’t want to spoil what happens, but to me it was like him taking a bullet to the head and just walking it off, if he were Superman, then ok, but its Batman! Just a normal dude in a costume.

As for the story itself I felt it was pretty solid regardless of my above complaint about the court. There are some characters introduced that keep you guessing as to what they know and who they really are. I did like the twists and turns of how the story kept you guessing who was who and were they really who they said they were. It was also cool to see how Batman slowly tried to put the pieces together using all of his resources and knowledge. You really get a feel for how critical of a thinker he is and how he processes everything as a character and detective. He is so methodical in everything he does and this story really highlights those attributes.

I found the reading order somewhat a mess for the entire series. While it was not that big of a deal, in this trade, it was still a bit cumbersome as you pick up the next trade. I felt Court of Owls is the best and most straight forward. City of Owls was probably my least favorite in terms of the collected stories. They all cross over but really add very little to the main story, in my opinion, and honestly I felt even though they are in the correct reading order as these first two trades (Court of Owls and City of Owls) collect Batman 1-12, I felt like they were not in line with the story continuity. Again I just feel like they mostly get it right, but miss on the sequence of some of the events. I felt the part dealing with Mr. Freeze in City of Owls should have been at the beginning perhaps listed as maybe years or months before the story kicked off. I felt that it would have built a bit more intrigue and at that point you could have introduced the Court and Batman could have said no they don’t exist or whatever. That would then later explain the technology, but the writers put this at the end where, as a reader, I was just like ok and that was it. To me seemed like a bit of poor execution in terms of how they could have laid out the story.

The artwork in this one is what you would expect from a major comic cross over event. It is mostly traditional and has plenty of detail for my liking. I will also say that the page layouts were above average, and did offer some cool layouts to go along with the story. I wanted to mention that there were a few pages that you had to turn the book on its side to read the story. This was a neat aspect to symbolized that Batman’s world was literally being turned upside down, as there were also a few pages that you had to turn to book upside down to read them. Again just something different to mix up the story, I don’t think this is done much any more in comics. It was a nice change up, but it can get annoying if there are too many of these instances in a story. The colors in this one were very dark. I am not sure if that was by design or what, but I did notice that there seemed to be a lack of overall color. Much of the story takes place at night, so that may just be the colorist using darker flatter colors to add effect. Not a big deal but just something I noticed.

Overall this one was not too bad, I enjoyed the story even though if felt intentionally manufactured. The artwork is good and what you would expect from a big comic event. Check this one out if you get a chance.

Manik

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