Batman Vol 1 : The Court of Owls COMICS RETROSPECTIVE: Batman gets a scare in this stunning reboot.


Written by: Scott Snyder, Pencils by: Greg Capullo, Inks by: Jonathan Glapion, Colours by: FCO.


Bruce Wayne, billionaire, philanthropist, playboy. By day, he’s the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, a company his parents founded for the betterment of Gotham City. Since their untimely death, their city has spiraled out of control: crooked police, mob rule, and the growing emergence of criminals with a propensity for the theatrical. By night, Bruce and his family are the protectors that Gotham need, they are the Bat Family run by Batman himself.


Lincoln March is making headlines in Gotham City as he runs for mayor. Meanwhile, Bruce has ambitions of his own to transform the city, to help its people by building a coherent public transport system, and to help the more derelict of places. Lincoln confides in him that he feels that something bad has come back to Gotham. Rumours are rife of the legendary outfit known as the Court of Owls. Spanning centuries, the Court are members of a secret organisation responsible for lots of the tragedies that occur in Gotham. With their talons deep into the social elite, this Court can decide anyone’s fate. As a recent dead body has spelled out, “Bruce Wayne will die tomorrow”. Now Bruce has to come to the reality that maybe Gotham was never his or Batman’s, but the Owls'.


In 2011, following the events of the Flashpoint crossover, DC initiated a soft reboot of their comic titles, known as The New 52. This was to entice new readers who would have found it difficult to keep up with the continuity of characters spanning over 80 years. This soft reboot sees a slightly younger Bruce Wayne, still with his son Damien (current Robin), his trusted friend Dick Grayson (Nightwing), and Tim Drake (Red Robin). The stories being told were to be more like the classic detective stories that were so iconic with Golden Age Batman. Snyder and Capullo really kicked things off with a bang, creating one of the more terrifying villains that Batman has ever faced, surrounded by a story of intrigue amongst Gotham history.


The pacing of the story here is just fantastic, starting with a two page introduction to some classic Batman villains, and showing off Batman’s fighting skills as well as his cunning. This builds to a meet with Lincoln, and Bruce being targeted by the Court. As everyone around him struggles to get him to see the reality that the Court exists, he is determined to show that they never have, and this is just a ploy. Snyder manages to capture the eccentric as well as the detective side of Bruce, pushing him to his limits within the story to the point where he strikes Nightwing. This is not your average story for the Dark Knight. His mental state is pushed and he’s surrounded by villains that are only beaten in terms of horror value to Bruce by Man Bat.



The artwork by Capullo and Glapion is truly fantastic. Flowing so beautifully through the book as it starts neat and tidy, with Batman being shown as traditional as he could be. As the story goes on and the plot develops, pushing Bruce into madness, the art twists where we see Batman as a monster, with sharp teeth and pointy edges to his costume. We even get a tragic moment where the city believes Batman is gone and all is lost. To add insult to that, which shows how bad things got, the Bat Signal blows its bulb, and we have a beautifully tragic panel of Commissioner Gordon consoling Damien.

Another thing that just shows how creative this team are, is the moments when Bruce as Batman spirals into madness, we are forced to read the book in different ways. From on its side to upside down, causing the reader to physically spiral with him.


This was a fantastic start to the run of the New 52 Batman, by a team that knows the character and knows how to create some great stories.


The New 52 Batman Vol 1 - The Court of Owls (collecting issues #1-7), was released on 2nd April 2013 from DC Comics and is now available from your Local Comic Shop as well as comixology


 

Andrew Carr was blessed to grow up watching the animated series of Batman, X-Men, and his favorite, Spider-Man.This started his dive into the comics world, which resulted in meeting his amazing cosplaying wife Imogen. They live in England with their Sinister Six dogs.

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