Comics: Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls Review

Batman, he’s almost everyone’s favorite comic book character and if he isn’t he’s number two, and if he’s not your number two you’re only saying you don’t like him because everyone else does. So when DC decided to reboot, and launch with six titles featuring Batman, there were high hopes in place for the caped crusader. Since he has three books all to himself there was hope that at least one if not all of them would be great and it was no surprise to anyone when the self-titled Batman comic reigned supreme over all others. But how does it hold up as a trade? The answer surprised even myself.

Going back and rereading the entire story for the first time since I read the single issues yielded results I wasn’t expecting. While it was fun to read this comic as it came out month to month, because there are some very ambitious cliffhangers here, it reads a lot more smoothly as a complete volume. There’s an aspect to the character that is present in Scott Snyder’s stories that we don’t see a lot of in other Batman tales. Snyder uses a lot of Batman with the mask off, whether he’s working in the Batcave or he’s out in public as Bruce Wayne. He also puts a lot of the focus on the mystery aspect of the story, which as we all know is quite important to the character (him being the World’s Greatest Detective and all).

Snyder has a good grasp on his story telling here too. The individual issues, while adding on to the arc, each have their own feel to them. He utilizes a lot of different story tools that we don’t see very often, especially not in Batman. Too many writers for the Dark Knight are worried about making him punch a lot of things with cameos from everyone’s favorite villains in favor of telling a grand story, and Snyder has chosen the later. While the first couple of issues offers you all the super villain madness and Batman stopping crimes you could dream of sooner rather than later, you will find yourself wanting to know more about this mysterious Court of Owls and what it all means.

Snyder gets Batman. He’s got the voice down pat and leaves no room for error as he moves in and out of these hopeless situations but still manages to make you worry. That’s how you know Snyder is a good writer, he can take this character that we all know and love and make you think “This is it, there’s no way out, that’s it for Batman” and you really believe it.

Greg Capullo’s art is also incredible. It isn’t difficult for any professional artist to draw the Batman, but if you can take that character and make the reader realize that he’s still just a man with limits, that is powerful. His splash pages are also pure eye candy. Capullo manages to squeeze so many details into each panel that it is an astonishing feat and every Batfan will be drooling over his two page Batcave, it’s stunning and full of all the Easter Eggs you could want. Though no Batman art is complete without dynamic fight scenes and while there is no shortage of it here, Capullo’s stand out from the rest because they’re not so dark and brooding. We can see the action and it looks great.

This is the kind of graphic novel that any Batman fan should own. It’s got an incredible story and great art that compliments the tone of this take on Batman perfectly. I can’t imagine another artist’s work with Snyder’s words. Since this is a hard cover it already looks sharp, and with the added bonus of Script Pages, Variant covers, and a character sketch gallery, it’s absolutely worth all of your money. I can only hope that Snyder is here to stay on Batman.

Rating: 9 / 10