Batman volume 1: The Court Of Owls [The New 52] by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion (graphic novel review).

With the first volume of The New 52, ‘The Court of Owls’, we are thrown right into the middle of Bruce Wayne’s life as he’s preparing with others to invest in Gotham City, rebuild it, and discretely plant some Batman bunkers throughout. However, as you read the collective opening seven issues, he gets called away when he spots Commissioner Gordon being called away to a unique murder, and as Batman observes, a man has been slowly tortured before being killed by knives. Skin fibre under the dead man’s nails, under his own scrutiny, is revealed to belong to Dick Grayson. Not identified on the police databank because none of the Bat family are on it. This includes Batgirl and the new Robin, Tim Drake. You do have to wonder if Alfred Pennyworth also got this inclusion. Little details are added along the way that would also indicate that this Batman is also a bit of a control freak, but that’s only first impressions.

The plot reveals that several generations ago, there was a court of owls with its own vigilante called the Talon who saw to the death of Bruce Wayne’s great, great grandfather, Alan Wayne. Now it’s resurfaced in the present. This Batman is far more of a detective, building up the clues and tracking down his enemy. Although it’s fine to see them from Batman’s perspective, as readers, we don’t really know much about them ourselves, which is probably a flaw in a page-turner. Give yourselves a good hour to read in one sitting.

In seeking information, Batman tackles one of the tube gangs called the Whisper Gang, a Ukraine gang that once trained and sent to the USA had their faces soldered into a metal mask for a year. That raises the question of how they eat and drink. Further in, a young Bruce Wayne is revealed to lack food and water for a week, and in his older alter-ego, a similar problem. I don’t think writer Scott Synder knows that, at most, without water, you’re dead after three days. No matter how strong even an injured Batman is, getting up from a heavy tranquillizer is also a tad unrealistic. Batman isn’t a meta-human, so it should always be remembered that he can’t be totally perfect.

Nevertheless, I can see certain aspects of this version of Batman being used in other versions. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Batman act as a detective. He still gets his fight time in, but he is mostly looking for information. It also appears that he lets criminal gangs run in Gotham. Logistically, he’s probably aware that if he removes them, new ones will step in their place, so he just keeps them in check.

The storyline doesn’t end with this graphic novel, so make sure you have the next one waiting in the wings.

GF Willmetts

March 2024

(pub: DC Comics, 2012. page graphic novel softcover. Price: varies. ISBN: 978-1-4012-3542-0)

check out website: www.dccomic.com


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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