My expectations were awfully high going into issue #6 of Batman. To me a 10/10 comic isn’t just one that’s good– memorable. It’s one that I want to read over and over again. It’s a book that I want to share with others. And I did. I talked friends into picking issue #5 up and I found myself just last week re-reading for the 3rd time. That issue ended with Batman stabbed in the back and the people who care about him most lost without him. The batsignal had blown up because Gordon had burned it too hot and for too long, Damian had even dropped his arrogant, brooding facade and began to act like a scared 10 year old boy who missed his father. I thought a lot about how issue #6 could possibly pick up where part 5 left off. I mean with Batman getting his guts tore out there’s really not much else to see there. So I came to the conclusion that this issue would focus on the friends and family who were searching for Batman. Batman would be absent and we, like Robin, Gordon, Catwoman, and all the rest would be left to wonder about his fate.

That is not what happens in part 6.

No, no, no. Instead, this issue drops us right back into that gut-wrenching (literally) scene where Talon is whispering vicious taunts into Batman’s ear as he twists the knife. We don’t see Gordon. We don’t see Damian. We, as readers, are just as trapped in the labyrinth as the Dark Knight himself.

As you can tell by the horrifying (and incredibly awesome) cover, this book is still going to have quite a few hallucinations and some very twisted moments. But, unlike issue #5, this chapter trades in the stylish, disorienting page layouts and feeling of unending despair with hard hitting action scenes that take you through the brawl blow-by-blow and a sense that the Owls are through toying with their victim and are, in fact, ready to kill Batman–and they are entirely capable of it.

I have to applaud colorist FCO, his colors are fantastic both here and in the previous issue. It’s such a dark pallet, but when those florescent lights pop on and everything takes on that offensive white glow it just really looks fantastic. The attention to detail in Bruce’s bloodshot eyes made my own itch with imaginary irritation. Artist Greg Capullo continues to wow us with creepy hallucinations and absolutely brutal acts of violence. When Batman gets hurt– you feel it. And the way he designed the Court of Owls, wow, those masks are so simple yet so very very spooky.

I wasn’t as blown away as I was by issue #5 but that could just be because my expectations were so incredibly high, but then again I do have a complaint about this issue which I will put in spoilers.

Spoiler
After seeing Batman take such a horrible beating in the last issue and in the first half of this issue it was pretty satisfying to see him turn the tables on the Court of Owls and Talon. The way he used the camera’s components to make a bomb that would destroy the base of the fountain and give him an escape route was absolutely brilliant and one of my favorite things about this issue. BUT I wish he had overcome Talon and the Owls in the same fashion– using his wits. The last 2 issues have been about Batman’s body being completely broken. He’s starved, dehydrated, hallucinating, his ribs are cracked, his armor is busted, and now he has taken a knife through the back and out his belly. Yet he fights off Talon and all of his attackers as if nothing had happened and that devalued the climax of issue #5 for me. Snyder has done a phenomenal job so far giving us a Batman who is human, but for him to defeat Talon after being stabbed through the back, drugged, etc. etc. was a bit much to get over for me. Was it a cool scene? Yeah. I loved seeing my hero beat the snot out of Talon, but I would have enjoyed it more if he would have used his environment or played the Owls against each other in some way or done anything other than got mad and used his physical strength as if he were 100% healthy. The last issue proved that his body was gone but his mind was still fighting– his mind should have done the fighting here as well. But like I said, seeing him beat up Talon– very satisfying. *sigh* I’m conflicted as you can tell.

Another fine issue that everyone should read. Everyone. It’s intense, the artwork is top notch, and its final pages mark a very big step toward the upcoming Night of the Owls crossover event.

SCORE: 9/10