If you’re havin’ comic problems, I feel bad for you son, I’ve written 99 bad reviews but Batman ain’t one.
Each issue of this book looks better than the last. I’m always amazed by the dark, moody atmosphere that Capullo, Glapion, and FCO have created. The unique, intricate design of every Talon soldier, the simple yet oh so creepy Owl masks, the exhaustion on Bruce’s face, the shadows, and, of course, the places! Every location stands out. Batman’s world is one that’s dark and dirty and that appears to be something that FCO does incredibly well. Grimy sewers with rust coated fences, the cool blue electric glow on the rock walls of the batcave, a blood red night’s sky, a freezing cold nowhere blanketed in white– it’s all fantastic.
As for the story, well it’s still quite good but the last two issues are a tough act to follow. This installment works as a stepping stone from one arc to the next, ties the events of “Batman” and “Nightwing” together, and makes a nice jumping-on point for new readers. On the other hand, those who have been following this run from the beginning might get a little bored during the exposition heavy dialogue.
I really enjoyed a different take on a classic “Batman: Year One” scene (which arouses even more questions about what’s still canon and what isn’t since this scene still exists and yet Sarah Essen apparently does not), you’ll be happy to know that Snyder is writing a scene with Dick Grayson again here (he really captures that character’s voice well), and the ending really has me pumped for what’s to come in issue #8. Overall, another stellar issue, but not as powerful as the previous installments.
So what problems did I have with this book other than the exposition-heavy dialogue? For one, the first couple of pages show Batman being revived in the back of a van with a few jumper cables. The girl reviving him is named Harper and Batman apparently has a history with her. Being the Batman nerd I am I rushed to my Batman Encyclopedia, then my copy of The Batman Files, then I checked the interwebs and…nothing. Until I checked out Snyder’s twitter.
Turns out, she’s new and I’m sure Snyder will explain who she is, how she knows Batman, and how exactly she found Batman in time to resuscitate him (before Alfred, even though Alfred found Talon’s body?) in the first place but that’ll come sometime later. For now though, it was a bit of a jarring moment.
Another complaint I have is the same as I had last time: Batman is healing much too quickly. The guy was poisoned, starved, beaten, gutted with a blade, drowned (in a frozen lake), and now he’s standing upright crunching a few numbers on the bat-computer. I’m not saying Bruce should die of an infection, but at least have him resting in bed or something for at least a day.
The next few problems I have are spoilers, though. So…you’re forewarned.
Not everything needs to be connected.We already had Bruce’s great great grandfather murdered by the Court of Owls and now we find out that Dick’s great grandfather was a Talon and Dick himself was supposed to be a Talon. Haly’s Circus was a farm for potential Talons. It didn’t really add a lot to the story for me. If anything it just over complicate’s Dick’s origins and it’s unnecessary. I’m never fond of stories that go back and change established, and well-approved history. Sure, sometimes it can workout okay, but other times you find out Sandman killed Uncle Ben. Also, it’s possible now that Dick’s great grandfather was the Talon who killed Bruce’s great-great grandfather and I just don’t feel it was necessary to intertwine Bruce and Dick’s past that much.
The tooth with the alloy and Owl symbol in it? How did that never show up on any of the countless head x-ray’s that Dick has had? Better yet, how has that not been knocked out already? And as much as I am always impressed with Batman, he took it to a new level this issue by pinpointing a back-hand so as to extract one specific tooth! That was also a bit much. Bruce couldn’t have talked that out a bit more? I guess he assumes time is a factor and he would rather work on a game plan than explain every little thing to his sidekick, but that was a bit brash. Then again, the only other option to remove it would be to have Dick lie back while Batman plays dentist. People hate going to the dentist enough as it is! Would Batman as your dentist make you feel less or more safe?
The Owls proclaim that they will take back their city. Well, I thought the point of this story was that they never lost it? That they were pulling the strings all along even while Batman thought he was truly in control. Also, it should be noted that their precise influence on the city has yet to be fully addressed. It’s supposedly made up of Gotham’s elite but we’ve never seen how they have manipulated Gotham over the years. And if they do kill Batman and “take the city”– then what? What’s the plan here? What do they want from Gotham? They already have money, power, and they claim to have infiltrated every aspect of Gotham’s institutions. Do they hate Bruce’s attempt at revitalizing Gotham? Why don’t they want Gotham to be a nice place? Are they in favor of crime? Are they pro-freaks like the Joker? What’s their motivation?
And lastly I would like to see Batman acknowledge his previous run-ins with secret organizations if they are still considered canon. Batman should have a bit more confidence than he has displayed here considering how Morrison’s Batman run was all about massive criminal organizations be it Black Glove, Club of Villains, and The League of Assassins/Leviathan (Why did The League of Assassins, an already secret organization, decide to change its name to something else in order to be extra super secret? I thought that was a pretty weak twist but I’m going on a tangent). This isn’t the first time that a villainous society has had the upper hand.
It’s another entertaining issue and it looks incredible, but whereas issue #6 felt like a dark conclusion to “The Court of Owls” arc, this issue, seemed to serve as a prologue setting up “Night of the Owls” and as a jumping-on point for new readers who need to know the events so far. And if you enjoyed the twist at the end of this issue, then you should probably check out issue #7 of “Nightwing” as well. That book has the same final pages as “Batman” but it’s all taken from Dick’s perspective.