BM_NOWLS

I don’t think there’s ever been a crossover event that’s been wholly good. Whenever you bring too many cooks into the kitchen you’re always going to end up with a less appetizing meal. In the case of the Night of the Owls you have a group of vastly different writers and artists coming together to add a little something to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman story and make it seem more epic in scale yet their contributions couldn’t have an effect on the Batman, Vol. 2 conclusion. So what we get here is an assortment of stories that really don’t have any bearing on the Owls story as a whole. Some of them are good and some of them are rather half-assed. I’m going to take you through what these Owl-themed vignettes are and which ones I feel are worth reading.

Content

All of the Night of the Owls crossover issues are included here. Not every comic that got involved really deserved to be a part of the event so it’s fairly easy to spot which ones were blatant cash-grabs (though it can be argued that any crossover comic is a cash-grab). The Batman Annual and all of The Fall of the House of Wayne back-up stories from Snyder’s Batman are included as well. IMPORTANT: If you haven’t read Snyder and Capullo’s Owl’s story that ends in Batman, Vol. 2 yet then I suggest you avoid this book because it will spoil that volume’s conclusion for you.

For the most part these go in chronoloical order but they don’t really follow the timeline as strictly as I laid it out in this article: HERE

All-Star Western #9

Recommended: No.

This one had the absolute least to do with the Night of the Owls event because, well, it doesn’t even take place in the same century. It’s also guaranteed to confuse anyone who hasn’t been reading All-Star Western. This issue in particular is the 3rd chapter of the series’ second graphic novel so you’re getting dropped right in the middle of another tale in another time entirely. If you’re a fan of Jonah Hex then this will be a nice bonus, if you’re not then this is something you can skip but I do recommend you check out All-Star Western Vol. 1 sometime. It’s not half bad.

Batwing #9

Recommended: Yes

It’s the story of how Batwing stopped a Talon from killing Lucius Fox, a high priority target for the Court of Owls. It’s one of the most action packed issues in the bunch and well drawn by Marcus To. I can see folks who never cared about Batwing skipping this one but I found it to be one of the most fun and Lucius is easily one of the most important characters to be threatened by the Owls in this entire collection.

Batgirl #9

Recommended: Yes

I don’t particularly like this one but it’s well drawn, the Talon in question has since gone on to be an important part of the Birds of Prey series, and judging by comments I’ve heard from other readers I’m actually in the minority when it comes to disliking this issue. You can read all my thoughts on why I didn’t care for this comic HERE. Come to think of it, I think most of my problems were just with the Court of Owls’ plan in general. You see, they already had control over most of the most powerful people in Gotham so they could have very subtly taken control. Now they’re sending in zombie ninjas and bomb balloons everywhere and they haven’t even made it clear what they want to do once they conquer Gotham. And how the hell are they going to fight back the US military or the Justice League for that matter? Sacking a city ain’t easy. The smarter play would’ve been to continue doing everything behind the scenes.

Batman #8

Recommneded: Yes

As much as I don’t like the direction that the Owls saga took I can’t help but love watching Batman beat the shit out of these Talon guys. Yeah, it shouldn’t have been that easy for them to break into Wayne Manor and yes it’s odd that they would send so damn many after Bruce when they didn’t yet know he was Batman (they did know he beat up Talon William Cobb so they knew they needed more muscle for him but sending the dozen or so as they did here is overkill), and yes it’s not really clear how conscious these guys are since they’ve been portrayed as eloquent speakers and mindless zombies, but I loved watching Batman dawn the (what I call) Owl-Buster Armor and utilize that robot T-Rex. It’s just really fun to read and Capullo drew the hell out of it. This issues backup which was drawn by Raphael Albuquerque is also included and was really well done.

Batman & Robin #9

Recommended: No

Everyone who doesn’t wear a cape in the DC Universe is completely worthless. I don’t care if you’re a police officer or a trained soldier– you. are. shit. Here we have Damian Wayne helping an entire platoon of armed soldiers combat a single talon assassin. What with recent events in Batman Inc. and all it might be nice for the nostalgia value in seeing Damian be a little bad ass again, but for me this issue was pretty weak. The best thing about it is the title, “Robin Hears a Hoo.”

Nightwing #9

Recommended: Yes

Connecting Dick Grayson’s origin with the Court of Owls was an unnecessary over complication of an already great back story. I hated the retroactive tampering of established Batman canon that the Court of Owls/Night of Owls brought but that being said, both of the Nightwing issues collected here rock. Hard. They are easily the best two tie-ins to the Night of the Owls event in artwork as well as story and action.

Red Hood & the Outlaws #9

Recommended: No

The one weakness that the talons have is cold. I want to make that clear so I’ll repeat, their weakness is cold! Okay, now let me make another point: they sent dozens of talons after Bruce Wayne who they did not know was Batman. They just knew he had beaten up one talon before. Okay? Still with me? How many do you think they would send to fight Mr. Freeze? At least a dozen or so like they sent after Wayne, right? Wrong. They send one. One guy. One guy whose kryptonite is the very thing that Mr. Freeze is. You know how many talons I would’ve sent after Mr. Freeze? ****ing none because their weakness is the cold! So no, a story about Red Hood coming to help Mr. Freeze fight off a single talon is not a must-read.

Batman #9

Recommended: Yes

The fight between Owl-Buster Batman and the Owls continues and it’s awesome. We also see the New 52 Capullo designed Batmobile for the first time. One odd thing about this story is that there’s a rather awkward break in the action when in the original printing we had Batman saying he was going to go to Arkham Asylum and rescue Jeremiah Arkham followed by an editor’s note to “Go read Detective Comics #9!” but that note is gone here. Instead we have Batman saying that and then in the next panel he’s in an entirely different place with no explanation. For the story about Batman going to Arkham you have to pause and skip ahead to the next chapter which is Detective Comics #9 and then come BACK.

Detective Comics #9

Recommended: No

Or you could just trust that Batman took care of things without much problem and continue reading your Batman #9 because Detective Comics #9 s trash. Nice art and all, but it’s also our first introduction to the New 52 Black Mask who has a mystical mind-control mask.

Birds of Prey #9

Recommended: Yes

While Nightwing’s tie-in felt the most important, Birds of Prey’s contribution to the crossover felt the scariest. The talon in here comes off as a really, really scary and unstoppable Michael Meyers/Jason Voorhees type. The whole thing has a great horror movie vibe and if  you read the first volume of Animal Man then you know how great of a job Travel Foreman does of drawing frightening imagery. This is also the only time we get to see the world from the perspective of a talon and that leads to some pretty interesting panels. Does it have much bearing on the overall Owls story? Not at all, but pretty much none of these tie-in comics do. It’s just a fun read and that’s all you can ask for from this event.

 Nightwing #10

Recommended: Yes

It’s just as strong as issue #9 was and you might actually want to read it immediately after finishing issue #9. I think that that would be best, really.

 Batman: The Dark Knight #9

Recommended: No

This might be the worst of the tie-ins. First, it’s false advertising. The cover shows Tim Drake but the kid is in the story for a single panel, in the background, and he hasn’t a single line. Then there’s the fact that it totally ruins the tone of a great scene from Batman #10. And lastly, it confuses the hell out of me in regards to how to destroy a talon. We all know that they regenerate but I figured if we destroyed the brain like a zombie that they wouldn’t get back up again. This one gets back up! Oh, and it also ends like a “to be continued” but it doesn’t. Ever. The loose end you get from this is never addressed ever again in another Batman: The Dark Knight comic or anywhere else. I would describe this one as a “Must Skip.”

 Batman Annual #1

Recommended: Yes

I don’t like the new direction for Mr. Freeze in the New 52 that’s established here. The new origin doesn’t sit right with me at all, but that doesn’t change the fact that by its own merits its an engaging story with solid action and really detailed art by the terrific Jason Fabok. This doesn’t really have all that much to do with the Owls but it’s required reading if you want to know anything about the all new Mr. Freeze.

Catwoman #9

Recommended: No

Catwoman accidentally finds herself in a situation where she has to save the Penguin. There are some good moments in here, surprisingly from the Penguin, but most of it is bad.

Spoiler
It ends with Catwoman leaving a dead talon on the roof of the GCPD with even more knives than he started out with at the beginning of the comic. It’s supposed to be a tender moment but if what happened in Batman: The Dark Knight holds true? Oh man! That talon is going to wake up at any minute, have extra weaponry, and have the drop on the GCPD and as we all know the cops and soldiers in this town. are. shit.

Fall of the House of Wayne

Recommended: Yes

It’s really well drawn and everything being presented is vital to the story we’re all here for… but I don’t like a lot of the ideas. First, it shows us that Alfred hasn’t been around since Bruce was born. You know that great scene in The Dark Knight Rises where Alfred sputters and cries about how he used to hear Bruce’s cries echo in this house? Can’t happen in the New 52. Alfred wasn’t around. I like the idea of Alfred being there from the very beginning of Bruce’s life. Then there’s the whole idea of the Waynes being pestered by the Court of Owls. This is something at the very heart of the Owls storyline that I don’t like: Batman should be the absolute first instance of a costumed figure ever showing up in Gotham. Ever. No exceptions. It’s a key part of the mythology. Batman shows up, the city has never seen anything like it before, he wipes out all the traditional crime, and then the city spews forth an equal and opposite reaction in the rise of the freaks (Joker, Two-Face, Croc, etc. etc.). Having some costumed Owls running around goes against one of the aspects of Batman’s tale that I love so much.

Supplemental Material

Seven pages of Greg Capullo Talon sketches. It’s cool, but it would’ve been amazing if we had gotten some commentary from Capullo as to how he came up with such killer designs.

Value

It’s an incomplete story. You’re getting a brief glimpse at everyone’s run-in with the Court of Owls between 8PM and 2AM but most of those encounters aren’t very compelling and anything that’s vital to the conclusion of Batman, Vol. 2 is included in Batman, Vol. 2! So no, I say a $30.00 cover price is too steep, but the $18.53 Amazon price isn’t bad considering how much content you’re getting. This is very much “pick-and-choose” reading where you’ll only come back to this book for this story or that one and for $18.53 it might be worth it just for the convenience of the comic reader who loves to collect.

Overall

I don’t really see why you would need this. Just buying the trade paperback for the series that you enjoy the most should be more than enough. There’s no setup for the Night of the Owls (you need Batman, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 for that) and there’s no ending for the Night of the Owls (you need Batman, Vol. 2 for that). This is merely a collection of shorts featuring a variety of Batman allies and Batman himself fighting Talons. Some chapters are good, but most chapters are bad. The only plus side of having this book in your collection is that you’ll be able to look up any Night of the Owls story you want in one convenient place. It’s my opinion that this crossover really bloated a pretty decent story and it’s best to just keep to Snyder and Capullo’s Batman alone. Nothing here is really necessary for you to enjoy what happens in Batman, Volume 2. This just made the tale overlong and meandering.

SCORE: 6.5/10