Review: Batman #2 by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo

Some days, I find it weird that “Batman” is the premiere Batman title, and not Detective Comics. Over the last 10 years, Batman has gotten the more famous creators (Morisson, Robinson, Azzarello, Loeb, Brubaker), and now joined by the newest DC star, and writer of the American Vampire series (for Vertigo) Scott Snyder. Apparently teaming up with Stephen King is a good thing.

For me, I always felt that Detective was the premiere title. I purchased Detective Comics #600, feeling a sense of pride and awe that this title had reached the 600 mark, when only one other title had made it that far. But in the new age, maybe that takes a backseat to the character’s name appearing on the title. Who knows?

So Scott Snyder put together a pretty good first issue of Batman. Will this continue, or is it doomed to be a quick out.

Batman #2: Trust Fall
Writer: Scott Snyder | Greg Capullo

In the previous issue of Batman: Batman fights the group of inmates in Arkham Asylum and is helped by Nightwing who is dressed as The Joker. Later, Bruce Wayne is hosting a social event at Wayne Manor where he creates an initiative to rebuild Gotham’s poorest neighborhoods. Batman later investigates a crime scene where someone was murdered using knives, with a message saying that Bruce Wayne dies tomorrow. Evidence found at the scene points to Dick Grayson being connected to the crime.

Synopsis

  • Batman stops a group of criminals (kidnappers?) in a helicopter by jumping his Batcycle up to the copter.
  • Batman helps Gordon examine the body found in the previous issue that he was an assassin of some kind with an Owl emblem on his wisdom tooth.
  • Bruce and Dick have a conversation about why his DNA was found on the dead man.
  • Bruce meets with mayoral candidate Lincoln March, when he is attacked by an assassin dressed as an owl that sends Bruce falling out the window.
  • Bruce saves himself but the assassin crashes into a car, but later is shown to be alive.

Questions and Answers

Answer: Does Batman really suspect Dick Grayson? No, he works with Dick to figure out why his DNA is connected with the murder from issue #1

Question: Are the troubles that Dick has in Nightwing connected to the Council of Owls?

Question: The Owl says, “How I love killing, Waynes.” I doubt they are connecting him to the death of Bruce’s parents, so have Bruce’s ancestors met a questionable death?

Question: If the Owl was around to kill Waynes other than Bruce’s parents, is he supernatural in some way? Lincoln mentions something ancient, powerful, and evil.

Question: Why has the Council of Owls resurfaced at this moment?

Quotes:

(I don’t usually do quotes from a comic book, but…)

Batman: I know the nursery rhyme, Jim. But the Court of Owls is just a legend.
Gordon: To be blunt, so were you for a while.

Analysis

Forget everything else you hear about this issue. This story is about Gotham City: its history, its myths, its corruption, its crime, its general presence, its families and its architecture. And it is about seeing it through the eyes of Bruce Wayne.

The narrative from Bruce Wayne throughout both of these first issues is a rather nice touch. I’m not suggesting that this has never been employed before, but I don’t remember it framing any Batman comic book the way that Snyder does in this one. It is very effective, and really brings a different insight into Batman’s persona.

The connection of the Wayne family to the city of Gotham is a very nice touch as well. I have rarely felt any sense of Wayne Family pride towards the city of Gotham. There has always been, Thomas Wayne tried to make this a better place and Bruce Wayne (as well as Batman) has continued that fight. This gives Gotham a much richer historic feel than say Metropolis. Having 19th Century Gotham City also be features in the All Star Western title is a nice touch as well.

And I really like the feeling that Bruce knows Gotham City really well, perhaps better than anyone. I’ve met people who know a town or a city, and there’s always a very unique sense about their view of where they live.

Um, gargoyles from 1888 who watch over three bridges and two tunnels? Sorry, I don’t think many tunnels were being built in the late 19th century.

I didn’t really like the Batman confronting the bad guys in the helicopter scene. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork was great, and it’s nice to have some Batman action in a comic book, but what was the purpose? They aren’t connected to an overall story arc, and I don’t even really know what crime they committed. Yes, there were kidnapped victims, but what else did they do?

The tacit approval of Batman throughout Gotham City is always interesting. The mortician leaving Gordon in the morgue with the body, knowing that the information is going to get to Batman. It’s a vigilante don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

I love when writers come up with sing-song rhymes or songs that further the plot. I admire it so much, cause I can’t do it for $#!^. Anyway, here is the rhyme from the story:

Beware the Court of Owls,
that watches all the time,
Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch,
Behind granite and lime

They watch you at your hearth
They watch you at your bed,
Speak not a whispered word of them,
Or, they’ll send the talon for your head

But Snyder really missed the boat by not mentioning a connection with the rhyme at all, in my opinion.

The familiarity with Dick Grayson is really well played in this issue. The last issue made us doubt Dick in this current continuity, but how Batman handles the situation is absolutely perfect. No accusations, no confrontations. It’s very official and business-like. It’s much appreciated.

You have to appreciate how Dick reacts to Bruce checking up on him. Bruce is a machine. Bruce thinks 10 steps in front of everyone. So when Dick realizes why Batman is not asking about his alibi, he understands it immediately.

Okay, a new Gotham City mayor candidate. It seems like we get one every year or so. I am begging Scott Snyder on my knees, Please please please please PLEASE! Do not have his sole purpose be a connection to the Council of Owls. I don’t care if he ends up being shady, morally ambiguous, or even connected to a villain having nothing to do with the initial story arc. But we’ve seen character convenience in Batman for too long. Every new Arkham Asylum warden, every new mayor, every new Gotham businessman, and every new femme fatale is always connected to the latest new Batman villain. Please don’t go that route.

Great imagery on the Council of Owls assassins. We don’t think of owls as being scary like snakes or sharks, but this makes them very effective looking:

I don’t understand the art sequence for the last confrontation. Bruce has one of the owls in a choke hold, but next thing you know he’s backed against the glass window, and ‘defenseless.’

Um, someone with architecture knowledge needs to explain to me, how a gargoyle can be installed on a building that can’t be seen from the ground, and can’t be seen from the elevators or the top deck or the ground?

Is the council of owls connected to the skull rings depicted in the All Star Western series? That would be a fun connection.

Verdict

As I reviewed this issue I started to enjoy it more than I did upon first reading. Sometimes I get in a comic book funk, and it throws off my reading. I really like the feeling that Gotham is an old city with traditions and rumors and myths, and that the Wayne family is connected to it all along. The art was good, and a very good comic book experience. Hey, sometimes food tastes better the second day.

9.0 (Much better second time around)

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