Review: Night of Owls part 1 (Batman #8 and Nightwing #8)
by RJ Schwabe on April 19, 2012

You know how you know you’re getting to be an old comic book fan? When you hear there’s a multi-title1 crossover coming, you groan about it.

Oh, I remember those blissful days of youth 2, when I greeted the news of a crossover with glee and excited anticipation. But, after almost all crossovers crashed on the hopes of hype and anticipation, I now meet it with general apathy at best. My usual thought is “Great, now I have to read about characters I barely care about written by writers I don’t like who are writing stories that aren’t their own ideas and probably have rushed story and art.”

So with that exciting introduction, that brings us to the first mega DCnU crossover, Court of Owls. The good news is that I am currently reading both of this week’s titles, and have been following the Court of Owls story in Batman anyway. 3 We’ll see if I have the energy to read all of the others. 4

Batman #8: Attack on Wayne Manor

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Release Date: 04/18/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

If you haven’t been reading Batman5, then here’s the skinny. Batman has been investigating the Court of Owls, a shadowy criminal organization that has secretly ruled Gotham since its early days. Batman escaped from their clutches. The Court of Owls has assassins known as Talons who fight for them. Talons are men who are reanimated after death, if they are prepared while alive. At the end of the previous issue, the Court unleashed their (seemingly) entire army of Talons on Gotham City. 6

Synopsis

  • Bruce, obviously still damaged from his escape from the Court, is reviewing his plans for Gotham, when he realizes that something is attacking the mansion.
  • Alfred is sent to the Batcave to coordinate Bruce’s efforts against the Talons, but one of the Talons sees him enter the cave and infiltrates it.
  • Bruce holds off several of the Talons before making his way into the Batcave where he sees the Talon that is hunting Alfred.
  • Bruce and Alfred enter the Armory. Bruce has Alfred investigate a Talon microdrive, while he dons new Bat-Armor to face the Talons

Backup Story Synopsis 7

During the battle, Alfred reviews the microdrive from the Talon, and realizes that the Talons have targeted multiple members of Gotham’s public figures. Bruce tells Alfred to contact all of their allies to help stop the Talons.

Questions and Answers

Q:    Why would the Court of Owls send 5-7 Talons8 to assassinate Bruce Wayne when they think he’s just a normal man?

Q:    What was the original intended purpose of the shown Bat-Armor?

Q:     Why did the Talons cut free the body of the Talon, William Cobb, in the Batcave? Yes, he’s still alive, but the Court deemed him to be disposed of.

Q:    Still unclear why the Talons would need to make this move now. How has the city left their control that they need to retake it at this moment?

A:    The DCnU members of the extended Bat-family are: Red Robin, Red Hood, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, and the Birds of Prey.

Analysis

There have been a few times where Wayne Manor is infiltrated by an enemy9, but it certainly is not a story that you enter lightly. Because you have to decide whether Bruce’s identity get revealed to the enemy. Somehow this story seems to warrant The Court knowing that Bruce is Batman. Somewhat surprising that they wouldn’t do it when they had him captured. As an infiltration story, it is pretty good, and has some great moments.

The main problem with this comic book is that I feel it takes away from the strengths of Scott Snyder’s Batman run, which is to really delve into the thoughts and mythos and awareness of Batman and Bruce Wayne. In this story there is no separation. Bruce is as Batman like as he can be without the costume in this story. Also, the story focuses on a single plotline10, without any divergent thread.

That said there were a few really great moments, not the least of which is Alfred using the giant penny to squash one of the Talons. I mean we’ve been looking at that thing for years. And I’m sure it’s been used before, but regardless was a really nice point. It’s so good it makes Bruce chuckle. BRUCE SMILES! IN THE MIDDLE OF BATTLE!

I thought that the Bat-Armor, which is supposed to be a big moment, felt a little like a deus-ex-machina convention. Like if this was a movie, then somewhere in the early part of the movie, they would have shown the armor, and later when the hero puts the armor on, you’d get the “oooooh now someone’s gonna get it!” moment. 11 I mean, we don’t even see the armor when they enter the Armory.

The other really great moment was in the backup story. 12 Where they realize the scope of the battle at hand, and Bruce says to Alfred. “Put the call out to the family. Now!” The DCnU Bruce is well aware of the sense of family that the Gotham heroes have, and it was a nice heartwarming touch. Maybe Bruce doesn’t tell them that he feels they are his family, but if he thinks they are, then that is really nice

Verdict

The story did its job, and I can’t say it did it poorly. If I wasn’t going to read the Night of the Owls storyline, then I’m sure I wouldn’t care too much for it. It’s the first issue of a crossover, and there are things you have to do in those sorts of issues. What can I say, I just expect greatness from every issue of Snyder’s Batman, and this was merely good.

Overall Grade: 8.0 (description)

Nightwing #8: Bloodlines

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Release Date: 04/18/2012
Cover Price: $2.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

Nightwing’s recent story is a little more convoluted. Nightwing and Dick Grayson were being stalked by Saiko, a killer who claimed that Dick Grayson was a killer. Turns out that Saiko is Dick’s old friend and circus performer, Raymond. Raymond was chosen by the Court of Owls to be their assassin after Dick was taken as the ward of Bruce Wayne. Dick defeated Saiko, and went to tell Bruce about it. After examining the body of the Talon, Bruce tells Dick that it is his grandfather, William Cobb. Bruce then punches Dick in the jaw to remove an Owl filling in his teeth, suggesting that Dick was meant to be a Talon from the beginning.

Synopsis

  • Flashback to 1910, when a teenage boy (revealed to be William Cobb) was begging on the streets near the Gotham Elite following the death of his father.
  • After showing off his skills, Cobb is invited to join Haly’s Circus. As he became a circus performer, he falls in love with Amelia Crowne, a young lady of society.

     

  • In present day, Dick is investigating a murder, when Alfred tells of the attack by the Court of Owls. Dick swings across the city to protect Mayor Hady.
  • The Talon kills three security guards and a councilman before Dick gets there. But Dick is able to defeat The Talon with the escrima stick he has been investigating.
  • As Dick is preparing to move the mayor to safety, he is attacked by one of the Talons, presumably the revived William Cobb.

Questions and Answers

A:    Nightwing is a known associate of Batman, based on the comments by one of the Talons: “The Bat’s little birdie come out to play with the Owls?”

Q:     Why did the Talons cut free the body of the Talon, William Cobb, in the Batcave? Yes, he’s still alive, but the Court deemed him to be disposed of.
A:     To defeat his grandson, Dick Grayson.

Q:    How is William Cobb able to track Dick Grayson, once he is revived from the Batcave? How does he know that Dick Grayson is Nightwing?

Q:     Why does William Cobb think that Dick Grayson has committed betrayal? Just because he is going against the Council of Owls?

Analysis

This story was a little more interesting than the Batman one. I liked the fact that you had the two plot threads that were woven together. I think it was a bit of a cop out that they would use William Cobb as the Talon, and not another member of Dick’s ancestors. Especially when we never saw William Cobb being revived, just being cut free.

I have no idea why, according to the cover, this is a Night of Owls prequel, when Batman #8 is the first issue of Night of Owls. It’s not like this takes place before Batman #8, but if I was setting my comic book order, I would probably have put Nightwing #8 before Batman #8.

Old school Gotham is always an interesting place. I like that the Cobblepots have been a long standing social Gotham family. It places Oswald (Penguin) in a more interesting place that he really came from society, and that it is looong standing society at that.

While the working boy falling in love with the society girl has been done to death 13, it was fresher coming from the perspective that William Cobb was a circus performer and tied into Dick Grayson’s past. I mean we definitely can see the resemblance to Dick with William Cobb. For me it worked. Not sure I buy that performing in the circus, even in early 20th century Gotham City, would make William Cobb famous and a “Child of Gotham,” but who knows.

A really nice touch to have William’s eventual love interest, Amelia, as a little girl on the first few pages. I like that it ties in together. It’s such a small touch, and to a degree makes the world of the book smaller, but it still works for me. Especially as we start the story with William’s downfall in society from lower middle-class to beggar.

The art for the battle between Nightwing and The Talon was a little confusing. I have no idea where Nightwing got his sword. And it seemed like the Talon is saying triumphant messages while Nightwing is getting the advantage.

And if you were going to have William Cobb come in at the end, as the cliffhanger, surprise second member of the Talons, then some sort of visual clue would be nice. I didn’t realize that it was the same Talon that Bruce had in the Batcave until I reread Batman #7. 14 I figured it was another member of Dick’s family who became a Talon.

Verdict

A suitable action story with a very nice backstory of the ‘villain’. I hope that Nightwing’s damage is significant, and he just doesn’t brush it off for next month. It could make for an interesting confrontation, and I am very curious as to Dick Grayson’s heritage. Kyle Higgins has done a nice job with Nightwing, far better than most.

Overall Grade: 8.5 (Really enjoyable and has me pretty hooked)

Crossover Verdict

The Batman issue set up the conflict very nicely, and Nightwing pulled it in pretty well, but I don’t feel the burning need to read the other books in the Crossover. I have no idea what each faction is going to bring to the table to take down The Talon. What makes the battle interesting? Nothing at this point.

For me it will be fun to review them, but there’s nothing about the action so far that makes me want to read titles like Birds of Prey, Batman and Robin, or Red Hood and the Outlaws. So, I’ve seen worse starts, and I know and like the story already, but I’m not really pulled in overall.

Overall Grade: 7.0 (Haven’t pushed me out, but haven’t pulled me in, either)

Footnotes

1 –    Meaning more than two titles. A two title crossover is a fun way to try out a new comic book. Three probably wouldn’t be too bad, but the last three title cross-over was probably the X-tinction Agenda with Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants, and X-Factor.

2 –    And more importantly, disposable income.

3 –    So, I only have to purchase 8 titles I don’t care about. Maybe I can work the others into my Dropped in the Middle Review.

4 –    I’m looking at you Red Hood and the Outlaws!

5 –    And sales figures suggest that you are.

6 –    Yes I know I left something out, wait for the Nightwing section of the review.

7 –    After raising prices to $3.99, the “Batman” is going to include backup stories, like how Justice League has the Shazam backup story.

8 –    There are four confronting Bruce at the end, and 1-3 of them may have been incapacitated. So you make the call. However, the cover shows five Talons.

9 –     Unlike other locations, like say The X-Mansion which gets attacked every other month.

10 – Two if you count the Talons stalking Alfred in the Batcave.

11 –    You know, like when Ripley wears the exo-skeleton in Aliens to square off against the Alien Queen.

12 –    And other than using a new artist, I have no idea why this wasn’t just included in the story itself.

13 – Or maybe it just seems that way with the anniversary of the movie, Titanic.

14 – So I don’t remember every character’s name from month-to-month, sue me.

 



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