Written by: Scott Snyder
Pencilled by: Greg Capullo
Inked by: Jonathan Glapion
Colored by: FCO
Lettering by: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99
Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology
I am genuinely surprised by how much I have loved Detective Comics and Batman since Relaunch. As I have mentioned before, I have been a big Batman fan for years, and at one point my runs on Tec and Batman stretched back around 20 years for each book. But a few years ago, the quality of Batman books really seemed to plunge off the planet for me, and I dropped both books without looking back.
Part of it is that I just think that in a lot of ways, it feels like every possible Batman story (and this goes for Superman, Spider-Man, and other characters that appear in multiple books) has been told, probably more than once by now. Sure, sometimes writers can find a decent angle or two to hold my attention, but I would rather give my support to fresh books like Crossgen’s titles or Astro CIty or now DC’s Animal Man. Hell, I would rather see more books with Batman Beyond. At least it’s not Bruce Wayne. I really loved that Dick Grayson got to be Batman for a while, and was a little disappointed that Bruce Wayne was back in the cape and cowl.
So I came to the new bat titles with a great deal of hesitation. I am pleased (and slightly embarrased) to say that Batman and Detective Comics are two books that are solidly on my “buy the day they come out” list.
Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts back in 1922. We are introduced to Bruce Wayne’s great, great grandfather, Alan Wayne. Alan is running through the streets of Gotham terrified that someone is chasing him. He warns the police:
You know…until I reread this comic to write this summary, it didn’t occur to me how well foreshadowed the rest of this story was from those panels. I really just thought they were the crazed ramblings of a madman, but Snyder really doesn’t waste a single panel in this issue.
Alan’s ramblings come to an abrupt end as he plunges into an open sewer hole to his death.
The scene changes to modern day Gotham where Batman is harrassing sewer gangs to try and find the mysterious owl-theme assassin who has been stalking Gotham. His search ends up being fruitless (though does introduce us to a really cool segment of the criminal underground. I hope we see more of them in later issues). He returns to the batcave and asks Alfred what he knows about owls. Alfred says that owls typically steal the nests of other birds, and he talks a little about the Court of Owls folksong. Alfred then remembers that Bruce’s great great grandfather had a strange obsession with owls towards the end of his life.
Bruce heads out to visit Lincoln Marsh in the hospital. Marsh is looking to run for mayor of Gotham and seems to be targetted by the mysterious owl assassin. March believes that Bruce’s Gotham Initative might have drawn the owls out of hiding, and they may have been in the city for a long time. He warns Bruce “sometimes we become so concerned with the little dangers that we don’t see the big one, right beneath our feet.”
Bruce heads back out in costume, and starts to put all the pieces together. He remembers that Alan Wayne was the first person to eliminate the thirteenth floor of buildings. But to make that work…
Bruce starts to find the owls’ hiding places in these sealed off 13th floors of building paid for through the Alan Wayne fund. They seem to have been doing this for a long time. The most recent building is only five years old. When Batman goes to check it out, he finds a picture of the owl assassin. And then the building blows up with him inside it, while the owl assassin watches.
Review: If the elite owl assassin ends up being Lincoln March, I am going to be disappointed. March seems like an interesting character with a lot of potential…which usually ends up meaning he is the mysterious villain. It’s such a comic book cliche!
One thing I especially love about Snyder’s Batman is how much character he’s given Gotham City. Learning the history of the owls and the Wayne family through flashback, nursery rhyme and legend is a really cool characterization device. Alfred’s expertise in this area is a really nice touch. I also love the little narrative touches, such as the idea that Alan Wayne was the one who brought the superstition of “getting rid of the 13th floor” to Gotham. When this ends up having an important impact on the story, it worked great, because I was just sort of expecting that it was more of the well placed characterization Snyder had been spreading through the series.
Scott Snyder is telling a strong Batman story that really draws me in. I find myself actually getting anxious at the last page each month, really wanting to know what comes next. And this isn’t just achieved through a lot of shocking cliffhangers (though issues 1 and 3 definitely had that). Instead, Snyder makes us feel deeply invested in Bruce Wayne and Gotham City. I genuinely can’t wait to read the next issue next month. Right now, there are only a handful of DC books that I buy the day of release. Most of that is to have something to review. But, Batman is one of the few titles that I just can’t wait an extra month to see what happens next. Even if I wasn’t doing reviews, I would buy Batman the day it comes out.
I have to admit, one of the reasons I was even willing to give this book a shot was that I love Greg Capullo. Back not long after I started reading comics, Capullo was made the artist of my favorite series (X-Force), and I thought his costume redesigns were just awesome. His name has stuck with me ever since. I was talking with by brother in law about Capullo, and he pointed out something I didn’t know. Capullo had drawn well over a 100 issues of Spawn (and relate mini-series). That is pretty impressive.
His work on Batman has just been brilliant! I especially love how much he’s willing to experiment on panel layout and cool little design choices. You can see one of those choices above when we see Alfred though the eye holes of Batman’s cowl. I also love this sequence here.
The trains headlights shifting to an eye to showing Batman beating up a thud for information in this sequence just worked so well.
I will admit, I don’t know thing one about how to create art, but I know what I like to look at, and it’s definitely Greg Capullo’s art!
I really can’t say this enough, I am really loving Batman right now. I still don’t think he needs to appear in 6 books on a regular basis, but Batman is definitely worth reading. It is still early, but I get the sense Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run is going to be long remembered.
Final Score: 9.5 – A damn good comic book. Nothing bad I can say about this book! If you have ever liked a Batman story, you owe it to yourself to read this one.
Tags: Batman, DC Comics Relaunch, Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder