Review: Batman #10 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

As I’m writing this introduction, it is Wednesday, June 13th 2012, comic book day. In a few minutes, I will be able to go onto Comixology and make my selection of comic books. Then I will purchase the comics and they will be added to my digital collection, which I can then consume at my leisure.

And as I approach this milestone, I face “The Dilemna”.

Everyone reading this column encounters The Dilemna frequently in their lives, no matter if you are opening birthday presents, eating a nice dinner, or reading comic book. Do you read your favorites first or do you save them for the end. In many ways this defines who you are as a person. 1 If you read your favorites first, then you are the person who goes diving for the biggest package, leaving the smaller packages of handkerchiefs, scarves, and underwear after you have satisfied your insatiable need. If you read your favorites last, then you are one of those delayed gratification people, who eats all of your vegetables first, as your juicy steak is sitting on the table patiently waiting for you to savor every morsel.

I’ve always tended to be the later. Back when I read print comics, I would drive home carefully plotting the order in which I would read my comics. The selection was a carefully balanced plate, where new series would be the appetizer for the main course where intellectual favorites and superheroic fantasies would mix, finally ending in a perfect flavor finish of the titles that I loved dearly.

But this decision is tainted by another factor: “The Reveal”

According to Scott Snyder, Batman #10 reveals the identity of the leader of the Court of Owls. So I’m left wondering, is it someone we know already? Is it someone new? Is it going to tie in to the existing Batman Universe? Is it going to change the status quo of everything? And most importantly, can I potentially wait until the end of my stack to read this comic?2 I’ll let you know somewhere in the paragraphs that follow.

Batman #10: Assault on the Court

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Release Date: 06/13/2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Review: Digital Copy (From Comixology)

Previously, Batman and his allies fought the Talons during the Night of Owls, ending up saving several members of Gotham’s elite who were being targeted.

Normally, I don’t say SPOILER WARNING, but with there being a BIG REVEAL in this issue, I will say the following contains MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!

Synopsis – Main Story

  • Batman scares a member of the Owls into accidentally revealing the location of the Court of Owls.
  • Batman goes to Harbor House and finds several members there dead from apparent suicide.
  • Later, Bruce is reviewing the case, and goes to find answers where he finds that Lincoln March’s body is not in the morgue. Instead he finds a message.
  • Batman follows the messageto the Willowood Home for children where he confronts Lincoln March, who has taken the Talon formula to survive death.
  • Lincoln reveals that he was a proped up member of the Court of Owls, and that he was taken in years ago, when he was abandoned at Willowood by his parents, Martha and Thomas Wayne. So Lincoln is Bruce’s brother, Thomas Wayne Jr.

Synopsis – Backup Story

  • Tells the story of Alfred’s father Jarvis telling him of an incident while being chased by a Talon.
  • Martha Wayne was being threatened on all sides by Gotham City officials and the Court of Owls.
  • The pregnant Martha get in a car accident with Jarvis at the corner of Lincoln and March.

Questions and Answers (optional)

Q:    In the backup story, Martha is providing funding for a school. Is this or does this turn into Willowood.

A:    Lincoln March was a persona who was created by the Court of Owls to run for Mayor of Gotham City. He believes that the Court targeted him for execution, and therefore turned the tables on them.

A:      The Court of Owls was not involved in the death of Martha and Thomas Wayne.

Analysis

My original thought was that I didn’t really buy the payoff here. First off, having Lincoln March be connected to the Owls was an obvious choice. 3 In fact I wrote the following in my review of Batman #2:

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.

It goes back to Roger Ebert’s Law of the Economy of Characters4 which states: Movie budgets5 make it impossible for any film to contain unnecessary characters. Therefore, “any apparently unnecessary or extraneous major character is undoubtedly the villain”. So, it just seems obvious and heavy-handed to have him do the reveal. Scott Snyder handled it well, and gave a bit of confusion as to what his role is.

Secondly, I was really disappointed in the introduction of a “Thomas Wayne Jr.” In a world where we had a previously unknown childhood friend become a Batman villain6 , and more recently had Bruce’s father be suggested as a Batman villain. It just seemed that another figure connected to Bruce Wayne’s past was so cliché. It would work for other characters, but it’s tough to do it for a character who has been around for 75 years.

However, the post-REVEAL articles have informed me that my knowledge of comic book history is lacking. According to my research, Thomas Wayne Jr. was a character who was introduced in the pages of World’s Finest8 in the mid-1970s, and he was a villain. So, Scott Snyder bringing back a character from the 70s is more interesting than creating a new one. 9 I’m not sure why, I guess it’s cause it shows a love of the history of Batman or that you identify with a specific era of Batman wanting to bring something like that back.

Regardless of my feelings of the Big REVEAL, this story is excellent. I love how Scott Snyder writes the internal monologue of Batman, and connecting it to his training under Henri Ducart and how to a master detective the ureka moments come when you know something isn’t right, and that the answers have been in front of you the whole time. The narrative really ties everything together in Snyder’s Batman, and it works perfectly.

The relationship with Alfred and Batman is always tricky, and it is handled very well in this story. Alfred being the one person that Bruce can be weak in front of. The one person who he requires no false front. The art by Capullo really captures all of that.

The Alice in Wonderland references are fine, and consistent. But I haven’t seen a link to this in recent stories, so it’s a little out of place. Suggests the madness of Thomas Wayne Jr. in a subtle way.

The backup story is really compelling as well. For anyone who is wondering about the legitimacy of Lincoln/Thomas’s claim, the back-up story is most likely going to confirm or deny it. And it is doing a solid job of teasing us along those lines.

Snyder has created a nice potential villain in Lincoln March, powerful and potentially mad. And gives Bruce extra motivation to seek out his origins, and try to cure him. He hasn’t had a personal crusade in a while outside of the protection of Gotham City.

Verdict

I enjoyed this story very much. It seemed like a bit of a gear shifting fron the Night of Owls crossover, and I expected more from the ‘night’ outside of the confrontation with the potential big boss of the story. The detectrive narrative really filled nice gaps and gave fun insight into Snyder’s Batman. For my money, the reveal doesn’t give the creative team any credit, but it doesn’t take away from my feeling of the book. It is difficult for a writer to make a story that is personal to Bruce Wayne, as his history is known so well. I enjoy the Silver Age connection to Thomas Wayne Jr., even though I don’t really like them going to the evil brother route.

Overall Grade: 9.0 (The greatness shines through the reveal)

Series Grade: A

Footnotes

1 – Much like the decision whether you inch your way into cold water or if you dive right in getting it over with.

2 – To be fair, it’s not as big of a decision, as I’m only purchasing six comics this week, and four of them are my job as a reviewer/columnist.

3 – Though for an obvious choice, I’ll give them credit for not using him that much in the story.

4 – It’s primarily geared towards movies, but it works here.

5 – Or in this case, number of comic book pages

6 – Thomas Elliot aka Hush in the Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb storyline

7 – In Grant Morrison’s Batman R.I.P story. Yes, I know that it was left VERY ambiguous, and that no one is REALLY suggesting that it definitely was Thomas Wayne, but it was at least hinted at.

8 – World’s Finest would sometimes have a rather tenuous connection to the continuity of the DC Universe, but it was the 70s.

9 – Like inventing Bat-Mite would be crazy, but bringing him back is kindof inspired.

 

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