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Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls

Review

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls

written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo

A well-executed Batman tale is a thing of beauty for any superhero fan. When a story pulls together the elements that make the Dark Knight a perennial favorite icon --- his fighting prowess, the sharp detective’s eye that notices what normal people don’t, the drive to eliminate crime in the most hellish city on earth --- readers stand up and take notice. Batman’s strength lies in his lack of superpowers, his utter humanity…even if his stories often take him ridiculously beyond the limits of the human condition.

"Even when the story pushes Batman well beyond the limits of human endurance (doesn't every Batman story push him beyond the limits of human endurance?), it still manages to retain the reader’s interest in captivating ways."

THE COURT OF OWLS is one of those well-told Batman stories, wherein Scott Snyder’s writing blends beautifully with Greg Capullo’s striking artwork. It’s part of DC’s New 52 relaunch of 2011, and it introduces us to a brand new enemy (or group of enemies, more accurately) to add to Batman’s rogues gallery. The Court of Owls has lurked behind the scenes in Gotham City, committing murders, running crime, and more, for decades on end. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, has heard the rumors of the group’s existence ever since he was orphaned as a boy and believed the group was responsible for his parents’ murders. But since he never found any evidence to prove the Court was real, he banished them from his mind. Now as an adult, and a costumed crimefighter, he still doesn’t believe they are real, and that stubbornness may cost him his life.

Even when the story pushes Batman well beyond the limits of human endurance (doesn't every Batman story push him beyond the limits of human endurance?), it still manages to retain the reader’s interest in captivating ways. There’s often been a running theme in Batman tales to place the Dark Knight inside the walls of Arkham Asylum, and this collection takes another twist on that, with a drugged Batman left wandering a maze for days on end, unable to get out. Refusing to be broken, he perseveres on, but at a tremendous cost.

The biggest complaint with this collection is that it ends in the middle of the saga. This is an ongoing story, and readers will have to turn to the single issues of the comic book series or wait for the next volume to get more. But as with every well-told Batman story, that wait is worth it.

Reviewed by John Hogan on July 22, 2012

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls
written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Greg Capullo