Category Archives: Scott Snyder’s Batman Retrospect
For many years, I had followed the tales of some of my favourite superheroes (in particular, Batman and Superman) through their movies and cartoon shows, but I had very rarely read the comics. I had some knowledge of what was going on through wikis, and then later on through an internet review show called Atop The Fourth Wall. Well, after watching AT4W for a few years, I decided in 2011 that I was finally going to start buying comics, but I wasn’t sure where to get started. That’s when AT4W host Linkara, AKA Lewis Lovhaug, started a little series called That’s All I’m Saying, where he was looking over the comics that he bought every week, mostly DC stuff. The main reason for it is because DC had just relaunched their titles in September of that year with the New 52, essentially a massive reboot of the DC Universe, and he wanted to share his thoughts on each comic for people who were new to comics or wanted some thoughts on these new books. From that, I got a good idea of what comics I wanted to buy…or so I thought, as two of the three comics I bought and collected originally, I now despise. LOL But there was one comic I bought back in the beginning of the New 52 that I’ve stuck with ever since.
So, let’s start off by laying out a few ground rules for this: I’m not discussing Scott Snyder’s work on Batman prior to the launch of the DCnU. This is mainly because I unfortunately haven’t read it all yet, and I don’t wanna leave anything out. I will say that The Black Mirror is supposed to be really good, though, and I have read Gates of Gotham and it really helps build the bridge to the current Batman book (People who have read the book will get that joke, others will just nod their heads and go along with it). Also, I’m not discussing Death of the Family and anything beyond it, since I’ve already covered it in What I Bought Today. No, this series will focus primarily on the Court of Owls/Night of the Owls story arcs, and specifically on the books in this one series to take place in them, though I will try to make small references to what was happening in the tie-in books. So with that in mind, let’s kick off with Batman #1.
We open to…some REALLY bad designs for some of Batman’s rogues gallery. Seriously, this is what they look like in this issue.
I mean, I love Greg Capullo‘s artwork, but I have no idea what he was thinking with some of these. Like, see that guy with the green question mark mohawk? That’s Riddler…SERIOUSLY. lol Anyway, Batman fights them as they try to break out of Arkham Asylum, but there’s simply too many of them. Then, all of a sudden, Joker shows up…and starts helping him beat the snot out of the Arkham inmates. Major WTF moment, but I’ll spoil it for you now: It’s Dick Grayson. He’s wearing some kind of mask that allows him to imitate ANYONE, that I believe he actually makes use of later on in his own book. Apparently, Bruce sent him to hide out in Arkham Asylum for a little while because he needed someone on the inside to monitor things, and apparently there was a guard there who was going crooked, and he had opened the gates to let the villains out when Batman came for him.
Later, Bruce arrives at the manor for a gala, which Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne are all attending. Apparently he’s going to be investing heavily in Gotham City‘s future, fixing up the city’s architecture and improving the public transit system. He also meets up with Vicki Vale (AKA Lois Lane in Gotham) and Lincoln March, who is running for Mayor and is VERY interested in Bruce’s plans for the future. However, Bruce is a little distracted by his new contact lens’ lip-reader showing Comissioner Gordon having a talk on the phone about a horrific stabbing incident, and decides he needs to go out to get some air.
Arriving at the scene of the crime, Batman meets with Harvey Bullock to discuss what happened. The John Doe is pinned to the wall by multiple throwing knives and was left to bleed to death. Looking over the crime scene, Batman finds skin tissue under the victim’s fingernails and a message written in paint thinner. Using Bullock’s cigar, Batman lights the message up to reveal it says “Bruce Wayne will DIE tomorrow”. The two realise that the victim knew he was going to be murdered and left the message ahead of time, Bullock feeling that only someone deep in Bruce Wayne’s inner circle would be able to get to him. As if on cue, Batman gets a call from Alfred, who has finished analysing the DNA from the skin tissue and found a single, perfect match: Dick Grayson.
Batman #2 picks up with Bruce Wayne plummeting to his apparent death after being thrown out the window of the top floor of Wayne Tower…And then cut back to twenty-four hours earlier, where Batman’s chasing a group of helicopter-borne statue thieves on the Batpod. Batman races ahead and gets the Batpod on top of a train, and, in a move that just proves how badass Batman is, he races the bike off the train and crashes into the chopper’s wind-shield…and all while managing to get back to the Batcave in time with Gordon’s arrival at the Gotham City Morgue.
Using a scanner he rigged to the morgue’s security camera, Batman’s able to create a holographic projection in the Batcave to investigate the John Doe from before. He and the Comissioner deduce that this man was some sort of trainer, and they also discover the mark of an Athenian Owl on his right wisdom tooth. Between this and the knives baring owl emblems, Gordon is reminded of a nursery rhyme about the Court of Owls, an underground organization said to be running Gotham from behind the shadows. Batman IMMEDIATELY rules this out as a possibility, saying they’re just a legend but not being too open with why he believes that so vehemently.
Batman decides to cut the conversation short when Nightwing arrives, who makes a snarky comment about how Bruce will likely miss the old vent leading into the morgue. Dick recognises the man and tells Bruce that he’d been at the West Side Promenade’s groundbreaking. He’d been accosting Dick and gripped his arm, actually scratching him a bit while ranting that “They’re real” and that “They’re sending him for you…all of you”. Nightwing offers to show Batman the scratches, but as it turns out Bruce had already viewed the surveillance footage from the groundbreaking and just wanted to hear it from Dick, as well as get him caught up on what was going on.
That night, Bruce has an appointment at Wayne Tower with Lincoln March. During it, Lincoln admits that he sees an ally and friend in Bruce, as they both lost their parents to tragedies in their youth, and that Gotham saved them. However, it seems that something dark has returned to Gotham, but before Lincoln can elaborate further, a man in a black owl costume attacks them with knives. Lincoln is taken out of the fight quickly, leaving Bruce to himself as he tries to save himself while also holding back, as he can’t give hints that he’s Batman. However, even after applying over a hundred pounds of pressure to his assailant’s windpipe, he can’t seem to knock him out. Instead, the assailant tosses him around like a rag-doll before telling Bruce that “The Court of Owls has sentenced you to die”.
Bruce is then kicked out the window, realising that by the time he reaches the gargoyles below, he will have fallen so fast that his arms would simply rip off if he grabbed for them. His attacker leaps out after him to make sure he finishes him off, but he’s made a terrible error: There was a hidden, thirteenth gargoyle installed by Henry Wayne to greet visitors to Gotham by air, far above the lower ones. Bruce manages to grab ahold of it while his would-be assassin falls to his apparent death below. Bruce feels confident this assassin was just someone looking to use Gotham’s legends against him and is sure that there is no Court of Owls, but little does he know that after the body is placed in an EMT to be taken to the morgue, the Talon of the Court of Owls awakens and kills the driver.
These comics are AWESOME. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo set the foundations of the story and the mystery of the Court brilliantly, and the horror tone is done so not to scare you away, but rather to scare you into wanting to know more. I hadn’t known that Scott Snyder was more well known for his work with horror-themed comics, but I learned pretty quick just how expertly he could mix that tone into a superhero/detective story like this. But trust me, much like myself back when I started collecting these, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Check in next time when I look at Batman #3 & 4, as Batman begins to uncover the horrible truths about the Talon, as well as Gotham’s past. Ja né!