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Night of the Owls is finally here! Bruce just can’t catch his breath and that’s the way I like it. While this week’s Amazing Spider-Man had Mysterio playing the part of Scott in the first Austin Powers movie asking Doctor Octopus whey they don’t just smoke the Avengers while they’re knocked out, the Court of Owls makes no such cliche mistakes. When the hero is beaten you don’t give him time to recoup before you attack! You attack! And so in this issue Bruce finds himself surrounded by a half dozen or more Talons at his home. I haven’t been reading DC comics for very long – most of my knowledge of Batman comes from wikis like the one over at Comic Vine or Batman: The Animated Series. So I’m not sure how many other villains have attacked Batman at his home (especially since his identity is supposedly a secret) in the past. To me, this seems to be brazen on the part of the Owls as well as unsettling on the Bruce’s part. He’s not used to people gunning for him at home – that’s his sacred space.
Unsurprisingly, the attack forces Bruce and Alfred to take refuge in the Batcave. After all, that’s where Batman has all his technology and is in the best position to defend himself. This is the first issue of Batman (in the New 52) to have a backup story. Strangely, the backup story is just a direct continuation of what happened in the main story. The only difference is that you see things from Alfred’s point of view instead of Batman’s. The main point of the backup story is for Alfred to put out the call to the Bat-Family for help with defeating the Court of Owls. We see part of this appear in Red Hood and the Outlaws #8 which also seems to dovetail with the Batman Annual coming in May.
Since there isn’t too much plot to talk about (it’s page after page of Batman and Alfred fighting), I’ll mention that the art continues to rock on this book. Greg Capullo does a great job making Bruce look gristled after his time underground with the Talons. He also does a great job with the fight choreography. Sometimes I get lost in the action in comic books, but Greg makes it pretty easy to see what’s going on during the fights. He also works with Scott Snyder to produce some great dialog free panels that bring the terror of the Night of the Owls to life. Art duties in the backup story fall to Rafael Albequerque who has worked with Snyder on American Vampire. Because most of the backup story is just Alfred on a computer and putting out the distress call, his rough style seems a bit wasted on this particular backup. It does, however, work VERY well when the view switches to Batman and his defense mechanism against the Talons. I’m excited about his work on next month’s backup story “The Fall of the Waynes”.
Overall, because this is the climax of Night of the Owls there is little to no plot development. There’s one scene where Bruce realizes he didn’t know Gotham as well as he always thought he did, but overall it’s just a bunch of fighting. Sndyer continues to do a good job of balancing Batman’s awesome abilities with the fact that he just took a serious beating (and stabbing). I think he’s doing the best he can do in a super hero comic and the story continues to excel. This is definitely NOT the issue to pick up if you haven’t read the first seven issues. Wait for the trade. But you might want to make sure you start picking it up with issue #10. If you’re already a Batman collector, this issue does NOT disappoint – make sure you don’t miss it!