Writing super hero comics is tricky business and many fail to do it well. It is one of the main reasons that people tend to age out of reading comics. At some point the writing just isn’t good enough anymore. Central to the problem is the fact that main characters can’t die (permanently). So the writer is left with the near-Herculean task of creating enough narrative tension that you really do feel for a moment that the hero is in danger. With super hero comics that leads to wondering just how your hero will get out of this. Just how does Batman get out of the situation Snyder put him in during the last issue?
Last issue we saw Batman get stabbed. And Snyder didn’t leave us with the option of the blade getting stuck on some Bat-Armor - no we saw it go through Batman’s torso. If we had been reading’s Snyder’s American Vampire, it would have been lights out for the hero. Snyder has been known to Joss his American Vampire characters. But Bruce Wayne isn’t going out six issues into The New 52. Would we end up with the cop out that it was a hallucination? After all, Bruce was starting to go a little nuts from wandering the Owls’ maze for 8 days straight.
Well, Snyder does his best, but even that wasn’t enough to help me completely suspend my disbelief. If you go back to my issue 5 review, linked above, you’ll be reminded that I suspected the Owls were messing with Bruce’s head based on the fact that it appeared there were multiple copies of each room in the maze to further make him feel as though he’s going crazy and wandering in circles. There appears to be some confirmation of this fact based on a clue Bruce sees when he’s thrown on the ground. And, based on that clue he’s able to get his sanity back. That’s a bit of a stretch, but I can go along with that - especially after accepting what Morrison did with Bruce to prevent his insanity before.
No, what I found to be a bridge too far is that Batman is actually able to go head to head with Talon in the fight that is the central part and climax of this issue. After being famished for eight days and just barely recovering his sanity. It was just toomuch and I think Snyder did too thorough a job of destroying Batman in issue #5 for this to work for me.
However, Snyder was able to salvage this issue in my eyes by the way it ends. Obviously I do not desire to give the ending away, but we come closer to understanding what is to come in the Night of the Owls and Bruce doesn’t exactly walk away victoriously. Anyway, you can’t fault Snyder too much - he’s a slave to the format. It’s incredibly tough to write a great Batman story - almost as hard writing Superman. Batman is always prepared and always the cool ninja-like guy. It’s really, really hard to test him and come out of it without a deus ex machina and I think Snyder does a great job with what he’s got.
We do finally get a peek at other members of the Court of Owls this issue, ending speculation in my mind that it was just Talon creating the impression of an all-encompassing conspiracy. Indeed the revelation of how many people and their age ranges was quite spectacular. I’m happy it appears this story’s going to take at least a full year to tell. Finally, Greg Capullo continues to do a great job with the art. He does an especially good job of taking advantage of the fact that they can play with your mind a bit in the labyrinth and so some of the panels are clearly meant to be taken metaphorically rather than literally.
Despite my small issues with the way Batman wrangles his way out of this mess, I think this continues to be the TOP storyline of the past six months and may end up being the best story of the year. Part one of the story wraps up next month, so if they release a trade with the first seven issues and you haven’t read it yet, it will really be worth the money!