By: Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), FCO (colors), Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (letters), Katie Kubert (assistant editor), Harvey Richards (associate editor) & Mike Marts (editor)

The Story: Batman investigates a secret society within Gotham.

Five Things: 

1. Really awesome art. The Capullo/Glapion/FCO team is really something!  They excel in all phases of comic art.  Can they tell the story?  Check.  Can they make the pages visually interesting?  Check.   Do they do good action?  Check.  Can they make a page of two guys talking in a hospital room appealing: Check.  They really do it ALL well, but everything flows from Capullo’s storytelling and layouts.  He is one of those guys who have so mastered his craft that he can make each page visually unique (from a layout standpoint) without sacrificing storytelling or making it hard to know which panel to read next.  I don’t think I’ve ever misread the panels of a Capullo comic and that’s saying a LOT because they guy goes nuts with his panel designs.

2. Cool story. There’s a lot of good stuff here.  I know there are a majority of fans out there that love to see Batman fighting Joker or Penguin, but those stories are so predictable.  Let the mediocre writers who lack for ideas play around with the established Rogue’s Gallery!  This secret society of owls in Gotham is so neat because we really don’t know what they’re up to, what they capabilities are, how many of them there are, what their goal is… It’s all new and interesting to discover.  And, Snyder has so many neat layers to this story, like the discovery of a hidden 13th floor in Wayne Tower that is the Owl-villain’s lair.  How creepy that they’re living in your own home? Doesn’t that just creep us all out: The concept that a hidden enemy could be right under out nose?  Yipes!

3. Owls = Irony.  Maybe I’m slow (or just not much of a student of DC), but I realized as I was reading this that the owl-villains remind me of Owlman, the alternate version of Batman from the Crime Syndicate.  I’m sure everyone else picked up on this instantly, but like I said, I’m slow and read almost no DC.

4. This is a complex comic. This has become a comic that get’s special treatment.  Snyder has so much stuff going on and is packing so much into each issue, that Batman is becoming a comic that I only read during the middle of the day when my brain is running full speed.  If I tried to read it at 11:00 while laying in bed, I’d miss most of the complex layers that Snyder is laying down.  I guess some people could see that as a negative: that a comic book demands special treatment out of all the comics in “the pile”.  But isn’t it nice to have a comic that challenges you to pay attention?

5. Very much a new DCU. If I had a complaint about the comic it would be: “How can Batman not know about these owl-guys?”  I mean, we’re talking about BATMAN.  He knows everything about Gotham.  But while that was true of the Bruce Wayne of the old DCU, let’s not forget that this is all new territory.  This Bruce is a little younger and he might not have quite the same grasp on Gotham.  I certainly think it is meaningful that Snyder and DC editorial decided to kick off the relaunch with a story about how Gotham having secrets that Bruce doesn’t know about.

Conclusion: A cool and kinda creepy story about what Bruce Wayne doesn’t know about Gotham!  Great art.

Grade: A-

-Dean Stell