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: Bruce keeps digging at the Court of Owls mystery, but is everything what it appears to be?

Five Things: 

1. This is a great looking comic! – This could be a copy-n-paste section every month.  Greg Capullo is just smashing each issue out of the park.  This is such impressive work AND he’s doing it within the confines of a monthly schedule.  That’s really impressive because most artists who approach Capullo’s quality can’t maintain that page-per-day pace.  One of the things that really strikes me about Capullo is how big and powerful his Batman is.  The opening action sequence is taut and powerful with Batman looking every bit a guy who is 6’2″ and 250 pounds and moves like an NFL outside linebacker.  He’s not a dainty little thing like Christian Bale, he’s build like The Rock.   Next Capullo mixes it up with a flashback sequence that is done in a kinda phot0-negative style.  It almost looks like he’s using a subtractive style like scratchboard or something.  Then we get the final sequence where he shows that he can do the “Batman looming over the skyline” pose that every Batman artist needs to nail.  Finally, kudos need to go out to Glapion and FCO.  I’ve seen Capullo’s pencils and those guy actually are adding to what Capullo is doing whereas most inkers/colorists would screw it up.  My only quibble is that there was a panel or two in this issue where I said, “Huh?  Wha?” (e.g. when Batman is falling from the building), but that doesn’t dampen the artistic achievement that Batman is every month.

2. Interesting wrinkles in the story. – Well….the final page is cool as hell.  That looks very intriguing as Batman falls into a trap that has a very Silver Age vibe to it.  Knowing Snyder’s writing, he’s not going to give us campy Silver Age, so I really can’t wait to see how he pays homage while making it dark and twisted.

3. But, I’m a little confused on a couple of items. – There are a few items where I’m clearly not keeping up as well as I should.  I can’t quite figure out if the Court of Owls is real or not.  I think that’s kinda the point of the story, but it’s giving me a little more of a “confused” feeling when it should be pure mystery and anticipation.  Same thing with Bruce fiddling with his ancestor’s bones.  When did he dig those up?  Was I half asleep when I read the last issue, because I don’t recall any exhuming going on.

4. Nice Dick & Bruce interplay. – After showing us Dick, Tim and Damien in issue #1, this has been a pure Bruce Wayne story.  Those Robins are such a part of Bruce’s life in the old DC Universe, but this is a new setting and it’ll be cool to see how they interact.  Every interaction between the two for the last 20 years has had Bruce being this gloomy, morose prick while Dick stands there with his chest puffed out hoping that Bruce will realize he’s a grown-ass man.  Who wants to read that?  I’d much rather see a straight-forward father/son dynamic where there is obvious love and respect.

5. Why bother to have a variant cover? – When you have Greg Capullo and FCO delivering the primary cover, what is the point of having a Mike Choi variant? The Capullo cover is cool, has neat design elements, is related to the story and is also by the interior artist.  The variant is a nice image (albeit with an odd yellow tint to everything), but it’s just a generic image of Batman that doesn’t have much of anything to do with the story beyond the two owl gargoyles (that could have been added in at the last second).  And, to boot…..Capullo is a more prestigious artist than Choi.  I wonder if DC had this laying around in their pile of generic Batman covers and figured they’d use to try to goose sales a little this month?  If you’re going to do a variant when Capullo is going the primary, DC needs to bring in some really heavy hitter like Darwyn Cooke or Alex Ross, otherwise Capullo’s cover will just blow the variant out of the water.

Conclusion: This comic isn’t missing a beat.  The overall strength of the story and the art more than make up for a few minor quibbles.

Jumping on point?: Nope.  You could read this issue alone, but you’d be a little confused.  Best to start with issue #1.

Grade: B+

-Dean Stell

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