By: Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), FCO Plascencia (colors), Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt (letters), Katie Kubert (assistant editor) & Mike Marts (editor)
Back-up by: Snyder & James Tynion, IV (writers), Rafael Albuquerque (art), Dave McCaig (colors), Dezi Sienty (assistant editor) & Marts (editor)
The Story: The “final battle” between Batman and his evil brother (?) Lincoln March. Stuff is revealed….
The Review: 1). Just an epically good Batman story. - As a personal aside, it’s not a big secret that I’ve been souring on the world of superhero comics for some time. I buy more Vertigo titles than I do DC and Marvel combined. It isn’t that I don’t like these characters, it’s that I’ve already read them in hundreds of issues and it takes a very special creative team to make it feel special.
The Snyder/Capullo/Glapion/FCO team is just that good. When they tell the story, I don’t feel like I’m getting cold soup out of a can. Not only is this issue very good, but this entire 11-issue run has been outstanding. Let’s give them a big round of applause for telling us a great Batman story that’ll probably be a classic Batman story that DC can sell in hardcover for years and years. Seriously, the Court of Owls is a Batman story that ranks right up there with anything that’s ever been created for the character. And….for Snyder this comes hot on the heels of his epic run on Detective Comics before the New 52. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two “all-time great” Batman stories in a row.
This issue was a microcosm of why the whole story was so special. It has it all: action, mystery, the obsessive nature of Bruce, the idea that Gotham is a thing….
2). Wonderful place to leave the Lincoln character. - It’s so clever how Snyder left Lincoln in just the right place after all the stuff about him being a mirror-image of Bruce (the reflection on the skyscraper, the airport, etc.). It sure seems like he’s just a crazy guy who was taken in by the Owls and brainwashed into thinking he was Bruce’s brother. All the facts kinda check out that Bruce’s younger brother truly did die. But, there are those little gaps. There’s probably a 2% chance the Lincoln really IS Bruce’s brother and that’s all we need to know. That 2% chance is enough to propel Bruce to obsessively seek the truth since Bruce can’t abide uncertainty (even though proving a negative is awfully hard). That 2% is enough to keep Lincoln acting like a whack-job in future stories. And, that 2% is enough to make him a compelling character for fans when he shows up again. I’m not a huge fan of recurring villains because they become really stale, but you CAN milk 2-3 appearances out of them first.
Let’s hope we NEVER find out if Lincoln is really Bruce’s brother (kinda like how we’ve never known the Joker’s origin) and that the next creators to tackle him are as talented as this group (doubtful…but we can hope).
3). Nice ending with Dick. - Even though Dick Grayson hasn’t played a big part in the Batman-portion of the Court of Owls story, it was nice to see the final scene between Bruce and Dick. Yes….I know that the Owls wanted Dick, but he wasn’t appearing in every issue of this story. Still, that final talky scene was needed to reset the situation and who else was Bruce going to talk to? If he talks to himself he sounds like a crazy person. If he talks to Alfred, well, it just wouldn’t be right and we get to see the Bruce/Alfred scene in the back-up. Dick is like his grown son and it’s right that Bruce can talk to him about things of this nature.
4). Wonderful art from both art teams. - There are a about 10 places in this issue where I said, “Aww yeah, that is a GREAT Capullo panel.” All of that action is something that Capullo thrives on, but he also aced that final scene with Bruce and Dick. Even though Snyder is a great writer and can usually power through a talky scene, a big part of why is works is how well Capullo mixes up the panels of “talking heads” and shows the emotions on their faces. I especially liked how he kept having the shadows from the windows falling on Bruce’s face such that it looked like a mask. Very clever guy, that Capullo!
The back-up story just wasn’t as hot as the main story, but that wasn’t Rafael Albuquerque’s fault. I love his brush-work, even if these very quiet panels that don’t let him stretch his legs very much.
5). How is Lincoln so bad-ass? - Okay, one quibble: how is Lincoln able to go toe-to-toe with Bruce? Sure, he’s been sparring with the other Talons, but there’s a big difference between sparring and the real thing. Right?
Conclusion: A great capstone to an all-time classic Batman story.
- Dean Stell
Filed under: DC Comics Tagged: | Batman, Dave McCaig, DC, Dean Stell, Dezi Sienty, Fco Plascencia, Greg Capullo, James Tynion IV, Jimmy Betancourt, Jonathan Glapion, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts, Rafael Albuquerque, review, Richard Starkings, Scott Snyder