If for whatever reason you doubted the fact that Scott Snyder’s run on Batman is one of, if not the, best books DC is putting out, then this issue should really be the final nudge you need. The past couple of decades have seen Batman claim Gotham as his own, and rightfully so. He is after all Batman, the Dark Knight, protector of the weak. The Court of Owls, however, disagrees. The issue starts off with Bruce’s return to his cave, where he immediately goes to work dissecting the Talon soldier that was discarded by the Court. It is only when Dick barges in that we learn that this particular Talon is William Cobb, Dick’s great grandfather, kept young and alive through scientific means. And as if that wasn’t shocking enough, Snyder quickly reveals that Dick was meant to be a Talon, as well.
Many usurpers and evildoers have made their claims on Gotham in the past, and some of them have had legitimate attempts and claims. Snyder’s villain is attacking Bruce on multiple fronts, blatantly daring Bruce to continue trusting people. One of Bruce’s biggest issue is that he doesn’t trust many people, and he expects the world from those he does. The Court of Owls not only drives a gap between Bruce and the city he knows, but it also creates a sense of doubt in Bruce’s relationship with his closest companion outside of Alfred. Greg Capulo, Jonathan Glapion, and FCO bring this book alive. There’s no doubt that Snyder’s story would be fantastic as just mere words on a page. But what the medium of comics allows, is to illuminate those words to create a storytelling method that is unparalleled. Capulo’s pencils bring the myth of the Batman to life, faults and all. Glapion’s inks and FCO’s colors set the tone, the mood, and with it the overall experience you leave with. Each aspect is integral in creating this epic story. 5/5
Considering Geoff Johns was instrumental in making Flashpoint a reality, which was supposed to make things less confusing for new readers, he’s not doing such a great job. This issue brings up more questions than resolutions, and while some of the points may be minor details in the grand scheme of things, they’re just more mistakes that shouldn’t be happening. The most glaring issue was probably Hal Jordan’s existence on the team, because as far as the Green Lantern title is concerned, Hal’s not really a Green Lantern, at least not in the way he would have been five years ago when the JL was formed. It doesn’t make any particular sense why he would maintain that childish personality five years later and after everything that has happened in between. Next up would be Geoff Johns’s portrayal of Batman. From about issue #3 and beyond, Johns’s Batman has felt like an impostor; he’s inconsistent, he’s basically not the same guy we read in the other seven plus comics he appears in. Wonder Woman being flown into battle in one of Green Lantern’s constructs? Ridiculous, considering she has godly powers so she doesn’t need protection, and she can fly. Moving on, before Justice League transitioned into the present day, we were all promised new team members, because adding new team members in five years is the way to go, but not one new member was introduced. Which actually ends up being a blessing in disguise, because the biggest problem with this series is that Johns can’t handle the roster. What was good about this issue? Steve Trevor. Etta Candy. Captain Marvel, wait no, he’s Shazam now. 3/5
A slow to boil arc has quickly exploded into a fantastic finish. The issue is essentially split in two, however, both portions are heavily intertwined with one another. Saiko, who has just attempted to kill everyone in the circus tent, reveals to us all that he was taken by the Court of Owls, trained and tortured, only to be rejected for not being Dick. Dick, who was chosen to be a Talon, and would have been a guardian/soldier for the Court of Owls, had his parents not died and Bruce not taken him in. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened, which left Saiko, or Raymond, damaged and unstable. There’s been a great deal of talk about the “Night of the Owls” semi-crossover, and for good reason, but from the very beginning of the new 52, Nightwing has felt much closer to main story than anyone else in the Bat family. With this issue, Kyle Higgins puts substance to that theory as he plants Dick Grayson smack dab in the heart of the Court of Owls. Not only is Dick revealed to have been on the Court’s personal list, but now because of Saiko and William Cobb, his great grandfather, he’s personally involved in the Court’s treachery. The Court has infiltrated his life in a vastly different, yet still unsettling, way than they have with Bruce, which makes things that much more exciting. The art team for the issue does a tremendous job of handling the different scenes, tonal shifts, and all of the action for the issue. From the collapsing tent to the father/son moment in the cave, the art really stands out as being remarkably executed. 5/5
With all the chaos, destruction, and all around badassery (by our titled trio), it’s easy to forget that this whole adventure was set off by a plea for help from Essence, Jason’s former training partner. Unfortunately for our heroes, she apparently doesn’t like being forgotten, and so a huge battle breaks out. All seems lost when Starfire and Arsenal are unable to make a dent, however, some stolen property aboard the ship they’re on aids Jason in banishing the villainess. Scott Lobdell is doing a fantastic job writing this series. It’s very action heavy, which is great because that’s really when Kenneth Rocafort and Blond shine. Their art brings a nice depth to the story with their vivid colors and geometric representations of energy; the two of them are doing a remarkable job of blending contemporary art with Lobdell’s exciting story. What’s also great about this series, is that if you take the time to notice, in seven short issues you can already see growth in these characters, and there wasn’t a five year gap or anything. Arsenal is becoming more confident, Starfire is starting to feel a bit more relatable and less awkward, and Jason has become more focused and is really growing into his role as leader. Red hood and the Outlaws is in good hands with this creative team, and this title has really come a long way since that controversial first issue. 4.5/5
With only one issue left in the series, Nick Spencer is not holding back at all. With war raging in Subterranea, we quickly learn that Colleen has secretly been working with Professor Jennings in order to restore peace in the land below. Pieces of puzzles we didn’t even know existed began falling into place as chaos and panic were replaced by order and celebration. With Colleen’s help, Jennings was able to clone and therefore save the fallen T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Demo’s reign of power was immediately squashed, and we had a storybook ending, until Spencer unleashed one sentence, eight words, and then it all came to a halt. As far as penultimate issues go, this has been one of the best I’ve ever read. Spencer’s ability to get you to care about these unlikely heroes, in such a short time, is tremendous. While there is plenty action, this series has definitely emphasized its characters, their development, and their evolution, and this issue did a great job of ripping out that sense of complacency that was derived from the friendship building with these characters. The entire art team did a fantastic job on this issue. What has worked out immensely in Spencer’s favor, is that the artists on this title, and the previous one, have done a remarkable job capturing emotions on character’s faces, and slight changes in body language, and this art team is no different. 5/5
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