Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder

details
Title: Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls.
Writer(s): Scott Snyder.
Penciller(s): Greg Capullo.
Inker(s): Jonathan Glapion.
Colourist(s): Fco PlascenciaNathan Fairbairn & Dave McCaig.
Letterer(s): Richard StarkingsComicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, Patrick BrosseauDezi Sienty.

Title
: “The Call” & “The Fall of the House of Wayne”.
Writer(s): James Tynion IV.
Penciller(s): Rafael Albuquerque.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format
:
Hardcover – Absolute Edition.
Release Date: December 8th 2015.
Pages: 384.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401259105.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.

thoughts

Imagine being offered the opportunity to write a Batman story as part of the New 52 DC Universe reboot. That’s what occurred to Scott Snyder, following his sensational  Detective Comics run, notably his gritty Batman: The Black Mirror story arc where Dick Grayson takes on the mantle of the Dark Knight. With a completely clean slate allowing him to establish just about anything he desires, his mind brings him to retcon the character’s lore in unimaginable ways by not only playing on well-established facts about his character, his city and his history, but to also introduce a whole new artistic and story-telling vision to comic books. With the help of artist Greg Capullo, this dynamic and legendary duo carved their way into the comic book industry in extraordinary fashion as they further expanded Bruce Wayne/Batman’s character by fully-exploring their most basic traits of personality and abilities. This isn’t just a simple story about the rise of a sinister clan clawing their way out of the darkest alleys of Gotham. This is the exploration of a city that was thought to be known inside out by the hero that protects it and the sudden and deadly revelation of its most well-guarded secrets, mythologies and prophecies.

What is Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls about? Collecting Batman #1-11, this oversized and exquisite edition offers fans an opportunity to revisit one of the greatest story arcs written for the Dark Knight. While Bruce Wayne believes that Gotham is his playground and promotes new ideas of landscape modernization to launch his beloved city on a path towards prosperity and change, darker forces with ill intentions seek to stun the Dark Knight with an unpredictable uprise. Although a nursery rhyme regarding the Court of Owls resurges to create fear among Gothamites, Batman doubts its legitimacy, until a series of murders raises his suspicion and throws him on a goose chase that will flip his world upside down. As he attempts to uncover this mystery, unfathomable truths that were long buried are brought into the light and invites Batman to realize that he is no longer the predator in his city, but the prey of a scheme that has been in the work for countless years right under his nose. The truth he ends up discovering will not only tie together loose ends but also leave him speechless while Gotham City becomes the target of this secret organization.

Untitled

Right off the bat, Scott Snyder’s story-telling skills have always been my cup of tea, even with his very verbose writing style. His ability to build tension, to create memorable and powerful scenes, to develop characters and colourful world-building is all topped with an unafraid desire to take risks and venture in uncharted territories. His flair for darker themes is also unseen and perfectly fits with Batman’s character. He not only capitalizes on his detective skills by shining some light on it whenever he can, but he also exposes Batman as a flawed hero who isn’t superhuman à la Frank Miller in Batman: Year One. Although Bruce Wayne/Batman remains the center of attention, important characters from his universe are also heavily incorporated in this story arc, including Dick Grayson/Nightwing and Alfred Pennyworth, and play crucial roles that further investigate the complex relationship between each other but also with Batman. The most important introduction remains the Court of Owls and the cruel Talon. The organization in itself appears out of the blue and successfully establishes themselves as significant and powerful villains within Batman’s lore and only Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo could have accomplished this so rapidly and succinctly.

There couldn’t have been a better artist to join forces with Scott Snyder on this project than Greg Capullo who brings to this story arc the perfect amount of fantasy horror to give The Court of Owls, similar to the sharp edge that Scott Snyder’s writing bestows upon them. The crisp darkness that his style brings to this universe is incredible and captures the lingering air of fear that consumes Batman as he not only battles physically but psychologically a menace that he never saw coming. While darkness seems like his ally, this artwork comes to show that it can also work as his nemesis as the Court strips away the one environmental advantage that has always given Batman the edge on his foes. The creative and visionary decision to also play with the reading orientation of some segments of this story to further exploit the mind-numbing and psychological distress of Batman is also unprecedented and incredibly rewarding. This story-telling innovation further vouches to their talents and their ability to change the game. The absolute edition’s format also greatly helps in further admiring their final product, especially with the included sketches and character designs at the end.

Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls is a stunning and magnificent edition that collects Scott Snyder’s legendary Court of Owls story arc about the lurking dangers of the dark and the palpable threat of a mythological predator as it glares from its nest.


EXHIBITA

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25 comments

  • Oooh now I want it! 😀 I do have the regular version, and it’s already one of my favorite Batman comics so probably will abstain from buying… But it looks fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yes! Flawed hero! That’s exactly what I told in your previous post! So this one would be so my cup of tea, verbose of not LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  • Oooh this sounds intriguing. The Court of Owls sounds super creepy and I love when a superhero gets taken by surprise by an evil they had kind of discounted as nothing – it goes to show it never pays to get cocky!

    That picture of owley Batman is amazing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • What a wonderfully eloquent and passionate review my friend! I know of your love for this particular Batman run and it certainly shines through in your review, which is clearly very personal but I love the way you qualify the points you make (oh and that Absolute edition is beautiful, I keep hoping that Superman Unchained – which you really have to check out by the way – will eventually get the Absolute treatment).

    I wasn’t the biggest fan of Snyder’s run but I didn’t not enjoy it for the most part (it got a little indulgent towards the end for me) and I do love what he brought to the mythology of Batman with the Court of Owls arc. You’ve certainly given me a newer appreciation for it, my only sort of issue really is Greg Capullo – sure there’s some great stuff going on visually and lots of detail but I always felt a bit put off with some of his character design, with that sort of zany euro-comic look particularly in the facials. I know that sounds odd but there was always something about that that took me out of the story.

    I definitely hope to re-read Snyder’s run at some point, possibly this year but I’m also keen to go back through Tom King’s run (thus far) as well. In fact I have a ton of Batman collections I want to go through, the year of the Bat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words, good sir! I really like how Snyder and Capullo expand on the Batman mythos in this story arc, and their run in general. It is a little… ballsy… especially the whole “brother” sub-plot/plot twist, but it was a nice way to “reboot” the universe and introduce new villains by making it feel like they always existed. I totally love the Absolute Edition, even the extras at the end that gives us the first issues’ draft/sketches and everything. Everything is so stunning! I’m definitely looking into prioritizing Superman Unchained and have it read in 2019, sooner rather than later. Your review/praise for it has made me too curious to ignore it hahah

      I do admit that facially there was something that kept on poking at me, to the point where I sometimes felt like a lot of characters had similar facial designs, like Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne and the mayor had similar facial structures, a bit blocky and macho or something. But I think I just got used to it throughout the run and came to associate it as their actual original designs hahah

      I got to admit that I want to re-read Snyder’s run in particular. I might actually, now that I read the first two story arcs already hahah I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on everything.

      P.S. We now officially got confirmation of JJ and Punisher getting cancelled. One more season of JJ before the end of Netflix’s Marvel universe! Have you finished S2 of the Punisher? Wish someone else would pick it up. John Bernthal was the best Punisher we got… ever…

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      • I did just recently finish S2 of Punisher and really liked it. It’d be great if these characters in their Netflix form could carry on elsewhere but I won’t bank on it unless something is actually unequivocally confirmed! Started Titans, pretty good – the Watchmen style violence feels a bit out of place though especially when it comes to Dick Grayson/Robin but at least there’s some sort of narrative reason for it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is indeed sad that they successfully cancelled all of the Netflix Marvel heroes. We get to have one final season of JJ though… Hopefully its success will bring everyone to reconsider or something…

          The violence is insane, right? It’s also what keeps me hooked as I’m curious to see how far they’ll dare push it. One of the final épisodes, you’ll know when you get there, gets pretty crazy! It still has plenty of flaws in its plot though… Hopefully season 2 will be a step in the right direction.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m really getting into it now, the Doom Patrol episode was fantastic! It’s not totally perfect but I more enthused by Titans than any of the CW offerings (aside from Black Lightning) which I’ve pretty much lost interest in unfortunately…Elseworlds was a bit of a cheesy cringe-fest, although the introduction of Batwoman was pretty ace!

            Liked by 1 person

  • An overall incredible story arc that affected Scott Snyder’s entire New 52 Batman run to varying degrees. Not to mention it introduced a fascinating new villain to an already legendary list of villains for the Dark Knight. To be able to create a villain for Batman in the current age that is just as memorable as the likes of The Joker, Two Face, Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy is very impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree! I have massive respect for what was accomplished in this New 52 run and will always look forward to what Snyder/Capullo have to offer. Their style is awesome and totally worth checking out!

      Like

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