Title: Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls.
Writer(s): Scott Snyder.
Penciller(s): Greg Capullo.
Inker(s): Jonathan Glapion.
Colourist(s): Fco Plascencia, Nathan Fairbairn & Dave McCaig.
Letterer(s): Richard Starkings, Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, Patrick Brosseau & Dezi 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.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
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.
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.