Thursday, 10 May 2012

Batman #9 review

Back in the Silver Age, Batman had a suit for every occasion: undersea action, jungle japes, cold capers ... he had it covered. And there's a callback to the old days here, as Batman turns to his 21st-century 'war suit' to fight off the Court of Owls' army of Talons as they invade his cave. They've come for Bruce Wayne, little expecting that he's Batman.

Little caring, as it turns out. As far as they're concerned, Bruce being Batman isn't a cause for anxiety, it's a toofor - they'll get to off two enemies for the price of one. They don't blink twice, continuing their surge through the cave. Safe behind the doors of the cave's armoury - for the moment, at least - Alfred drops the temperature outwith, to scuttle the Talons' tweaked physiologies. But will the freezing air drop them before it wrecks the war suit, harming Batman too?

That's the set-up for this issue, one which leads to Batman turning the tables on his attackers, with help from friends large and small, living and less so. Talons taken down and it's out into the city to save the two solid citizens not protected by Batman's allies from other Talon assassins. First off, there's Jeremiah Arkham, necessitating a  trip to Arkham Asylum and ... SEE DETECTIVE COMICS #9 - MIKE

Oh. So much for not having to read all the tie-in issues to get the whole story. We're even reminded that the various issues of Nightwing, Batgirl, and Batman and Robin are available via cameo panels. Cheers for that, DC.

OK, back to the story we do get. It's entertaining stuff. I'm ready for the Court's henchmen to be taken down a peg or two, and that's what happens here. Mind, I don't quite understand why Bruce is getting chillier within the war suit during his bout with the owls, given he specifically says it's designed for 'temperatures as low as the arctic winter. Did I miss something?

There's a death this issue that seems such an obvious 'death' intended to send Batman in a certain direction, that it has to be a double bluff. Writer Scott Snyder is dealing with comic readers here, we've seen it all.

(Then again, the depressing lauding of Batman's unbelievable victory in Batman #6 shows that a lot of hype-happy fans just don't worry about internal logic when Bruce gets to be 'Bat-ass'.)

The way Bruce and Alfred vie to protect one another is touching, there's a clever bit of history around Wayne Manor that serves the story and Snyder has fun when it comes to Batman taking down the final Talon. The plotting is impressive, with plenty of incident and there's a teensy bit of forward movement in this apparently never-ending Owls sequence. The dialogue is fine, as Batman gets to be the predator for the first time in awhile.

And the art from penciller Greg Capullo and inker Jonathan Glapion is just stupendous, as Capullo's storytelling instincts match his stylistic excellence and Glapion adds necessary emphasis. The entire book looks great, with my favourite panel the one in which someone puts their foot down, once and for all. And a big hand to colourist FCO Plascencia for moodiness without dullness. As for the lettering, there's a typo on the first page - tut.

Good as this issue's inst-owl-ment was (sorry, Burt Ward was my babysitter), a back-up with a different tone would be nice. Instead we get a flashback to Alfred's dad's time as the Wayne butler, with the cliffhanger arriving - if I'm reading this correctly - on the night the Waynes were killed. I hope I'm not, otherwise a clunky retcon may be coming Batman's way.

We shall see. For what it was - another layer of the Owls storyline - this short is decent, with an efficient script from Snyder and James Tynion IV and splendid pictures courtesy of illustrator Rafael Albuquerque and colourist Dave McCaig (mind, I'm surprised by how, let's say, characterful, Alfred's father is, facially).

But the longer this owl business goes on, the less I'm feeling excited, engaged. I'm still reading, in the hope that questions I asked in an earlier review are addressed, but if next issue doesn't deliver I may cease to give a hoot. 

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Tom - you're sooo not a bad guy.

      Delete
  2. I think Bruce was starting to feel the cold because the Talons were doing so much damage to the Batsuit; it was built to withstand the temperatures, but its systems were being compromised.

    As for the telltale signs of a crossover, maybe I'm being too generous, but I don't think the panels of the rest of the Bat-fam or the throw to Detective Comics made me feel like I was not getting everything I needed to enjoy the story. (Compare it to this week's Legion Lost, for instance -- part 3 of The Culling, a crossover structured in a very different way, far less accommodating of dilettantes like me.)

    And the backup: I really hope what we're seeing isn't the night the Waynes were killed. I think it's important that Alfred be there -- and a trusted presence -- to comfort Bruce when that happens. I suspect that the night we see is a year or two prior... and events that might (through some Owl conspiracy, sadly) set in motion the subsequent deaths of Thomas and Martha.

    Great review, though! And like you, I'm also getting a wee bit tired of owls. I think we've only got a couple more issues of them, plus the Annual, in Batman proper, though. And then, please god, Signalman.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the insight, Rob. Did you read Detective, I gave up months back?

    As for The Crossing, I have Superboy and Teen Titans right here ... could they be as awful as last week's Titans annual?

    (Comics were a day late in the UK this week, blooming bank holiday!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I haven't read Detective at all. But it doesn't feel essential to me.

    Couldn't tell you about Superboy or the Titans; all I got was chapter 3 in Legion Lost. And it was... well, the action was okay, but for a book that promised "Harvest's Secret Revealed," all I could figured out was that he was from the future. It didn't really deliver any shocks... especially since I'd never actually seen him before this issue, anyway.

    And a bank holiday, eh? No wonder I kept refreshing and refreshing and you hadn't updated! No prob -- I'm just glad you're well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, Superboy read, can't face Legion Lost yet!

      Delete
  5. The Detective Comics issue has no baring on this story at all, it's just a side story and does not affect this story at all. It's part of Tony Daniel's own silly Batman story where Batman just fights Talons, that's it. Don't worry, it doesn't really mean much. Same with the other tie ins, they are just their own stories of the other characters fighting the Talons. This comic is all you need.

    As for the backup, I believe Scott mentioned he wouldn't be changing anything regarding Joe Chill. He is still just a regular thug that killed the Waynes and there was no involvement with the Owls. Don't worry.

    Two more issues to go and this whole story is wrapped. Don't give up on the next issue. It be kind of silly just to stop only a few feet from the finish line. Keep going if only for fun fights and great art!

    Thinking about it, Scott Snyder seems to be getting the best artists to draw his Batman work: Jock, Francesco Francavilla, Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque, and Trevor McCarthy. I can't think of another modern Batman writer who gets consistantly good artists like Scott does. He even gets better artists than Grant Morrison! I

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the reassurances. I wouldn't have assumed this was Zorro night, were it not for Jarvis Pennyworth failing to get the car past the gates of Wayne Manor. I assumed that meant no ride for Thomas, Martha and Bruce post-movie, forcing them down a dark alley ...

    And yeah, only two more issues, but I should have packed in after the rubbish that was #6!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, 6 was fun! Lots of action, Batman getting his second wind (And all it took was getting possibly stabbed through the chest or beaten up. Then again, he was still trippin' pretty hard so who knows if things really went down exactly as they were shown. Also, I don't think this form of getting your second wind will catch on) and just kicking the crap of Talon, before escaping.

      Even when Snyder isn't at his best, it's still a pretty fun comic to read with great art to back it up. Unlike some other comics out there... *glances at Tony Daniel and Rob Liefield*

      Speaking of which, for laughs, you should review the recent Deathstroke issue. It can help you appericate good comics more... or frankly any comic in general.

      Delete
    2. I'm glad you got something from #6, but for me it was just too much to believe that after over a week of being drugged, starved and assaulted, Batman could rally to such an extent. And the exaggerated art on Batman was a little confusing - I guessed he hadn't really become a giant Bane-type, but who knows?

      Please don't make me read Deathstroke, there's no DC character I hate more!

      Delete
  7. I'm getting antsy for the Owls storyline to wrap up. I've really enjoyed it thus far, but the excitement is waning. I need climax or conclusion Snyder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was beginning to think it was just me!

      Delete
  8. You're one of the few people not to be hooting (pardon the pun) over Snyder's Night of the Owls. And you say that Batman and Robin is the better series. IMO, Snyder's delivered one of the best, engaging Batman stories in a while and whilst I greatly enjoyed the first arc of Batman and Robin, Snyder just edged ahead in terms of the quality of story he's delivered in Court of Owls and Night of the Owls. Every page is full of surprises and excellent writing. Then again to each his own I guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks so much for the comments, and puns need no pardon! I think I'm disappointed that Scott Snyder's run is so nearly wonderful; it's certainly better than many a Batman run. The thing that gets me is that he'll give us a wow moment - Dick was almost a Talon! - that a moments thought can pick holes in ... what, Dick never had a dental check-up? Or the business with Bruce winning the day in the Labyrinth, which I've harped on a tedious length. Or Lincoln March, the only new character (I'm not counting Harper Row, sister of Danny the Street, as she's not had significant page time), proving to be the bad guy. The Court of Owls running Gotham but no one noticing.

      I've enjoyed the book more than not, and the art is just superb - but I think it's over-praised. As you say though, mileages vary!

      As regards Batman and Robin being better, I think I was talking about last month's issue vs last month's Batman - I wasn't too impressed by this month's B&R. An area where I think B&R consistently beats Batman is character interaction - until this month, Batman has been pretty much all plot.

      Delete