Gotham’s vigilante protector has managed to escape the claws of the Court with his mind and body barely intact. The Dark Knight has won the battle with his deadly aggressors, but certainly not the war. These villains will threaten all that Batman holds dear: His secret identity. His home. His headquarters. His beliefs about both his friends and his enemies. With the Court’s deadly foot soldiers, the Talons, out to destroy him, the Dark Knight and his allies must now wage an all-out war for survival against the most dangerous predators he has ever encountered.
The second volume of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s first Batman arc is released in a hardback collection today. Batman Vol. 2: City of Owls collects issues #8-12 as well as the first Batman Annual. Snyder and Capullo are joined by James Tynion IV, Jnathan Glapion, Jason Fabok, Fafael Albuquerque, Becky Cloonan, and Andy Clarke for the backups and annual. There’s also a small army of colorists and letterers. So is the Court of Owls collection as great as you heard it was, or should you not give a hoot?
The first volume saw Batman completely and utterly broken. He was not only physically beaten by the Court of Owls, the actual group the childhood nursery rhymes spoke of, but he was mentally destroyed. The Owls proved to Batman that he didn’t really know the city he loves. Gotham is a mystery, Gotham is controlled from the shadows. Volume 2 sees Batman rebounding. He’s starting to see the plan and he knows who some of the players are. Just as he’s starting to come to terms with Gotham being a city as complex as Two-Face, the Court sends their deadly Talons to Wayne Manor. Bruce not only has to protect Alfred, he has to save his home and deal with the Talons finding the Batcave. The Talons are reanimated corpses and not technically alive. This let’s Batman do something he rarely gets to do- not hold back. Just as he starts to make strides on the home front, the Talons start taking out the influential people of Gotham. Once that’s sorted, Batman must face a bigger enemy. An enemy that may have a strong tie to him.
The main thrust of the volume is the Night of the Owls line, but there is also the Batman Annual. It took some flack when it was initially released for the redesigned Mr. Freeze, but taken with the main story it is actually a great reintroduction for Mr. Freeze into the new DC 52. The final issue, #12, sees Harper Row getting her own story. It is fantastic. With Harper gaining importance in the Batman mythos, it is probably going to be an even more important story down the road.
Overall, the main story with the Court of Owls is nothing less than spectacular. Snyder and Capullo proved with their first arc that they are DC’s biggest weapons. There’s not much more praise you can throw at them that hasn’t been said most everywhere else by most everyone. The two men have crafted a Batman arc that will be counted among the Caped Crusaders best and most important stories. If you missed it the first time around or just want to give a great gift, this is one you have to pick up 5/5