Right before you take off on a roller coaster, the kid running the thing says “Strap in”. That’s a good metaphor for Batman #10, the near conclusion to writer Scott Snyder’s brilliant Court Of Owls story. I don’t say 'strap in' simply because Snyder throws a lot at you in one issue, I say 'strap in' because the end is going to throw you. This is the type of issue where Bat-fans will quickly become divided. Either they will embrace it and love it, or they will want to burn DC Comics to the ground. Snyder is taking a bold step in the Batman canon, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.
I’m getting ahead of myself, forgive me. Batman #10 is all about solving the mystery of the Court Of Owls. It’s time for Batman to connect the dots and discover exactly who is behind this powerful group that has been long embedded into the fabric of Gotham. Batman #10 follows our hero as he confronts the older members of the Court Of Owls, having found out who they are. He pieces together their money, their influence and their names. When Batman arrives to deal with the Court as a whole, he finds them all dead, poisoned as if they had taken their own lives.
Nothing in Batman is as it seems, so the Dark Knight is less than satisfied that the Gotham Court Of Owls just up and took their own lives. He turns the story over in his head until finally something clicks, a small something that blows the entire mystery wide open. It turns out Lincoln March, Bruce’s old friend and mayoral candidate for Gotham, is actually a part of the Court Of Owls and, more importantly, was trained as their premiere Talon. That right there would be enough of a cool plot twist to carry the story to its conclusion. Scott Snyder has never really been one for “enough”.
Okay folks, here’s the bombastic reveal, here’s the meltdown, here’s the jam where Snyder turns Batman’s world on its motherluvin’ ear. It turns out that Lincoln March is Bruce Wayne’s brother. I know, I know, you’re screaming “WHAT?!” but as I said, strap in and ride with me. Snyder is smart enough not to make this conclusive, there is no smoking gun that screams brotherhood.
That being said, the trail of clues are so decisive and so well played that the idea of this being Bruce’s brother comes across as very real. This isn’t a plot device or a trick from a cunning villain, Lincoln March believes this and, after reading Batman #10, you might, too. The final splash page has March dressed up as the ultimate Talon rushing towards Batman. Issue #11 will be the physical confrontation of Owl Vs. Bat.
After reading this issue I sat with it, rolled it around in my skull and finally embraced it. What Scott Snyder has done here is actually very cool. He’s taking the idea of the New 52 by the horns and adding elements to make it just a bit different than the old timeline. I applaud him for that. That takes moxie. Snyder also does it with style. Sure the brother thing is a big drop, but it doesn’t completely destroy the Batman legacy we all love.
Snyder is always about expanding, not rewriting or deconstructing. I think that’s why I see him as an asset to Batman and writers like Grant Morrison as a hindrance. Morrison is all about rewriting Batman as he sees fit, Snyder has too much respect for the character and its legacy to do that. He would rather build bigger sandcastles in the sandbox given to him. I also like the fact that Lincoln March’s “Owl Man” could become a real threat and a new antagonist for Batman. The caped crusader needs a new dancing partner, some of his older rogues are getting a little repetitive for my taste.
What can I say about the art from Greg Capullo? Seriously, what can I say? I could go on and on about his ability to show action, the strength and presence that he gives every character, I could even talk about his disturbingly good use of shadow and negative space. That’s all window dressing. What makes Capullo so good is his attention to detail. My favorite example of that here is Batman’s facial hair. The Dark Knight has been so obsessed with finding these people, so haggard from his kidnapping, so beaten and mentally fucked that he has let himself go completely until he figures it all out. Those little details make all the difference in a story like this.
Most will say I’m just a Scott Snyder fan boy and I give him carte blanche to do whatever he wants. To that, I say check out my review of Batman Annual #1. The reality is that Snyder has shaken up the Batman world in a way it needs to be shaken up. I can only sit back and wait to see what he has in store for the Dark Knight next.
4.5 Story, 4.5 Art