Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Night of the Owls Part 3 - Batman #9, Batgirl #9, and Batman & Robin #9

Batman: The book so epic, it takes up review space on weeks it doesn't come out!

OK, so for those who have yet to hit the comic stores, Scott Snyder moved his title's release date up a week (switching places with Batwoman) so that it is easier to follow the events of each story.

For those curious, I'd say that of the three today, Batman and Robin needs to come first in your reading order, as part of that scene is referenced in Batgirl. It's not key to the Batgirl plot, though, so those two could be interchangeable, but Batman absolutely needs to be the final read of the day.

I'd note as well that Snyder's book shows Batman take on two missions, but it skips to the second one. That is because the first mission was seen in Detective Comics one week ago. You can read about that here.

Well, there's the background. Let's get to the reviews!

Batman and Robin #9

I will review these in the order I just suggested, though I did read this second (after Batgirl). In this book, Damian Wayne (Robin) is the first to contact Alfred after he gives his announcement to the Bat-family.

He wants to help his dad, but Alfred sends him to save the head of the Gotham National Guard units. He is being stalked by a Talon who was supposed to kill his ancestors during the American Revolution.

I did enjoy one bit of subtlety in Damian's violent background. When the general told the soldiers to start loading live ammo, Damian actually had to ask what they had been using before. Because of his time with his mother, Talia al-Ghul, it could be taken that the use of blanks was not even a thought in his mind. Nice job, Peter Tomasi, though your "Robin Hears a HOO" title was partly clever, partly goofy.

This story was brilliant in so many ways and I deeply enjoyed the battle that ensued here. The change in artist for the two-page background on the Talon was a wise decision that gave the backstory the old-time feel it needed.

Moreover, it made the Talon a menace and a threat while bringing the relationship with his victim full-circle.

This story absolutely should be bought. Tomasi's team is doing brilliant work. It is Scott Snyder caliber story-telling without as much overarching into other titles.

Batgirl #9

I can genuinely say that by the end of this story, I actually felt bad for a Talon. And for once, the Court of Owls didn't simply behave like cruel jerks.

The Talon in this book was a victim of a Japanese paper balloon bombing during World War II. (Read it. It will make sense if you don't get it.)

This story made the mask of the Talon work as more than just a symbol of the Court. It became a connection for the Talon when fighting Batgirl.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon is forced to keep silent at the Court's demand while news from attacks in the other books are brought in. Gordon's mental state and desire to still be a hero here is admirable.

What makes it even better, though, is that the Court anticipated it, making Gordon's actions the means that allow the Court to leave a stamp on the city.

This is the best Batgirl book since the first arc, so needless to say I was happy about this. Hopefully the month of Owl work has allowed Gail Simone to get the creative juices flowing, and this caliber of work will continue in the next arc.

Batman #9

As I said in the prelude of this blog, the biggest complaint that could be made here is that one of Batman's two missions is in another book, so you will have to buy two $3.99 books to get his whole story.

That said, this book was awesome. If Detective was not worth the extra dollar, Batman made up for it by probably being worth a dollar further (if only because it's the centerpiece of this event).

Batman's metal suit is barely holding as temperatures dip down in the cave. He is waiting for the regenerative serums in the Talons to be disabled by the cold so that the fight can finish.

Throughout this, Batman thinks back to when his family first bought the land and his ancestors solved their bat infestation by buying a bunch of owls to kill them. This is predictable, but it was really awesome and needed to be used. This whole story is about Batman being hunted by the Owls, so that parallelism is too easy not to use.

Anyway, Batman finally is able to defeat the Talons in the cave (even running one over with the Batmobile) and he asks for people to save. Alfred gives him the list, and only two people haven't either been saved or killed. The first person is saved in Detective, so the story jumps to the second.

Batman's conversation with Lincoln March (the second victim he went after) sets up a turning point in Bruce's mind, and it sets up the story from here well.

The backup story is the first of a three-part background on Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred's father. This goes into  how he blames himself for something (to be explained) and how Alfred should never come to work for Bruce.

Unlike the Two-Face story, which is very uncharacteristic of the character, this piece focuses on a lesser-known member of the Batman mythos, so the characterization isn't bad. Moreover, it's still seen that Alfred's father did care for the Waynes, and he was regretful as to whatever was happening.

I won't be able to really judge it until it's finished, but it certainly has my interest.

I'll see you all for Part 3 next week! Also, since my wild-card portion had to be cut for Batman, and there will be plenty of books next week, I'll have a World's Finest and Dial-H review in the coming days.

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