By: Adam Basciano

The book opens in Gotham City circa 1922, with Alan Wayne running frantically through the streets exclaiming that someone is after him.  Two police officers try to ease his fears, but Alan Wayne jumps into a manhole, where he apparently drowns.  Cut to present day, where Batman interrogates the last of 5 gangs that control smuggling in and out of Gotham by rail.  That interrogation yields no information about the owl-assasin who tried to kill Bruce Wayne last issue.  Bruce turns to Alfred for information about a potential connection between The Court of Owls and Wayne Family.  After learning that his great-grandfather was obsessed with owl’s, and later paranoid that the group of assassin’s were hiding out in the walls of his home.  Batman being the ace detective he is, decides to investigate his relatives delusions.  Sure enough, Alan Wayne was right.  The Court of Owls  had built a nest in an abandoned space in old Wayne Tower.  Worse still, th Court of Owls has been building nests in all the buildings created through a trust fund set up by the elder Mr. Wayne.  Batman arrives at the most recent nest, but it’s a trap.  The Talon (a.k.a. Owl Assassin from last issue), sets off a bomb in the building with Batman inside…

This issue wears a number of different hats, and does so very effectively.  It’s a mix of historical documentary, National Geographic special, mystery/suspense novel , and crime drama all rolled into one.  I don’t know how accurate the information Scott Snyder mentioned about owls is, but I definitely feel more enlightened on the subject after reading this issue.  Especially poignant, was Alfred’s blurb about Owl’s being natural  predators of bats. That one line added that much more intensity to Batman’s conflict with The Talon.  The battle almost feels like a sports rivalry.  No matter who the combatants, be it the animals or the two costumed men taking their guise, the rivalry burns hotter with each installment. Snyder’s exploration of the Wayne family history and its ties to Gotham City is something unique, that in all my years of reading, I have yet to see on this level.  Not only is he adding something new to the mythos, he’s also strengthening an already superb rogues gallery. I really believe that if handled correctly, The Court of Owls and The Talon could become prominent Batman villains, standing among the ranks of the heavy hitters.

Greg Capullo has done it.  He’s turned me from a skeptic of his work, to a 100% complete fan of his.  His color tones are perfect for the flashback sequences to 1922.  Come to think of it, his present day images were good too.  When I reviewed issue one, I mentioned that Greg Capullo’s art had a touch of “Year One”, and Bob Kane to it.  This issue confirmed that for me. Especially as Batman glides through the air via his Bat-Glider.  That image is probably my favourite from Greg Capullo’s run on this title so far. Another fantastic image was the panel of Bruce and Alfred talking, seen from the inside of the cowl, that was resting on a table.  I’ve never seen a scene play out from that perspective before.  It also creates the illusion that the Batman person is a separate entity from Bruce, doing some detective work of his own. The only negative with the art in this issue is the cover.  The plain white background with the two combatants fighting in the foreground, looks rather bland and awkward.  Given the fantasic covers of the first two issues, this cover is quite a letdown.

It seems as though the two core Batman books have switched roles.  Detective Comics has taken on a more action oriented story-telling motif, while Batman has depicted a more detective oriented tale.  Either way, it works for me, as both books are doing a superb job at handling the complex multi-layered character that is Batman.

Overall Grade: 9.5/10