By: Adam Basciano

“Deep beneath Gotham City lies the Court of Owls’ deadliest trap – and Batman has fallen right into it! Can he escape, or will he perish in a maze of nightmare? Enter the labyrinth, Batman – if you dare!” (DC Comics)

This book feels like a horror film in a way.  The villain has his prey trapped and is secretly stalking him, while the main character tries hopelessly to escape and fight back, despite in the throes of a delirious state due to the torture they’ve endured. That’s exactly the position Batman’s in throughout this issue.  Batman is ragged, has blood-shot eyes, and is starting to have delusions (yes, he’s seeing his parents…again).  Imagine how Batman felt physically and emotionally after “The Killing Joke”, “Hush”, and “Knightfall.” Now put all that together and you have Batman’s current state of mind and body.  My favorite part of all of this are the mind games The Court of Owls are playing with Batman. There’s a scene where they intimate that their role in Gotham City is far more greater than Batman’s. There’s also the big reveal at the end of all the Talon’s the Court of Owls has at their disposal, which really heightens the threat level of what’s still to come in this series.

The art in this issue has a duality to it.  The scenes involving Gotham City are what we’ve typically come to expect from Greg Capullo.  The art with Batman in the maze is rougher, unpolished, and has a sense of ugliness to it.  That’s not an insult to Capullo. In fact, its poetic justice as the art perfectly matches Batman’s predicament in the issue.  My favourite page is the credit’s page.  It features a montage of the Bat-Family filling in, as Batman has been missing for eight days.  There is so much detail in every little panel.  I love the effect of the bat-signal looming in the larger background. The cover is a perfect example of what a cover image should be.  It’s like a teaser trailer for a movie.  It gives you a little snippet of what’s to come, enticing you just enough without ruining the whole thing.

I’m conflicted with Scott Snyder’s run on Batman so far. I wish I was reading it in a collected edition, this way I could enjoy it as one complete story.  On the other hand, I love the anticipation of the end of one chapter and waiting for the next bit of brilliance.

Overall Grade: 10/10