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By: Adam Basciano

“Batman may have survived the Court of Owls’ first strike (barely), but even as he recuperates, the Court is preparing to launch its most deadly and sweeping attack yet. Plus: The secrets revealed in this issue will change Batman’s world forever! You won’t want to miss the issue everyone will be talking about!” (DC Comics)

Now that’s more like it! After last issues disappointment, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo remind readers that this is the best bat-book on the stands. This issue is the fallout after the fight from the last two issues, so while light on action it’s full of tension and emotion.  Most of that tension and emotion occurs in scenes between Batman and Nightwing.  This largely stems from the fact that Batman tells Nightwing that the Talon he had been battling is William Cobb, Dick Grayson’s great-grandfather. Things get worse and come to blows, as Bruce tells Dick that had he not adopted him, the Court of Owls had him earmarked as a Talon.  In this issue, Snyder expands on themes he’s been exploring throughout the first six issues. The most interesting of which, is the role Gotham City plays in Batman’s life.  The events of the last six issues have definitely altered Bruce’s opinion on the matter.  He previously saw the city as his protector, a family member of sorts.  He now see’s the city belong as an enemy, belonging to the owls.  This is the most defeatist talk I’ve ever heard out of Bruce Wayne.  Snyder gives an explanation as to how the Court of Owls resurrect their Talons, giving it an Ancient Greek spin.  There ia a spine chilling scene early in the book that recalls Batman: Year One.  If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the bat that inspired the creation of Batman, wonder no more.  It isn’t pretty, but it’s a great metaphor for the events of the past six issues and possibly foreshadows what’s in store for Batman.

Greg Capullo has matched what Scott Snyder has done with words in his art.  The art is full of the same emotion, tension, and also echoes artistic decisions from past issues. I’ve mentioned more than once that Greg’s art sometimes has a “Year One” feel to it.  That only becomes more apparent when there is a scene directly from that book. For a minute, I could have sworn it was 2004, and I was reading “Year One” for the first time.  The scene with Alfred helping Batman back into the bat-cave is dripping with emotion, literally. Alfred’s wide stare and glistening eyeballs are indicative of his concern for Bruce.  On the previous page’s last panel, a close up image of Batman’s cowl see’s water dripping from Batman’s eyes and nose, leaving the reader feeling just as physically spent as Batman.  The issue ends with the ominous image of an entire flock of Talon’s flying towards Gotham City, ready to launch their next attack.

This issue completely washes away the displeasure from last issue.  This book is so good at setting the stage for the all out war that is to come.  As a lead in to the “Night of Owls” it’s perfect because it raises the readers anticipation level, especially with that final page. I haven’t been this excited for anything Batman related since July 20th when I watched “The Dark Knight Rises.” I’m confident that Snyder and Capullo can deliver.

Overall Grade: 10/10