About a year and a half ago, Batman: The Return writer Grant Morrison showed us just how the bat flew into Bruce's study that faithful night, years ago. Well, now it's Scott Snyder's turn to show us just what happened to the bat after it flew away, and that was fall victim to it's natural predator, an owl.
Bruce suddenly wakes up in the back of a van, with jumper cables strapped to his chest. A girl by the name of Harper Row, resuscitated him with said cables. Bruce seems familiar with this girl, and tells her to leave him alone, again, as he stumbles off.
Elsewhere, in parts unknown, the Court begins to wake their army of Talons from the dead. A war is coming, and the Court of Owls fully intends to take back Gotham for their own.
Bruce stumbles through the sewers to his secret Batcave entrance. He's met with a shot gun at the gate, but once he identifies himself, a shocked Alfred opens it up to greet Bruce, who he thought had been taken, again by someone.
As Bruce enters the cave, he finds something not to his liking, the Talon, propped up, and in restraints, but Alfred assures Bruce that he's dead. They found him near where Bruce's original tracker had shown up, and brought him in the cave. Alfred suggests that Bruce should tend to his wounds, but being a fucking badass, Bruce tells him it's time to do some investigation... meanwhile, the Court fits their army with some new suits of armor.
*Note: If you read the Nightwing #7 spoilers, this is what you're looking for*
Nightwing walks into the cave to find Bruce analyzing the body. Bruce begins to say that he asked Alfred for privacy, but Dick being Dick, well, he doesn't really give a shit, and checks in anyways. Looking at the Talon, Dick asks if he's dead. Bruce tells him "yes and no." Seeing as the Court have the ability to raise the dead, this Talon isn't technically dead, ever.
Turns out, the Court pump a compound through the veins that once made active, can regenerate dead cells. They put the compound in through a small metal implant in a tooth, like the one found in the John Doe's mouth from issue #2. The only reason why this Talon isn't alive now is because Bruce is pumping coolant through his system, keeping the body's core temperature below the point where the compound can resuscitate the cells.
Dick asks if Bruce has figured out who this guy is yet, and he has. Thanks to a tissue sample, he's found out that this is non other than William Cobb... Dick's great-grandfather...
WHAT THE WHAT?!
Dick's taken back at this, realizing that's why Bruce wanted privacy. Bruce confirms that's one of the reasons. Dick asks if he's going to get to learn the other reasons, but continues on, getting agitated at Bruce for really just protecting himself from getting emotionally involved. Getting angrier, Dick continues to say that after what he's been through recently, if Bruce thinks this is going to faze him at all, he's wrong.
Bruce then tells Dick to shut up... not with his words, but with a back hand fist to Dick's jaw, knocking out a tooth. Bruce picks up the tooth, shows it to Dick, revealing a small owl symbol, and says "you were supposed to be one too, Dick." A Talon, that is.
Explaining an old tradition from ancient Rome, when potential gladiators were escorted to the colosseum by jesters, performers, clowns, an ancient circus if you will, Bruce explains that he figured it out by the fact that the John Doe, the trainer of the last Talons came to Dick first, then the identity of this Talon simply confirmed it. Every decade the circus would grow a "crop" of potential Talons, which the Court would choose from. As evident in the book of names found in Nightwing, Dick was their most recent choice, but that all changed the night his parents died, and he was taken in by Bruce.
Bruce then admits something to Dick. He tells him that what the Court really did to him was show him that the city he believed Gotham to be, doesn't exist. Gotham is theirs, and that's something he has to deal with now. He relates wanting to protect Dick to wishing he had been protected from that truth. Realizing this is a rare emotional moment for Bruce, Dick gives him a little pep talk. Yeah, Bruce underestimated the Court, but Dick reminds him, that at the end of the day, they're just another bad guy. Nothing more.
As Dick leaves the cave, high above Gotham, a member of the Court shows Gotham to his army, as Talon, upon Talon, fly from the perch, descending to the streets below.
...I need a clean pair of pants. Hold on.
Alright... wow, holy shit, wow. This was a spectacular issue. Shit's just gotten real. What this issue set up for the next few issues is going to be NUTS. I can't even begin to explain just how excited this all makes me. I guess I'm speechless... that's a rarity.
Let's focus on Greg Capullo for a minute. When I swiped to that second page, I nearly cried at the sight of such beauty. The splash page of the owl and bat is soon to become my iPad's background, which is usually reserved for attractive women, it's that god damn good. I don't know how I can give a better compliment. But Capullo continues just to draw some of the best Batman I've seen in years. He was meant to draw Batman, and damn it, he needs to keep drawing Batman.