Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SPOILERS: Batman and Robin #23.2

The Court of Owls! Perhaps you've heard of them! They're a shadowy organization that has worked behind the scenes of Gotham for quite some time. Even the crazy 1970s! When everyone was listening to disco and snorting cocaine, or whatever people did in the 70s, the Court of Owls were merking fools left and right! Even teaching their victim's children their signature rhyme, to announce their revival. Elite level trolling!

Flash forward to now, and once again, Gotham is in chaos, yadda yadd, Forever Evil, and a high ranking member of the Court (maybe John Wycliffe, the current grandmaster) watches the chaos from above, with his daughter. As the two descend deeper into the secret areas of their grand building, the man tells his daughter stories of the Court, who they are, and what they are to Gotham.

The stories told of the Court include them threatening the mayor of Gotham in the early 1910s to not allow the unions in the city, only to kill the mayor later in their maze, with a Talon that looks a lot like William Cobb (but 1914 may be too early for him, I think). Back in 1891, a young photographer with evidence of the Court bids his wife farewell, as he decides to temporarily flee to Philadelphia, only to be hung at the train station, and his wife later found dead. The Court would then frame it as a murder/suicide. Then finally, we see Felix Harmon in his prime, and his prime is recklessly killing anyone he wanted, and drawing too much attention towards the Court.

As the father and his daughter find themselves deep underground in the tombs of the Court, it seems the father has a plan to help them take back the city, only for another member of the Court to appear from the shadows, crossbow in hand. This women tells the man that she knew once the riots started, she'd need to guard this particular tomb to keep the Court from making a terrible mistake. But before the woman can fire her crossbow, the man's daughter surprises her with a knife to the neck.

With the temporary setback dealt with, the man and his daughter approach a grand tomb, which belongs to the first Talon ever used by the Court of Owls, who is soon to be woken up.


The Good:

This was a quite outstanding mix of story and art. Tynion's script is pretty much straight horror, and Jorge Lucas's art depicts that horror vibe perfectly. Everything is dark, creepy, grisly, and just so fitting. I wouldn't have expected this from the same guy who produced a Kirby meets manga style issue of Batman Inc a few months back. I love the Court, I think they're a great force to have in the shadows of Gotham, and this issue really shows why...

The Bad:

Yet, I kind of wish it showed why, in the present. A lot of this was flashbacks to scenes, which while right up the alley of the ruthless Court, didn't seem to really impact anything in the present. We all know the Court just kills whoever is in their way, we've seen it, and it was just more of the same here. I kind of wish this turned out to be more of a Court vs. Society thing, say have cannon fodder type villain like The Monocle (who was just that in Forever Evil #1) get big aspirations and move in on Gotham, only for the Court to do what they do. I don't know something like that.

The Bottom Line:

While I thought some of the flashbacks went into "Yeah, okay, I get it" territory, the over all tone and feel to this book really shines through anything I didn't like about it. Tynion and Lucas produced a straight up horror book, which is a hard feat to do in comics, let alone mainstream books with Batman in the title. While it's no issue turning Batman #5, this issue definitely stands next to that issue as one of the best, most creepy Court of Owls stories told, to date.



  1. I'm curious, do you have any idea who the first talon could be? Also, did u read the earth 2 Desead issue? If so, I have a question: did the events take place on earth 2 or 1?

  2. Ok thanks! Yeah its under the earth 2 banner but it never said it took place on earth 2. Then there were some confusing panels where holt industries is shown which I thought was on earth 1 but then there were shots where Desead said he could sense steppenwolf who is on earth 2? It was an interesting issue just sorta hard to figure out its placement

  3. I think they're just biding time until Arkham War comes around, which I believe features the Court of Owls. Maybe there you'll get what you were looking for, Court of Owls vs. the Society