Batman, Volume 1:  The Court of OwlsWhat better way to start off one of the first books of DC’s New 52 initiative than to open up the premiere Batman book and find a page full of all of our favorites from Batman’s own Rogue Galley staring right back at us! From there the story never stops in its excitement and heart pounding suspense. Join me for a tale of unbelievable twists and turns that can only be the tale of the Dark Knight himself.

Of course Batman had heard the rhyme of the Court of Owls – a superstitious children’s rhyme that those in Gotham know like the back of their hands. Everyone thinks it might be rooted in truth – a secret society of people who watch Gotham from the shadows and who might eventually come for you! But Batman and Bruce Wayne pay no heed to this nursery rhyme, until the day the Head Talon does come for him and promptly throws Bruce and his pal Lincoln off a skyscraper. What comes after will make Bruce question everything from the loyalties of his Bat-Family, to reality, to his own mental state. Will the Head Talon and the Court of Owls be the ultimate end of Batman?

The New 52 was introduced in 2011 by DC Comics to help bring lapsed readers back to comics, as well as provide a way for new readers to get into comics without having to know the canon of a particular character. Batman, Volume 1: Court of Owls doesn’t exactly start from Year Zero – there are some plot points involved that would be helpful for readers to know – but it’s nothing like trying to pick up earlier Batman issues and becoming totally confused about who was who, and when did Batman die, or was he just banished by Darkseid. I found this book to be easy to read and follow and I think new readers won’t be overly hindered by their lack of past knowledge. It’s a great introductory story for not only experienced Batman readers, but new ones as well.

Of course, the story by Scott Snyder is exceptional. Well written, suspenseful, thought provoking; his writing will definitely pull readers in. The artwork will keep them glued to their seats until the end of the story. Illustrated by Greg Capullo, this book has become my default for how I want Batman comics to look in the future. All the characters are clean and well-drawn, easy to distinguish from one another, and with plenty of personality to boot. When readers get their first glimpse at the Head Talon – wow. Get ready to be scared, because Greg draws him in such a spooky yet realistic way, which makes him that much scarier. And there’s one part of the book (I won’t give anything away because of the spoiler qualities) that is such a new and inventive way of telling a certain part of the story through drawings. I can’t imagine this part of the story being drawn any other way, and it’s spectacular. Readers will definitely recognize when they get to this section of the book.

The muted grey and black palate perfectly brings Gotham to light. Gotham can be light and dark, and I like how Greg doesn’t make it so gloomy that readers are overwhelmed with sadness for the city. There is good in Gotham and some of that comes through during parts of the shading and coloring. Panels and word bubbles are easy to follow and the drawings themselves – sharp line drawings – are colored beautifully throughout.

Readers will definitely get hooked on this story, and don’t worry, there is most definitely a dramatic and unbelievable cliffhanger of an ending. Just a great story for teen and adult fans to immerse themselves in.

Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls
by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
ISBN: 9781401235420
DC Comics, 2012

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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