Saturday, May 12, 2012

Night of the Owls - 5/10/12

Crossovers in the New 52 have been few and far between. Sure there have been a few where Omac fought Frankenstein and the like, but big crossovers? Nope, we haven't seen those yet. Until now. Night of the Owls is spinning out of Scott Snyder's story in the main Batman book and its gripper paws are large and long, popping up in most every book that is tied in with Batman. While that can be both good and bad, what I hope to do with this article is take a look at each of the titles and give you a quick blow by blow accounting: Is it good? Does it suck? Is it going to be important? Without further talk...Onto the reviews!

Batgirl #9
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Adrian Syaf
Company: DC Comics
While I do think that Gail Simone is a talented writer who has done great things in comics, her run on Batgirl with the relaunch has been a bit underwhelming. The darkness that the character seems to be swimming in, the constant reminder of The Killing Joke story, all of it has become tedious and makes me pine for the days of Stephanie Brown more and more. By including the book in the Night of Owls story, I figured we would get a reprieve from all of that and simply get a good action tale pitting hero versus villain as the fate of Jim Gordon hangs in the balance. To some extent, we do get that, but Simone takes it a bit further and adds a backstory to the Talon, one that is supposed to make this young woman sympathetic to a degree. This kind of thing is being done to varying degrees with the other Talons, and while I like it to some extent, I don't think it's needed here. Batgirl should be cool, but she seems to bumble her way through this and luck is the only thing that saves her. Syaf's artwork in contrast is rather nice. He's come a long way since The Dresden Files Welcome to the Jungle book. His backgrounds are lively, his anatomy solid, and his action is pleasant and exciting and easy to follow. A mediocre tie-in with a moment or two of cool.

Batman & Robin #9
Writer: Peter J Tomasi
Artist: Lee Garbett & Andy Clarke
Company: DC Comics
This is how you do a done in one tale that sees a hero take on a villain. Peter Tomasi makes great use of the Damian Wayne/Robin character as we see Alfred give him the task of saving a General's life from the unstoppable Talons. There's an almost Predator type feel to the story unfolding, as we see Damian barking orders and trying to get the General and his men, who are together on a training exercise, to fight in a different manner than they are used to. There are a lot of great moments and Tomasi uses the bluntness of Damian, the annoyed child who thinks he can out-think everyone and everything, in ways that further the development of his overall character. He also doesn't skimp on fun action, a few laughs, and a twist that works. Garbett, who first hit my radar with the hilarious and action packed Highwaymen, steps in for Patrick Gleason here. Typically, I would say that the omission of Gleason is a big mistake, but Garbett does a bang up job. His style is clean and trends more towards an animation-esque feel, which I rather enjoy. Artist Andy Clarke, with a style that is a little tighter and more detail oriented, steps in for a few pages  to supply a flashback. Not sure if the change up in art was needed to differentiate, but Clarke is another great artist and his contribution here is rather swanky. All in all, with a great story and some blustering action, this is one of the best tie-ins to date. 

Batman #9
Writer: Scott Snyder & James T Tynion IV
Artists: Greg Capullo & Rafael Albuquerque
Company: DC Comics
In the immortal words of Glenn Frey, "The Heat is On." What I mean is, with the Night of Owls moving at such a brisk pace, DC decided to push up the release of their Core book a week. I say that that is a great move. This issue, ACTION is the key phrase to know. Snyder continues the Talons' assault on the Batcave and Batman breaks out all of the stops to repel them. There are some really keen ideas at work here. Some seem a little over the top, but they're really not, especially when you remind yourself that Batman plans for all eventualities. Or at least, that's how the story goes. Still, Snyder makes these foes deadly and shows Batman not only fighting them, but out-thinking them as well. That kind of writing is so key and so refreshing. Capullo's art continues to grow on me. The details are important and the way that he portrays the various nuances of the Cave and the armor that Batman uses, all of it has a unique, but classic, feel to it that enriches the action and overall feel. The one gripe that I have, which is minor, is that the font used for lettering, with its grey background, sometimes blends too well with the backgrounds. Other than that, this combined with a backup that focuses on Alfred Pennyworth's father and is beautifully drawn by Rafael (American Vampire) Abuquerque make this comic a powder keg of entertainment. 

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