Thursday, May 17, 2012

Night of the Owls 5/17/12

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!

Catwoman #9
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March
Company: DC Comics
A rarity in the comic world these days, as the art of the single issue story seems all but lost, this issue of Catwoman delivers the goods with panache and gusto. Judd Winick continues to tell the tale of Catwoman  and her life of debauchery as she and her cohort steal from whoever for the betterment of...Well, of themselves. This story, which does tie into Night of Owls but doesn't hinge on that fact, sees Selina and her friend Spark try to steal from the Big Bird of Gotham, the Penguin. Winick's take on that character, a sleezy yet honorable (in the way that bad guys are honorable) man is nuanced and neat. Also the heart that Winick continues to inject into Selina, as she battles her inner bad guy, gives her such an edge and likability. She isn't one-dimensional, to put it bluntly. March is the Big Man here though. He not only knows how to draw the ladies, which doesn't hurt in a book like this, but his skills in every department are top notch. The smoothness and excitement that he's able to build during the fight scenes between Selina and the Talon that is trying to kill Cobblepot adds a great sense of drama. There's also just a palpable sense of composed, well thought out detail and FUN ingrained in everything. About as perfect as you can get.

Nightwing #9
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Company: DC Comics
A little sluggish to start with, but by the end this issue won me over. Picking up right where the last one left off, Higgins spins a tale of Family against Family as Dick battles a Talon that is his great grand-pappy. That rolled up with the prospect of our hero trying his darnedest to save the Mayor from certain death. Essentially, it's an extended fight scene spread out over the course of 20 pages. Higgins and Barrows make the fight interesting and it in no way feels dull, which is key, but there's also some solid character work accomplished as well. Barrows is the main reason for that. His action is very approachable and has a lightness and an easiness to it that makes it zoom. I'm still not a huge fan of Nightwing's current duds, but that's neither here nor there. What this tie-in boils down to is a look at Dick Grayson and what makes him tick when he learns the truth about his family's past. Not essential to the overall Night of the Owls tale, but there's enough here to warrant a gander, particularly if you're a fan of the character.

Birds of Prey #9
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Travel Foreman
Company: DC Comics
I really do think that with many of titles, the creators are taking full advantage of the influx of people who are more prone to picking up a title because of it being part of a bigger crossover. This issue is no different. I haven't been reading Birds of Prey lately. Not because it hasn't been good, but just because it fell off my radar and was pushed out by a slew of other great books. This issue, which sees the team take on their own Talon (who seems like a Sleepy Hollow Terminator), has gotten me interested in it again. Swierczynski not only peppers the story with Night of the Owls stuff, he also peppers it with character bits and homages back to the few issues of the relaunch. He also writes some great action and humorous moments that made the team feel much more cohesive. There are also some references to things that have happened that I need to know about. On the art side of things, this is the first issue that Travel Foreman, formerly on Animal Man, takes the wheel and it's an impressive start. His characters have that distinctive lankiness to them, but it works with a more martial arts feel to it, which is a genre that I know he's a fan of. I think it's easy to ignore this tie-in, as nothing crucial happens, but this is a perfect example of a team book done right.

Red Hood & the Outlaws #9
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Company: DC Comics
Passable. For Red Hood & the Outlaws however, that's a decided upswing in quality as the majority of the issues that I have consumed have felt like Z rated renditions of Point Break. This issue however has a few moments of fun. Despite all that has happened with the character, how many bad things that his history is mired in, the Red Hood continues to be someone I like. Seeing him break from tradition and help Batman out is actually nice and to see his team competently both save and attack the likes of Mr. Freeze worked. Some of the Bro mentality seemed to be dropped in favor of more thought out action sequences. Rocafort's artwork has lost a little of its charm, I'm afraid. It has a very busy feel to it, which leads to some more complicated bouts of storytelling than there needed to be, which doesn't help when the book is 80% action. I still have a hard time believing that this book wasn't handed on a platter to Judd Winick, the man who made Red Hood cool and spent so much time cultivating a unique headspace for him, but C'est la vie. As for where it falls into the Night of Owls; there's a big reveal for Freeze's character, but beyond that, it's a fairly meh issue in that regard.

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