Warning, the following review contains spoilers.
After probably one of the most memorable and thrilling arcs in recent comics memory, we finally get to the finale of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s epic and brilliant Court Of The Owl’s storyline. What follows is as I’m sure you’re well aware, simply my opinion (which let’s face it matters little). Did Snyder manage to land this epic arc with triumph and aplomb? Yes…and no.
For me he sits on the fence too much, it’s too open ended for my taste. I’m not asking for a Morrison-esque universe changing twist, but even if Snyder had determined that Lincoln March wasn’t Bruce’s brother, we would still have the mystery of the true origins of the Court of Owls and if they are finished for good.
That said, the dichotomy between March and the Court of Owls was great, with each thinking they are ultimately pulling the strings of the other. The fact also that Bruce has placed the captured Talons in a cryo-prison is obviously a little nod to possible future ‘Owl arcs’, which I would definitely read because as a whole this is still an amazing arc.
Its just the fence-sitting over whether or not March is really Bruce’s brother, Thomas Wayne Jr, is where i feel this final issue is weakest. It’s almost as if Snyder didn’t want to upset fans or alter the Batman universe and undermine the great writers that have taken on the mantle of Bob Kane’s creation in the past.
The final scene between Bruce and Dick is immense and in a way we see that batshit crazy as Lincoln March might be, he has actually taught Bruce a valuable lesson. During their fight Lincoln explains to Bruce how he spent years waiting on his brother to come get him, how that ultimately selfish brother never arrived. In talking to Dick, Bruce states he was only planning the initiative to have more look-outs and bases for Batman to operate from so it was being done in a kinda selfish way, but he now realises that Gotham isn’t Batman or the Court of Owls, but it’s “all of us”. He’s going to rebuild Gotham for Gotham’s sake.
With regard to the art, Capullo nails it again from the small enclosed fist fight scenes to the citywide expansive air sequence. His pencil-work is so good in this run that it reignited the old frustration in me that artists very often don’t get the praise they deserve. Usually it’s only the writer people mention when talking of famous arcs. I hope that Capullo’s work on Batman will help change that tradition.
My only criticism here would be Batman being able to pull himself out of a massive speeding jet engine and that iron-man type jet suit that the Ultimate Owl/march is wearing…really?
I know, I know, we have 200 yr old assassins coming back from the dead with a serum in this arc but just those bits were kinda meh for me.
However the final citywide fight scene was an important metaphor for a central theme of this arc, that being where the two men stood, each thinking he ‘owned’ Gotham in a way. So to have the two of them duke it out through and literally over Gotham was pretty cool, with that in mind perhaps the Owl’s jet suit was a thematic requirement.
The back up story ‘The Fall Of The House Of Wayne’ not only has a great title with a nod towards the master Poe but ends nicely with roles reversed and Alfred questioning the truth of his father’s death. It was a very bleak story and Rafael Albuquerque’s art was perfectly suited to this Gothic inspired mystery written by both Snyder and James Tynion IV
Having already bagged and boarded each and every issue in this arc, I can’t wait for where Capullo and Snyder are taking us next. Obviously my criticisms here are entirely subjective and as a result of my own tastes. With this Court Of Owls saga, Snyder has cemented himself as the best writer in comics at present and Capullo sits atop the throne of artists in my opinion. It’s not often we get a new addition to our comic book heroes rouges galleries that becomes instantly classic and part of the canon, but Snyder has achieved that with the Court of Owls. I’m confident enough to predict we shall see this mysterious Court of Owls and their assassins making an appearance on the big screen with the next Batman franchise. If you haven’t read this storyline yet, the trade paperback for the first half is out now. Buy it, I’m sure it’ll hook you into picking up the rest.