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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This story runs through issues #1-7 of the New 52 Batman comic, collected as Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls TP (The New 52). It then continues through issues #8-12, and into Annual #1, all collected as Batman Volume 2: The City of Owls HC (The New 52).

The story is pretty simple, as Batman discovers yet another secret society of Gotham’s high society, who are secretly controlling Gotham, from secret bases built in secret into some of the most famous buildings of Gotham, and kept secret until Batman uncovers their secret, and subsequently uncovers the secrets hidden in the history of the Wayne family, not to mention the secrets in the histories of the Grayson and Pennyworth families, and also discovers that the secret mastermind behind it all is the person we all assumed it would be as soon as we set eyes on him, and who turns out to be Bruce Wayne’s long lost secret [spoiler], though that is in the second volume, along with a revised and much creepier origin for Mr Freeze.

The Court of Owls also have a secret army of zombie ninjas, recruited from the cream of Gotham’s servants and entertainers, which they keep in suspended animation until required.

Now, it is not quite as straightforward as that, and there is some spectacular artwork and set-pieces along the way – with homages to Hush and Dark Knight included - but it did feel as if we’d done a lot of it before; though as I read the collected editions from my local library, I don’t have a sense of how much time as passed in the ‘real’ world between these adventures and those involving Hush, the Black Glove and the Black Mask, and even though they might not exist in the New 52 continuity, we still remember them. (And what happened to Dick Grayson as Batman? Did that get wiped?)

Some readers will no doubt see it as a fresh new start, and setting up new mysteries regarding the Wayne family, the Graysons and even the Pennyworths, and they are also right. It is all a matter of perspective, and they are only comic books after all; and you never know when another 52 might be just around the corner (London bus joke there!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The book starts with the inmates of Arkham Asylum being set loose and I groaned, thinking Scott Snyder had fallen into using the template Batman story of the Dark Knight playing roundup with the villains but thankfully Snyder disposes of this tired trope quickly, almost as if he were winking "just kidding" before starting on something better. Bruce Wayne is threatened by an assassin called the Talon, a seemingly indestructible villain, used as hired muscle by a shadowy organisation called the Court of Owls, kind of like Ra's Al-Ghul's League of Shadows but creepier as they all wear blank owl-shaped masks.

The book is similar to "The Gates of Gotham" where the history and architecture of Gotham plays a big part of the story, with more background info on the Wayne family history and the history of Gotham. I like that Snyder is building up Gotham as a substantial character in itself as it is a fascinating place that's always shrugged off by most writers as just a background element. Snyder plays on the gothic features of the city and the centuries it's been around, crafting a story deep in mystery.

I'm not entirely sure how this book is placed within the current Batman story arc with Grant Morrison; it seems that Batman Inc. is up and running but I thought Dick Grayson had left the Nightwing persona behind and was now Batman full time, alongside Bruce et al. so it was surprising to see Nightwing back in this book. Maybe he moonlights as both?

There's an excellent Morrison-esque trippy sequence where Batman is trapped in a labyrinth beneath Gotham where nightmares become reality and the shadows offer no respite. I thought Greg Capullo's layouts in this section were especially inventive and well put-together to give the feeling of unease and dread that Batman was going through. I especially liked the single crazed eye of Bruce Wayne as he went through this sequence, very "Telltale-Heart". Capullo's artwork throughout is great, though I thought his design of the Talon was a bit similar to the main character of the "Assassin's Creed" video games.

Scott Snyder continues to write interesting, thoughtful, and gripping Batman books and the only reason I don't give this 5 stars is that there is much left unrevealed at the end (though it is a tantalising finale), but this is "Volume 1" so there is more to come. Snyder has begun an excellent series and any Bat-fans will find plenty to enjoy with this book. Can't wait for volume two-oo (couldn't resist, sorry)!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The book starts with the inmates of Arkham Asylum being set loose and I groaned, thinking Scott Snyder had fallen into using the template Batman story of the Dark Knight playing roundup with the villains but thankfully Snyder disposes of this tired trope quickly, almost as if he were winking "just kidding" before starting on something better. Bruce Wayne is threatened by an assassin called the Talon, a seemingly indestructible villain, used as hired muscle by a shadowy organisation called the Court of Owls, kind of like Ra's Al-Ghul's League of Shadows but creepier as they all wear blank owl-shaped masks.

The book is similar to "The Gates of Gotham" where the history and architecture of Gotham plays a big part of the story, with more background info on the Wayne family history and the history of Gotham. I like that Snyder is building up Gotham as a substantial character in itself as it is a fascinating place that's always shrugged off by most writers as just a background element. Snyder plays on the gothic features of the city and the centuries it's been around, crafting a story deep in mystery.

I'm not entirely sure how this book is placed within the current Batman story arc with Grant Morrison; it seems that Batman Inc. is up and running but I thought Dick Grayson had left the Nightwing persona behind and was now Batman full time, alongside Bruce et al. so it was surprising to see Nightwing back in this book. Maybe he moonlights as both?

There's an excellent Morrison-esque trippy sequence where Batman is trapped in a labyrinth beneath Gotham where nightmares become reality and the shadows offer no respite. I thought Greg Capullo's layouts in this section were especially inventive and well put-together to give the feeling of unease and dread that Batman was going through. I especially liked the single crazed eye of Bruce Wayne as he went through this sequence, very "Telltale-Heart". Capullo's artwork throughout is great, though I thought his design of the Talon was a bit similar to the main character of the "Assassin's Creed" video games.

Scott Snyder continues to write interesting, thoughtful, and gripping Batman books and the only reason I don't give this 5 stars is that there is much left unrevealed at the end (though it is a tantalising finale), but this is "Volume 1" so there is more to come. Snyder has begun an excellent series and any Bat-fans will find plenty to enjoy with this book. Can't wait for volume two-oo (couldn't resist, sorry)!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2013
Owls are evil! That could be my whole review..

It was great reading a Batman comic after so long and reading a GREAT comic is an additional bonus. The writers do a great job of making this world and story fresh in the DC world. Also like any good comic your emotions go all over the place as the story progresses.

I don't want to give anything away (apart from the opening 3 words), but this is something you should definitely read, Batman fan or not.

4/5 stars.. thought it was great
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2012
When DC announced that they were resetting ALL of their comic books back to issue 1 as of September 2011, the controversial idea was met with a lot of complaints. After all, some people interpreted the movement as an undoing of the 73-year-long legacy of some of DC's titles. Changes would be made to some of the long-loved characters, and the decision was - of course - a brave one.

For Batman, however, the movement seems to certainly have paid off. This debut edition collects Batman #1 to Batman #7, written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo, and begins a story that spreads throughout the Batman universe.

The plot is fantastic. The first issue does a fantastic job of reintroducing the character of Batman in a perfect way. Newcomers to Batman's comic books will quickly get to know the character and understand who he is and why he does what he does. In this way, if you're somebody who has seen the recent Batman films, and is looking for a way to "step into" the comic books, this particular book is PERFECT for you.

At the same time, the book doesn't patronise existing readers. In fact, it does quite the opposite; people who are familiar with Batman already will feel instantly rewarded by this look at a particular devastating part of his life. There is guarantee from the very first issue, that Bruce Wayne's life is soon going to be dramatically changed.

The story itself explores Batman's discovery of an undercover organisation that have been secretly running Gotham City for centuries. Long believed to be a myth or a nursery rhyme, Batman has trouble believing they could truly exist for a long time. That is, until he has a run-in with one of their trained assassins - called the Talon - sent to kill him as Bruce Wayne.

While the story goes through a bit of a dry spell through issues 2 and 3, it picks up again at the end of part 3, and from then on, it's a rollercoaster ride, all the way to the end of the book, which establishes the Court of Owls as a terrifying opponent to the Dark Knight himself. Snyder's writing is excellent, and his "internal monologue" is especially engaging, as we follow Bruce's thoughts as he battles his own beliefs to try to work out the mystery of who the Court is, and what they truly want.

To top it all off, Capullo's artwork is phenomenal. While not quite what I was expecting from the leading comic book in the Batman series, it is very unique in its style, and works in perfect harmony with the tale of madness that Snyder has penned. Part five, especially, is a work of art, and is worth the price tag of this book alone. Without spoiling the story, this issue has the Court of Owls trying to mess with Bruce Wayne's mind as he tries to escape a gigantic maze deep beneath Gotham City. The ways that Capullo chooses to deliver this sense of madness is truly astounding, and perfectly encapsulates the mood of the story. In truth, it involves the reader having to physically turn the book as the issue progresses. It's an odd little touch, but works perfectly in the context.

But, Capullo also shows that he is much more than capable of illustrating the more common Batman environments. From the very first scene, which sees Batman battling a large number of Arkham inmates (including some cameos from the likes of Professor Pyg and Two-Face), you know that you are in for a treat. Capullo's art brings the picture to life in a way that very few artists (even some of the most world renowned comic-book artists) are capable of.

Be prepared, however, that you will not get the full story here. As is so common in comic books, you generally have to do some "reading around" to get the full scope of what is going on. This book is the PERFECT starting point, but to get the most out of the story, you will probably do well to explore Nightwing Vol 1 when it is released in October. The story of the Court of Owls will then continue in the Night of the Owls, which should be releasing early next year. It's a long time to wait, but it is well worth it.

To conclude, this is an absolutely fantastic read, and well worth the money. The pairing of the writer and artist is absolutely commendable, and is hopefully a partnership that will continue for many years to come. While the story does end fairly suddenly without a great deal of explanation, there is a promise of a lot more to come, and there is no sense of dissatisfaction when you finally reach the end of issue 7.

Whether you're a Batman veteran, or you're just starting out on your discovery of Batman's world behind the films and video games, then this is, without any doubt, the book for you.
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DC rebooted their entire mythos, and they were rightly concerned about screwing up Batman. The book opens with a Arkham breakout, and almost immediately this sinking sensation takes over... Is the New 52 an excuse to recycle all the old tropes for a new generation of teenagers? Will we see a retread of Year one next? Then Dark Knight. A new long halloween?

Thankfully no. Well sort of, but this isnt a retread, a bland photocopy of ideas past.

Snyder (American Vampire) and Capullo (Spawn) start from the ground up, immediately kick expectations to the curb and start telling a story that stands head and shoulders with the best batman storys ever told (and in doing so also create one the best multi-comic crossover stories - Marvel and DC both could learn alot from this model next time they come to design their "events").

To start with the visuals, Capullos art is very dynamic, and i mean that out without any sense of hyperbole. One of very few artists that can fold such seperate influences and styles together, at moments overblown (showing his Image and Spawn roots), but more often quiet and alltogether more subtley expressive. His character designs vary from functional to fantastic, with the new 'Talons' taking the prize. His sense of space and timing bring Gotham alive and very genuinely compliment Snyders story and writing. Its very difficult to figure out who to credit with what.. but thats the point of comics as medium.

Snyders story is superb, and i only hold two minor quibbles with it. The first isnt really a problem, but it feels like it deserves a better stage. As the reboot had just happened, the story heads straight into the court of owls and you cant help but be left thinkign "this was your 3d or even 4th story". Grant morrison built up the Black Hand and Eventually Leviathan so that when Batman is brought into confrontation, they feel suitably menacing. the court of owls are introduced as a concept, as a counter myth to Batman, and then established inside of 2 or 3 issues, and then ultiamtely dealt with over the next 8. Hardly the "we were there from the very beginning" sort of threat they are in the narrative.

That minor quible aside, I think it speaks volumes about the quality of the writing that they are a threat anyway. IN a comic where we have never met (or even seen hints of the court of owls), and we know that Nightwing and Batman et all wont die, there is still a fantastic sense of dread that permiates the pages and drags the story kicking and screaming at full pelt through amazing issue after amazing issue. Gone is the batgod who rarely looks out of his depth, gone are the immortal sidekick who can dance through a haze of bullets untouched. This is a gotham where its denizens bleed, and knives cut heroes as deeply as anyone else. There were several moments where expression on a character face tells that story "this wasnt meant to happen to me", where major characters actually face down their mortality as people, rather than Supermen.

Having read this book originally as single issues, i saved all three Owls books to read in one sitting, and could not have been more engrossed, and absolute page turner, the pace and detail exceeded all might highest expectations for the relaunch (unlike the Justice league reboot).

Much like Grant Morrisons run before this, I know will be reading batman for as long as these two are writing him.
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on 28 March 2015
For the past few years, I've dabbled with comics, picking up a graphic novel every now and again. When I saw that the New 52 comics were collected in volumes I thought it was time to take the plunge. My obvious first choice was this book. I'd heard good things about the Owl arc and Batman had always been a favourite of mine. So the big question is, is this any good? To put it bluntly, yes, it's very good.

Snyder and Capullo are a winning team with both complementing each others work and the end result is a promising first part to an arc that retroactively adds the Court of Owls to the Batman mythos. It makes sense that this is the first Batman New 52 arc, if it had come later in the run people would have complained about the lack of presence of the Court in previous titles. Again, this is only part one, the story concludes (sort of) in Volume 2: The City of Owls.

It's a great read if you're trying to get into the New 52 but if you're a hardcore Bat-fan, you might get the sense of retreading old ground (Hush).

PS. If you enjoyed Scarecrows psychedelic level in the Arkham Ayslum game then you will love the Owl Labyrinth in this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2013
Bought this with great expectations as I am a huge Batman fan. Let's just say that this graphic novel certainly lived up to my expectations. The storyline was brilliant and the art was outstanding. The book was perfect and I certainly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of purchasing it.
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on 3 May 2014
Court is in session.
I read a library copy of the paperback.
I have been very sparing in my forays into the new52 and as Batman wasn’t getting too much of a relaunch, I didn’t think there was much new going on in the world of the Bat.
I was wrong.
This is comics for grown-ups, intelligent, interesting, multi-layered and beautifully drawn.
I had read the ‘Night of Owls’ compilation of second trade issues for Bats and for others of his ‘family’ so I didn’t think there would be much of interest here.
I was wrong
There are some fascinating developments and they link to the very core of Batman and Bruce Wayne’s character.
Anyone who has similarly avoided these trades I say to you – Get This Now!
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on 9 November 2013
I've been wanting to get into Snyder and Capullo's work since hearing them on Kevin Smith's "Fatman on Batman" podcast so when I saw court of owls going for such a low price, I couldn't resist.

This story is brilliant; Snyder's writing gives it a proper mystery/conspiracy story feel and Capullo's artwork is just as brilliant, his attention to detail and the gothic, horror element towards the end is unlike any Batman book I've read before. These two make a undoubtedly dynamic duo (see what I did there), looking forward to the next few volumes.

Ps. This is the first book of the New 52 that I've read, if anyone knows any other titles I should look at, let me know :) I want to try Animal Man at some point
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