Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pull List Review: Batman #11

In the conclusion to this sprawling Court of the Owls story, Owlman (are we officially calling him that? I am...) and Batman each get a chance to make big, sweeping speeches that summarize their individual interpretations of their relationships to each other and to Gotham. And both speeches are largely pretty lame. It's not that they are badly-written, because they're not. Scott Snyder has obviously dug deep into the psychologies of these men, so they express themselves clearly and sincerely. It's just that the whole thing feels a little easy, script-wise. First our villain spouts the details of his history, his motives, and his goals in the middle of a fight so intense and fast-moving that I find it hard to believe Batman could even hear him. And then, after Bruce gets away but doesn't really defeat his would-be brother in a long-term sense, he has yet another revelation about the essence of Gotham. I appreciate Snyder's love for the city as a character, as a force which is just as powerful as any superperson, but that concept is wearing thin from overuse. Although I did crack a wide smile when Bruce tried to say Gotham wasn't Batman and Dick responded, "It's a little Batman. Come on."

Also, I hate the "there was no body to uncover" resolution. It's cliche, it's a cop out, and in this particular case it makes no sense. Why would Owlman survive one explosion and then immediately attack again, only to survive a second explosion and then go into hiding? Wasn't his goal, basically, to kill Bruce at all costs? So why isn't he charging into Wayne Manor while his enemy stares pensively out the window in a wheelchair? I know he'll return someday with a whole new twisted revenge scheme, and probably that'll be a fun and messed up story, but it doesn't help me deal with this illogical short-term ending. I'm glad the Court of Owls won't be the title's focus for a while, but not satisfied with the reasons for it.

Luckily, while the story was a disappointment, Greg Capullo's art was just as on point as always. He really came into his own on this book over the last year, and his awesome rendering of the Batman-Owlman slugfest helps distract from their weaker dialogue. Even though his mask, Owlman's madness and bloodlust is abundantly evident. He has moments here of being truly, effectively terrifying. And nothing tops the panel where Batman is whipped into the side of a glass building.

I was not wild about the page where we suddenly had a maze to solve. Felt like an excuse to fill one of those final, slower wrap-up pages, and it added little. But the rest of the conversation between Bruce and Dick is handled well by Capullo. Bruce is contemplative without being as brooding as we've seen him lately; you can feel him beginning, however slightly, to relax after months of high tension. And Dick helps move this process along with his humor and lightheartedness, which Capullo captures perfectly. So while the scene itself was sort of a limp across the finish line, it was still good-looking and emotionally rich.

I'm glad to be done with the Owls, even temporarily, because in my mind the whole story peaked several issues ago. Once Bruce escaped that labyrinth way back when, the whole affair began losing steam, and this final issue sputters out rather than racing to the epic conclusion promised on the cover.

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