I think it is safe to say by now writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have become synonymous with Batman, especially within the DC New 52, and it all started with Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)
. Batman was faced with the Court of Owls, an enemy that has been around since Gotham's earliest beginnings and had finally shown itself to the Dark Knight, to which was a powerful organization that had connections and resources Batman could never quite fathom, and the Batman paid for it--big time. But Batman pulled through it, just barely, and learned the error of his ways and got away to prepare for striking back. But the Court knows Batman is weak so it decides to attack Gotham while they can, sending out their entire army of Talon warriors to seize control once and for all...
...But Batman has had enough.
Finally, the wait if over. Snyder and Capullo's volume 2 of the conclusion to the Court of Owls story comes full-speed ahead that is equal parts gripping and powerful, yet eerily familiar to Pre-52 fans.
BATMAN VOL.2: CITY OF OWLS collects issues #8-12 with back stories "Fall of the House of Wayne" and BATMAN ANNUAL #1. Bruce Wayne has just starting to recover from days of torture in the Court's maze, to which suddenly the Courts Talons make a direct attack on the Wayne mansion. The ferocity of numerous Talons push Bruce to the point that he has had enough of owls and the Court and dons the Batman persona to finally put an end to the Court, by taking the battle back at them where it hurts.
I will not give out any more info because there would be spoilers aplenty, but let's clear some stuff first. First, go read volume 1 before reading volume 2. Many little clues Snyder expertly lay out in volume 1 start to unravel itself and come full circle here in volume 2, so you might need to refresh your memory as to catch all of the little nuggets of information you might of missed. Secondly, the companion book Batman: Night of the Owls (The New 52)
is not essential or needed to read with volume 2. Snyder's Court of Owls volume 1 and City of Owls volume 2 is the prime self contained story that is vital, while Night of the Owls was the tie-ins that take place during the Talons attacks on Gotham. Thankfully, Snyder's City of Owls only makes a reference to the Night of the Owls event with Detective Comics which might confuse readers a little, but everything important and story-wise the reader needs is right here. And thirdly, if you read the Night of the Owls event before hand, keep your expectations in check. You might be expecting a full blown, epic scale ending that involves the entire Bat-family, but this is just a Batman book. It's still epic in its own right; it just didn't need the tie-ins to sell itself.
If volume 1 was the Court taking the fight to Batman, volume 2 is Batman taking the fight back to the Court. Snyder's Batman is raw with emotion about him as we saw with him going crazy in the Courts maze, to almost giving up, to volume 2 and his pandering of the Courts long existence and even getting overwhelmed by the Talons. But now Batman cuts loose his angry toward the court and the mastermind behind it all that we've all been dying to see. Added with the big reveal, Snyder's mystery and realization of the Court happens the exact same time the reader does, making Batman a character that reacts to the main bad guy in real-time with the readers. This makes volume 2 a great ending that gives readers what they want, seeing Batman get back at the Court and solve the mystery at the same time. Fans of Snyder's Batman: The Black Mirror
will also truly appreciate the references to the big reveal and Black Mirror comparisons, further driving home Snyder's them of Batman being about Gotham itself.
Besides a good bulk of the book going to the conclusion for the Court of Owls story, volume also holds the the Batman Annual #1 is a good retelling of Victor Freeze in the New 52 and Batman issue #12 as a stand alone tale about Harper Row, the girl readers were introduced in issue #7 that proves to be a interesting character that Snyder is building for the future some time down the road. It does give the familiar feeling Row might fall into the tech person similar to Oracle Pre-52 but we'll see when the time comes.
Art is pitch-perfect by Greg Capullo. The fight in the Batcave against the Talons is exhilarating, to Batman's hatred of the Court, to the finally of the Main Owl leader. Everything is well done on Capullo's art and I have no problems with it at all. Jason Fabok does the Annual, while Becky Cloonan and Andy Clarke do issue #12.
As for complaints, I have a few. One real minor (and personal) one is the Talons are a bit too talkative this time around. The Talons keep their awe and mystique when they rarely speak, which they now sound like high school bullies. The main complaints involve readers who did actually buy the Night of the Owls book, because if you did, the only new issues you're getting are 10-12 when you buy City of Owls, so you feel a little bit cheated. Another is that the volume 2 has the prime Court of Owls conclusion story from issues 8-11, so you might read through the 4 issues reasonably quickly. And issue #12 and the Annual #1, which are good in their own right, feel a bit in cohesive, especially the Annual which is right in the middle of the book that hurts the flow of the Court of Owls conclusion. DC could of place the Annual the very end of the book as to not hurt the narrative.
And final heads-up has to go to the conclusion of the Court of Owls story. The mastermind behind the owls might make readers have various degrees of thought and feeling because Snyder introduces something that has to do with the Batman mythos that I'm sure will have different opinions on it. Some might scream foul on Snyder and some might applaud him for it. I'm a little in-between on the subject, but I'll let readers decide that for themselves. And for a comic that is supposed about new beginnings in the New 52, long time Bat-readers might not find the big reveal all that fresh and new since it makes references to past Bat-stores and ideas (Grant Morrison's run on Batman is one of a few example). New readers won't have a problem with this at all, but old time readers might or might not feel as if Snyder is really reinventing Batman as they thought he is. But again, you be the judge of that.
BATMAN VOLUME 2: CITY OF OWLS concludes on a high note that will either have you loving what Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done or question it. Either way, the two make for a great team in the Bat-World right now that shows these men have the chops for it. Great writing, great art, and a overall great little mystery, City of Owls is great book if you enjoyed volume 1. But with the little drawbacks like the Court of Owls conclusion being 4 issues long, the Annual not fitting well fitting well here, or the questionable ending, I'll give the score a 4 ½ score, but round up to 5. Still a solid book worth checking and I'll see you Bat-readers around October for the next big arc with the return of the Joker in Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52)