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Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52) Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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Q&A with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Q: What is it like working on a huge initiative like The New 52?
Scott Snyder: For me it was exciting because we were given the opportunity to work on characters we love with no restrictions. So if the best story meant making changes to a character's history, there was flexibility to do so. With an imitative this big, seeing how many new readers came to the table to read comics after having lapsed, or never having read one at all, was a real thrill.
Q: What would you say defines the characters you are working on?
SS: For Batman, what defines him is his relentless determination, which is both his most heroic quality and his most pathological. For Swamp Thing, I'd say what defines him is his inability to give up his humanity even when he's at his most monstrous.
Q: What stories or creators inspire you most when working on your character?
SS: For Batman, I have my favorites: Dark Knight Returns and Year One, but it's hard to only pick a couple because he's a character who grew up alongside me, where the kinds of stories that were being told about him were becoming more sophisticated and complex right as I was coming of age. And now the fun thing is that I have a five-year-old son and I get to fall in love with some of the tamer versions of Batman all over again.
Q: Do you keep up with any of the other New 52 books? Which ones and why?
SS: My favorite of The New 52 would have to be Animal Man by Jeff Lemire, who is also one of my closest friends. And I'm really excited to be a part of everything happening in Gotham between Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, and all the great books in our neighborhood. I particularly like All-Star Western for its interesting mix of old west and gothic horror.
Q: Has social media and increased direct interaction with DC Comics' fans changed your writing/drawing approach at all in regards to The New 52?
SS: It hasn't changed my writing approach; it has made me appreciate how much the fans love these characters. I always knew it, but seeing the responses online through Twitter and Facebook is overwhelming and inspirational. It's like being at a con all the time. I brought my wife to her first con last year and when I asked her what she thought, she said--and I was nervous to hear her response--that she was really moved by how passionate the fans were about these characters, and I feel the same way.
Q: When it comes to writing Batman, are you distinguishing this version from the previous one? Is your approach to the character different than the pre-New 52 Batman?
SS: No, my version of Batman is as different as the version that came before, just like every version is, because the truth is, the only way to write a character as iconic as Batman is to accept that you're going to have to make him your own, almost as if you were writing fan fiction and no one is ever going to read it. If I started thinking of all the amazing versions of the character that have come before, I would be paralyzed.
Q: You and Jeff Lemire tend to Twitter war each other often. How has this affected you when it comes to writing Swamp Thing and its ties to Animal Man?
SS: For me, our Twitter war is fun because while we insult each other online, usually we are texting each other offline, laughing about the whole thing. Jeff is one of the creators who inspire me the most for his sense of story and his dedication to characters.
Q: Greg, what's it like for you to work on the iconic Bat-Family and Batman villains? You even redesigned the Batman Rogues in the very first issue!
Greg Capullo: Well, everyone has probably heard me say by now that I first drew Batman and Robin when I was four years old. My mom has it somewhere. It was crude, but clear who they were, so to be drawing them professionally all these years later is really cool. I can tell you that I'm super excited to be drawing Batman and, though I admit to being a bit jaded, I was never so nervous (except for maybe my first work for Marvel) as when DC asked me to relaunch Batman from issue no. 1. Terrifying, is what it was. Especially being that I was aware of some of the fear out there that I was going to be turning Batman into Spawn, as I'd worked for years on that book. I really felt like an underdog. I was always confident (after the nerves settled) that those fears would be replaced with joy. I mean, I love Batman the same as you. I don't want to mess him up!
The Rogues, Ah, the Rogues. Well, they weren't really redesigns. I guess to some extent they were. But, they were locked up in Arkham. So, it was more like: what ways might a prisoner come up with to maintain his or her persona behind bars? That became the question. Speaking of, how about the Riddler's mohawk? HA! I think some Batman fans actually wanted to lynch me for giving him that! The Joker was the closest I got to a redesign. I'd love to get my hands on him for a story arc!
Q: The New 52 introduces a younger universe of heroes and I think your art very much reflects that. Is this a conscious thought when you're working on the title?
GC: Absolutely. I was given the characters' ages up front. Some complained that I draw Bruce and the family too young. The fact is I'm drawing them exactly as the powers that be want them to appear. As a professional, you want to give the client, in this case DC, what it is they're looking for. However, I listen very closely to the fans. After all, without them, we're nowhere. I've tried to make subtle changes based on what some of them were saying. My hope at the end of the day is that everyone will be pleased, even though that is completely impossible. Still, I'll always try. Now, I'm off to the Bat Cave to draw me some more Batman!
“A+. The hero's got personality (and is unafraid to release a quip as sharp as a Batarang), a horde of supervillains, gumption to spare and a whole host of high-tech gadgetry to suitably impress longtime fans and those new to the Dark Knight.”
“This is one of the best comics of the week.”
—The New York Times
“[Writer Scott Snyder] pulls from the oldest aspects of the Batman myth, combines it with sinister-comic elements from the series’ best period, and gives the whole thing terrific forward-spin by setting up an honest-to-gosh mystery for Batman to solve.”
“Scott Snyder, already the company's greatest asset over the last four weeks, spins a stack of plates immediately…. Too often Batman comics focus heavily on the hero persona … Snyder sets up equal amounts of conflict for both Wayne's public and private personas.”
—Time Out Chicago
“A stunning debut…. Snyder knows these characters, sets up an intriguing mystery, and delivers some action that Capullo realizes stunningly. This is definitely in the top rank of the revamp.
—The Onion AV Club
“Hits all the right notes. I enjoyed the living hell out of this.” – io9
“Bruce Wayne is a badass. The end.”
—IGN, 9.5 Rating
“A+. Incredible tone and enough twists, turns and character appearances to keep us hooked.”
“There's enough here, kept at a high enough level to make it interesting and viable across media and digestible enough for even the most novice DC Universe reader…. Score one for DC and score one for Snyder and Capullo in finding a new fan.”
—Comic Book Resources
Top customer reviews
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But I just couldn't get into it all that much. The story starts off a bit slow, despite the fact that it opens with a large battle between Batman and his rogues gallery. The artwork is one of the major reasons I stayed interested, because Capullo's work in this volume was very impressive. When I had read the previous New 52 titles that I mentioned earlier in the review, like The Flash, I was able to read through the entire first volume without wanting to stop. I didn't feel the same way with the first volume of Snyder's Batman after reading the first few issues in the book. It did, however, pick up a bit later in, and I found myself able to enjoy it a little more. And while I am still not sure that I would call it the best series in the New 52 reboot, I am considering picking up the second volume.
This comic book series includes a balanced mix of detective work, drama and action. This first volume is mystery story, where we find Batman uncovering a secret organization known as the Court of Owls. I'll stop there, so you can enjoy the story when you pick this up.
Although I thought the artwork worked for this sort of story, I wasn't a fan of it. But of course, all art is subjective. There was, however, a scene in the story that was handled in an unexpected way, namely through art choice, that must be commended. A scene where we find Batman becoming batshit crazy. To represent this insanity, each time you turn the page you also turn the entire book, as if spiraling into insanity with our hero.
Do yourself a favor and buy this book.
The Court of Owls are a new enemy. They are a secret cult who have been operating in the shadows of Gotham for years. They push Batman to his breaking point. The tension builds as Batman is nearly defeated by the Court. His struggle for survival is a pleasure to read. I would love to see the Court of Owls portrayed in a movie (animated or live action).
5/5 - An exciting introduction to an epic comic.
The art was one of my primary concerns, as a quick glance over the cover didn't really impress me. It sure impressed my dear old father, which is impressive in and of itself, since he is something of a comic book snob, so I figured I should open up my mind a bit. I'm glad I did, because I fell in love with the artwork. The Gotham City skyline has never looked better, and I mean that quite literally. The buildings have an old feel to them, which is perfectly in line with the story. The whole city just manages to look the part wonderfully. The people look great too, and although every now and then a couple of faces just look a bit off, on the whole it's an art style that has really grown on me, and it feels right at home in the Batman world, especially given the story that is being told.
Speaking of story, did I mention it's got a good one? I already knew the gist of what was going on from the internet, so it wasn't a total surprise to me. Our hero finds out the city is being run by a secret society that has been around for ages and that is now beating him at every turn. Sound familiar? That's because it is, and that worried me. On the face it seemed like one of my least favorite, cliched comic book arcs. But if you felt those same fears, put them to rest, because Scott Snyder has taken a tired, worn out plot device and completely revitalized it. I don't want to give away too much, because it really is quite good, so suffice it to say that you will be enthralled from the second you start reading until the end.
If you had doubts about buying this, please ignore them now, because this is worth it. I'm a guy that usually would recommend using the library, but for this book I'd go so far as to say that this should be on your shelf at home next to "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Batman: Year One". Buy this, you won't regret it.
Most recent customer reviews
Got all the Graphic Novels in this story arc for Christmas 2016. I read them twice hoping I would like it better the second time.Read more