Sunday, October 6, 2013

Batman: Night of The Owls

  DC's brilliant collected editions masterminds have done it again! How is a reader supposed to know what issues are being collected when the people publishing the book don't even know...?  

 BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE OWLS lists it's contents in the indicia as ALL-STAR WESTERN #9, BATMAN #8-11, BATMAN ANNUAL #1, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #9, BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS #9, BATGIRL #9, BATWING #9, BIRDS OF PREY #9, NIGHTWING #8-9, BATMAN AND ROBIN #9, CATWOMAN #9 and RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #9. The front cover flap, however, lists issues 8-9 as the only issues of BATMAN being collected. Issues 8-9 are correct, along with the Annual, but that leaves readers hanging, with no resolution to the central conflict depicted in the book. The book does, however, end with a short story (Which I assume was a backup story from BATMAN...) that totally ruins a major plot twist that is probably revealed properly in the BATMAN: THE CITY OF OWLS collection.  (Which is up next on my reading list.) So, aside from endless curses directed at DC's haphazard Production Department, how does the actual product stack up....? More after the break....

  Taken as a whole, this is a fairly satisfying book. It presents enough of the main story, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, to give the crossovers context, but the order that the books are collected in gets kind of wonky and slipshod. First off, ALL STAR WESTERN #10 should also have been included, because that's where the bulk of Jonah Hex's Owl encounter was presented. I guess they couldn't include everything, but that issue would have given a lot more context to the stranglehold that The Court of Owls has had over Gotham City for centuries. There are two issues of NIGHTWING included, the first of which ends on a cliffhanger, but the two issues are separated in this collection, which is odd, because Nightwing is near death one moment, then we see him hale and hearty in another story, then we eventually get back to resolve his cliffhanger. They seemed to be trying to collect the stories in chronological order, based on the time stamps given in the story, but it doesn't always work.

 One thing that I've always enjoyed about big crossovers is that they allow you to sample books that you may not normally be reading, and this crossover offered up a few good tidbits from books that are new to me. I particularly enjoyed Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows' work on NIGHTWING and Judd Winick and Marcus To's BATWING. There wasn't enough there to make me want to start collecting still another series or two, but I did enjoy what I saw. I also thought Guillem March's work on CATWOMAN was absolutely stunning. He's really an Artist worth watching. And Peter J. Tomasi did a phenomenal job with Damian Wayne in his BATMAN & ROBIN issue. He is a character that I would love to follow, but Grant Morrison really made that irrelevant, so that'll save me some money in the long run, I suppose.

 As usual, DC continues to publish totally fucking grotesque books. This one is chock full of grisly stabbings and dismemberments, decapitations, people exploding, bursting, burning, having their eyes stabbed, poked, and gouged out, guts falling out of slashed-open bellies.....Ugh, it's a gross book. I'm a big boy, but keep the kids away from this.

 OK, next up will be BATMAN: CITY OF OWLS, so I can see the big twist that this book ruined play out the way it was meant to.

 BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE OWLS collects ALL-STAR WESTERN #9, BATMAN #8-9, BATMAN ANNUAL #1, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #9, BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS #9, BATGIRL #9, BATWING #9, BIRDS OF PREY #9, NIGHTWING #8-9, BATMAN AND ROBIN #9, CATWOMAN #9 and RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #9, complete with covers and variants, and includes a brief sketch gallery.