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REVIEW: ‘Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls’ – the Hope of DC’s New 52

 
Absolute Batman Court of Owls 05
Absolute Batman Court of Owls 05
Absolute Batman Court of Owls 05

 
Overview
 

Story by: Scott Snyder and James T. Tynion IV
 
Art by: Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque and Jonathan Glapion
 
Colors by: FCO Plascencia
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
4/ 5


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6 total ratings

 


To sum it all up..

RULES OF NATURE! The collaborative effort of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo is considered as one of the mainstream comic industry’s best Batman creative teams ever. Starting in the late 2011, Snyder’s noir and suspense storytelling and Capullo’s highly kinetic and detailed art are the right ingredients for the greatest eternal knight of justice […]

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Posted December 27, 2015 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

Absolute Batman Court of Owls 05RULES OF NATURE!

The collaborative effort of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo is considered as one of the mainstream comic industry’s best Batman creative teams ever. Starting in the late 2011, Snyder’s noir and suspense storytelling and Capullo’s highly kinetic and detailed art are the right ingredients for the greatest eternal knight of justice and detective of all. For more than four years, their Batman stories are undeniably considered as some of the best Dark Knight tales ever crafted, sometimes making headline news due perhaps to the intensity and eloquence the stories this power couple executed and delivered. DC Comics finally treats Batman connoisseurs and hardcore collectors with its high-end treatment of Snyder and Capullo’s very first Caped Crusader’s story arc The Court of Owls, in its Absolute rendition, thus born ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS.

This hardcover deluxe edition features many of the components that constitutes and characterizes the Absolute treatment, namely, a gorgeous slip case, a red cloth bookmark, glossy papers, excellent binding and spine for a pleasurable reading experience, and most importantly, additional stuffs after the main course. It has an introduction made by the mastermind himself, confessing that he was more comfortable writing Batman-Dick Grayson than Bruce Wayne, and never expected his Batman run would go beyond his wildest expectation. It even features two additional stories, Call and The Fall of House Wayne, written by him and protégé  James T. Tynion IV and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque. These narratives are connected to the said story arc. Additionally, it has a variant cover art gallery of Batman #1-11 illustrated by some of the best artists around, like Jim Lee, Ethan Van Schiver, and Albuquerque. It boasts with the sketches and character designs by Capullo, including the infamous Talons of almost every historical decade. Finally, it contains the original script of Batman #1, with Greg’s layouts, in which Scott encourages readers to compare this initial draft with the first chapter to see some similarities and/or differences. Henceforth, true Batman bibliographical collectors should never miss this latest ABSOLUTE edition ever.
Absolute Batman Court of Owls 01

The story revolves around the Dark Knight’s unknown opponents who are actually much older and nefarious than what the detective actually knows. As a matter of fact, Bruce Wayne once considered them as mere urban tales until they literally storm his base of operations and the entire Gotham City. But what stands out with this Batman story is the presentation of the Caped Crusader in his relatively visceral confrontations with his nocturnal foes, both in the physiological and psychological levels. Some new readers may be unaware of this kind of Batman, but that is the remarkable part of witnessing the vigilante literally and figuratively pushes his absolute limits in order to unravel the mysterious adversaries and even unexpectedly challenged his unexpected member of “his” family. This is what Scott Snyder is best as a storyteller in the crime and suspense, noir and mystery narrative sequential departments. He litters a couple of red herrings in every chapter until the revelatory part takes place, while he writes the dialogues in the most accessible, though sometimes cryptic, but intriguing way possible, unlike his meta-Caped Crusader predecessor, Grant Morrison. Furthermore, he introduces a couple of new characters who will later on contribute to the expansion of the Batman-mythos and the dynamism within the Batman family. His way of characterizing many of the casts here is an intricate balance of many emotional spectrums like anger, rage, seriousness, comedic, light-heartedness, hope, and optimism, especially with some of the casts directly involve as the story slowly but surely uncovers the layers of Gotham City’s quasi version of the Illuminati. Regarding the perennial element of superhero smack-downs, Snyder makes sure that these moments are naturally well-executed since he already masters the pacing and timing in his previous Dark Knight tale, the Mirror Glass (another masterful Batman story, particularly Dick Grayson’s tenure). Virtually every chapter here has a fisticuff that is both well placed and arguably, well-choreographed. And, the writer applies a couple of non-linear storytelling tropes here while surprisingly, his entire initial narrative arc reads so well without missing a beat, with a possible exception of the fifth part where the Caped Crusader unexpectedly experiences the unexpected. That same moment is truly pure Scott Snyder!

Artist extraordinaire Greg Capullo is the reason why the current Batman run is a consistent rousing commercial and critical success, and this volume is the explanation of his artistic excellence in virtually every department. Seriously, I envy comic readers who are bedazzled and mesmerized with his artworks because he is already in his artistic prime nowadays, although he already transformed fully during his Spawn tenure in the late 1990s and 2000s. Going back, he demonstrates his true capabilities as he draws both the regular covers and the interiors with the kind of energy he only possesses, most particularly whenever the actions and most climatic portions take place. His illustrative punches for examples are almost real-like, if not authentic. The wounds and blood presented in many panels are even more graphic and grounded. His illustrations of the city are simply breathtaking to view even it is dark and felt brooding and gloomy. His attentions to details are unquestionably painstaking and meticulous. Most importantly, the facial portrayals and expressions of almost all characters he draws and conveys are some of the best emotional features ever illustrated in the visual narrative medium right now. Even when Bruce Wayne dons the cowl, Greg makes sure the detective projects anger, seriousness, stoic, pain, and even fear with his mastery of emotional projections. His sequential paneling is another thing to admire because it is geared more unorthodox than the conventional, but nevertheless more accessible to follow for most cases. Perhaps, his most crowning achievement in that regard is the abovementioned fifth chapter where the readers end up reading the pages in the counter-clockwise fashion before realizing that this psychedelic moment is part of the elaborate combined illustrative and narrative effort of the artist and writer. Therefore, Greg is simply THE BEAST!

However, this Absolute version has a number of issues I want to bring forth. One, I miss the older versions because this one lacks the dust cover. Speaking of cover, its art and even the slipcase reuse some of Capullo’s cover arts, nothing original at all. I admire the inclusion of the original script here, but I believe this edition could have been enhanced more if all scripts are included, most particularly the talked-about fifth issue. Naturally, expect some death defying superhero moments that are beyond conventional logic and reasoning, like Batman manages to survive from a very high altitude fall (the reason, he is THE BATMAN, end of story). And, like most 2011 New 52 releases, this has some problematic continuity mambo jumbos that are slowly “fixed” in the later installments, which I believe DC Comics will release hopefully more Absolute Batman Snyder-Capullo runs. DC, please, make that happen!

Nonetheless, ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS is another great Batman high-end deluxe edition for serious Batman collectors around and presents some of the best artistic collaborations and executions in the long 75 plus illustrative years of the Dark Knight. This is where Scott Snyder really shines and even ascends to become one of the most popular comic book writers right now. And that includes the best artistic illustrations of Greg Capullo. Seriously, this arc is just a delicious appetizer, what more with future arcs like Death of the Family and especially, End Game, in Absolute editions. DC, please unleash more ABSOLUTES!

Absolute Batman Court of Owls 03


Paul Ramos

 


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