Batman #6: Goin’ Bat-Guano

Batman's at the mercy of the Court of Owls and their hallucinogenic madness.  Or is he?

Iann Robinsonby Iann Robinson

Batman #6

You just can’t keep a good Bat down.

Well, that’s the way Batman #6 plays out. Just when we think that the Court Of Owls has our fearless winged avenger down for the count, he busts some moves that put him right back in the game. Writer Scott Snyder does two things here – one is copping to the easiest transition in all of comic book history and the other is make the subtext more interesting than the main story. These aren’t slights; it’s actually a really nice way to keep the whole Court Of Owls tale interesting.  The hardest part of telling a good story is holding people’s attention through the middle. By combining the macabre with the slightly cliché, the unstoppable Scott Snyder does just that.

Batman’s fucked. At the end of issue #5 he’d been drugged, run ragged, beaten and then stabbed with a sword by an assassin called Talon. Talon is a grunt for the Court Of Owls, a mysterious secret society that has held a place in the darkest corners of Gotham City for decades. Batman didn’t used to believe in them, but holy shit does he believe now. Issue #6 is essentially the story of the Dark Knight doing the impossible and escaping the clutches of the Court. It’s within this fight that Snyder steps back in originality to give the issue some kick.

Stepping back in originality is a fancy way for me to say that just when it seems Batman will be done, he finds the inner strength to battle back and escape his captors. It’s an old trick but one that usually works as far as action goes. What I like with Batman #6 is how Snyder uses artist Greg Capullo to give the action an edge. Batman’s been drugged, he can think somewhat clearly but he continues to go back and forth with reality. Snyder and Capullo use that idea to make the action darker and more horrific.

At one point, Batman sees himself as twenty feet tall, then he’s normal, then he’s fighting with fanged teeth, then almost an animal, etc. It’s a clever way to have Batman fight through his delusion and defeat his enemy.  Is it a bit hard to swallow that Batman can pull this off with a gaping stab wound? Yes, but that’s how they’ve always done it. When a character reaches his emotional fill, especially in comic books, no wound can stop him. Batman’s fight to save his skin might be founded in comic clichés, but Snyder’s unique storytelling saves it from being dull.

The meat of the story, and the subtext, is our first real introduction to the Court Of Owls. Snyder really goes all out to demonstrate how warped this clan is. The pale, emotionless owl masks they wear, their twisted idea of justice, even what looks like physical deformities come together to give the Court Of Owls a creepy edge. There’s also the undead army they have, or at least seem to have.  By the end of Batman #6, you’re hooked on the Court and must know more about them. Did I mention the weird little girl? No? Well, go buy the book and find out.

Like Snyder, Capullo is at the top of his game. Batman #6 is not just a beautiful book to look at, it moves effortlessly with high-octane action. The battle between Batman and the Talon soldier is epic and brutal. Capullo has a style reminiscent of the work Frank Miller did on The Dark Knight Returns. I’m impressed with his representation of Snyder’s ideas. The way he made Batman look and see the rest of the world, it was dark and primal. Capullo’s art doesn’t leap off the page as much as it slowly draws you in and holds onto you. Batman #6 might not be the most original story ever told, but Snyder and Capullo are still head shoulders above their competition.


CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10 (4 Story, 5 Art)