Batman: The Court of Owls is the first volume of Batman books published in DC Comics’ The New 52 series and is the debut story arc by comic book hotshots Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
In The Court of Owls, previously uncovered elements of Gotham City are revealed along with deep secrets that even the world’s greatest detective wasn’t clued in on. This essentially is the main plot of The Court of Owls, wherein Bruce Wayne/Batman realises that there is so much that he does not know about the very city his ancestors helped build. Similarly, as readers, we too discover that we didn’t know as much as we thought.
While the overarching plot illustrates a broader history to Gotham City and Batman’s naivete in his knowledge of Gotham, the central story which drives the plot forward is that of the Court of Owls, an organised crime society once thought to be a myth and titular feature in a children’s poem, passed down through generations.
Snyder’s incredible tale is so exceptionally done that the Court of Owls comes across as being part of Gotham, and therefore Batman’s, history all along. This is clearly evident throughout The Court of Owls as each page is integrated with symbols of owls, some more clearly obvious than others. These subtle hints throughout the book tease readers of the secrets held deep within the heart of Gotham, alluding to elements of Batman’s story that we’ve never seen before.
I really enjoyed the build up of the secret history of Gotham City in this book as well as the little insights into the Wayne family and their contributions to Gotham. However, The Court of Owls is merely volume one, collecting issues 1-7, thereby leaving readers with many unanswered questions and suspenseful cliffhangers. As I prefer reading trade collections of comic book arcs and storylines, ending this particular book with no resolution and even more questions was frustrating.
Despite these shortcomings, The Court of Owls built up a tale that threatened to shake the very core of Batman and Gotham’s history, bringing a sense that there is more to the Wayne name than we thought, a concept that is refreshing, thrilling and rather intriguing. While simply an opener to a Batman story arc, The Court of Owls is a great read and showcases the incredible team that is Snyder and Capullo. Without delving deeper and giving away too much, all I will say about this book is, read it now and have the next volume, The City of Owls, ready.