Batman: The Court of Owls Saga | comics review
Bats and birds.
Story summary: Hidden for years, the mysterious Court of Owls surfaces in Gotham City—what must Batman do to defeat them, and what deadly connection do they have to his past? (DC.com)
To be clear up-front, I'm not someone who has ever read or collected Batman stories on a monthly basis - Marvel was the comics universe for me back in the day - so my reading of the Court of Owls Saga was in its collected form as a single story, and I do wonder how this story actually landed with readers who read this story as it came out.
I say that because, as a one-off dip into Gotham City, it's not especially satisfying with how it ends, especially with how so much of the story feels like it's building up to something truly monumental in Batman history, only to end with yet another fist-fight. It really does feel like a movie that had an original ending that worried the money-men, forcing the movie to play things a little safer.
While I do like the character of Batman for the most part, I do feel he too often runs on 'Rule of Cool' as DC's most popular character (to quote Lego Batman: "DC. The house that Batman built. Yeah, what, Superman? Come at me, bro. I'm your Kryptonite.") and not just with the fans either. This is why large parts of this story are fantastic and some parts so disappointing.
The parts I enjoyed were seeing Batman struggle - and not just briefly either. He's on the back foot and really struggling to deal with what's going on for long stretches of the Court of Owls Saga, which is just so refreshing for me to see considering the tendency to paint the Dark Knight's mis-steps as deliberate parts of a plan to throw off his enemies - again, not a regular reader so this may just be a false impression I've picked up but I'd say it's a very popular view of the character.
It isn't just how underwhelming the ending is that disappointed me, but also the issue that lots of long-running franchises have by tying in this story into other parts of the world - yet another Wayne family member fell fowl of the Court previously and apparently Nightwing (Dick Grayson, the original Robin) is woven in to the story, just to make the DC Universe feel that little bit smaller.
I get why this kind of thing is done, because a lot of fandom today love these connections and get a thrill of tying things closer together, but it doesn't really do anything for me - lose those bits and alter the ending to fit the rest of the story (having a threat so great that Batman getting away alive counting as a victory with the threat still lingering for the future) and I would've enjoyed this even more than I did.
Hell, with Robert Pattinson apparently keen on this story being adapted for his Batman to experience, part of those changes might well happen as Dick Grayson doesn't even exist in that version of Gotham - at least, not yet/as far as we know. Considering I really enjoyed The Batman, seeing that version of the character go through these events would be fantastic to watch.
I know this review might sound more negative than anything, but I did enjoy The Court of Owls Saga overall, and I would say to check it out if you're a Bat-fan, especially if you want a potential preview of The Batman 2 or 3. The art is fantastic and, outside of the moments/ending that didn't work for me, it's genuinely enjoyable to read and a decent introduction to the character for those who haven't read the comics before.
Batman: The Court of Owls Saga is a decent standalone story that unfortunately resolves a little too quickly to be truly satisfying. As someone used to seeing Batman have the answer to everything, making even his mistakes look like they were intentional, it's nice to see him struggle for quite some time for once, even if that good old plot armour comes around to finish things off a little too neatly.