Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review: The City of Owls (Batman Vol. 2) by Scott Snyder

The City of Owls by Scott Snyder
Batman Volume 2 (The New 52)
DC Comics
2 April 2013
208 Pages
3 Stars

Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads

Night of the Owls continues here! Batman must stop the Talons that have breeched the Batcave in order to save an innocent life...and Gotham City! In the backup story, learn more about the Pennyworth family and the secrets they've kept from the Wayne family!

The City of Owls is the second and final part of the Night of the Owls arc.  The first part is The Court of Owls, and you can see the review for that here.

I went into this volume really excited to see how this arc finished.  The first volume had me completely hooked, and I loved Bruce Wayne's characterization.  Therefore, I had high hopes, but, unfortunately, I came away completely underwhelmed.

It started out full force with an attack on the manor by a group of seemingly immortal villains, picking up on the action of the last volume.  It was fast-paced and exciting, and I loved seeing Batman with a taste for revenge.  But then the plot quickly devolved with the involvement of a deranged man and his delusional thoughts about Bruce Wayne's parents.  

The whole end of the arc was unsatisfying.  The villain had pages and pages of relentless monologue that added nothing to the plot.  I would have been able to stand that if the climax and conclusion had been good, but the abrupt, open ending left me unimpressed.  

I also hated Snyder's rewriting of Thomas and Martha Wayne's back story, as well as the conspiracy that now surrounds Alfred.  Batman is a solid, well-developed character, and I don't like the doubt that's been cast upon his parents or his trusted butler in this series.  

The rest of the volume has a few non-arc issues.  The first tell the story of Harper Row, which I wasn't terribly interested in.  In fact, I find her meddlesome and annoying, but I also recognize that she'll probably become more important throughout this series, so I hope that her character becomes more relatable.

And the last part of the volume gives Mr. Freeze's story, which was the best part of the volume.  Mr. Freeze is an excellent villain because he does horrible things out of his love for his wife, but the way that Snyder twists this origin story is so good and makes him an even more fearsome villain.

Even though I wasn't terribly pleased by the plot, the characterization continued to be strong throughout this volume.  I especially liked how Alfred displayed his devotion to Bruce.  Moreover, the few interactions between Bruce and Dick revealed a lot about how close their relationship is.  Though there were very few characters in this volume, they carried the end of the arc.

Though I didn't like a few of the choices he made, Snyder's writing continued to be amazing.  He knows how to tell a good story and develop strong characters, so I'm only excited to see what else he has in store for Batman.  

Capullo continues to impress me.  His illustrative style is so perfect and compliments Snyder's writing incredibly well.  I was especially impressed with his art throughout the Freeze scenes.  

Even though I wasn't completely happy with this trade, I still gave it 3 stars.  And I can't wait for the introduction of the Joker with Death of the Family.

If you're currently reading Batman, how do you feel about it?  Do you agree with me?  Also, if there are any other DC series I should check out, leave your recommendations in the comments below.

I recently reviewed the last installment of The Mistborn Trilogy, The Hero of Ages, so if you want to read that, click here.

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Happy reading!