Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Batman #9 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 9, July 2012
It is pretty easy to see why “Night Of The Owls” garnered the comic book “Batman” an increased readership of over four thousand in May 1992. For the twenty page tale opens with a fantastic pulse-pounding battle between a heavily fortified Bruce Wayne and a horde of knife wielding masked assassins. Flesh frazzling Tasers, ice-encasing bat-shaped shards and even a remote controlled life-sized dinosaur are all utilised by the Caped Crusader in an effort to clear the Batcave of the homicidal intruders.

Indeed the Dark Knight has rarely appeared so reliant upon his personal technology to keep him safe, with the billionaire’s ‘new’ meta-aramid fibre armoured Batsuit proving a stark contrast to the dressing gown which he wore in his previous confrontation with the Court of Owls’ killers. And whilst that earlier encounter was a fleet-footed headlong dash through the corridors and over the rooftops of stately Wayne Manor. This tense nervy fracas deep underground is nothing less than an all-out slugfest, as a tank-like Batman, weighed down by hydraulics and cut-throats, literally goes toe-to-toe with the numerous Talon.

Somewhat dishearteningly however, Scott Snyder’s writing suddenly seems to de-rail towards the end of this gripping conflict, just as Wayne has finally been dragged down to the floor through sheer of weight of numbers. For the American author fancifully has the hero being saved from his assailants at the last minute, by a swarm of ‘vengeful’ bats who have conveniently flown up from a deeper part of the caves.

To make matters worse, the Caped Crusader is then depicted roaring out of the Batcave in the Batmobile, on so desperate a mission to save Jeremiah Arkham that the vehicle sends a luckless Talon flying over its stream-lined bonnet in the process… However before the Dark Knight's customised car can reach its destination the scene is brought to an abrupt halt mid-way through by “DC Comics” editor Mike Marts, who informs the reader that they must “see Detective Comics #9” for that particular adventure. Talk about instantly dispelling any sense of atmosphere and tension the previous fourteen-pages had created.

Something of a silver lining though has to be that shortly after such a blatant ‘advertisement’ for another ‘Bat Family’ title, this comic’s back-up tale begins. As “The Fall Of The House Of Wayne” is everything the final third of “Night Of The Owls” should have been. Tense, thrilling and containing a genuine air of threat and menace to its lead character, Snyder and James Tynion IV’s narrative depicting Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, fleeing Wayne Manor whilst being pursued by a Talon “years ago…” makes gripping reading.

Whilst Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork, though arguably less disciplined than Greg Capullo’s well-detailed drawings, appears rather fitting for a ten-page instalment illustrating the hastily scratched happenings contained within the aged butler’s (final) letter to his son.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 9 by Dale Keown

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