Written By: Kyle Higgins
Pencils By: Eddy Barrows
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: OUT NOW IN STORES & DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (VIA COMIXOLOGY)
Over in Marvel comics, they are going all blockbuster with every hero in their arsenal trading blows in Avengers Vs. X-men so to counter that DC Comics have decided to serve up a post DC 52 crossover in the Bat-books, simply named ‘The Night of the Owls. As a brief background, over in the ‘Batman’ comic, Scott Snyder has been far outshining the rest of the DC 52 titles with his run on their best character. Over the last few months the Court of Owls, the covert secret society that have controlled Gotham City for years have had a fantastic story arc revealing loads about them and their methods. Batman barely escaped with his life from their meddling and now its all kicking off. Anyway as Alfred updates Nightwing in this prelude issue “Tonight the Court of Owls has sent assassins to kill nearly forty people across the city. The Court’s targets are all Gotham leaders. People who shape the city”. This prelude issue sets it up pretty simply but basically Nightwing has to save Mayor Hady as the Owls decend on Gotham.
However, this isn’t that simple. The story of Nightwing trying to save the Mayor is intercut with a flashback tale starting in 1910. A poor child, who juggles for change and joins the circus gives a deeper background to Gotham and one of its residents. The point of this tale is all tangled up in the issues closing pay off, so I won’t reveal much more but countering this dramatic story with the more expected action elements between Nightwing and The Owl makes for a great little issue.
It helps that I love Nightwing. He’s always been a favourite of mine and so far in the DC 52 reboot I’ve been underwhelmed. His new-ish red colour scheme doesn’t work for me all that much and despite a venture back into his past in previous issues, Nightwing has been a hit and miss title (much like most of the DC line at the moment). Having Dick Grayson back in a larger Batman arc suddenly makes him great again somehow. His rough and tumble scenes with the Owl assassin shows a brutality to Nightwing that sets him apart from the other Robins (okay maybe not Damien) and indeed Batman himself. I love how established Dick Grayson has become over the years and this issue captures that well. The art here is great too. Dark, plenty of shadows and a good sense of action beats makes the fight here pack a real punch and without giving the end away, the cliffhanger comes with a semi-shocking and quite bloody shocker.
Seeing the Court of Owls spreading out into the Bat-books is a good move from DC. Not going toe to toe with Marvel and doing a boring Justice League event shows restraint I feel, there’s even a small scene mentioning the Night of Owls in this weeks Justice League #8, which was a nice touch (though it did make me think that the Justice League could probably come to Gotham and sort all this mess out before it really got started – I’ll let it go. The further they keep the funky fresh new Justice League away from Bat-books the better I think). It seems DC are letting their writers earn big events rather than just coming up with “who vs who” events and given the fact Synder’s Bat-run is way above the rest of the DC 52 crowd its good to see the already great story arc blossom further. This prelude is a good start to events, lets hope the rest of the Bat-crossover just keeps getting better.