As part of the infamous New 52 relaunch, writer Scott Snyder did the unthinkable in Batman. He broke the Dark Knight immediately. Sure, Batman was one of the least rebooted books of the entire crop, but to launch immediately into a story where Batman is imprisoned and nearly driven insane by a new enemy took some serious balls. The creepy tale brought to life by Greg Capullo’s eerie pencils has been one of the most consistently excellent reads in comics in the last year. As the tale of the Court of Owls evolved and plans for the Night of the Owls event started to take shape, there was some dissent among the comics community (shocking, I know). DC had just relaunched their entire line. Why go right into another big event? Well as it turns out, Night of the Owls is the perfect comic book event.
For starters, we saw this story coming. It was built naturally in the pages of Batman, much like how the seeds of Siege were sown over at Marvel. Both Siege and Night of the Owls had to happen. There was no other place their respective players could go given the stories they were in leading up to them. Compare that to Fear Itself and Flashpoint, which we only knew was coming because editorial and marketing told us they coming (A LOT). Plus, Night of the Owls is a Batman story told in the pages of Batman. The story branches out into the Bat Family line like the classic X-Overs, but the core story is in Batman, the book that introduced the entire concept in the first place. This story creates no new titles. Every part of it exists within the existing DC publishing line. Imagine if the bi-weekly Avengers vs X-Men was told solely in the pages of Avengers and X-Men instead of a stand alone title and those core books (which also usually ship bi-weekly) and the rest of their respective family books (which also ship bi-weekly in some cases) and the tie-in Vs. mini-series. By most accounts, people are digging Avengers vs X-Men, but it’s still a big intrusive event compared to the smooth transition into “Night of the Owls.”
Are you reading Batman? Good for you. You get to enjoy the Night of the Owls story. You don’t need anything else. You’re reading Batman and Detective Comics already? Well, then, you get a little more of this amazing story. Just reading Batgirl? No problem. There’s a scene in Batman where Alfred puts in the call to all of Batman’s allies and the other end of that conversation is shown in Batgirl as Barbara finds herself face-to-face with one of the Court’s Talons. Night of the Owls adds continuity to the Bat Family books without being swallowed by it. The more of these books you read, the more complete your experience will be, but a constant Batman reader needn’t stray from his buying habits unless he wants to. That’s practically unheard of these days.
But hypothetically, you want it all. Just reading Batman and Nightwing isn’t cutting it. You want to read every single Night of the Owls issue you can get your grubby little hands on. That’s certainly a level of added expense, but in two short months, you’re done. You get to go back to normal; unless you really found something you liked in those extra issues beyond the core story and choose to continue. In which, case, you get to enjoy more comics.
To top it all off, it’s really good. The core concept of this story is elevating the titles beyond just Batman. I’m sure we’ll likely see a bump in sales on issues 9 and 10 of these titles, so it’s good for business, but none of that would matter if the story weren’t interesting enough to keep people engaged. No one knows what kind of legs the Court of Owls will have in the recurring villain department, but the Talons are a fantastic addition to the rogues gallery, even if it is for just one story.
Sure, the scope of Night of the Owls is nowhere near as big as AvX, but that’s part of why it’s such a success. AvX has so many moving pieces and over a dozen tie-in series. Already the cracks are showing continutity-wise. Overall, the story has been good. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. But exactly when does Wolverine leave Utopia to go back to the school as seen in the latest issue of Wolverine and the X-Men? Avengers vs X-Men makes it pretty clear that they all go from Utopia straight to the Hope hotspots around the globe. Why are we reading about Beast and Thor’s team fighting the Phoenix in both Avengers and Secret Avengers? That’s a cool part of the story they’re telling, but with so many characters and so many titles, is there really a need to double dip?
Each Bat-Family book focuses on a different character and what they do on that night. It’s one night. What’s to confuse? Sure, Batman is in both Batman and Detective Comics, but it’s made perfectly clear where everything falls. There are even time stamps throughout the story so you know exactly when things are going down.
Sure, there are parts of Night of the Owls that are better than others. It can’t all be gold. But the execution of the event has thus far been flawless. It’s a short, concise event that does exactly what it’s meant to without being overly intrusive. We’ll be returned to our regularly scheduled programming soon enough. Where these characters land when it’s over remains to be seen, but I for one can’t wait to see what happens when Batman takes the fight to the Court.