“Who? Who? Who?”

DC must be trolling its readership with a title like Batman and Robin #23.2: Court of Owls #1. Savvy readers will know that not only has the Batman and Robin title not truly been Batman and Robin for the last six months, but also that the writer of this particular Villains Month title, James Tynion IV, is already writing a Court of Owls-centric ongoing series called Talon. In essence, Court of Owls #1 is just a means to get readers to check out Talon, and if this is the kind of brutal storytelling that’s going on in that title every month, every eye reading this right now should be checking out Talon immediately after reading this comic.

It is fitting that the Court of Owls would take a look at this current climate of the villains taking over Gotham and decide to head underground to weather the storm. Framing this issue is a patriarch member of the Court telling his daughter that the Court of Owls have always adapted to their surroundings, setting the stage for various flashbacks showing just that. This is a bloody history lesson to be sure, and the book turns quite gruesome when we’re plunged into the tale of a Jack the Ripper-esque Talon that gets out of hand. Tynion shows the Owls as being ever-present throughout time, lurking in the shadows and waiting for the precise moment to strike down their enemies. It’s chilling to see how the Owls have managed to adapt throughout the centuries.

Artist Jorge Lucas and colorist Dave McCaig put their talents together to perfectly set the mood and tone for this book. Lucas casts a lot of deep shadows on character’s faces, plunging them into the same darkness where the Owls lurk. McCaig’s colors are muted in grey and sepia tones, presenting an even darker look at Gotham than we’ve seen in other Villains Month titles of the same ilk. The Court of Owls #1 is the kind of horrific book that looks like it should be read by candlelight on a rainy evening.

GNN Comics Grade: NEAR MINT (8.5/10)

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