Comic Reviews: Batman and Avengers vs. X-Men!
At this rate I’m officially beating a dead horse when I talk about Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s career-defining run on Batman. If you’re not reading it, there is something very, very wrong with you. This issue is the start of the “Night Of The Owls’ mini-event, which sees the mysterious Court Of Owls finally make their city-wide presence known to Bruce Wayne. Bringing the fight to Wayne Manor, the Court’s first steps to completely take over Gotham have started, which means that while the shit is hitting the fan for Bats, it makes for awesome reading for comic fans!
Taking place entirely at Wayne Manor, the issue finds Bruce Wayne recovering from his near-insanity inducing encounter with the Court Of Owls secret underground maze. Snyder and Capullo present a new viewpoint for the typically always-ready Batman, as he starts to come to grips with the fact that the city he always thought he knew is actually completely foreign to him. The fact that he feels a certain betrayal about it is a very cool hook, and hats off to Snyder for writing these scenes and dialogue in a way that presents a new view for Bruce, but still ties into his typical characterization.
This issue isn’t all introspective contemplation though. The action comes quick and dirty in this issue, as one of the Court Of Owls’ Talon assassins enters Wayne Manor, leaving an injured Bruce to fight him off. The battle covers everything from a closet to the roof of the Manor (where many more Talons join the fray), to the recesses of the batcave, where Bruce has has Alfred place a distress call as he prepares for the Talons in the cave’s armory. As always, Greg Capullo’s art is stunning, spanning the quiet lulls of the opening to the insane fights as Bruce battles off an enemy that is seemingly everywhere. Capullo is a master of comic book pacing and fight layouts, and deserves all of the admiration he gets.
The thing that makes this issue so effective is the way that the Court of Owls Talon assassins are depicted. There is no doubt that these are extremely creepy and disturbing villains. Already the Court Of Owls has become a premiere rogue for Batman, even though this is their first outing. Snyder and Capullo have gone above and beyond in showing us how good comics can be. Anyone who expresses surprise at the fact that comics are still being made needs to be handed this run as proof that comics are not only awesome, but a legitimate storytelling medium as well.
Also, as a bonus, we get a back-up story which covers the distress call that Alfred sends out. Written by Snyder and with art by Rafael Albuquerque, the back-up perfectly ties into the main story of the issue, and completely justifies the 3.99 price that the series now carries. Of course, Batman could be 7.99 and I would still recommend it wholeheartedly (don’t get any ideas though DC).
Avengers vs. X-Men #2
Yes, issue (or round) 2 of Avengers vs. X-Men is released today, and while it wastes no time getting into the rumblin’, the narration decisions made by Jason Aaron (who writes this issue) are a little…….different.
Picking up immediately where the last issue left off, the X-Men are defending their home island of Utopia from The Avengers, who have arrived for Hope, the “mutant messiah” who also is believed to be the new host for the Phoenix Force, which is on a beeline for Earth. There are snippets of some cool fights here (which will be expanded on in the upcoming AvX tie-in miniseries), and John Romita, Jr.’s art isn’t too half bad, but Jason Aaron’s narrative choice for the issue leaves something to be desired. In an attempt to make these battles sound over the top and epic, it instead comes off a little corny and cheesy. Saying different variations of “this is the way the world ends” doesn’t really help drive your point home. In fact, it gets annoying after awhile. After a fairly strong start, Avengers vs. X-Men takes a little stumble in its second round. Hopefully this doesn’t prove to be a sign of the rest of the series to come.