Writer: Scott Snyder
Penciller: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colourist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy B
Previously, in Batman: The Court of Owls has been defeated, but not at the hands of Batman. On his way to exact revenge for their attack on his city, Batman discovered almost the entirety of the Court dead, poisoned at the hands of another. As he started to turn his back on the case, which was all but closed, the realization struck him as to who the true culprit behind the events that have plagued him in recent days.
Tracking the villain to their hideout, it was revealed that Lincoln March, the supposedly dead mayoral candidate was actually Thomas Wayne Jr., Bruce’s long-lost brother. The stage has been set for the final deciding battle for the fate of Gotham City – Bat versus Owl, brother against brother, no holds barred.
After 11 issues, numerous tie-ins, and a hell of a lot of critical praise, the Court of Owls storyline comes to a conclusion in this issue, though I’m not sure how much of a conclusion you’d call it. The issue is split nicely down the middle with the first half dealing with Bruce and Lincoln’s battle across the rooftops of Gotham. This part of the book is a little over-narrated, with Lincoln wasting no time rubbing in the fact that Bruce has lost, and devolves a little into typical super villain spiel, which is a shame. But the battle is pulled off well, helped out nicely by Greg Capullo’s art as always.
Once Lincoln and Bruce’s battle is concluded, we get a nice bookend for the story that has Bruce and Dick back in the Batcave, discussing everything that they have been through. I think this is much better than the rest of the issue, adding some symmetry to the storyline and bringing it full circle as we end where we started. This section also serves to wrap up any loose ends, like whether March survived the final battle or not, as well as the ultimate fate about the Court of Owls. You can tell from this section how well Snyder writes Dick Grayson too, since his dialogue shines through as it did during Snyder’s Detective Comics run which featuring Dick as Batman.
As to whether the storyline is completely concluded, you could debate this. Snyder tries to leave everything up to the reader to decide, giving the possibility that March’s claims that he was Bruce’s brother were true whilst not outright saying either way. I think giving the reader the freedom to think what they want is nice, but a more concrete answer would be better for me personally — if and when Snyder or another writer revisits the Court of Owls in the future.
The back-up feature concludes as well, with the fate of Jarvis Pennyworth revealed and a coda for Bruce and Alfred that reflects back on it all. Again, this isn’t very clear about anything in general, and adds to the mystery surrounding everything that has happened in the past eleven issues and this does weaken its impact just a bit, but it’s still an enjoyable conclusion to the feature, with more superb art from Rafael Albuquerque – the scenes set inside the flaming Wayne Manor are exquisite.
The Court of Owls have been defeated for now, and this final issue is a serviceable finale to the storyline, if not as solid as I would have liked. The air of mystery detracts a little from the overall conclusion, but the sentiment is there and you can tell that this storyline will affect Bruce Wayne going forward. Now Batman must rest and recuperate, because in a few short months, the Joker will be back, and if Bruce thinks he’s ready for that, he hasn’t seen anything yet…
GO Rating: 3.5/5