The “Night of the Owls” Bat-book crossover kicks off in the pages of “Batman” #8 with an (almost) unexpected attack on Bruce Wayne’s home as the billionaire recovers from his Court of the Owls-induced physical and psychological injuries. As such, Scott Snyder shoves Bruce Wayne front and center in the skirmish under the premise of truly being surprised and not having a chance to don cape and cowl.
Snyder investigates stately Wayne Manor, treating the reader to some fun and fabulous Greg Capullo-drawn and John Glapion-inked secrets, tricks, and surprises, like moving the minute hand on the grandfather clock to reveal the secret passage from the manor to the Batcave. Those reveals are nice homages to the prior interpretations of Batman updated for a new generation, but aware and celebrating what once was. The opening chapter of “Night of the Owls” features Bruce and Alfred against a parliament of Talons. The exact number of foes and their locations are unknown, deftly raising the tension and suspense of the pending battle.
While Wayne struggles to comprehend what has become of Gotham, how it has slipped from his purview, the reader is afforded the opportunity to see Batman start to crack a little bit. In this setting, Snyder’s interpretation of Bruce’s relationship with Alfred and the voices he instills in both men is confident and comforting, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Snyder shows Alfred beginning to sweat things out a bit by the end of the issue, but Bruce simply finds more confidence to share and decides to hold his ground, defending Wayne Manor at all costs.
Capullo brilliantly draws all things Batman and Bruce Wayne from the “lucky” penny down in the Batcave up to the roof of Wayne Manor and everything in between in the exaggerated, energetic style we’ve come to expect from him. Glapion’s inks lock the imagery into shadows and FCO Plascencia fills the world with all of the drab colors you would expect to be associated with the words “manor” and “cave” — browns and grays, blues and muted purples. It’s a very moody looking book, all building to a final page reveal that breaks out of the standard set throughout the previous nineteen pages. Snyder does manage to save a surprise for the end of the lead-in tale certain to put a smile on many a Batfan’s face.
This issue, in addition to costing you an extra buck, also offers up the first in a series of “Night of the Owls” related backup tales. The initial installment is co-written by Snyder and James Tynion IV. Focusing in tightly on Alfred, the story continues straight ahead from the lead-in tale, only with a leap in art style from Capullo, Glapion and Plascencia to Rafael Albuquerque and Nathan Fairbairn. More starkly rendered than the lead tale, this installment features Albuquerque’s rougher and more tense linework. Fairbairn’s color palette is a visual explosion in comparison to what Plascencia offers up front. The panic Alfred feels as he realizes what is coming together is quite evident in the visuals presented throughout this initial chapter.
As kickoffs to events go, “Batman” #8 delivers a good set-up and sincere motivation for extending the story beyond the pages of one title. “Night of Owls” takes shape organically, and given the trouble Batman has had with the Court of Owls and their Talons to this point, it’s a good thing he has his own crimefighting network to call upon. How the various members of the Bat-Family handle the Talons is certain to be central to the story moving forward, but in this issue it is clearly established to be a cafeteria-style option, allowing the reader to determine their own level of comfort and involvement in the event that Snyder has meticulously crafted.