When I’d heard that the Court of Owls story in “Batman” was going to cross over into the rest of the Batman family of comics, I was a little concerned. So often, one book’s main storyline (no matter how good it is) invading the rest of the group’s results in a mish-mash of results, with everything being put on hold for a different idea. In “Detective Comics” #9, though, Tony Salvador Daniel shows us how well the “Night of the Owls” crossover can work as it blends the Owls with Daniel’s own storylines.
In some ways “Detective Comics” #9 is a sequel to Daniel’s opening storyline as the writer/artist of “Batman” a year or so ago with the return of the Black Mask and Jeremiah Arkham. Daniel adds a Talon into the mix and the result is a success; we get Arkham’s fear and mistrust of Batman, his manipulations of the patients at Arkham Asylum, and the original Black Mask himself, once more alive. There are some tweaks to Black Mask that long-time readers might find a little confusing; he’s got mind control powers now, and of course there’s also the fact that he’s alive again. (Presumably both changes post-“Flashpoint.”) But if you can accept those changes, I think we’ve got a lot of potential for stories down the road in “Detective Comics.” Black Mask over the years became increasingly dangerous and it feels right now like Daniel wants him to be that way again. (Although Batman defeats him so quickly that we’ll need a bit more oomph next time.)
Daniel’s art looks good too; he’s clearly having fun drawing the moody Arkham Asylum, and the panels swapping between fight and the Black Mask are drawn with just the right amount of pacing. He and Sandu Florea work well together, and this issue is no exception. There’s a lot of energy on display here, but I don’t feel like it ever sacrifices storytelling.
There’s also a back-up story drawn by Szymon Kudranski that looks fantastic. Kudranski just keeps getting better and better, his art shifting to a style that’s not quite like anyone else’s but mixes photo-realism with a stylized edge. He and John Kalisz mesh well together, providing a moody set of pages that will jump right out at you.
After a month or two of some uneven issues of “Detective Comics,” it’s nice to see the book back on track. It handles the “Night of the Owls” elements in just the right manner so that they don’t feel intrusive; if I was only reading this comic I wouldn’t feel lost or short-changed. A nice job from all parties involved.