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Tag Archive: The New 52


Review by C.J. Bunce

The third book in the new series of hardcover novels based on Batman stories from DC Comics, following The Killing Joke (reviewed earlier here at borg) and the Harley Quinn story Mad Love (reviewed here) is on its way to your comic book shop and other bookstores.  The Court of Owls is relatively new to Batman and DC Comics.  It’s a storyline that emerged from the New 52, the big DC reboot from seven years ago, created in the pages of Batman comics from writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo.  Just as DC was re-creating origin stories and restarting some story lines for various characters, The Court of Owls became the latest subversive crime unit, a mix of a secret society like Skull & Bones and the mid-century Mob, infiltrating every part of Gotham City, controlling everything from the police to the banks, business, and the government.  It was an entirely new creation, so Snyder was challenged with establishing a foundation of events no reader had encountered in Batman’s then 72 years, but thenceforth became a part of established Gotham City history and lore.  This is the focus of a new novel edition of the storyline, Batman: The Court of Owls, written by tie-in author Greg Cox.

People are catching fire, human spontaneous combustion style, across Gotham.  As Bruce Wayne aka Batman investigates with Commissioner Gordon, it becomes clear crime scene information is similar to crimes of record from Batman’s past sleuthing.  An element is common among the remains, tying these deaths to a secret society that Batman previously encountered and confronted in the underground Labyrinth lair–The Court of Owls.  The Court of Owls consists of a small but far-reaching group of the wealthy and powerful who meet in secret and wear a sort of Eyes Wide Shut face mask system, and their henchmen, called Talons, also wear masks, and possess unnatural regenerative qualities.  They are fierce and possibly unbeatable.  Enter the missing Joanna Lee, rescued in a shoot-out in Gotham years ago by Batman, she was an art history student studying a historic Gotham sculptor when she vanished.  As Bruce, butler Alfred, and ally Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon piece together the history of the city and this sculptor’s strangely pervasive art, they learn the impossible has happened: This 19th century artist created works depicting future events decades before they happened.  What they have in common opens up a past that was in front of Bruce Wayne all his life.

As a standalone novel, Batman: The Court of Owls is a solid, worthy Batman story, a complete adventure that doesn’t require much prior knowledge from the reader.  It’s not an adaptation of the New 52 story, but incorporates various elements from the original, comic book version of The Court of Owls story, plus elements from related stories, Night of the Owls, City of the Owls, Fall of the Owls, and Scourge of the Owls

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Justice League Dark cover art issue 6 Mikel Janin

The last vestiges of The New 52 seem to be fleeting in light of DC Comics’ Rebirth superhero universe reset.  Back in 2011 we at borg.com were reading and reviewing every monthly from the New 52 we could get our hands on.  One of the most compelling and creative of those series was Justice League Dark, a further spin-off from the likes of Justice League of America, Justice League Europe, Justice League International, Justice League and JLA.

Justice League Dark was, as the title suggests, a darker band of superpowered characters from the DCU.  Spanish artist Mikel Janin was tasked with re-imagining the look of these characters, and he pulled it off brilliantly.  We interviewed Mikel about the new look here at borg.com back in March 2012.  The JLD included Zatanna, Constantine, Deadman, Shade, Madame Xanadu, Swamp Thing, and the Enchantress, and more as they would emerge throughout the series’ short 40 issue run.

Justice League Dark interior art

Guillermo del Toro had been involved for a few years with a live action version of the JLD that never seemed to spring away from the development stage.  Now because of a feature listing on the Blu-ray from Batman: The Killing Joke, an animated version is likely further along than had been previously disclosed by DC.

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