Review by: flapjaxx

What did the
community think?

Avg Rating: 4.7
Users who pulled this comic:
Variant cover by GARY FRANK
B&W Variant cover by GREG CAPULLO

Size: 32 pages
Price: 2.99

I liked this story better when it was called “Batman R.I.P.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still like what Snyder’s doing, but I liked it MORE when Morrison did it a couple years ago.

The similarities between the “Court of Owls” saga and Morrison’s “Black Glove” and “R.I.P.” arcs are pretty extensive and overwhelming. An elite, secret group that has controlled Gotham and has, specifically, influenced Wayne family history? Bruce being kidnapped and drugged? Wealthy people in masks watching him as he struggles? The rest of the Bat-family not knowing where Bruce is?

Yeah, there are similarities, to say the least. I could keep running them down, mention how much the Talon looks like the Third Batman (Michael Lane), mention how the “Black Glove” was supposedly “just a movie” and how the “Court of Owls” was “just a song”, etc. But I’m not going to bore you guys. Or point out all the things that many of you have missed. (Sorry, but it’s true. You have missed these parallels.)

It’s fair that people like this more than they liked what Morrison did. It’s actually very understandable. First of all, Capullo is a way better artist than Tony Daniel. And Snyder’s writing isn’t as demanding or challenging (or, at times, opaque) as Morrison’s. Personally, I view that as a bit of a negative, because I like more challenging storytelling. Even when Morrison swings and misses (and he DOES miss fairly often — I’m not a Morrison homer), I admire that ambition quite a bit. “Batman R.I.P.” was hugely innovative from a narrative perspective, way more than the “Court of Owls” has been (despite last issue’s neat-o, but kind of gimmicky, page-tilting technique). But if people just want an easier, more linear storyline, then that’s cool.

But the hyperbolic amount of praise that Snyder is getting is kind of dismaying to me, not because he doesn’t deserve quite a bit of praise (he does) but because of what it says about the critical reasoning skills of the audience. Because I know for a fact that a lot of people championing this run don’t even realize how much it owes to what Morrison did. So… I’m not sure what it says about the comics community that we have such poor short-term memories like that. It’s hard not to think about cultural “dumbing down” or whatever.

Again, if you like the way Snyder tells this same basic story better than the way Morrison told this same basic story — that’s fine. (I actually like most of Snyder’s dialoguing skills better than the dialogue Morrison’s given us recently in Action Comics!) But you should at least be aware of how much Snyder is “ off” of Morrison. Lame pun intended. And if you haven’t even noticed how much “The Court of Owls” owes to “R.I.P.”, then maybe you should try to be a more careful or cognizant reader? But it seems that people just want to revel in the hype rather than think about the actual content in any sort of thoughtful way.

Those last few sentences probably make me sound like a jerk. But it’s just hard to watch what is, without a doubt, a community whose attention spans are obviously getting shorter and shorter and whose abilities to form critically-minded reviews (positive or negative) are waning. Most reviews on this site and others — even reviews from professional or semi-professional reviewers — are now almost totally without content beyond the level of “I liked this!” or “This wasn’t fun!”. The reviews are just elaboration on those shallow aspects rather than thoughtful investigations of the actual material in the comics. There just seems to be precious little ability for people to respond on a somewhat literary level rather than on the base level of pleasure-seeking consumers.

The comics we’re celebrating are getting shallower and shallower, less and less original, and yet we insist that they’re the best comics ever. The “rub” is that they ARE still good comics. They ARE good! I think Batman #6 is a good comic! But it’s like we’re celebrating comics like this beyond reason, to hyperbolic extents, just so we can feel the pleasure of group-hype or something. I think it speaks to our own present insecurities about our culture. The whole situation is just weird. It’s like we’re going out of our way to celebrate the present at the expense of the past and future.

P.S. I turned off the “Allow Comments” option not because I’m some sort of totalitarian who can’t stand criticism, but because I actually think these sort of technological options for quick, kneejerk reactions aren’t always helpful. If you disagree with me on judging Snyder’s story as “average”, that’s fine. I see YOUR point of view everywhere on iFanboy. I see all sorts of vague statements about how great Scott Snyder is. I know people like him. And I don’t think he’s a bad writer at all. But I think that if people actually took the time to think about things with larger perspectives, then we’d have a richer culture and a better, more thoughtful internet.

Story: 2 - Average
Art: 5 - Excellent