The Court Of Owls, the premiere evildoers conjured up for the Batman series by writer Scott Snyder, has infected all the bat titles. One by one, a new book will expand on the Court Of Owls descent upon Gotham City. The first in the line up is Detective Comics, which was once the premiere Batman book but now stands in the shadow of Snyder’s work on Batman. Detective Comics #9 is all about The Court Of The Owls as they embark on a mission to Arkham Asylum. Sounds awesome right? Yep, you’d think so.
The failure of DC #9 comes in two parts. First, there’s the whole Batman in another story problem. With all that’s going on in the Batman series, with all the trials and tribulations that Batman has gone through in that book, this little jaunt to rescue Dr. Arkham seems forced. As if DC decided that all bat titles should rush to join Court Of The Owls and thusly storylines were manufactured quickly and without reason. Nothing happens in DC #9. At least nothing that matters.
The second problem is most of the issue being spent inside the head of Dr. Arkham pontificating about his work, crime and the criminal element within the asylum. Then the Talon Assassins attack and Batman appears. There’s a brief scuffle when suddenly all the inmates are free and then turn on the Talons. Cue the labored subtext surrounding the Black Mask. There’s a small cliffhanger ending but nothing to get excited about.
Detective Comics #9 does nothing to move the Court Of Owls story along. At best, it’s a lame tie-in issue, at worst a continued example of how Tony Daniel’s writing is driving the once-premiere Batman book into the ground. The man has zero sense of pacing and his dialog is stiff and uninteresting. This should have been a pure action issue instead of trying to compete with cerebral plot of Batman. Inserting a subplot about the Black Mask? Who really cares at all about him right now?
If Daniel wanted DC #9 to be about Dr. Arkham, then he should have made it all about him. How he uses his deception and trickery to beat the Talon assassins at their own game. Instead, he tried to combine the doc and Batman, with tepid results. On the flipside, Tony Daniel’s art is first rate. I absolutely love how he draws the Black Mask. If Daniel could bring the kind of vision and passion to his writing that he does to his art, he’d be unstoppable. Sadly that’s not the case, and Detective Comics #9 does more to dull the edge of the Talon’s claws than sharpen them.
(Story: 2, Art: 5)