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Scott Snyder's Batman continues to be the solid flagship title for DC since the reboot in 2011. However, while each issue of Volume 2 is strong in itself, the overall collection loses its punch as tie-ins yank resolutions from the main title.
Since DC's reboot in 2011, most stories have been rebuilding their little section of the universe. But Snyder's Batman, as well as a majority of the Bat-verse, has been building on a history that was mostly unscathed by the reset. Batman's not starting at scratch allows for the intricate stories Snyder creates in both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the title.
The Gotham-legend villains, the Court of Owls, are an amazing addition to DC's awesome repertoire of bad guys. It's cast of villains is the one area in which DC completely trumps Marvel.
This trade seemed to promise the climax of the clash between the Batman family and the Owls as the previous volume introduced the Court and ended with them sending their super ninja Talons out to kill the leaders of Gotham. Unfortunately, The City of Owls only collected Batman issues #8-12 and Batman Annual #1, leaving out the fight to save Gotham.
There were a lot of tie-ins that resolved key points of the conflict, which leaves this trade feeling empty on its own. This is most evident in the sudden shifts between Batman promising revenge against the villains, to a one-shot establishing Mister Freeze's origin in the New 52, then back to Batman with a new mission regarding the Owls which is established completely outside of the book. While each story is entertaining, the jarring between plots and voids created by tie-ins spoil the fun.
The revelations in The City of Owls will certainly have lasting effects. The DC title Talon is already indicative of this story's impact. The surprising (and questionable) identity of the master villain also plants the seeds for future story arcs.
The two backup stories, one about Alfred Pennyworth's father and one about a young female meddler in Batman's affairs named Harper Row, add to the story in opposite directions. The Pennyworth tale feeds the Bat-verse history buffs with some thought provoking additions to the mythos. Conversely, the Harper Row story is obviously leading us to future events. With Damian out of the picture, Harper is actually one of the prime candidates to fill the Robin vacancy.
Greg Capullo's art is great for this story. His combat scenes between Bruce Wayne and the Court of Owls' minions in Wayne Manor are dynamic and fluid. And, my favorite bit of art from both Volume 1 and 2 of this title, is the way that Capullo draws eyes. Capullo does crazy eyes better than I have ever seen before.
Batman Volume 2 has some great bits, but it lacks the whole story. If you want to enjoy it, you'll need Batman Volume 1 as well as Batman: Night of the Owls, which collects the tie-in issues that resolve a lot of the main conflict.