(NIGHT OF THE OWLS) BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #9

STORY: Judd Winick
ART: David Finch and Richard Friend

While this is the correct Talon, Red Robin does not fight him….?

As you probably know either from experience or simply just from prior knowledge of DC’s business practices, Batman has a big presence in the ‘New 52.’ Not only is he DC’s most popular hero, but it’s possible the sales numbers for Bat-related books keep others afloat (I’m looking at you, Demon Knights.) But with a big presence comes a larger potential for shitty, unnecessary titles that add bloat instead of important – or even interesting – plot or character development. Batman: The Dark Knight falls right in the middle; it’s not a terrible book, but it’s also not the best Batman-related title that DC offers. That being said, Batman: The Dark Knight #9 happens to be my favorite crossover issue for “Night of the Owls”. It’s an issue that focuses mostly on a Talon named Carver who’s career lasted too long. Technically, he was the final talon before Dick Grayson’s generation, giving him a closer connection to the events of Batman’s life.

Inner monologue is a tricky thing to successfully convey. If – at any moment – the reader feels like the character’s thoughts are corny, cheesy, or downright ridiculous, it’s a lot harder to relate to that particular title. No one thinks in sentences about their grand plans and how their unique abilities will help them complete said plans (i.e. – I never think to myself, “I’m going to use my skill in writing to keep up with my blog now!” and then proceed to write.) We call this the ‘Scott Lobdell Principle’ here at “The Endless Reel.” The trick is to integrate the reader so smoothly into the thoughts of the desired character, that the reader becomes connected (no matter how temporarily) to said character. Judd Winick is one of those writers who gets it – he makes inner monologue feel less forced.

Batman: The Dark Knight #9 follows Talon Carver’s life from childhood to undead resurrection. It’s been interesting to see how DC’s conveyed these Talons as enemies. At first, it seemed like they were somewhat mindless drones that obeyed the Court of Owls without question. As we near the end of “Night of the Owls”, it’s becoming more and more clear that these Talons have control over their own thoughts, and some choose to be completely loyal, while others explore the undead life they’ve been given. In this case, Carver obeys the Court, but mostly for his own sense of redemption. Carver’s career as a Talon ended in disgrace after he botched an assassination, was seen by the Batman, and then fled.

Carver was the Talon sent after Lincoln March that we met a few weeks ago in Batman #9. B:TDK reinterprets the scene to include Talon Carver’s perspective on the events. In the end, Carver is still old, slow, and weak. The difference is that this time, he accepts his fate; he feels deserving of the cruel end he’s been dealt because he’s no longer good enough for anything else.

“Night of the Owls” has been at it’s best when it gives the Talons compelling characterization. Batman: The Dark Knight #9 does the best job – so far – of making an emotional connection between the reader and Talon Carver. And he escapes at the end! Does this mean we haven’t seen the last of Carver? Will he return as a Talon or as a new villain? Next month promises the return of Scarecrow, but part of me just wants to change this series’ title to Carver and follow this Talon on his quest to understand where he fits into the world.

GRADE:
A

PS – The cover is a total mislead – Red Robin shows up for exactly one panel, and it’s only to listen to orders from Batman. A total letdown. This grade would have been an ‘A+’ if not for that tease.
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