I’ve read comic books as long as I’ve been able to read, but I’d never be allowed to call myself a “comic book geek”, because the Anglo-American super hero thing remains terra incognita for me, at least for large parts. Whenever I think of changing this, the few decades worth of “canon” seems daunting. Where to even start getting to know these characters and their stories?
But last week in the library I decided to just do it: pick a Batman book and read it, previous canon and my familiarity with it be damned. I supposed it would be like jumping into watch a long-running soap. At first you’re like WTF am I watching right now, but then you start realizing who’s whose evil twin, who slept with their step-son and so on. And it all starts to make some kind of sense. Right?
Wrong. After finishing The Court of Owls I very much had that WTF did I just read feeling. It’s not that I hated it, but I did not get it. The reading experience wasn’t unpleasant, but what was the point? The mystery seemed perfunctory, and I don’t think much of Batman’s detective skills based on this. Then you get some violence and then it’s over. Maybe I would have reacted differently if I had some kind of emotional connection to Bruce Wayne and his super angsty angst. Probably, even. But I don’t.
In any case, the art is atmospheric, and cool in that dark Gothic way. But I hate the way Batman’s body is drawn. I get that the ridiculously muscular build is a genre convention, and you can as much do away with it as you can have a soap opera without an evil temptress. I don’t care. I still hate it, because it looks stupid.
I nevertheless plan on reading the next part, City of Owls, to see if it’ll give me a better understanding of Batman.