Before Gregg Hurwitz takes over as writer on "Batman: The Dark Knight" next month, Judd Winick steps in this month to write the title's "Night of the Owls" tie-in -- and nine issues in (fourteen if you count the five pre-"Flashpoint" issues), it is by far the strongest issue of the series to date.
Winick has wisely identified that we've already seen a lot of Batman's actions against the Court in "Batman" and "Detective Comics," so in "Batman: The Dark Knight" we instead get a spotlight on the Talon that attacked Lincoln March in the pages of "Batman" #9. It's a glimpse into the life of a Talon, changing them from less of a (mostly) mindless killing machine and into someone whose position as the assassin for the Owls can be snatched away at any moment.
If anything, it makes the plight of the brainwashed Talons that much more sad; they're still aware and thinking, rather than lobotomized. Between this and "Catwoman" #9, Winick's taken advantage of "Night of the Owls" to get inside the Talons' heads, and it helps those issues stand out from the more generic tie-ins. The rest of the story is just all right; Lincoln March still isn't an interesting character, and the book-ends set in the present day aren't terribly gripping. But it's not bad by any stretch.
David Finch is only drawing, rather than co-plotting this issue. Perhaps it's not having to concentrate on that extra duty, but this looks nicer than previous issues of "Batman: The Dark Knight" that I've read. There's still the odd moment of anatomy and a certain sameness on character faces. I found myself liking some of the little moments of the comic, though. The panel of Batman lunging at the Talon on page 9, for example, looks great; the arms and eyes are coming out of the shadow of the cape, making him look unearthly and dangerous. It helps make the Talon's later revelation that Batman is an actual person that much stronger, and sells the script.
"Batman: The Dark Knight" #9 makes me wish that Winick was sticking around on the title for more than this one issue; the difference between this comic and the previous issues is rather noticeable. Hopefully Gregg Hurwitz can continue to strengthen the title, but for now, "Night of the Owls" fans can rest assured that they can buy this issue knowing that they'll get a good comic out of the deal.