"Batman" #11 wraps up a story that has run the course of nearly a year's worth of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Batman." Batman has been snatched by the Court of Owls and seen Gotham City slip from his grip, wondering if the very foundation of his city was crumbling beneath him. As he discovers places and people, Batman is left in this issue confronting his alleged brother Thomas Wayne, Jr., previously known as Gotham mayoral candidate Lincoln March.
Lincoln March is the "beak of the owls," plunging into Batman's chest. Outfitted with a stunningly hi-tech battlesuit, Thomas is every bit the match to fight Batman. Under Snyder, Batman has been pressed to the limit of his physical ability and mental prowess by the Court and March keeps pushing, trying so hard to get Batman to finally break. Snyder has added some depth to the Rogues of Gotham, both in the Court and in March and reveals the effect both have taken on the Dark Knight as Batman almost throws in the towel. Like all good Batman stories, however, the indomitable will of the Caped Crusader boosts his chances for survival.
Snyder tacks on an epilogue and, with co-writer James Tynion IV, fills in some of the backstory surrounding the mystery of Thomas Wayne, Jr. Naturally, it isn't completely solved, but there are enough clues for the readers to choose the proper course of rampant speculation until more evidence surfaces.
However, the visual evidence of Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion's shadowy city is undeniable. FCO Plascencia recognizes this and keeps the color range steeped in grays and browns with the occasional orange thrown in for good measure and excitement. Capullo has quite the range of subject matter to address in this comic, from Bruce Wayne in a wheelchair to a tower crumbling in the heart of Gotham. Still, he manages to provide some innovation and excitement, dropping in a maze for background of one page while solidifying the Gotham skyline later in the comic. Capullo's animated figures bounce through these pages and truly seem capable of the tremendous physical feats they accomplish.
The backup tale by Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig is filled with slightly more vibrant colors and a healthy quantity of reality-grounded characters driven by fear and sadness. The art here is every bit as beautiful as the lead story, but illustrates perfectly the broad spectrum of style and color range in the world of Batman.
I've enjoyed the heck out of this Batman story for the past year. With the excitement around the character building due to "The Dark Knight Rises" as well as the impending Joker story coming soon in the pages of "Batman," it's easy to lose sight of stories that don't involve recognizable foes, but that's part of what makes this story all the more enjoyable. The Court of Owls and the Talons are not linked to Bane, Catwoman or the Joker. They're freestanding new additions to the city of Gotham, brought to you by the imagination of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and the entire creative team. After this issue, Bruce Wayne, Batman and Gotham will never be the same. In my opinion, they're all better for it.