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Comic Book Review: "Batman #8: The Call"
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Batman issue 8, “The Call”, is the first of two issues (along with Nightwing #8) that is the Prelude to The Night of the Owls, the first major crossover in the DC Comics New 52 reboot. This issue gives us the first phase of the Court of Owls plan to kill all the important people of the city of Gotham: every person of importance and influence, from the police to politicians to even civil servants. Here, we see Bruce Wayne believing that he is at a low point in his career as Batman. He’s questioning himself and his understanding of the city he protects, and yet by the end of the issue he’s returned to the steely resolve (both figuratively and literally) of the Dark Knight.
“The Call” begins with Bruce Wayne standing in a darkened study at Wayne Manor, staring at a model of Gotham, pondering his knowledge of the city. He’s still weak and bruised from his encounter with the first Talon, William Cobb, one of the Courts many assassins. Also, he is still mentally recovering from his ordeal with The Court as Batman when he was trapped and drugged by them in their underground lair underneath Gotham City—he’s questioning his effectiveness.
Alfred tries the get him to relax and recuperate properly instead of staring at the model of the city; feeling sorry for himself. Suddenly the manor’s alarm system is raised—someone is breaking into the house. Bruce tells Alfred to go the Batcave; he’ll deal with the intruders. (In the previous issue, The Court of Owls had set a whole army of Talons onto the city and they are coming for Bruce Wayne—they don’t realize he’s Batman.
Alfred uses the hidden switch in grandfather clock to open the secret passage to the cave. One of the Talons appears out of the darkness and follows Alfred into the cave. Elsewhere in the house, Bruce is attacked by another Talon, who tells him that the Court how sentenced Bruce Wayne to die. He manages to defeats the one, but three more show up.
Alfred is frantic about the vast number of Talons converging on the house. They are everywhere. Alfred hides from the one who followed him into the cave. Bruce exits to the roof of the house and, using a weather vane, pins one if the Talons to the roof as more Talons surround him. He pushes a button on the chimney that opens a hidden shoot. He jumps down and escapes from them.
He reaches the cave and sees the Talon standing next to the giant penny (an old trophy of Batman’s). The Talon tells him that he surprised to find that Bruce has so many secrets (being batman and having a Batcave). The penny suddenly teeters and falls on top of the intruder. Alfred had pushed it over, and Bruce begins to interrogate the Talon. He wants to know how many more of them are on their way. The Talon says Bruce will find out soon enough.
Bruce rips off the Talon’s gauntlet. He and Alfred run into a large vault with huge steel doors to hide as more Talons arrive in the cave. One of them frees the hibernating William Cobb (see issue 7). Barricaded in the vault, Bruce tells Alfred to lower the temperature in the cave. It will freeze the Talons, causing them to hibernate. He gives Alfred the microchip the he found inside the Talon’s gauntlet. He’s going to deal with the Talons, as Alfred finds out what is on the microchip.
Alfred points out that lowering the temperature in the cave will also be dangerous to Batman; Bruce says he’ll find something to keep warm.
The Talons try to break into the vault, but it opens suddenly and Batman comes out in a huge armored Batsuit. Alfred informs Batman that he’s decrypted the microchip and found a huge list of everyone of influence in the city. The Court of Owls has ordered the death of all of them.
Batman tells him to call all the other members of the bat-family to help fight the Court’s Talons and protect the targets. Alfred calls Red Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, The Birds of Prey and Red Hood, asking them to assist Batman in defending the city, as Batman starts battling the Talons in the cave.
The Court of Owls and its Talons are one of the more interesting adversaries Batman has faced. In the first story arc of the New 52 Batman series, “The Court of Owls”, Batman only had to face one Talon, and he was almost killed by him. Now, he has to face a legion of them and, although he has an Iron Man-like Batsuit, he still is injured. It will be quite a ride for him and the readers to see how it will work out. This turn of events will push him to his limits. It will be interesting to see how the Night of Owls storyline plays out in this series and in the rest of the bat-titles that it crosses over into.