Last issue of ‘Batman’ ended on the shocking note that may have implicated Dick Grayson (Nightwing) in a murder and an assassin threatening to kill Bruce Wayne within 24 hours. This issue begins with a bang as Bruce Wayne is in the middle of being attacked by the mysterious assassin before cutting back 24 hours to show how it got to that point. Not believing that Nightwing is the killer, Batman is investigating the murder. The man who was killed has no ID, no name, and no fingerprints or DNA on record. As far as records are concerned, he doesn’t exist. As Batman digs further, he begins to hear rumors of a clandestine group in Gotham called the “Court of Owls”. Batman doesn’t believe that this group can exist in his city without his knowledge, so he begins to research other possibilities. Later, while Bruce is in a meeting with mayoral candidate Lincoln March to discuss the rejuvination of Gotham City, the assassin attacks!

When I read last issue, I made the assertion that Scott Snyder was one of my two favorite writers of DC Comics’ New 52 and this issue cements that status even further. Snyder has given us a Batman that harkens back to the thrilling days of stories like Frank Miller’s seminal ‘Batman: Year One’. There’s mystery, action, and plot twists galore. Snyder’s Gotham City is a living breathing entitity. It’s a dark place haunted by monsters, villains, and of course… the Bat. And maybe I’m reading too much into it, but since the New 52 folded DC into a singular universe, I’m wondering if this “Court of Owls” has anything to do with the Owlman of the old DCU’s Crime Syndicate.

The art from Greg Capullo continues to impress. His work appears to me like a cross between Jim Lee’s hyper-realism and Frank Miller’s darker more realistic Batman. There is one scene in particular with Batman smashing through a glass window that, like Snyder’s story itself, invoked again Miller’s ‘Year One’ vibe.

After a so-so second issue from ‘Detective Comics’ , this book has become my must-buy Bat-book every month.

Verdict: Buy!