Now ‘Court of Owls’ storyline has wound down with ‘Batman’ #11, we’re treated to a sort of mini-epilogue that ties into some of the events of that tale while introducing new elements.
The story picks up with Batman nowhere in sight. Instead, we’re introduced to Harper and Cullen. The pair are a brother and sister who live together in The Narrows, one of the worst neighborhoods in Gotham City. Harper is a worker on Gotham’s electrical grid that runs beneath the city, has facial piercings, wears flannel, and is generally not high class by any stretch of the imagination. But, because her building and neighborhood is about to be revitalized by Wayne Industries, she’s been invited to attend a gala to celebrate the event. As the story opens, Harper is being coached by Cullen on how to look like a real lady. Harper fights his advice every step of the way, but eventually gives in and heads out in a dress (instead of the “blouse from the Goodwill”).
At the Wayne mansion, Harper only sticks around long enough to shove some free deserts into her purse and have a brief, but charming, run in with Alfred Pennyworth. When she arrives back home, she finds the place trashed and Cullen in a bloody fetal position in the middle of the floor. It seems some homophobic bullies came in and roughed Cullen up and shaved the word “fag” into the back of his hair. Harper picks her little brother up off of the floor and helps him to face the humiliation of going to school the next day.
After Harper’s off work and Cullen is out of school, they are walking home when they encounter the same thugs that busted Cullen up the day before. When Harper tries to fight back, Batman arrives on the scene and saves the pair. Harper just looks up and grins. She has a new hero.
From there, Harper begins watching every video that she can on Batman, eventually discovering one of the Caped Crusader’s tricks for disappearing from cameras around the city. Harper gets it in her mind that she’s going to find a way to repay Batman for his rescue by helping beef up his camera blackout setup. From there, things go awry and Harper ends up getting a brief face-to-face with the Batman. In the end, it looks like Gotham may have a new, if unsung, hero on the rise.
After the epic event that was ‘The Court of Owls’, it’s wonderful to see a character driven one-off story. My favorite comics aren’t usually the ones that have over-the-top action (although that definitely has its place) but these types of tales where we’re just given a good solid story and some likable characters.
Next issue is another one-shot with the special #0 issue that details Bruce Wayne’s first years in Gotham City. I can only hope that it lives up to the writing on this issue. And, even more so, I hope that we see more of Harper and Cullen in the future.
Written by Scott Snyder and James T Tynion IV
Art by Becky Cloonan, Andy Clarke, & Sandu Florea
Cover by Greg Capullo