Out of all the new series, this was the one I wanted to read most. I came into the New 52 wanting to read Batman and you don't get more Batman than the series called Batman. Unfortunately it was not available when I went to Barnes and Noble. So instead I settled on some other series for the moment, but more on those later.
I eventually did get my hands on Batman and I was not disappointed. While it does suffer the problem of when-is-this-taking-place-relative-to-the-other-Batman-books? I found what I was reading good enough to ignore that particular nitpick. I was also able to ignore the idea that an entire secret society had managed to stay hidden from Batman.
The basic plot of the first seven issues is that Batman is confronted by an owl themed assassin who matches him for skill, and seems able to survive impossible odds. He digs deeper, finding hints that there is a hidden society of Gotham's Elite, the Owl Court, that have been controling the destiny of Gotham for hundreds of years. Batman refuses to believe that these people could exist without him knowing. The explanation that he used to believe in the Owl Court, but after finding no evidence convinced himself that they did not exist, skirts the border between believable and not.
Batman is finally confronted by the assassin, known as the Talon, and finds himself trapped in a labyrinth beneath Gotham. Here is where Scott Snyder (writer) and Greg Capullo (pencils) really show off their stuff. Issue six focuses entirely on Batman's sanity breaking down as he is exposed to the periodic attacks by Talon, and the mind freak the labyrinth plays on him.
Of particular poignance is the scene in issue six where all of Batman's supporting cast are given a panel to show how Bruce's disappearance is affecting them. Though once again this confuses when the book is supposed to take place. Does this happen before or after the fall out betwen Catwoman and Batman in issue six of Catwoman. And how long before or after? What are we meant to read from her expression? And does this take place after the current arc of Batman and Robin? That would make sense, considering Damian's scene is what made me give him enough of a chance to start Batman and Robin. He is shown to honestly care about his father, no matter what he may say or do. A very strong issue.
In issue seven Batman reveals that the circus Dick's parents worked for was a training program for Talon assassins, connecting the two books together. The issue ends with the Court unleashing an entire army of Talons on Gotham. Given how much trouble Batman had with one of them, I can't wait to see how this turns out.
Out of all the Batman books currently published, this is easily my favorite. While it lacks a lot of the great character interaction we get in the other books, the little bits we do get show that Snyder won't disappoint us once the other characters start taking part in this book's storyline regularly. And the Court of Owls storyline will be moving in to the other books soon. So the upcoming crossovers should be great.
Definitely a must read for any Batman fan. Snyder writes a Batman that is both human, and the symbol that he strives to be. Capullo's pencils create some amazingly eerie set pieces, especially during the labyrinth, when Bruce's perception starts to deviate from reality.