Batman #4 kicks off where issue #3 left off Batman caught in the explosion of the Court of Owls most recent hideout set off by their assassin Talon. While he is escaping Batman runs through an internal monologue first talking about the real danger of trip wires not being in the initial blast but the aftermath, this takes place while he is avoiding falling debris. As he escapes his monologue continues talking about the nursery rhyme about the Court of Owls and recapping the events of last issue when he discovered that various bases the Court has set up all over Gotham's thirteenth floors in building built by the Wayne's dating back to the nineteenth century. As he escapes the building using a grapple gun to safely get away he states he knows what the message the Court was trying to send him, but he does not scare easy.
We cut to Dick Grayson who is walking through the batcave while an earlier conversation with Alfred and Dick plays out where Dick can't believe Bruce is actually resting. Alfred notes the amount of punishment Bruce has taken recently and that his painkiller dose is quite high, which Dick expresses concern at. As Dick continues through the batcave he calls to Bruce to find him working. Bruce is examining the remains of his great great grandfather Alan Wayne. Dick asks if he can help which Bruce refuses. Dick mentions he met with Commissioner Gordon who stated he thinks the dates of the Court of Owls bases are legit yet Gordon believes Bruce is very skeptical about the dating. Bruce confirms this saying Dick knows carbon dating can be altered. Dick expresses concern for Bruce saying he is pushing himself too hard and all of his allies are worried for his safety. Dick also believes Bruce is taking the case very personally, but Bruce expresses to Dick he is being objective and treating it like any other case.
With that Dick attempts to leave until Bruce informs him he believes there is no Court of Owls as he looked into it after his parents died. He tells Dick a story of after his parents were killed he believed it was not some random act of murder by a Joe Chill over money and pearls. As he looked into it he saw more and more signs pointing the involvement of the Court of Owls including an owls nest in their attic, a sign Bruce believed was left for his parents but was ignored. His research eventually led him to suspect Gotham City's most powerful families. He began looking into friends and business partners of his parents as possible members of the Court of Owls eventually locating a building an abandoned social club house with a double owl on the crest which was known as Harbor House. While looking over the building layout he found a room in the upper tower with no windows with an owl crest outside of it which Bruce believes to be the Court of Owls meeting place. Bruce went to the building and found nothing at all, but was locked in the meeting room for over a week. When Alfred found Bruce he was comatose and spent weeks in hospital recovering. He states he learned a lesson which built the foundation of his whole detective skills in never letting his emotions guide him on a case. Dick points out Bruce was just a kid and Bruce reveals he looked into later on, more than he should have. Dick points out to Bruce while he knows Gotham better than anyone, the city is four hundred years old and maybe it belonged to something else, bigger and darker than they know.
We cut to Gordon on the GCPD roof with the bat-signal on waiting for Batman. Batman is watching Gordon from another building before leaving to follow up a lead. Batman is in the part of the sewer that Alan Wayne was found dead in. Through his internal monologue he notes he believes Alan Wayne was stabbed to death by throwing knives almost 50 times. He also notes his investigation of the bones turned up a strange residue. Batman finds something on the wall before Talon jumps him from behind pulling him down to a dark hole where a spotlight hits Batman with a view screen appearing with 3 men wearing owl masks welcoming Batman to the Labyrinth!
Once again Scott Snyder delivers! This was another A+ issue from Snyder that gave us a bit of a back story into Bruce's near obsession with the Court of Owls, and the belief that they could've been behind the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne was an interesting one. I've heard this could really shed some light on the prominent families of Gotham such as the Waynes, the Kanes, the Graysons and the Cobblepots. I can see how Snyder's current Batman run can run into the Gates of Gotham that finished up just before the New 52 launch. I love the history of Gotham and the families of Gotham and I'm interested to see where the story goes next. The art by Greg Capullo is outstanding again. I really enjoyed the art that was featured on the pages showing Bruce's childhood investigation into the Court of Owls. Speaking of that, I enjoyed that section so much. I loved how Snyder tied that experience into how Bruce handles himself as a detective ever since which was really well done. This is easily not only the best bat title out there right now, but quite frankly the best title coming out of DC period. Nothing but 100% praise for this title.
Reviewed by David Cook