A review of the Night of the Owls tie ins as a whole.
I honestly don't understand why publishers feel the need to plan crossovers between all their books so frequently. While crossovers do offer the prospect of temporarily increased sales and exposure to smaller titles, they often interrupt the flow of an ongoing story, force writers to come up ludicrous and ridiculous scenarios with which to tie their book into the main plot and are rarely necessary to advance the plot of the main title.
Take, for instance, DC's Night of the Owls, a Batman crossover which has been featured in almost every Batbook this month. For those unfamiliar with the event, Batman has been battling a secret society called the Court of Owls over the metaphorical heart of Gotham. The Court initially sent out a Talon, a dangerous, steampunk assassin, to break/assassinate the Caped Crusader. The Talon nearly succeeded several times before finally being dispatched by a weary and ragged Batman. Soon after, the Court revealed that the Talon was just one of a large number of undead assassins gathered throughout decades to serve as the Court's foot soldiers. They unleash multiple Talons throughout Gotham to kill as many of the city's prominent citizens and power brokers as they can, forcing Batman to counter with his own army of allies.
The main event, written by Scott Snyder, is the culmination of an eight month arc that has garnered high marks from just about every reviewer and website imaginable. However, the tie-in books, all of which are written by writers not named Scott Snyder, range from enjoyably light to mundane and forgettable and really cheapen the effect of Snyder's main arc. For instance, while Batman struggled to defeat just one Talon early on, his allies have been able to dispatch the Talons with relative ease. Watching the Red Hood or Batwing take down a Talon in twenty-two pages (admittedly using information provided by Batman) cheapens the threat of the Talons and turns them from credible threats to standard footsoldiers.
Almost every tie in follows a near identical plot: the characters hear Alfred's call to arms, fight a Talon, discover some odd connection to the Talon (either by blood, backstory or gender) and ultimately defeat them using electricity, ice, or dismemberment. Often, we get a glimpse of the Talon's origins, which are also nearly identical and add nothing but a couple pages of fluff to the issue. Usually, the characters mention (for the purpose of filling in new readers) what connection they have to Batman and all of them get to showcase that they have sharp Batarangs in their arsenal. When reading the books one right after another, you can't help but feel that the Batwriters were given a standard plot to follow and basically filled in the blanks when writing the issue.
That's not to say that all the tie-ins are awful. Batman and Robin was a great character study on Damien Wayne and highlighted what a little badass the ten year old Robin is. However, the rest of the books were mediocre and forgettable at best. Nightwing, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batgirl, Birds of Prey and Batwing are nearly identical and leave the reader why they wasted their time on the book. However, the worst offender is Justice League #8 which, while not formally a tie in, cheapens the event even further by showing the Justice League easily defeating a plane full of Talons. Why couldn't Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern or the Flash arrive at Gotham to help prevent a culling of the city's citizens?
All in all, the Night of the Owls tie ins were largely disastrous and only highlighted how weak the rest of the Batbooks are compared to Snyder's Batman series. The only plus side to the Night of the Owls tie ins is that they are completely superfluous to the main plot. Choosing to pass on all of them won't affect your enjoyment of Snyder's Batman series nor will they add any insight or enjoyment to the arc. If you're looking to read a unique and inventive issue this month, read Batman instead of these dialed in, half-assed tie ins.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer