House of Pain!
Art: Can't really say much more about Greg Capullo's art that hasn't been already said. You really get the impression that he is putting his heart and soul into this title. He has a great blend and variety for his panel layouts. The pencils are very detailed but without ever being too muddled. The fight scenes are exhilarating and flow effortlessly. The second page in particular which shows a reflective Bruce Wayne, towering over his model of Gotham City in the mute darkness just oozes with class, emotion and symbolism. I feel it's going to become an iconic Batman look.
But then we get to the so called "back up". I thought coming into this issue that the back up was going to be a completely different tale of the Court of Owls, more about it's history and whatnot but it is just a direct continuation of the story. So then why do I ask is Rafael Albuquerque doing art for it? It is by no means bad art, in fact it is very similar to the American Vampire art I love. I just feel that if this is still the present day Night of the Owls arc then it should have been done by Capullo and Albuquerque used for the actual back up story that is going to be introduced. The great thing about this series has been the high quality consistency of the writer and artist.
Plot: The court has been unleashed and a team of Talons has been sent to lay siege on Wayne manor. Snyder does an excellent job of slowly building the tension and suspense as the Owls lurk their way inside the mansion. Bruce is still very much fragile and you get the sense also, a little scared. He and Alfred are outnumbered and very much on the back foot in this issue but as always the Batcave springs a few surprises.
Verdict: This is a fantastic start to the Night of Owls crossover. With Bruce in his simple dressing gown, recovering and still dumbfounded as to how this secret society has been oblivious to him throughout the years, the Talons strike with all their force and it does a brilliant job of showing how helpless and overwhelmed he is with this threat. They have attacked in the privacy of his home, the home which is supposed to be the fortress for Batman. I eagerly wait to see his great escape out of this one.
As I said in the art section I think the artist change was really unnecessary and broke up the flow of the book. It seems like quite a big complaint but so fond have I been of this book that I really want it to be one piece of solid work so when people buy it in trade it flows with Capullo's work. I'm all for Albuquerque doing art on the book as long as it's a real back up.