Batman Night of the Owls reading order

Although I love a good comics event once in a while, I’ve found that it’s not always easy to dive into them simply by reading the first issue and then keeping up with all tie-ins by sticking to their order of publishing. First of all because many times multiple tie-in issues are published on the same day so you would have to figure out at least their reading order, and second, because the storylines within the different tie-ins aren’t always published in chronological order, or in any kind of logical order.

I guess this is why there is no “final definitive list” for most events, at least, not officially. So what I tend to do is pick one suggested reading order, for instance the publishing order list, start reading accordingly, and then note down every list placing that seems off in order to try and find a more fitting placing.

I have only one condition that I place on myself: I’m not willing to spend hours or days on the compiling of said lists, as I’m sure other, more dedicated comics readers than I, have done. And I salute them. But I just want to get on with my reading, with a general “Hop to it!” attitude. Therefore, internal clues or references to other issues within the tie-ins themselves as well as the logical order of content are the two main criteria that I tend to apply most.

So, here’s the results of such a reading list that I compiled in the above manner. The event is DC Comics Batman: Night of the Owls. It was published in 2012 – it’s been only a little while and I think it could be still very useful. Especially if you’ve just started reading the New 52 Batman.

Enjoy!

The build-up:

  • Batman series from #1
  • Nightwing series from #1

Prologue:

  • Catwoman #8 (has nothing to do with the event yet, except it ends with Owls preparing for their Night)
  • Batman #7

The Night of the Owls:

  • Batman #8
  • DC One shot “Night of the Owls”
  • Batwing #9 (can be read on its own, but I put it relatively early on the list because chronologically Batwing has one of the first actual confrontations with Owls)
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #8
  • Nightwing #8
  • Nightwing #9
  • Batman and Robin #9
  • Batgirl #9
  • Batman #9
  • Detective Comics #9
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #9
  • Birds of Prey #9
  • The Dark Knight #9
  • Batman Annual #1
  • Catwoman #9 (I put this one last because it is placed last in event time)

Epilogue:

  • Batman #10
  • Batman #11 (Finale)

Most of the above issues are collected in a cool trade paperback.

Night of the Owls TPB

Officially All Star Western #9 is counted as a tie-in as well, and it has the event banner, but my advice to other readers is to skip this one entirely, unless of course you’re already reading this entire series. As a stand alone Night of the Owls tie-in it does not make any sense at all, except it sports some Talons – apparently to demonstrate that the Owls and their Talons have been living secretly in Gotham City for hundreds of years. Well, whatever, good for them. As if we hadn’t read about this same piece of Gotham history already in the Batman en Nightwing titles!
So content-wise All Star Western #9 doesn’t add anything of importance at all, and to make matters worse, it caused bewilderment (“Wait, why am I supposed to be reading this?!”), soon followed by the annoyment caused by the anti-climactic nature of this issue in relation to the thrilling story of the rest of the event issues.
Therefore, unless you’re an All Star Western reader: please, do yourself a favour and skip this issue!

Overall I thought Night of the Owls was an exciting story, with just enough suggested reality that you could believe such things might, perhaps, exist in our real world – that is, if you’re enough of a conspiracy theorist to not dismiss the concept of secret societies. Anyway, the plot grabbed me from start to finish and I like how writer Scott Snyder took his time and built his (rebooted) Batman story towards this crossover event during the first seven issues.

Night of the Owls booklet. Cover art by David Finch, Richard Friend and Jerome Cox

PS: The above cover art of the separate booklet Night of the Owls is the same as The Dark Knight’s #9. I haven’t been able to find any reason at all for Red Robin (Tim Drake) starring prominently on these covers. He seems to be in some important hand-to-hand combat with a Talon, whereas in reality he hardly shows up in the entire event at all! Let alone fighting and winning important battles.

And I have proof! There are only two issues he’s in (sort of):

1. As a word balloon (left), during a conversation with Jason Todd (right) in Red Hood & the Outlaws #8

Ok, after that there’s a couple of more pages with Tim in it, but I don’t count those as “Night of the Owls attendance” because they concern a memory flashback by Jason, thinking about a meeting with Tim two months before the Night of the Owls.

2. Tim appears as sort of an extra behind leading actor Batman in The Dark Knight #9, without any action or even suggested action: the Talon has escaped and none of the Robins can find him. So he’s just… hanging there, shall we say.

So, with only one word balloon and one rather silly panel without words, it’s difficult to suggest that Tim Drake a.k.a. Red Robin plays an important part in the Night of the Owls, Q.E.D. – hardly worth a cool combat scene on not one but two covers, I should think.

Anyway, enjoy your own Night of the Owls! And when you’re done: do you agree with my reading order? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section!

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