Of all the titles I tried thanks to DC Comics New 52 initiative, the one that I have enjoyed the most is the relaunch of Batman. For some reason the team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo has just clicked with me, and has provided some of the best Batman comics I have read in quite a while. While I had heard that Snyder’s work on Detective Comics before this was also good, when he was writing that title I was never inclined to read it. Now that his entire run has been collected in one beautiful hardcover, the result is Batman: The Black Mirror has promptly found a home on my bookshelf.
Batman: The Black Mirror
Story by Scott Snyder
Art by Jock and Francesco Francavilla
Cover by Jock
Now, the first thing you have to realize is that this is not the Bruce Wayne Batman. This book takes place shortly after he comes back from the “dead” and has begun searching the globe for other Batmen to join Batman, Incorporated. The Black Mirror instead stars Dick Grayson as the Dark Knight of Gotham, although it might as well have had Jim Gordon in the title as well, since this is his story as much as it’s Dick’s.
The book features the return of Jim Gordon’s son to Gotham, as well as a ghost from Dick’s past that has come back to haunt him as well. This is much more of a psychological, tense thriller than the type of stories Snyder has been doing on the New 52 Batman title. Where Batman has always played up the super hero aspect of the character, Detective Comics has always been more cerebral, and that is on display of every page of The Black Mirror. Honestly, it wasn’t until I had finished the book that I realized how planned out and well plotted the book is. From the first chapter to the last, Snyder tells a complete story where you have to really pay attention to every detail. Everything you see on a page has meaning and the brilliant thing is that you don’t even realize it until the last page.
The art chores on the book were split between Jock, who I’m familiar with from his work of Vertigo’s The Losers, and Francavilla, who I had never heard of before now. While the styles of the two artists are pretty different, the portions of the book they each work on suit their strengths. Jock handles the more superhero Batman sequences very well, and gives them a dynamic sense of life. Francavilla, on the other hand, handles the more personal Jim Gordon sections, and does an amazing job. There are a couple double page spreads in here that will blow your mind how they are laid out. This is just incredible work.
Reading The Black Mirror is a bit bittersweet. These were the last Detective Comics issues before the reboot, and I would have loved to see what Snyder and company could have done if they had stayed on the book. While his Batman is everything I ever wanted in a Batman comic, these Detective issues take the character of Dick Grayson to a whole other level as the Batman. Plus I don’t think anyone has ever gotten into the head of Jim Gordon like this before. The last time I read a story featuring the character and had a reaction to his presence this strong was Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Not bad company to be in, if you ask me.
The Black Mirror is an outstanding book that should be in any Batman fans collection. Unfortunately, these types of books don’t get the Absolute treatment, which is a real shame. So don’t wait for a softcover release and get this stunning hardcover edition while you can. It’s a great book that you will come back to again and again.