Batman: The Black Mirror
Writer: Scott Snyder
Colorists: David Baron and Francesco Francavilla
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Let me take you back a bit. Back before the New 52 comic books in the DC Universe. Letís go back to a time just after the events of the Final Crisis, when the original Batman, Bruce Wayne was believed dead. Well, we all know he wasnít dead, but an interesting turn of events took place during that period of time just after his re-appearance. Batmanís mantle was undertaken by former Robin and Nightwing, Dick Grayson. As Batman, Dick Grayson took on Bruceís son Damian as his Robin. Tim Drake assumed the role of Red Robin.
When Bruce returned, he decided to go global, leaving Dick to protect Gotham on his own. One particularly disturbing story arc featuring Dick Grayson as Batman (Detective Comics 871-881) has been compiled into a trade paperback called Batman: The Black Mirror.
In The Black Mirror, Dick is reluctant to settle in to Gotham. Heís not really sure he wants to stay, despite the fact that Bruce has told him the mansion is all his and Alfredís admonitions about adding some personal touches to make the house his home. Adding to his worries is a rash of crime hitting the city involving a mind and body altering drugs that have been used in past criminal activities. Someone has been raiding the Gotham Policeís evidence vault,
Even more disturbing is the return of Commissioner Gordonís son James. For years, Jim and his daughter Barbara have believed that James was responsible for a number of deaths. However, his guilt could never be proven. Despite Jamesí insistence that a new clinical trial drug has all but cured his psychopathic ways, Barbara has trouble believing it. Jim wants to believe, but Jamesí return to Gotham comes just as a number of interesting murders involving toxins and drugs take place.
Could it be that James has been wrongfully accused after all these years? If so, who is behind all of the rather disturbing epidemic of murders in Gotham of late? And just when you thought things were complicated enoughÖthe Joker somehow finds his way out of prison and he is definitely not the man we are used toÖnot at all!
When I first started reading this series, it seemed as if the events in each of the segments were unrelated. I had trouble understanding what the reasoning was behind the compilation. But then, I got to the last couple of comics in the series and they helped tie everything together. This is an extremely dark and disturbing storyline not exactly for the faint of heart. Most of the Batman series of late has been rather dark, but this is Christopher Nolan Batman-worthy.
The artwork is extremely well done and I loved the red backgrounds that seemed to appear every time a shocking event was about to take place in the series, like Dick Graysonís cover being blown in the midst of a murderous horde or the moment that James makes his return to town known to his family. The striking background adds a dramatic flare to the scene.
I loved seeing Barbara back in her role as Oracle, a computer whiz who can still hold her own against any attacker despite being wheelchair-bound. And I love her interaction with Dick Grayson. Always enjoy it when those two get together. Commissioner Gordon features prominently in this story arc and I found it interesting to learn about his estranged son. I didnít know much about the background of James Gordon and I found it a nice twist that Gothamís hardest working law enforcement officer would have a psychopathic son. The stress and guilt Jim feels about his son is palpable and expressed extremely well by both the writer and the artists. You can definitely feel his pain.
Batman: The Black Mirror is a little slow going in, but the action gains momentum after a few pages and never slows down until the shocking ending. The artwork is great, the storyline dark and edgy and the ending dramatic and well-deserving of a Batman story arc. The Black Mirror is a great read for any Batman fan.