Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2013
In “The Black Mirror,” a series of brutal murders have occurred in Gotham City, Batman’s home town.
The Black Mirror – written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Jock and Francisco Francavilla – was originally a story arc in Detective Comics 871-881. The artwork is very good, the writing is even better.
Like Scott Snyder’s story arc The Court Of Owls (which I’m reading now), Snyder’s Gotham City somehow corrupts its inhabitants. It’s an interesting perspective. It’s as-if the city literally has the power to corrupt in and of itself.
In this tale, Bruce Wayne has stepped down as Batman, and Dick Grayson, formerly Robin and Nightwing, is now the Batman. While he tries to fit into the new Batman lifestyle and living in Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, Grayson struggles to feel at home in either.
Psychological torment is an important and well-played theme in this book. Both Batman and James Gordon experience emotional challenges and heart-wrenching pain.
The graphic and unsolved murders push Batman’s and Gordon’s skills and heart to their limits. Helpless and in a deadly trap, Batman must fight for his life. And, Commissioner Gordon’s family is in crisis.
Snyder’s dark story prolongs the tension until the disturbing end, when readers finally learn the connections between the truly terrifying bad guy and the acts of gruesome violence. It’s not pretty, but it’s a well-written and tension-filled story.
If you prefer the Batman arcs with dark storytelling, I believe that you’ll really enjoy The Black Mirror. If you prefer your Batman stories feeling hopeful about the characters and their character, you might want to pass on this one.
Bonus: The Black Mirror collected works (in the trade paperback) include a second story called “Hungry City.” It’s surprising start includes the corpse of a killer whale which abruptly appears on the floor of one of Gotham City’s most prominent banks. The Black Mirror arc is the key to this book, but Hungry City holds up well. I enjoyed it too.