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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All families are psychotic,
This review is from: Batman - The Black Mirror (Hardcover)With Bruce Wayne busy setting up Batman Incorporated, Dick Grayson (the first Robin) dons the cowl and becomes Gotham's Dark Knight. But as Grayson has been finding out since he became the Batman, it's not easy being the Caped Crusader and "The Black Mirror" shows him going up against a macabre and monstrous auctioneer of Batman paraphernalia called "The Dealer", a cyborg carjacker called "Roadrunner", a blind-folded pirate called "Tyger Shark", the Joker (of course) and the double-dealing Sonia Branch aka Sonia Zucco, daughter of Tony Zucco who murdered Grayson's parents. But of all the colourful villains lining up to take down the Batman, none are more disturbing that James Gordon Jnr, who makes a murderous return to Gotham...
Having just read "American Vampire" I wasn't sure Scott Snyder had the writing chops to create a Batman series this good, but he proves in "The Black Mirror" that he is easily as talented as the more experienced Batman scribes out there and can create a menacing, taut storyline to boot. I particularly liked the nuances he gives Grayson's Batman: when meeting with Jim Gordon he doesn't suddenly disappear when Gordon turns to switch off the Bat signal, much to Gordon's surprise; Grayson's banter with fellow hero Red Robin, aka Tim Drake (the third Robin), is much more comradely and friendly as the two are really equals than teacher/student as is the way with Wayne/Grayson.
Snyder writes the James Gordon Jnr storyline brilliantly, where the suspense between whether or not he's telling the truth is kept up tightly until the right time, and the way the character is written is both chilling and captivating, like Kevin Spacey's performance as John Doe in "Se7en". His normality is what's so disarming, and the artwork by Francesco Francavilla who draws/paints this storyline adds to the creepiness. He draws James as this normal looking kid but the expression on his face is as scary as anyone you'd find in Arkham Asylum.
Jock's artwork is fantastic throughout. His covers are amazing, particularly the Joker one which was partially made up of bats, but really they were all excellent and I loved the way he draws Grayson swooping through the Gotham skyline as if he were still in a circus big top on the trapeze.
"The Black Mirror" is one of the best self-contained Batman storylines in ages. Like all the best Batman books it's focus is on crime and the evil ordinary people are capable of rather than the cartoonish villains and the overly dramatic superhero elements some other Batman books have (though there are moments of this here too). Refreshingly with Grayson as Batman, while the story is dark, Snyder focuses on hope and light making this Dark Knight book not quite so dark and bleak while maintaining its heart and soul. It's one of the best Batman books out there and is destined to become a classic - what're you waiting for? Sit back and enjoy a Gotham moment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than anticipated,
This review is from: Batman The Black Mirror HC (Batman (DC Comics Hardcover)) (Hardcover)I'd heard mixed reviews about it, so I was a bit unsure about buying it. However, upon receiving it, and subsequently reading it, I became incredibly glad I did.
With Dick Grayson stepping into the role of Batman, the humour in this book really shines. I love Bruce's Batman, don't get me wrong, but there's that extra element which made The Black Mirror enjoyable.
Also, the book was much thicker than I realised it was, compared to other story arcs I've collected, so well worth the money!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who let the birds out?,
It is an exciting read, with exceptionally good artwork, this time around with Dick Grayson as Batman following the establishment of the `Batman Incorporated' franchise. It reprints a number of interlinked stories, though the links are not obvious until the finale, from Detective Comics issues #871 to #881.
The stories presented are
The Black Mirror 1-3
Skeleton Cases 1-3
Hungry City 1-3
My Dark Architect
The Face in the Glass
The `Black Mirror' involves yet another international conspiracy of fabulously wealthy people who this time are buying criminal memorabilia - stolen from police storage - at auctions held in famous crime scenes, and organised by a dastardly foreigner. Dick Grayson infiltrates one of the auctions etc. etc. The story stats with someone having freed the birds from Gotham's aviary, which of course makes the reader think of the usual suspect, but he's nowhere to be seen in this volume.
The supporting cast are Commissioner and Barbara Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and, to a lesser extent, Alfred and Tim the Red Robin. As the volume progresses, the stories revolve more and more about the `family' of Dick Grayson ("call me Dick, please. You drove me to my high school prom" - Gordon: "I drove my daughter to her high school prom. You just happened to be in the car"), especially when in the second storyline, Jim Gordon Jr makes his reappearance in `Skeleton Cases, and `Lost Boys'. I am not familiar with his back-story; the only time I can ever remember seeing him before is as a baby in Batman: Year One back in the seventies. Here at least the Gordon family tree is explained, as the Commissioner appears to have been married twice, though I am still not clear whether Barbara is the daughter of the first wife - also called Barbara - or the second. Jim Jr is definitely the daughter of the first wife, apparently. What is made clear to us, is that he is, or was, a sociopath, but he's got better since taking his medication.
The third story, `Hungry City' starts with the murder of a killer whale, whose body is dumped in a Gotham Bank, run by Sonia Branch - the estranged daughter of Tony Zucco, the man who murdered Dick Grayson's parents. When doing the autopsy, the body of Sonia's PA is discovered inside, which leads us to a conspiracy of rich Gotham criminals who are trying to blackmail Ms Branch into laundering their money. A couple of Morrison-grade whack-jobs later and Dick has got to the bottom of the mystery - while also finding out first-hand how the body got in the killer whale. We end up with him having a meeting with Jim Jr, at the Commissioner's request, to give an unbiased opinion of his recovery. The meeting ends with Jim Jr going home to his latest victim hidden in the basement. Come on, we knew all along didn't we?
The final three stories are about Jim Jr's dastardly plot to take revenge on his family, while also contaminating the baby formula produced and distributed in Gotham with the reverse-engineered medication he's been taking, which causes rather than cures his instincts to murder... The Commissioner finally realises what his son is by the end of `Skeleton Key'; while in `My Dark Architect' Jim Jr.'s mother apparently falls victim to the Joker; and in `The Face in the Glass' Dick has a chat with the Joker about Jim Jr., who was a neighbour of his at Arkham once - they got along famously, it appears, in a seriously big back-story filling in sort of way, as we discover during Jim Jr.'s chat with sister Barbara, where he reveals everything, including his secret appearances back in the Black Mirror. Unfortunately for him, Dick then reveals his own secret activities... But it is left to Commissioner Gordon and his friends Mr Smith and Mr Wesson to have the last word with young Jim, in a scene foreshadowed in more than one previous story.
The volume ends where it began, with Dick and the Commissioner in the Wayne Foundation crime lab -
Gordon: "Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't thank you, Dick."
Dick: "Of course, it was the least we could do, given-"
Gordon: "No. I mean THANK you. On all fronts"
Dick: "You're welcome."
There was a multi-page and wordless sequence in a John Byrne Batman story, once upon a time, long ago and far away, which depicted the discovery of the body of the Batman; the Commissioner being called to the mortuary; him slowly removing the mask, and staring a while; and then standing on the roof with the Bat-signal activated.
If you are a Batman fan, then you'll want to read this. If you are just casually browsing, it is still an entertaining comic, and you don't need to know the back-story to enjoy it, as this is really all about the back story, so it is presented in great detail for us. In fact, for all I know, the writer could be inventing all the back story right here... I read a library copy of this, I have to admit, but I still buy the all the Archive Editions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Mirror - Dark as Batman Should Be,
This review is from: Batman The Black Mirror HC (Batman (DC Comics Hardcover)) (Hardcover)Black Mirror is what confirmed me as a Batman Graphic Novel collector - the art, the story; everything about this book is fantastic, and it won't be long before this is listed as a classic alongside The Killing Joke and Knightfall!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read,
This review is from: Batman - The Black Mirror (Hardcover)what can i say this comic has an excellent storyline and great art, a must buy for all batman fans.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Positively Haunting,
This review is from: Batman - The Black Mirror (Hardcover)Batman: The Black Mirror contains issues 871-881 of Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla's acclaimed run on Detective Comics last year. It's been hailed by IGN as the "definitive Batman comic of the 21st century" and I can't really argue with that. I'd been looking forward to reading this for a long time. I unfortunately got back into the world of comics at the wrong time, just as Snyder's run on Detective Comics was coming to it's end. In fact I remember standing in my local store the day the final issue was released, after I'd read an article by the folks at iFanboy urging people to pick up that final issue. I had a quick flick through the pages but decided against buying it, since I'd already missed the entire story and didn't want to spoil the ending before I even knew what the beginning was all about. But it stuck in my mind nonetheless and I knew I had to get my hands on the whole run when it was released.
I was already somewhat familiar with writer Scott Snyder's work, as his current run on Batman is blowing me away every month. And I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed with his skills on The Black Mirror. His script is second to none, a powerful mix between a terrifying horror story and an old fashioned crime/detective narrative. For me, Snyder has supplanted Geoff Johns as the golden boy on DC's writing staff. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Johns' work, especially his Superman stuff, but Snyder's ability to immerse the reader into the gritty world of Batman is incredible. I feel like out of all the Batman stories I've read over the years, only a small group have ever really got what Batman is all about. You can tell when the author really understands the character and successfully relays Batman's world to the reader: Snyder is up there with those elite few, there's no doubt.
I mentioned earlier about The Black Mirror being part crime, part horror; I wasn't kidding about the horror part. There were moments when I was genuinely shocked, where I had to stop and say out loud "God, that's pretty wrong right there." My girlfriend was not impressed when I showed her one particular page (I won't spoil which one, but it's downright nasty). And this is where the artists have done such a great job. The pages have been shared between British-born artist Jock and the Italian Francesco Francavilla, both of whom help to bring Snyder's epic words to life. Jock handles the majority of the Batman orientated storyline and Francavilla covers the Jim Gordon areas. I wasn't familiar with either artist's work before this and on that day I picked up the last issue in my local shop, I was put off a bit by Jock's unconventional style. His work isn't the traditional realistic look I'm accustomed to but I put any misgivings I had to the back of my head and immersed myself in the work, which quickly won me over. The Black Mirror soon turned me into a big fan of Jock's work and he captured Batman and Gotham City perfectly. Francavilla's art is distinctively different to Jock's but equally effective in it's execution. Francavilla must hear this all the time but the subtlety in his work is very reminiscent of David Mazzucchelli, one of the greatest Batman artists ever. Many of the pages reminded me of Mazzucchelli's haunting work on Batman: Year One and of course that is a very good thing indeed. Combined together, Jock and Francavilla are exactly the type of artists for this kind of story and complement Snyder's script perfectly.
After turning the last page I was sad to see this book end. It truly belongs up there in the pantheon of top Batman stories. It's clear that Snyder can become (if he's not already) one of the master storytellers in the DC universe and I am very tempted to start reading the American Vampire trade paperbacks, Snyder's other renowned work. In fact I might just go and do that now...
This review is from my blog Amongst The Panels. Check it out for more graphic novel and comic book reviews: http://amongstthepanels.blogspot.com/
5.0 out of 5 stars Snyder and Batman - two peas in a pod.,
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the Hype,
4.0 out of 5 stars It was pretty good,
This review is from: Batman: The Black Mirror (Kindle Edition)The only problem I have is with the garish colours, it's like the saturation is turned up to Rosemary's baby levels - maybe that's the point, a reference to a film about pure evil in child form. That's fine but it hurts my eyes after a while.
5.0 out of 5 stars blacker than black,
This review is from: Batman: The Black Mirror (Kindle Edition)Really thoughtful story exploring the darker side of Gotham. Clever the way the stories link with the same underlying theme and absolutely love the ending. This was my first kindle edition graphic novel and really impressed as I have a tablet and smartphone,once connected it would remember where I got too no matter what machine I was on,impressive.
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Batman - The Black Mirror by Francesco Francavilla (Hardcover - 16 Dec 2011)
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