Batman - Black Mirror (Collected Volume)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Art: Jock, Francesco Francavilla
Other info link: Here
Firstly, let me get the facts out written down before I get distracted by the review. The Black mirror (Hardback) was originally published in single issues as Detective Comics #871-877. It was Written by Scott Snyder with Art by the cryptically named 'Jock' and Francesco Francavilla.
The Black Mirror has been on my 'reading list' for literally Months now but a recent interview with Scott Snyder on Kevin Smiths 'Fatman on Batman' podcast made this title a little more wanted. Scott came across in the interview as a genuinely nice guy who has fallen more by accident than design into his dream job. The Black Mirror came up a few times in the interview and the titbits of story that where discussed really heightened my interest in the title.
I managed to pick up the last copy of the mighty hardback tome from my comic store of choice (Forbidden Planet) and scurried off home to binge read the book.
Now the details are out there I can start the outright praise for Scott Snyder's writing. I know I keep banging on about how great his work is but when a writer is this talented then he deserves some praise.
As any skilled story teller does Snyder sets out by establishing the events within the Batman timeline. This story takes place while Bruce Wayne (recently returned from death or wherever he has been) is setting up Batman Incorporated so Dick Grayson plays the title role in this Batman story.
Its not your usual Super hero tale. This is a true character book and it reads like a Batman centric detective novel (I suppose that's why this story was in detective comics) It features as much Jim Gordon as it does Batman and the story is not rushed or simply recounted this story is nurtured and allowed to grow in an organic way. At one point about half way into the story I felt like there wasn't a main thread within the tale but quickly the story delivered and those open threads all started pulling together. I felt like I was figuring out the mystery at the same time as the characters.
My favourite moment in the Black Mirror was the awe-inspiring event early on when a dead whale turns up in a bank. As much as it sounds like a grandiose superhero plot its a clue and its treated as such by the whole cast of the story. The Black Mirror is not about super hero antics or Batman brooding in the darkness its horror, mystery and psychology.
I hesitate to recount any more points of the story to you in this review as there is little I could say that wouldn't be at least a minor spoiler.
On to the art then. The two artist on this title have differing styles each style reflective of the story at hand. Jocks art is bright and clear while keeping its hand drawn sketch lines where they show more depth to the characters. his backdrops are nicely detailed with just the right amount of space. each panel flows nicely into the next and generally I found it pleasing. I did feel that Dick Grayson was drawn a little older than his years though but that was probably on purpose to illustrate the stresses of the Batman title on him.
The backup portions of the story as drawn by Francesco Francavilla are more film noire and have a deeper psychological impact (no spoilers here but this portion of the story deserves this style.) He draws slightly tilted panels and uses far more shadows an a very pleasing way.The two artists complement each other and the differing styles are not distracting at all.
Its not the book for newcomers to the Bat family to read but this is a book I am pleased to show on my shelf and is a real gem in any batman collection.