Book Review: Batman: The Black Mirror
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: DC Comics
· Scott Snyder
by R.J. Carter
Published: February 27, 2013
Confession time. Whenever Dick Grayson plays Batman, I quit picking up titles as I await Bruce Wayne to once more take up the mantle. I just can't accept Dick as the Dark Knight. (But I'll accept Terry McGinnis, so figure that one out.)
And here's what happens when you let your bias get the better of you: You miss out on something good. In this case, a storyline that expands the Bat-universe in a believable, organic fashion, introducing a villain creepier than the Joker -- and much closer to home.
Batman: The Black Mirror collects several shorter story arcs, and takes its name from the first arc, where Batman uncovers an underground auction house that specializes in recovered supervillain weaponry -- and other evidence. It's a cynical look at the wealthy elite, presenting them as so bored they find this kind of deadly play exciting, but for Gotham City, it works. It also introduces some interesting -- and nigh believable -- Bat-technology for infiltration.
As the storylines progress, Commissoner Gordon -- who finds himself working nearly as much with Dick Grayson's civilian identity as he does with Batman -- closes a serial killer case from his past, while Batman hunts down two new villains -- Roadrunner and Tiger Shark -- in order to save the daughter of Boss Zucco, the mobster who murdered Dick's parents.
As all these stories take place, there's a disturbing subplot returning son of James Gordon -- James Gordon, Jr. But unlike his sister Barbara, James has no interest in justice. In point of fact, James is a psychopath -- not the Joker kind, but the cooler, plotting Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates kind. Barbara sees it -- always has -- but Commissoner Gordon holds out hope that his son has received the help he needed, that his medication keeps him stable.
Well, hope springs eternal -- only to be squashed in Gotham City. And with Scott Snyder's scripting, the arc has a deliciously unsettling ending. I don't know how much of this story survives into the James Gordon Junior in The New 52, but if it does, the world's going to look a whole lot scarier...
...for Terry McGinnis.