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Spotlight: Batman - The Black Mirror Hardcover

A closer look at why this arc was well deserved to be collected in the prestige hardcover format.

Without a doubt, Batman: The Black Mirror was one of my favorite story arcs this year. There are many great Batman stories being told but this arc stood out from the rest. Despite owning each individual issue, I knew halfway through the arc that it would be one I would have to own in hardcover.

This final run of DETECTIVE COMICS before DC relaunched the DC Universe with 'The New 52' was a surprise on many levels. Besides the surprise of how good the stories were, it is responsible for establishing many important things.

The first deals with Dick Grayson finally showing he was worthy to wear the cowl of Batman. When Bruce Wayne was thought to have died, there was a question of who, if anyone, should step in and take his place as the Dark Knight. The logical choice was Dick, even though he didn't feel it was what he was meant to do.

In his early stories dressed as Batman, it never felt right. It was difficult to accept Dick as Batman. We saw him jumping around more (because of his acrobatic fighting style) and even cracking a smile on several occasions. I always felt this was because he was caught up in the thrill of actually being Batman.

It was Scott Snyder's depiction of Dick as Batman that made it believable. You could get the sense that Dick finally got over the fun of it and evolved into becoming Batman. His actions and behavior became a little darker as he moved and spoke the way Bruce would. It helped that we had an extremely dark story that Dick was immersed in. Dick was finally growing into the type of hero that Gotham City required.

The second major thing this arc showed us was how great of a writer Scott Snyder was. This literally caught me off guard. I have to admit I wasn't aware of Snyder's writing prior but immediately became a fan and raved about DETECTIVE COMICS each month on our podcast when a new issue was released.

Snyder has the ability to fully tell a story on many different levels. There is always a hidden layer of darkness beneath an already dark surface. We've seen stories where we know that 'anything goes' but with Snyder, that truly was the case.

Snyder also did the unthinkable in some ways. He introduced some concepts and character development that didn't seem as if they should be allowed. It's the way he did it that made it remarkable. Because there still might be those that haven't read the arc, I won't go into specifics and spoil things but doing things like bringing back the crowbar that Joker used to killed Jason Todd, re-introducing James Gordon Jr in a completely unexpected fashion or even giving us a different take on the Joker are just some of what makes this book stand out.

Great stories are complimented even further when they are accompanied by great art. I'm not normally a fan of collected stories having multiple artists but both Jock and Francesco Francavilla made a superb story even better. With their different styles, each added a copious amount of detail and fully captured the mood and vibe Snyder's script called for. Francavilla's art normally gives me a feeling of happiness but seeing the way he drew James Jr and the colors mixed in gave such a disturbing feeling, even if he was innocently smiling. One of my favorite scenes is when Commissioner Gordon was in the diner asking, "What did you do?!?"

Surprisingly, this isn't your typical Batman story. Many might expect Batman fighting the wondrous villains in his rogues gallery but this was an adventure on a more cerebral level filled with suspense and drama that would chill you to the bones. I always liked Dick Grayson as a character but it was Snyder that made me love him as Batman. The only complaint I have is you're left with a feeling at the end that the door has been opened to an incredible new world and Dick has been given a new door to go through. A tiny bit of that feels lost after the 'New 52' began.

There is also a slight difference in the quality of the presentation. The art manages to look even better on the pages in this hardcover. I noticed some panels having a tiny difference in color. For as dark of a story this is, it's still surprising how colorful it can be at times as well.

There are some special features included. It's not just a straight forward collection of issues you might (and should) already own. Included are cover sketches by both Jock and Francavilla, unused cover sketches, Francavilla's mini-comic that got him the job with Mike Marts, early character designs for James Gordon Jr., page layout developments and the first draft script for Skeleton Cases Part One from DETECTIVE COMICS #871 that was the introduction of James Jr.

The Black Mirror is my favorite Batman story of the year. This is a story you'll want to read over and over in order to try to analyze all the intricate details Snyder manages to sneak in. Jock and Francavilla's art is also something you'll want to just sit and stare at. Looking at the way they lay out the pages and the character designs is almost like taking an art lesson. When stories are collected, some times they skip the hardcover treatment and go straight to trade paperback. This story clearly deserves the hardcover treatment and also deserves to be included in your personal collection.

54 Comments
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Posted by mikeclark1982

how much is it? i need to know so i can let my LCS know what i want!

Posted by ReVamp

I haven't read this... Makes me sad. This is Dick Bats right?

Edited by DarthShap

I finished my hardcover a few hours ago and it truly is awesome. One of the best Batman stories I have read, and I like to think I have read a few.

Now, Snyder's Batman is great and the current Nightwing is okay but yeah, not having any kind of follow-up to a story of this quality is another reason to be mad at the "New 52" reboot.

Posted by G-Man

@mikeclark1982: The list price is $29.99. Well worth it. Plus it contains DETECTIVE #871-881. Sometimes the HCs only have half an arc. This all of it and more.

@ReVamp: It is Dick. Best Dick/Batman story you'll read.

Staff
Posted by ReVamp

It is Dick. Best Dick/Batman story you'll read.

Just made me cry. Why I had to stop reading comics when my favorite character ever is Batman is beyond me. Sigh.

Posted by Mad_Wolverine

I got this for Christmas and stormed through it over the evening and just finished it this morning. I have never felt attached to Dick, but by God I do now. My favourite Batman arc in ages.

Posted by Carolina574

I am currently reading it. Never been much of a DC guy but this story is incredible. I have read past Batman trades, and Dick as batman is a completely different take and I love it. I wish his run would have been longer. A must read and at around $35 not a bad price for a hardback.

Posted by longbowhunter

Great story! I was flipping through this at the book store a few days ago. I'd definitely like to own this in hardcover.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

I will definitely give thought to getting this as soon as the entire Batman: Incorporated arc is finished and then I can go back and make me a wish list. Good stuff!

Posted by redhood21

My gf's grandma got me this for christmas totally awsome! havnt read it yet. Cant wait to crack it open!

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

epic story arc is epic 
 
I will be getting this come the new year

Posted by The Impersonator

I need a Black Mirror. =P

Posted by Sir_Deadpool

should i get this one? is it really this good? did not read it!

Posted by jsphsmth

@Sir_Deadpool: I thought it was one of the best story arcs ever for Batman (either Bruce or Dick) and I have been reading the character for over 30 years.

Posted by Sir_Deadpool

@jsphsmth: kokay so i check it out. will tell you how it was :)!

Posted by HolySerpent

Interesting

Posted by shawn87

I haven't gotten this yet but it's definitely on my list. I can't wait to read it

Posted by ProjektGill

This was definitely a high point of the year along with the amazing X-Force run and the cover looks down-right amazing in that last picture. $29.99 is more than a fair price.

Posted by GamerGeek360

I really want this! I haven't read this arc yet. Looks pretty sweet!

Posted by jakob187

@ReVamp said:

It is Dick. Best Dick/Batman story you'll read.

Just made me cry. Why I had to stop reading comics when my favorite character ever is Batman is beyond me. Sigh.

He was Batman for, like, two years or so. You should go back and check out Batman & Robin #1-16 (also collected in hardcovers) as well as The Black Mirror. They were both basically incredible (although, arguably, 3 of the Batman & Robin issues were crap...and that was the Blackest Knight stuff).

Posted by ReVamp

@jakob187 said:

@ReVamp said:

It is Dick. Best Dick/Batman story you'll read.

Just made me cry. Why I had to stop reading comics when my favorite character ever is Batman is beyond me. Sigh.

He was Batman for, like, two years or so. You should go back and check out Batman & Robin #1-16 (also collected in hardcovers) as well as The Black Mirror. They were both basically incredible (although, arguably, 3 of the Batman & Robin issues were crap...and that was the Blackest Knight stuff).

I read all of Batman and Robin, or close to it. I also read it at the time, I just didn't read most of the Batman/Detective stuff towards the end.

Posted by spikespeigel

I bought this after getting hooked on Snyder's Detective run with Capullo, and was pleasantly surprised at the sheer synergy between the writing and the art. It was a masterful stroke to have Jock pencil the Dick segments and Francavilla pencil the Gordon segments. If I had to pick the definitive Dick Grayson arc, I'd choose this over Morrison's Batman and Robin run any day of the week. Seriously, it's that good.

Posted by sora_thekey

@G-Man said:

@mikeclark1982: The list price is $29.99. Well worth it. Plus it contains DETECTIVE #871-881. Sometimes the HCs only have half an arc. This all of it and more.

It's $19.79 on Amazon.com. That's where I got it.

I love this book!

Moderator
Posted by spikespeigel

@sora_thekey: Got mine from the LCS only because they had it before Amazon's release date. Which was odd to me. In any case, glad I got it early if that was the case.

Posted by Rise2Ragnarok

I got this on amazon when it came out since I missed reading it when it originally came out. Utterly fantastic read. Jumped up to my top ten favorite batman stories in recent memory.

Posted by G-Man

@spikespeigel: Seems it's becoming more common. They're giving the LCS a chance to sell them before the big chain/discount places do. You get to support your local shop and get it a week or so early.

Staff
Posted by ReVamp

@G-Man said:

@spikespeigel: Seems it's becoming more common. They're giving the LCS a chance to sell them before the big chain/discount places do. You get to support your local shop and get it a week or so early.

That's good. I like that. It will definitely prove to counter balance the fact that a lot of this industry seems to be shipping towards the digital side. It gives the LCSs a chance to fight against bigger shops and the digital medium [albeit the fact that they are competing with the digital medium through different means, since Trades aren't available on the web.]

Posted by spikespeigel

@G-Man: Oh. I didn't know that. Guess I should pre-order my copy of Uncanny X-Force volume four through my LCS so I can get it early then. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by damswedon

Hey Tony. More content like this please! I'd love it if there was a monthly feature where you or Sara focus on a trade or run of a book and take the time to look at it as a whole.

Posted by cosmo111687

I got my copy for Christmas. ^^

Posted by spikespeigel

@damswedon: I second this! I'm always looking for trades that slipped by me to add to my collection.

Posted by Darknight87

My wife bought me this as Christmas, along with several other great books I really have to read this one

Posted by damswedon

@spikespeigel said:

@damswedon: I second this! I'm always looking for trades that slipped by me to add to my collection.

Not just that but the article reads like something you might find in a print magazine not on the Internet. Now don't get me wrong I like the Internet, I don't know if you know this but the Internet is kinda great. But it is good to have some kind of mixture in what the site puts up. I know this is the kind of thing that takes more time to make but it was a good read. I feel like there is a narrative in the article, it isn't complex (it is just dude I like this and here is why) but that is a skill that I feel just doesn't exist in a lot of Internet journalism.

Posted by DickDastardly

@ReVamp: Did you even bother reading the article?.. He goes in depth of how this is dick grayson filling in dureing bruces absence, and doing a great job i might add.

Posted by kennybaese

I picked this up as my Christmas present to me this year, and goddamn was it ever good. I didn't really start hearing about the book when he was writing it until about halfway through, so I ended up waiting for te trade to read it for the first time. Cannot wait to read his current run on Batman in trade as well.

Posted by blindisaac

I have only read about a forth of it so far but it has been mind blowing. I just hope Snyder does not end up becoming a Frank Miller as he gets older.

Posted by kartron

Wow! Feel like buying it already!!

Posted by thechessclub

@jakob187 said:

He was Batman for, like, two years or so. You should go back and check out Batman & Robin #1-16 (also collected in hardcovers) as well as The Black Mirror. They were both basically incredible (although, arguably, 3 of the Batman & Robin issues were crap...and that was the Blackest Knight stuff).

Ironically, the 3 part Blackest Night: Batman mini was phenomenal=P

Posted by animemike

i want this :)

Posted by ChaosAgentLoki

@cosmo111687 said:

I got my copy for Christmas. ^^

Same here, I'm easily tempted to say it was the best gift I received for Christmas the story is that good.

Posted by goldenkey

I liked the Snyder run better the Morrisons. I think this run really impressed a lot of people and that's what made it so good. I think Dick grew into Batman a lot more here then in Batman and Robin. When I was reading Batman and Robin I always had that little thing telling me it wasn't Bruce and that as good as Dick was(is) he was just a little bit short of Batman. Not here in Snyders run. Here in Snyders run he WAS Batman. It felt like he had been Batman for years. He seemed older, wiser. more experienced.

Posted by Migz13

This is already in my 'to buy' list when I heard it was already getting collected in a hardbound edition.

Ever since they released an issue of this back when the arc is still being ran... every review about it is just brimming

with praise. I just want to have one collecting all those issues:D

Posted by ReVamp

@DickDastardly said:

@ReVamp: Did you even bother reading the article?.. He goes in depth of how this is dick grayson filling in dureing bruces absence, and doing a great job i might add.

It says first.

Posted by Ultimate_MiracleMan

Trying to get my uncle to read this. He's a big batman fan and i know he will love it

Edited by DarthShap

@goldenkey:

This is just simple character development. Snyder's run takes place and was published after Morrison's run on the character.

You can like one more than the other of course but I find it very weird to judge the two on that specific criterion. It would have been out of character for Dick to fit the part right away and that is why Morrison depicted him this way.

Posted by Sammo21

Scott Snyder consistently writes amazing stories. I will hopefully be picking this up.

Posted by InnerVenom123

I got this a few weeks ago! It's a great story!

Posted by G-Man

@damswedon: @spikespeigel: I'm actually planning a couple more for this week. Another will go up shortly. I'm a huge sucker for hardcovers. With all the ones I eventually buy, I would love to do more of these. I know the trade buyers are almost a completely different audience and would love to reach out to them as well. That was my original intention when I came up with the idea for the Trading Views video segment. If I buy 'em, I might as well share why I dig 'em, right?

Staff
Posted by NXH

Got this for Christmas :)

Posted by goldenkey

@G-Man: I was a single issue buyer turned trade buyer for a few years myself. I would pick up the trades because of budget reasons as well as I just got sick of having so many damn single issues and I love to re-read my books a lot and liked having one story in arm length. I got into a lot more titles this way too. Checking what was considered a good story. Now if I like a particular story a lot, I'll pick up the trades for them for re-reading. Old Man Logan, Second Coming, Remenders complete Uncanny X-Force etc. This run I'll pick up with out a doubt. Loved it. Great idea pushing some trades. Once it's out for a while I think it'll be considered a thick trade to go along with Long Holloween and Dark Victory. Something about it.

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