Cons: None of the top of my head.
Verdict: BUY!!! (If you have to sell plasma…buy this Graphic Novel!)
Batman: The Black Mirror is one of the HOTTEST selling Batman graphic novels on the market right now. It is being hailed as my generation’s “Batman: Year One”, and that is an incredibly BOLD (like what I did there with the font? huh? HUH?) statement to make. For those of you that don’t know (and those that do, I don’t care) “Batman: Year One” is the quintessential Batman must own graphic novel. If you don’t know ANYTHING about Batman, go out and buy “Batman: Year One” right NOW (after you read this review and spend some more time on Team Asunder Magazine of course)! Remember that little movie that came out called Batman Begins? You know that not talked about Batman movie that was directed by that one not very big director called CHRISTOPHER NOLAN! Yeah…that movie was based like 99% off of “Batman: Year One”. Awesome realistic non campy comic = Amazing movie. So basically “Batman: Year One” is probably the most important and best-selling Batman graphic novel to date. So to say that “Batman: The Black Mirror” is the NEW “Batman: Year One” is a pretty big deal. So the question stands, how was “Batman: The Black Mirror”? Well thank you for asking, now stop asking me questions and let me finish this article!
“Batman: The Black Mirror” has, guess who, Batman as one of the central characters in the story. The other major character being Commissioner Gordon. So just to start off, we’re already very similar to what “Year One” focuses on, but that is really where the major similarities end. So let me just start off asking you non comic readers about Bruce Wayne. I’m assuming you all know (even if you don’t read the comics) that Bruce Wayne is Batman. And you’d be correct in stating that. Now if I were to ask you who is Batman in “Batman: The Black Mirror” and you (assuming you’re all Swedish swimsuit models…or Kate Beckinsale) said “Oh Josh, you’re so handsome! It’s of course Bruce Wayne!” I would tell you how wrong you are…and then quietly ask you to put on your costume from Underworld. So yeah…Bruce Wayne is NOT Batman during the time this story takes place. How can this be? Well let good ol’ Uncle Josh (the creepy kind) give you just a tad of background info so you don’t QQ about how Bruce Wayne is the ONLY Batman.
So there was a period of almost a full year where Bruce Wayne was not Batman. Without expelling EVERY amazing detail, basically during the events of “Final Crisis” (a big event in the comic book history like 2 years right before Blackest Night started) Batman was “killed”. The quotes around killed are not the grammatically correct kind, they are actual air quotes. You see, he wasn’t really killed. He was sent back in time. So apparently when Darkseid shot Batman with his laser eyes of death, which have been the death of other supers, it sent him back in time. Which brings up a whole different topic of whether every other person killed by those beams didn’t die, but was sent back in time instead? Alas, that is a discussion topic for another time. Now at the time, no one knew Bruce Wayne had been sent back in time, everyone just thought he was dead. Even all the super heroes; except for Tim Drake of course, because he’s the bestest character ever! Ok, so that’s my own personal fan boy opinion, but whatevs he’s totes the best Robin. (Ed Note: Agreed, but in a manlier manner.) So with this came the question of what to do about the whole not having a Batman thing. This is where things start setting up for Black Mirror.
There was a short mini-series called “Battle for the Cowl” in where various members of the “Bat Family” were in a fight (not even close to being what really happened) for the right to become the new Batman. It ended up obviously (as you guys read it already in this sexy article) being that Dick Grayson (the 1st Robin) was to become Batman. So this started the year long absence of Bruce Wayne (at least in the Batman comics) and the beginning of Dick being Batman. Just for reference, as these characters appear in Black Mirror, the other members of the “Bat Family” have some new roles to fill during this period. Tim Drake (who is like 16) is left in charge of Wayne Enterprises; Barbra Gordon is still going by Oracle and provides Batman and Robin with vital information, and…man this next part is hard for me to talk about. …Tim Drake isn’t Robin at this time. I know! I know! HOW DARE THEY! (At least that was my reaction). No, Tim Drake becomes his own super hero operating in Gotham called Red Robin (please no jokes) and Damian Wayne becomes the new Robin. All you need to know about Damian Wayne is that he is Bruce’s biological son, via Talia Al Ghul. He’s a complete jerk, douche, and all around not pleasant person. He’s just…dumb…and stupid…and stupid… and dumb. Anyway, he’s not important (at all!) to the story of “The Black Mirror”. So now that I think I covered everything you should know to get ready for the story, let’s take the plunge.
So the story for the “Black Mirror” is just simply amazing. It is very much in the same style of “Year One”. No super powered villains, just simple believable gritty goodness soaked on every page (mhmmmm). The story follows the point of view of Batman (Dick Grayson) and Commissioner Gordon, just like “Year One”. It is without a doubt one of the best written Batman graphic novels I’ve ever read. The dialogue is so believable, and the story is exactly what Batman is supposed be…a detective! Sometimes we all watch “Justice League Unlimited” or read these big DC events in where Batman is so much more than a man. But that’s what he is, just a man in a suit. He’s a genius detective, an amazing martial artist, and a billionaire. So often I see him doing things that like Superman does, that I long for the comics of him scrounging around the slums of Gotham, trailing villains, solving ridiculous complex puzzles and cases, and just in general being an amazing detective solving crimes that have many sadistic twists and turns. This graphic novel gets back to what I think is the core of Batman.
The basic premise (without spoiling anything) is that Batman uncovers a very large, very old underground auction house. This auction house sells only one type of item, relics of terrible crimes and super villains. It is led by a mysterious figure only known as “The Dealer”. He is essentially the main antagonist of the Batman portion of the book. You will get to see many relics from previous Batman comics such as the serum Killer Croc used on himself, Joker venom, and Fear toxin from the Scarecrow. There is even an item that dates back to the 2nd Robin (Jason Todd) up for bidding at the auction house. That item, while not integral to the story, is one of the most somber and emotionally invoking prop pieces I’ve seen in a comic before. This is a basic set up for the Batman story. But in my own PERSONAL opinion, this story is overshadowed by the story that follows Commissioner Gordon.
Commissioner Gordon is hot on the trail of an unsolved case involving a serial child murderer, aptly dubbed the “Peter Pan” killer. While he is on the verge of finally solving the case that leaves him up at night, someone returns to Gotham that shakes up the Gordon family to it’s very core. Commissioner Gordon’s son, James Gordon Jr., returns to Gotham after a long mysterious absence from the city and people who knew him. Commissioner Gordon meets his daughter Barbra (former Batgirl, now called Oracle), to tell her that her half-brother may have returned to Gotham. And in some of the most hair raising scenes in a comic book, we begin to learn of James Jr. and his psychosis. The fact that Commissioner Gordon has refused to believe what Barbra and so much of his own intuition has told him, his son is a psychotic killer. But there’s never been any evidence, no proof of his son doing anything, but Barbra is too determined to believe; it shakes up Commissioner Gordon to say the least. Commissioner Gordon meets with his son briefly, learning that he has been accepted into a new medical trial to help people like him, people with psychotic tendencies. This leads into one of the most brilliant and perfectly crafted thrillers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. There are so many twists and turns, and so much sadism. If you thought the Joker was a sadistic killer, you have not read Batman: The Black Mirror. It will leave you with one of the most believable and terrifying serial killers in comic history. The Peter Pan Killer and the evil feel of Gotham are putting stress and pressure on Commissioner Gordon and it pushes him to the edge.
I would love to divulge everything, ever minor detail of this graphic novel, but I just can’t do it. I cannot bring myself to rob you of one of the most amazing comic book experiences I’ve ever had. I want you to experience it for yourselves. You may love it, you may hate it, but you cannot say that it’s poorly written or that’s it’s a bad Batman graphic novel. I was so against reading this when I first heard of it. I’m such a Bruce Wayne fan that it was hard for me to believe that there could be an amazing Batman graphic novel without Bruce as Batman, but I was so very wrong. So basically….just read this thing. You won’t regret it. And if you do…well I mean I don’t care. I liked it. And I’m the one writing this article so there! In all seriousness, I’d have a hard time believing that someone didn’t enjoy this graphic novel. Even people who are anti-DC, or hate Batman, would find it at least good. Myself, I find it to be a perfect example of what Batman is supposed to be. And if you like it, you should check out the New 52 series called “Detective Comics”. It’s the series that this graphic novel took place in.
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