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Batman: The Black Mirror

Batman: The Black Mirror - Scott Snyder, Jock, Francesco Francavilla I challenge you to read this and not say Dick Grayson is an awesome Batman. Bruce is good. He's awesome. he's the original -- but Snyder does justice to Gordon in the cape and cowl. For longtime Bat-fans this feels like the fulfillment of a birthright. For kids who grew up and identified with Robin, you carry the feeling that this is someone you know. Dick was your age once and he looked up at Bruce like you did - with awe and fear. Now, he gets his chance to fill the big shoes, and it's almost like you get to too. It's brilliant for my generation of fans and immensely rewarding.

In just about the only good Batman series the comic Man-Jesus Morrison (eyeroll) did, he rather successfully cast Grayson as the reluctant but natural choice to fill Bruce's place after his "death." He also set up a rather interesting and witty dynamic between Grayson and the new Robin, Damian Wayne. There's some clever dialogue and a restoration of the dynamic in Dynamic Duo there that definitely deserves credit - but this, this is masterful. Scott Snyder just catapulted himself to number one on the list of my favorite Batman authors of all time. Capturing the gritty realism and depth of Loeb's great run on The Long Halloween while keeping alive and expanding upon the Grayson-as-Batman arc started by Morrison, Snyder carves out a huge presence of his own.

The Black Mirror introduces new villains and new threats to Gotham in a multi-layered series of stories that overlap just enough for continuity of story-telling. There's sinew between the panels and missing are the abrupt and sometimes confusing shifts that Morrison is prone to. In short, the story flows elegantly from Grayson tracking down a macabre underground auction society that re-sells murder memorabilia, integrates a very dark and disturbing backstory concerning Jim Gordon's son (carrying it to fruition while continuing the overall narrative of Batman's dealings with a Gotham on a downward spiral), and continues to sprawl out in a new generation of organized crime to fill the void of the Falcones and the Maronis. Thrown into the mix is a Dick Grayson trying to make his own way as the caped crusader. He's not perfect. He's good, but occasionally makes mistakes. He's not Bruce. Still present is the dark and driven personality, the single-minded conviction and sense of responsibility, but added to it are new relationships (I especially like the dynamic between Dick and Barbara Gordon, not to mention Tim Drake) and a Batman with a self-deprecating sense of humor in his internal monologues when he screws up. The monologues in this are golden. Snyder ties in elements of Grayson's youth that give his approach a sense of individuality and sets Grayson up as distinct from his predecessor while still providing a sense of continuity for the Batman persona. He applies things he learned from his time in the circus and lessons from his father with the lessons he learned with Bruce to make him a really interesting and thoughtful protagonist rich with possibility. It's a real shame that DC's New 52 so quickly restored Wayne to the role of Batman, I'd have liked to see this play out a little longer - it's just that good.

There are profound themes of change and identity that are subtly interwoven and juxtaposed together that are the hallmark of real and resonant thinking and writing. This is not story-telling that's focused on shock value (ZOMG - What if we "killed" Bruce, but didn't really kill him but sent him back in time to be his own grandfather and fight dinosaurs as a cave-Batman!?!?). It has the components of a great Batman story. Screwy people and a human man trying his best to transcend his limitations and do the right thing, using his wits and skills to see past the smoke and mirrors and out of situations he blindly walks into. I also think Snyder sets up a good foil for Grayson, his very own version of the Joker.

I absolutely loved this. If you haven't checked out Snyder's work, give it a look. You won't be disappointed. After this, I'm definitely looking forward to reading his very well-reviewed Batman, Vol. 1: The Court of Owls. And kudos to the "Roadrunner's" Metropolis aside. Why isn't this man writing Superman too? Kick out Morrison and give Snyder his job!