BATMAN : Dark Mirror
Good day to all of you comic fans out there, and welcome to the review of Batman : Dark Mirror. This was our February read for The Comic Hunter book club, and was it ever a great choice. This review will be a big one, and you will get unique insights from the entire crew. Myself, Remi, Rene, Matt, Marie-éve, Andrew, Michael, Josh, Mathieu, and Jeff. So strap yourself in, and be prepared for the good, the bad, and the spoilers!
So let’s get started with Matt, big shocker that he would start things off (kidding of course).
Matt thought that Dick Grayson as Batman was great, as he really portrayed the Batman that Bruce wants, while adding the Nightwing flair.
The writing of the stories really flowed together and helped tie each story to one another. Some of them being obvious and big, like James (Jim Gordon’s son) being at the auction in the start of the book, and then explaining why he was at the end. Some of them not so obvious as in the comparison of Zucca’s daughter being not like her father, and turning out to be more like her father then originally believed (The whole apple falling far from the tree, but growing into its roots scenario). This also ties into Jim hoping that James would actually be a good man as Jim is, and not the terror that people thought him to be.
The last story in the book really shows the struggle of the Gordon family, in trying to change things that they can not, but not being able to give up on one of their own. Jim did everything he could, but just couldn’t trust James enough (and for good reason) to keep others out of it.
The story is a classic batman story, with a lot of grit and dark artwork which really brought the story to life. Adding to the depressing ending, we still feel good about the book as a whole.
Matt’s Rating : 8
Next we heard from Marie-éve, who was unable to attend, but did give us her brief run-down.
She absolutely loved the book and it brought her back into reading Batman again. “Batman is my new boyfriend” she quoted, which gave us a representation of the dark and brooding man that she really wants (sorry Andrew).
Marie-éve’s Rating : 10
Andrew of course was next, and he had quite a bit of good things to say about the book.
One of the best things would be letting readers know that he considered it so good, it broke his top 3 for Batman stories. Now there is so many story lines out there that it is a huge accomplishment to do this. He absolutely loved the book as a whole, and he felt it really added to Gotham as its own character. We talk about Gotham the city, but in the book it talks about the Cancer that Gotham has, and how its dark seedy, underbelly really keeps good guys on their toes. Dick also talks about the hunger Gotham has, feeding on its people.
Andrew loved the art style and its noire routes. He liked the fact it was dark, but was not a huge fan of Jock’s style of art. Really just feeling it needed to be a bit tighter, as he has a loose style. It does work most times, but in this story it felt too loose, and would sometimes cause the story not to come across.
Lastly, Andrew really had a good vibe from the Gordon’s story. It helped relaunch memories we would all have from James as a kid, and always wondering when he would be coming back. The relationship between Jim and James was strained at best, and he liked how James really played on his fathers emotions. It was a good closure to the Gordon story before the reboot.
Andrew’s Rating : 9
Ladies and Gentlemen, Rene.
Rene had a lot of mixed reviews on this issue, as it felt really disjointed having two artist with two completely different art styles. He felt that this took a bit away from the story, as the visuals were all over the place at times. Don’t get me wrong, he loved the art styles on their own, and thought that both artists were awesome. Just jumping between the styles didn’t really help the story. Franco Villa is an amazing artist, and Rene was quick to give him his credit as his art style is messy, but it really makes it feel authentic in the gritty and dirty world of Batman. He really couldn’t understand why Villa did not know what a ruler was, and was quick to point out the shitty Venetian blinds on one of the pages.
The real downside for Rene was the Zucco storyline. He didn’t really understand why that was added, as it really didn’t fit into the story they were telling. It had nothing to do with James, as the other two story lines did, and was the only storyline not directly finished at the end of the book. It really left the reader wondering what it was doing there, and why it was “important” to the overall book. After a bit of debate, we did decide it was loosely based on the James and Jim dynamic, that Father and Daughter Zucco were two of a kind after all (of course, not to the same extent).
Rene’s Rating : 7.5
I was next, and I hate to say it, I have been away from comics for a little bit.
I definitely felt that this story brought life to Batman for me, even though it was not Bruce. Dick was an amazing take on Batman, because he really tried to be Bruce, and be the dark and brooding hero that Batman is, but couldn’t help but adding his own comedy to it. No matter what though, Dick really managed to get himself out of sticky situations.
I thought the art was awesome, and it really told a great story. I did agree with Rene, it felt a bit disjointed in the story, but in the end I didn’t feel it completely took away from the story. I was happy with the change-up, but wished there was more continuity in the style.
Lastly I am in complete agreement with the flow, it was awesome. Loved the Gordon family story, showed me a darker side then I was used to.
Adam’s Rating : 8.5
Now we are onto Michael’s review. Lots of good here!
Michael loved the story, and did not realize it was not Bruce as Batman at first. To be honest, a few of us were in agreement. Good surprise value when we realized, as it showed how Dick was evolving. Michael thought Dick was an amazing Batman as well, and that the storyline was great. It flowed smooth, and loved the fact that it brought a finality to the James/Jim story. It showed us what we needed, and finished up with a long run of a character,
Jock’s art was good, and was fun to read, but Franco’s art was a much better art style for Michael. Also the story that Franco was tied into really needed the dark tone, and messy art that is Franco.
Michael’s Rating : 9
Josh had a lot to say, and to be honest, hit some points I hadn’t thought of.
“He just punches mentally ill people, and arrests them. Anyone else would get arrested if they punched people all the time.” I had never taken the time to think that he is right. Batman is a hero who hits people, arrests them, then seems to be surprised when they break out, kill a bunch of people, and he just repeats the same action. He was a bit disappointed, because he felt that the story was just as any other Batman story, meaning we knew how it would end up.
He was a fan of the horrible environment that Gotham gives Batman to play with. Admitting that he finds Batman to be insane, as the definition is to do the same thing and expect different results.
Lastly, he commented on Snyder’s ability to add pretty much anything to a story, but it stays clean. “Working in an Orca, and you know what? It makes sense to the story.” is probably my favourite quote of the night. To see more, read the story!
Josh’s Rating : 8
Remi, our fearless leader, also agreed that this story was possibly in his top 3, for sure in his top 5 Batman story arcs.
Remi did read this story when it first came out, so this time over he admits he nitpicked a bit more. Although he was happy to read this time, as it brought a new insight. There was flow changes in this trade, because when it first came out you got to read story one of each of the 3 sections, then two etc. In the trade, they re-arranged the set-up to give us the one story from start to end.
It is the perfect noire style novel with no happy ending. This is what we’ve come to see in Batman, when it comes to the darker story lines.
He liked Jocks style overall, as it is distinct. He also mentioned that Jock is one of the top five cover artists currently, which added to his like for the book. Franco Villa has an amazingly original voice in comics, and Remi admitted he was a big fan of his art style and ability to tell a story just in the art.
Lastly, Remi talked about the big ending of the book. The question of whether the babies are really going to grow into evil monsters because of the drug, and the fact that Joker AND Commissioner Gordon both knew that Batman was really Dick and not Bruce. Joker even quoted as calling Dick a “little bird” and not his Bats. The story flowed well, and was a great send-off before the reboot.
Remi’s Rating : 9
Mathieu came next in line, and was excited to have read his first (turns out second, after Severed) Snyder story ever!
He loved the pacing and structure of the story. While it had good action scenes, the story really flowed smooth as well. He liked how the loose ends that it left, and the tangents it went on throughout, really didn’t take away from the overall story. He was able to understand exactly what was being done throughout the book. Very well written overall.
He loved the art style and found the colouring was absolutely stunning. Added a lot to the dramatic feel of this universe with Bruce gone. Mathieu was also one of those (including myself) that did not realize it was not Bruce at first.
The huge thing that impressed Mathieu though, was the connection between the Joker and James. When we first see Joker, he comes off almost like Hannibal Lector, the crazed and intelligent sociopath. Which is also how we see James. They are opposites in their style, Joker being loud, obnoxious, and an all around loud-mouth, while James is quite, shy and just plain creepy. The intelligent design definitely made James one of the top tier bad guys for Batman to face.
Mathieu’s Rating : 9
Lastly, we have Jeff. What can we say besides he knows his stuff.
Jeff started out by letting us know the main reason he loved the book. The fact that it was a Detective Comic, and not a regular Batman title, was why he liked the less action and a lot more story. Dick acted like a detective, instead of a balls to the wall hero. Snyder brought a fresh feel to the series, not like Grant Morrison *spits*. Snyder topped off an amazing storyline with the big reveal at the end. Gordon knew that Batman was Dick. Something must have given it away, and Jeff thinks part of it might be the slip-up Dick made. As Dick, he told Gordon that maybe Zucca’s daughter had fallen far from the tree, so using the old apple adage. As Batman, he told Gordon later that maybe she hadn’t fallen so far after all. What do you think? I agree with Jeff that seems like something Gordon would pick up on. Jeff also liked that James knew Dick was Batman, just because he smiled while in the suit. Something Batman would never have done, but Dick was too positive of an individual.
Jeff was not a huge fan of changing the Jokers text to be different. Overall he was not a fan of Snyder’s Joker, but loved Snyder’s Batman, so it was not a big loss that Joker was only in a small skit in this series.
He did say for the writing, he had a few issues. First of all was that James monologue at the end was far too long. A few of us compared it to a James Bond Villain, where he felt the need to spill everything, which did help tie it together, but took four pages to do it. Also he was not a fan of how Dick was showing almost no emotion when he found Barbara in danger, and bleeding out. With their romantic past, you would think Dick would be a lot more upset/worried, and not play it off without much thought. She did almost die after all.
Last thing, Jeff said about the art style. He was not a fan of Jock as he thought it was too messy. He loved Franco’s take on it though, because it was the perfect fit of art to the story that was being told.
Jeff’s Rating : 9
Well that’s it for us comic fans, tune in next month for our new book. We hope this made your decision a bit easier, and appreciate you giving us your thoughts on the book in the comments. Remember to order your copy through The Comic Hunter, and stay tuned for more adventures!