Written by Scott Snyder
Illustrated by Jock
Continuing the new series direction from the writer Scott Snyder (AMERICAN VAMPIRE) and artist Jock (THE LOSERS)! A series of disturbing clues brings Batman face-to-face with Gotham City’s dark past and deadly present. Plus, Jim Gordon continues a harrowing search to uncover the truth about a frightening figure from his own past. . . Be here for part 2 of “The Black Mirror.”
This week brings us the second issue of Scott Snyder’s stay on DC’s namesake, Detective Comics. The first, #871, got praise a’ plenty from across the board, and even made our list of top ten issues of the year. Follow the cut and see if #872 followed suit.
I mentioned briefly in this week’s Comics Should Be Cheap that I’m a huge fan of Dick Grayson and the Gordons (James and Babs). To me, the three are far more interesting characters than Bruce, Tim, or any of the other Bat-protagonists. I’ve read every issue of Nightwing, and my biggest fear when Dick took on the Batmantle was that he would just become another Bruce and lose those bits of his character that made him interesting. As much as loved the story of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin, he certainly was guilty of this every now and then. Then, on the other hand, some other writers (like Tony Daniel) would take this too the other extreme, making Dick seem more like pre-Identity Crisis Tim in a Batsuit (no, I don’t get tired of using Bat- as a prefix). Snyder, though, has such a great grasp of Grayson and all the other characters that it almost becomes a science in his hands. Most of the post-R.I.P. stories featured Batman-as-Dick, but Snyder writes Grayson-as-Batman, which is something that I am much more interested in.
As much of a sucker as I am for good characterization, we cannot forget the story that Snyder is telling. The idea of an illegal supervillain memorabilia/weaponry ring isn’t that original, but as I often say, the way the story is told is just as important as what is told. And this story has been told well. Both in this book and American Vampire, Snyder is a master of finding the right tone for the story he’s telling, and in this issue he uses dialogue and Dick’s internal narrative to create a blanket of tone that envelops the reader in the darkness that is Gotham City. This tone, coupled with the general sense of intrigue, is what makes a good Batman comic, and while some writers seem to have forgotten this, Snyder certainly hasn’t. I loved Morrison’s bizarre and otherworldly Batman work, but it’s time for something more like the character’s roots, and I can’t think of anyone that could do that better than Snyder is right now.
The tone isn’t all Snyder’s responsibility, though. One of the other things that make this comic so good is the return of artist Jock to interiors. Sure, his cover work is to die for, but his interiors are equally impressive. I use the adjective a lot (probably too much), but his gritty style fits the streets of Gotham City to a T, and complements Snyder’s writing incredibly well. I know Jock does most of his interior work with Andy Diggle, but — after their time on Detective is up — I would love to see Snyder and Jock work on something creator owned. As great as Jock’s work on this comic is, though, I can’t give all the credit to him. Don’t get me wrong, his work is amazing, and when I saw the uncolored preview of the one-page splash of Dick diving, my jaw hit the floor. Colorist David Baron really gave the comic such a phenomenal sense of depth, though, somehow making that (and every other page) even more incredible. Colorists are sadly underrated in this industry, but I really hope that everyone can appreciate how great Baron’s work is.
Finally we have the co-feature. I’ve had mixed experiences with DC’s co-features: some were good enough to pay the whole price tag for, whereas others made an otherwise good comic not worth the extra dollar. The Commissioner Gordon co-feature definitely falls closer to the former. Snyder’s innovative technique of tying the co-feature to the main story makes it seem more “worth it” to skeptics, and adds an extra dimension to the story. Everything great about the main feature is present here, with a gripping story, great characterization, and some beautiful art from Francesco Francavilla. What I’m really interested in is to see if the story dovetails with the main feature, but even if it doesn’t it is a hell of a read.Continued below
We’re two issues into Snyder’s Detective run, and two into Batman Inc., and I have to say, I’m liking Detective more. If you’ve been coming here for a while, you know how much that means from a diehard Morrison fan like me. To put it simply: this is how Batman should be done. If you are a Batman fan and you aren’t reading this, you’re making a poor life choice. If you are a fan of thrilling mysteries stories and you aren’t reading this, you are making a poor life choice. If you are a fan of good stories in general and you aren’t reading this… well, you get the point.
Final Verdict: 9.2 – Buy it!