Scott Snyder concludes his Black Mirror arc while pulling off the ever elusive 3-Peat, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley would be ever so proud.
While not as strong as last issue's cover, I still very much am impressed with Jock's offering. The style is much more traditional than his usual work within the pages of the comic, and it's a nice change of pace and shows his range as an artists. I especially love the blue Batman Emblem, it's very Dick Grayson, but in an understated innocuous manner. The cover conveys a great sense of authentic motion. This is due to Jock's use of his cape and other, expertly applied, fine touches that imbue his figure with kinetic energy. Anybody else notice that Dick's in Trinity's famous Crane kick pose from the Matrix? Ever so appropriate for this issue and arc.
Jocks artwork continues to mesh so perfectly with Snyder's writing that you'd swear they were one being or at the very least shared a brain. This issue gets weird (and that's saying something for this story arc) and really gives Jock a chance to cut loose as he illustrates Dick's fear toxin induced visions of horror as he attempts to escape the faceless, frenzied mob of the Mirror House. There's also a moment where we get a peek into one of Dick's greatest fears. They way Jock brings this disturbing sequence to life is absolutely majestic. He goes from tragic, touching moment to terrible, ungodly nightmare in the turn of a page...and it all flows so perfectly.
Another artistic highlight is Dick's final confrontation with Etienne, The Dealer. I love Jock's design for Dick's battle armor. It's forward thinking while simultaneously traditional, very hard to pull off. And his work on The Dealer immediately conjures up memories of Kemonozume and Blood: The Last Vampire (great animes by the way).
As always Jocks pencil bequeaths Gotham an indelible, salient presence. He makes it as alive, as real as the flesh and blood characters of the story. Jock's Gotham is a sentient predator, a feral beast with and insatiable appetite for the souls that dwell therein.
One of my biggest issues with Batman in the post Morrison JLA era is writers penchant to make him larger than life. He's become the all knowing, all seeing, all prepared for "Bat-God" which isn't what drew me to the character. Another reviewer noted that Snyder's Batman has that alluring dimensions of Jeph Loeb/Frank Miller's characterization. With this I wholeheartedly agree, and I applaud Snyder for the way he's masterfully reinserted the MAN back into the equation. His Dick Grayson is perfectly written. He's fallible, he's vulnerable, he fears, in short...he's human. Other writers have tried to distinguish Dick from Bruce, and it's been rather hit or miss, and mostly miss I must say. Many have fallen back on simply making Dick smile and crack jokes, but Snyder focuses on the psychology of Dick Grayson, perfectly establishing a stark contrast betwixt the two and allowing Dick to come into his own as The Bat.
I love what Snyder's does with Dick's internal dialog, it's spot on Grayson and reveals perfectly to the reader the nature and workings of his subconscious mind. The way he falls back on memories of his family and his time in the circus to anchor him to reality during his escape attempt is well done.
I also have to give Snyder props for excellent use of crow bar. Dick Grayson using the item that took Jason Todd's life as a tool to save his own is a testament to the deftness of Snyder's writing.
The way Snyder creates a palpable atmosphere of fear is wonderful. Dick's Mirror House/escape sequence and his waking nightmare are superbly written, especially the latter. And they way the flow from one to the next is devilishly clever. It puts us right into Dick's shoes as we are equally as terrified as he is during an unnervingly real dream sequence. I don't want to spoil exactly what happens, but this fear of his that we see come to life in these panels is so morbidly fitting. And the dialog between he and Babs (as usual) is powerful. Snyder really has a strong hand on the ins and outs of their relationship. Everything that's not said between them comes through loud and clear.
I love the villain for this arc and hope he pops up in the future. He's just too good to be lost to the ceaseless shifting of the sands of time. Last issue we saw The Dealer as the mephistophelian master of ceremonies, the malevolent minister of Gotham's own grotesque gospel, the Pontifex Maximus of her hedonistic hellions. Snyder elevates him beyond being just a creepy old codger, relying on his henchmen to do the heavy lifting. He convincingly makes him a physical threat by issue's end while staying true to the nature of the character. Snyder simultaneously gives us a peek in the twisted inner workings of the mind the occult obsessed octagenarian.
This is a general complaint with these white covers DC's been using, and I just noticed it today. While I've been loving them aesthetically, they are not without their downside. They look absolutely amazing but get really dirty, really quickly. Even if you make sure your hands are clean you can't help but cause smears on these covers. Right now after one reading the blue ink from Dick's cape and the logo are bleeding into the white of the cover.
No Gordon back up feature this issue, but I suppose that's ultimately for a damned good reason. Gives us more Batman and we'll be getting the conclusion to that story next issue. So I guess ultimately this was a positive...
to all 1 of you left out there that aren't yet...BUY THIS COMIC...NOW!!!!
if you're a Batman fan or just a fan of great comics period you OWE it yourself to read this series!!! Scott Snyder is doing stellar work on this title and creating a modern classic right before our very eyes. This is Dick Grayson as he should be written, this is Batman as he's always meant to be written, it's just that simple. Here's to hoping that Mr. Snyder and co. stick around on this title for years to come.