Overview

Detective Comics #881

Review

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Detective Comics #881

Credits

  • Words: Scott Snyder
  • Art: Jock & Francesco Francavilla
  • Colors: David Baron and Francesco Francavilla
  • Story Title: The Face in the Glass
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Aug 10, 2011

Scott Snyder’s fresh, intelligent, and thought-provoking run comes to a fantastic end.

Detective Comics #881 finally brings the entire series full circle as James Jr. takes on Dick Grayson in an ideological battle for Gotham.  Snyder, Francavilla, and Jock pull no punches in this intensely disturbing and shocking issue steeped in character relationships and history.  James Jr’s motivations are fully realized and explained, which reveal him as one of the most sinister and cerebral of Batman’s villains.  The black sheep of the Gordon family, James Jr. wholly believes he is Dick Grayson’s “black mirror,” and was created by Gotham to show the Bat and Gordon families that he, as a hollow and apathetic soul, is humanity’s true destiny.  The fact that James Jr. is so convinced of his own merit and worth is what makes him such an amazing counterpart to Dick Grayson.  Where Grayson is empowered by his optimism and empathy, James Jr. believes the new Caped Crusader to be all the weaker by it.   

Grayson’s legitimate counterpart and partner in this saga has certainly been Barbara Gordon, who has walked this trial with her father and friend for the entire series.  Both Grayson and James Sr.’s panic following the gut-wrenching attack on Barbara in issue #880 felt genuine, while it was simultaneously empowering and relieving to see the former Batgirl turn the fight on her psychotic brother at the most crucial moment possible.

Just as Snyder has set a new standard for Batman stories, the dual art duties of Jock and Francesco Francavilla have raised their respective bar.  Switching between their corresponding characters, Jock with Grayson and Francavilla with James Jr., the two artists combine their styles to create the perfect mix of flair and unease.  Francavilla chooses to let his distorted color pallete do the heavy-lifting throughout his pages, with contrasting reds, blues, and yellows complementing the psychotic mind-set of James.  Similarly, much to Jock’s credit, he has in my eyes created the definitive look for both Commissioner Gordon and Dick Grayson.  Both men share a heavy and worn countenance while never appearing defeated or broken, with Gordon’s signature glasses weighing heavily on his nose and Grayson’s minute changes in his mouth speaking volumes.

As the story of Dick Grayson, the Gordons, and the Black Mirror draws to a close, the world of Batman is in a much more interesting and captivating place.  Snyder, Jock, and Francavilla’s labor of love has blown the Bat-universe wide open in countless ways.  Whether it be the solidarity between Grayson and the Commissioner, the complete realization of James Jr. as a sociopathic monster, or the creation of Gotham as Batman’s greatest enemy, The Black Mirror is without a doubt one of the greatest Batman sagas ever. 

It is ever so bittersweet to see it end.

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