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DETECTIVE COMICS #872
Author: John Bierly
December 30, 2010
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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Continuing the new series direction from the writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock! 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."


Iíd like to say weíre witnessing the birth of a modern master in new DETECTIVE writer Scott Snyder, but that already happened in the pages of his 2007 short story collection VOODOO HEART, and thatís not even counting the spectacular and deservedly critically acclaimed work heís doing in the pages of his own comics creation AMERICAN VAMPIRE with no less than Stephen King as his co-writer.

Snyderís doing what heís always done Ė breathing fresh, vital life into genres we thought we already knew everything about. No vampire story has ever been told the way Snyderís unraveling his in AMERICAN VAMPIRE, and Iíve never read a Batman tale that has affected me as immediately and as uniquely as the one he began last month.

Issue #872 finds Snyder doing more of the same kinds of things but with even more confidence this time around (if thatís even possible, and oh is it). Once again he enters every single character-on-character situation by thinking up every possible angle of the history and relationship between both people and finding a fresh way to spin it around into something that keeps both his characters and his readers on their toes. Dickís interactions with Barbara Gordon are a master class in how to write two people whoíve known each other so intimately for so long. And I wonít spoil which member of the Gotham City Police Department or which other member of the Wayne family Dick has scenes with here, but rest assured that Snyder never fails to find the perfect dialogue beat to accentuate every one of those fresh little character angles Iíve been raving about.

I really donít want to tell you anything about this issue, because I really want you to read it for yourself. But I am going to tell you about the rocket-powered Bat-Unicycle Dick drives and FLIES around, because itís such an awesome take on his circus background. Snyder skillfully weaves a tale involving everything from the role of the circus in Americana to centuries-old French occult nastiness to gadgetry thatís just far enough beyond the cutting edge of crime-fighting technology to be as entirely believable as it is utterly breathtaking.

This entire book is alive with the heart and humanity of Dick Grayson. It informs his interactions with others, his view of Gotham City, and his approach to being Batman. But the more closely Dick studies the city, the more he realizes itís looking back at him with hungry eyes. Bruce got the Joker and Two-Face. So what will horrors will Gotham concoct for Dick?

By the end of the issue we get an answer to that question thatís as dangerous and as unsettling and as absolutely terrifying as anything Batman has ever faced. The wait for part three will be unbearable.

Yeah. I love this book.

And thatís just the words. Artist Jockís raw line work is kept in check by the moody sprawl of David Baronís moody color palette, bringing the book a look thatís simultaneously Ė and more importantly, spontaneously Ė unique and creepy and cool. The full-page blast of Batman dive-bombing himself out of Oracleís new HQ needs to be a poster immediately.

The craftsmanship going into this book is above and beyond the call of awesome. Buy it. Love it. Spread the word. Let DC know we want Scott Snyder writing Batman for a long, long time. And I really hope he gets a crack at writing a Bruce Wayne book someday. This guy has seriously got the goods.

We also get another installment of the Commissioner Gordon backup, also written by Snyder with art by Francesco Francavilla. And itís not just a backup story but rather an expansion of the main tale Ė it occurs during the main story and explains why Gordon didnít meet with Batman himself. We get a father-daughter talk between Jim and Barbara unlike any theyíve ever had, with a last-page sucker punch thatís made all the more creepy thanks to Francavillaís unsettling rendering of a particular character. The choice of color is what really makes your skin crawl.

This bookís awesomeness is out of control because Scott Snyder is sick with amazingness, and I hope he never recovers. Ė John Bierly

GRADE: A+

John Bierly still can't believe he
gets to write for BOF.
Check out JOHNBIERLY.COM to read about the other things he writes about.

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