Sunday, July 6, 2014

Detective Comics [The Black Mirror] by Scott Synder issue #873

The general somberness of Scott Snyder's writing is unmistakable. It's becoming really hard not to call attention to it, especially for this final installment for The Black Mirror. Picking up from the cliffhanger last issue, this one guarantees a very well-executed action sequence that showcases Dick Grayson's acrobatic skills. After his disguise was discovered, Dick literally has to fight his way out the demented place as the barely recognizable hungry creatures of Gotham are on his heels, determined to feast on him. Additionally, he's been drugged so he needs to exert more efforts to get out of there. I was genuinely scared about everything now. Dick is delirious, hallucinating the ordinary people in gas masks as ghouls with sharp teeth and claws, closing in on him, dying to tore off a piece. If I was in that kind of fucked-up situation, I would be really, really scared shitless and will keep moving lest they devour me.

There's a true darkness in the way Snyder is unraveling this story and I think it's as prominent as it has to be because our Batman for this storyline is the former first Robin. Bruce has been so used to the dark that it's become a part of his nature; something that defines him because he fights it with a familiarity. The forces of evil and devastation in Gotham is something he welcomes and breathes. Meanwhile, Dick is fighting the dark differently. He tries to slip through its dangerous grip as quickly as he could manage instead of finding a way to thrive inside it as Bruce had. 

I can't blame him; Dick should be resisting because he doesn't have the kind of willpower Bruce has to endure it. And he knows that weakness which is why he is determined to get the fuck out of there before things go worse. It almost looked like it could but luckily he was able to leap out of trouble in the end. 

Or has he? I truly liked how Snyder wrote the inner dialogues in parallel with the action at hand. Dick has all these escape routes in mind that have to be thrown out of the window to make room for raw self-preservation instinct. But just when we thought he's safe, he gets a truly revealing nightmare that reflects what he fears the most is going to happen if Gotham gets a hold of him permanently. I like the symbolic meaning of that dream. I'm not going to describe it in detail but it has something to do with Barbara Gordon (and losing a physical part of him that has something to do with motion). I think it's very significant and gives us an insightful glimpse inside Dick's psyche through it all. It's also quite understandable for him to fear those things, given the weight of their importance in his life.

As we near the end, a necessary confrontation between Dick as Batman and the Dealer ensues but it wasn't as final as we are led to believe. The issue then closes in a very open-ended way where Dick hangs a mirror across the large windows behind him, reflecting not only his worn-down expression but also the city in the background. It was a foreboding imagery. It gives you the sense of dread that you didn't ask for but it's there nonetheless. Dick knows he's not equipped enough to deal with the madness that is Gotham City, not as  the new Batman, at least for the time being. He is frightened of the reflection staring back at him, and he has every right to be. This time, for the first time, he can't leave. He doesn't have that choice in the cards. He ends with this realization:

"You expect that kind of viciousness from the Arkham crowd but those people at the mirror house--they're just plains citizens. Mothers and fathers...Lately it just feels like the city is getting meaner, wilder. Something is changing. Some nights I feel like I barely recognize it anymore."


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