Monday, July 7, 2014

Detective Comics [The Black Mirror] by Scott Synder issue #875

This next installment for The Black Mirror series is entitled LOST BOYS and it's a harrowing revelation of one father's greatest fear which is parenting a child capable of the very evil and darkness he battles with every day; and the cold, hard truth that there is no way he could ever hope to save him. This is so far the most personal of Commissioner Jim Gordon's issues for the series (issue #874, The Skeleton Cases marks the return of his son, James Jr.). This issue starts with a misleading yet poetic monologue sequence from Harvey Bullock that once again serves to highlight what a dangerous place Gotham City is and that it's important to have certain anchors--the things we hold onto--in order to survive the ever-changing landscapes of this foul city. We then get Gordon back with his own monologues and they're haunting pieces that speak about the city's climate with the use of symbolic narrative: 

["I've never liked winter in Gotham. The snow always makes me restless--the way it buries everything. All I can think about is the footprint in the alley filling with white. The cotton thread on the windowsill loosening with every icy drip. Clues lost."]

In Lost Boys, the story comes two-fold. We have interwoven flashbacks and current events impressively tangled together for this issue and what I have enjoyed a lot about it is that it's Jim Gordon's a back-to-back story about hunting down a killer from an unsolved case known as the Peter Pan killer (who comes into bedrooms, steals the children and leaves their corpses around the city) and his gradual discovery of his son's psychopathy. I could compare the tone and vibe of this story with that book/movie We Need To Talk About Kevin

It's a parent confronting the most heartbreaking thing about his/her own child. As parents, they do everything to make sure that the child is protected from the world. But what if it's the world that needs protection from the child itself? This is exactly what Jim Gordon, a model police officer and an inherently noble man, has to face about his son James Jr. And the truth is devastating.

Francavilla effectively evokes a despondent, murky atmosphere with the best choice of colors and illustrations known to man. It's uncomfortable to look at his drawings especially with Snyder's equally disconcerting narrative to back it up, but the impact was straightforward and damn compelling because of this. Hues of orange, blue and purple were once again utilized, and I definitely loved that two-paged layout of Jim at the centerpiece. On his right were certain events about James Jr. that point out that there is something dysfunctional about him. On the left was a seemingly idyllic family getaway to a cabin where James Jr. is invited by his stepmother Sarah to join them. He gets introduced to his stepsister Barbara's friend Besse who owns this bat key chain that opens a science toolkit. While Jim recalls this memory, we get him in real time tracking down the Peter Pan killer. He ended up throwing the man out the window. As he struggles to get him back up, the flashback sequence continues again.

This time we see Besse walking alone the woods. She turns around with surprise in her face but we don't get to see what was it that spooked her. And then Jim, Barbara and Sarah looks for her several hours later when she didn't come home. We cut back again to Jim Gordon and the Peter Pan killer. He talks about knowing Jim and actually planning on kidnapping his son. However, he claims that just as he was about to kidnap James Jr. during that vacation in the cabin, the boy turns to look at him, smiles, and said: "I know who you are." The fully-grown adult man nicknamed the Peter Pan killer got spooked and didn't touch the boy at all.

Batman swoops in just in time to prevent the Peter Pan killer from falling to his death but by now Gordon is far too shaken to care. He had just uncovered a memory from a distant past. He would like to believe that it was the Peter Pan killer himself who abducted and killed Besse but his instincts as a cop for decades say otherwise. In the beginning of the story, Gordon talked about how it comes easy for him to pick up the dark spark underneath a man's disguise. It was truly awful then that there were horrors in his own child that he once refused to see out of love and denial; out of the stubborn belief that he could be wrong. But not this time. Jim Gordon knows better: the boy he raised is now a man capable of cruelty, and yet there is that faint part of him that wishes otherwise. 


This story was just outstanding and thought-provoking in scope and delivery.

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