Batman: The Black Mirror Trade Collection

Hello, I’m a unicorn. So, I’m back to reviewing scary stories, and this time, I promise that I’ll stay on topic.

That is, until you read another book you just have to tell the world about.

I’m sorry. Geez, what’s got your metaphorical panties in a twist?

Yeah, that’s right. Make fun of me for being a voice in your head, you pretentious brat.

Well, that was rude. What has gotten into you?

Nothing, just keep doing your stupid little review.

We’ll talk about this later. Anyway, once more unto the breech. And this comic, oh great Krypton, this comic. I’m not going to lie, this has to be the scariest comic I have ever read. I don’t actively seek out horror comics, so there are probably more disturbing stories that this, but, being a person who has only bought one comic in the horror genre on purpose, this has story has frightened me the most. It’s not like I don’t enjoy horror, I like a decent scare as much as the next guy. I just usually enjoy being able to sleep at night more. My point is, I simply stumbled on this trade in Books A Million and bought it out of curiosity. And I didn’t regret the terror I felt in the face of this story.

So here’s the plot: Batman (Dick Grayson) and Commissioner Gordon are fighting the usual evil of Gotham when an all too familiar face returns to the city. It’s Gordon’s son, James Jr. who is the scariest monster I have ever read about. Imagine if Rhoda from The Bad Seed had grown up. That would be J.G.JR. in a nutshell. He knows he’s pure evil and revels in it, believing anyone with morals are weak. While I was  pretty unnerved by him at the beginning, I didn’t realize the scope of his evil until I was explicitly shown. And when I are shown what kind of monster he is, it’s still like a punch to the stomach. This is the first punches of many, because, not only is J.G.JR. a psychopath, but a psychopath with a plan. He has found a way to turn the next generation of destitute Gotham citizens into sociopaths like himself. And here’s the kicker: we don’t know if he succeeded.

James Gordon Jr. is now one of my favorite Batman villains. Not only is he a bigger monster than Killer Croc, but it’s also personal. Dick grew up with J.G.Jr, they were friends. He’s Barbara’s brother and Jim Gordon’s son. The story is primarily focused on Jim Gordon, and his feelings of failure as a parent. As told in pants wettingly scary  flashbacks, there was always something odd about his son, and he feels he could have done something to help him or his victims. The father and son aspect really makes this story stand out and makes J.G.Jr. unique. He isn’t just a monster that needs to be taken out, he’s the son of one of the major heroes in Gotham. You aren’t sure if you wanted him to die because of the devastation it would wreak on his father.

There are other great stories in the trade, like when Dick has to help the daughter of his parent’s murders, Sonia Zucco, the Mirror House, and the villain, Tiger Shark, but the arc with J.G. Jr. is what  really stands out.

To put things in perspective as to how freaky James Gordon Jr. is in the story, he scares off a child serial murderer to a point where the killer decides to leave the family alone. The weekend that I read this story, I had also just read V for Vendetta and the Blackest Night crossover, and he scared me more than emotion zombies and a totalitarian government. For a story about a man who dresses up as a bat, it felt very real. Junior looks as ordinary as you or me. If I were to pass him on the street, I’d never guess what he was capable of. And this scares me even more than a zombie, werewolf, or vampire ever could.

“Textbox, what was that all about?” Kirin almost yelled. She put her sheathed sword around her waist and searched the pantry.

“What’chu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” 

“You know exactly what I’m talking about! Why were you so rude in my review?  Honest, sure, but still,” she asked angrily as she pulled out a large tub of salt used to refill salt shakers.

“Huh? And they say I’m the crazy one. Dames I tell ya, always nuts,” Textbox replied. Kirin unlocked and tried opening the door. It wouldn’t budge.

“Oh, please, if you didn’t insult me, who did? I clearly heard your voice. So, again, what got into you?” she snarled.

“Wow, Kirin smash. Seriously, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you sure you aren’t going nuts?” Textbox asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I was tested,” she answered dismissively and took a deep breath. “Look,  I’m kind of on edge right now, so let’s start over. Can you, in all honesty and without a shadow of a doubt, tell me you didn’t insult me during my review?” she asked, calming down a bit. She checked the backdoor and saw that it, too, wouldn’t budge.

“Yeah, I didn’t say anything. I was watching my stories the whole time. By the way, Mara told Mitchel that the baby isn’t his, Donny was finally caught laundering the money from Willy’s company, and Jen and  Kincaid finally got together.”

“Oh really? Good for them. I thought they made a cute couple, and–wait a second, I think we just got off topic. What were we talking about again?”

“You were mad at me because you thought I said something mean, which I didn’t,” Textbox answered.

“Right, gotta focus. I think that whatever is in this house is messing with us. It may be trying to turn us against each other, so be on guard,” Kirin suggested.

“Well, why don’t we just leave, hang out in a motel for a while. I hear Canada is nice this time of year,” Textbox asked. Kirin shook her head.

“Can’t. I tried the doors and they won’t budge. Same with the windows. And I can’t break the windows because the glass is bullet proof. Besides, even if I could leave, you can’t, remember?” she replied as she headed to her bedroom. She poured the salt in a circle around her bed.

“What’cha doin’?” Textbox asked.

“According to mythology, a circle of salt protects anyone within the circle from evil spirits. I don’t know if it works, but It’s worth a shot,” she replied. She heard a crash in the living room.

“What was that?”

“I don’t know.” Kirin sprinted to the source of the noise. When she saw what had happened, all she could say was, “By Odin’s beard.” All of the light bulbs in the room had shattered. The lamps were turned off and unhurt. After a few moments of stunned silence, Kirin resolved herself to get a broom and swept up the broken glass. Once she got everything cleaned up, she silently walked to her room.

“Kirin? You okay?”

“Yeah, just a little freaked out. It’s one thing to read ghost stories and another to experience it first hand. I just need some time to think.”

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