Comic Review: Batman: The Black Mirror

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Jock

DC Comics, 295 Pages

Review:

So this takes place when Dick Grayson was still Batman. That whole era gets screwy in my head and even though I’m a massive Nightwing fan, it’s like my brain blocks out that he was ever Batman, until I come across one of those stories and it jars me back into that strange stretch of reality.

This was written by Scott Snyder for Detective Comics before he would go on to his solid run in the main Batman comic.

So this is pretty damn dark, even for a Batman comic but I liked it quite a bit, as Snyder gives us some new villains, very different situations and also links these multiple stories together quite well.

While “The Black Mirror” story is just about the first third of this collection, the other tales build off of it and maintain the same tone.

My favorite part of this was the story about Commissioner Gordon’s serial killer son and whether or not he was truly “cured”. I’ve always liked this character and how he fucks with the heads of Jim Gordon and Barbara Gordon, whether she’s Oracle or later on when she went back to being Batgirl.

The art in this was distracting at first but I adjusted to it pretty quickly and liked how well it added to the brooding atmosphere of these stories.

Batman: The Black Mirror is weird for me because it takes place during Dick Grayson’s Batman stint and I think this would’ve been better with Bruce Wayne in the story. However, it’s still a neat collection of really dark tales and it helped set Snyder on the right path for his career.

Rating: 8.25/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 6: To Serve and Protect

Published: July 18th, 2017
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Kieron Dwyer, Patch Zircher

DC Comics, 256 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the long Chuck Dixon run on Nightwing was a bit laid back compared to the previous installment but that one swung for the fences and after its ending, you kind of needed a bit of a breather.

Like the other volumes, this includes multiple story arcs while still progressing the larger arc of the series forward.

The highlight of this stretch of issues, at least for me, is that we get to see Dick Grayson go into the field as a beat cop for the first time. Seeing him have to balance that life and its responsibilities while also being Nightwing was really interesting.

I actually kind of wish they kept him as a cop. Although, I won’t go to deeply into where the Nightwing comics went in the last year or two but it did completely wreck the series and had me remove it from my pull list after being on there for nearly fifteen years.

Anyway, this also features some stories with some really cool new villains. It also features a good story with Catwoman.

The artists do change a few times over this stretch but like the last volume, I think I most enjoyed the issues that were done by Greg Land, which was a real step up from the art of the series before he got the gig.

The other artists are also pretty good in this and overall, it’s a better looking comic series than it was over its first four volumes.

Ultimately, this is still leading towards an eventual showdown between Nightwing and Blockbuster. I’d have to assume it’s coming soon, as they’ve been planting the seeds since way back in volume one.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle

Published: November 1st, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 331 Pages

Review:

I took a bit of a break, as I had reached the middle of the collected editions of Chuck Dixon’s classic Nightwing run. But now I’m ready to jump back in with this installment, which I thought was pretty good and full of action and multiple story arcs, which were mostly entertaining.

The two best stories are the ones that are essentially the bookends of this volume.

The first is about Nightwing breaking into prison to take down the supervillains that have taken it over. It features a lot of villains and some of them actually help Nightwing, as they’re not happy with the conditions they’ve been provided with under the new tyrannical rule of Lockup and his right hand, KGBeast.

The last story is about Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle and the former Batgirl, being abducted with Nightwing and his allies trying desperately to find her. I don’t want to spoil what happens, as there is a cliffhanger that sets up the next volume.

As for the art, the earlier issues here continued to have a very ’90s style, which hasn’t aged all that well, even though I liked it at the time. After the first third or so of this volume, Greg Land took over and the book looked more refined and polished.

Overall, this is a good chapter in the larger Dixon run. It also progressed the stories of Blockbuster and Nite-Wing, the ripoff wannabe sidekick, in ways that kept their stories interesting.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 4: Love and Bullets

Published: April 26th, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 295 Pages

Review:

While this was pretty good, I feel like the series needs to get somewhere. This is more of the same and the Blockbuster arc has now been stretched over four volumes and it’s still not wrapped up with this one.

Now I don’t mind long arcs and these volumes are full of other smaller arcs but we’ve had Blockbuster as the big bad in the background for what totals about 1200 pages of comics now. That’s a lot.

I get it, though. Blockbuster is Nightwing’s top baddie; essentially his Kingpin. But their conflict needs to come to a head.

This also gets right back into the relationship between Nightwing and the Huntress and for the pair, things turn sour, as Nightwing doesn’t feel as if their methods are as compatible as he had hoped.

Other than that, this is just more of Nightwing and the Huntress fighting street level bad guys and a myriad of weird, wacky villains with interesting gimmicks that give this an even grittier feel than most Batman comics.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 3: False Starts

Published: January 5th, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon, Devin Grayson
Art by: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 290 Pages

Review:

This collection of Nightwing issues from Chuck Dixon’s legendary run started off with a bang, as it started with the Nightwing and Huntress miniseries that saw the two vigilante heroes work together on a more intimate level.

Additionally, this picks up the stories that have been stretching over Dixon’s entire run and it keeps the momentum going with gusto.

I liked the stuff that involved the Huntress, a lot. The miniseries was actually written by Devin Grayson but it ties directly to Dixon’s run and lines up with the solo Nightwing stories, here.

This also features appearances by Deathstroke and Lady Shiva and that section of this beefy collection was probably my favorite, overall, following the Huntress miniseries.

Additionally, we get more of Blockbuster, as his large arc continues on, seeing him as the kingpin of Blüdhaven.

This is my favorite volume, so far, in Dixon’s Nightwing era. It’s just a badass series with great art and it keeps things flowing in a great direction.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 2: Rough Justice

Published: June 16th, 2015
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Scott McDaniel

DC Comics, 292 Pages

Review:

This volume in Chuck Dixon’s lengthy Nightwing run kicks off right where the previous one left off and builds off of those stories.

We also get to see appearances from more well-known villains in this chapter but a lot of them are just glorified cameos. However, the stories involving Scarecrow and Man Bat were really damn enjoyable.

Beyond that, I like how this also features other villains that are developed more for Nightwing and the city he protects, Blüdhaven.

We get more of Blockbuster, who essentially serves as Blüdhaven’s Wilson Fisk-type crime lord. We also get more of female villain Lady Vic, as well as some others thrown into the mix.

I also didn’t mind the romantic subplot that Dixon developed for this story between Nightwing and his new building’s female superintendent. Add in his sometimes romantic partner Barbara Gordon and you don’t really know how things will play out.

Ultimately, this is a story about Nightwing breaking out on his own and trying to be his own version of a street level vigilante. This is the culmination of the lessons he’s learned from Batman and it shows how he’s applying all of that to making his own life in a different city that also deserves a hero.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 1: Blüdhaven

Published: December 9th, 2014
Written by: Dennis O’Neil, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel

DC Comics, 286 Pages

Review:

As big of a fan of Nightwing, as I am, I had never read his earliest solo comics. I wanted to right that injustice and I probably should’ve done it a long time ago, as the stories, here, are written by two greats: Dennis O’Neil and Chuck Dixon.

This collection of issues starts with the original Nightwing miniseries. In that story, we see our hero travel to a foreign land to topple a sadistic dictator that may have had a hand in his parents’ deaths. This story was damn good and I liked how gritty and hard it was. Dennis O’Neil kind of gave the series a similar tone to the ’90s Deathstroke comics, which I’m a huge fan of.

Beyond that, we get the first few story arcs in the regular Nightwing series. In this stretch of issues, we get the work of Chuck Dixon, who was coming off of writing some of the best Batman stories of the era. And with that, he knew a lot about the Dick Grayson character and Batman, which he utilized really well in establishing Nightwing’s motivations and while exploring his relationship with his mentor as well as Tim Drake, his mentor’s new sidekick a.k.a. the third Robin.

In the Dixon stories, we learn about Black Mask and Blockbuster’s criminal dealings in Nightwing’s new home, Blüdhaven. We also get a major fight between Nightwing and Blockbuster, which serves to really setup this series going forward.

This isn’t just a collection of solid stories, it also boasts some incredible art. This book looks very ’90s but it looks like the best of the ’90s and isn’t overloaded with over-the-top cheese like some of the comics from the first half of the decade.

This was just a hell of a fun and cool comic. It definitely has me hyped to read the volumes that follow.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.

Book Review: ‘The Official Batman Batbook’ by Joel Eisner

When I was growing up in the ’80s, this was my introduction to Batman. It was the first version I really got to know because I discovered it a few years before the 1989 movie came out. That movie then blew my tiny little mind but it also never diminished or replaced my love for the ’60s television series.

In fact, I loved that series so much that I bought this book with my miniscule allowance money and read through it in its entirety at least a dozen times. The big reason for that was because we didn’t have streaming services, DVDs or even VHS tapes of this show. I could only catch it when it was on sporadically and therefore, didn’t get to see all of the episodes until a friend of my mum’s made me bootleg copies of the entire series in the early ’90s.

This book was special because it gave a synopsis and extra details on every single episode. I’d read through them like a novelization (or a modern Wikipedia article), envisioning the scenes playing out for myself. It made me love many of the villains and characters before I even got to see them onscreen. This also helped generate a lifelong obsession with all things Vincent Price.

At some point in the ’90s, after moving around multiple times, this book was lost. It wasn’t until recently that I came across another copy and had to buy it and revisit it.

Sure, this is probably nostalgia speaking but this was a solid book and once again, all these years later, I couldn’t put it down.

This is great because it gives you so much information on the show and if you’re a fan of it and have never read this, you probably should.

While I don’t think this is even in print, you can find copies on eBay and periodically on Amazon. There is a version with a different cover but nothing pops quite like the original.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: if you want more about the ’60s Batman television series, check out the Batman ’66 comic books. I’ve reviewed many of them already.

Comic Review: Batman and Son – Deluxe Edition

Published: November 3rd, 2009
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III

DC Comics, 350 Pages

Review:

The Deluxe Edition of Batman and Son features all of Grant Morrison’s Batman run up to Batman R.I.P., although it excludes The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, which I will also review shortly.

It’s a hefty but surprisingly quick read, as it has a good, quick pace and is mostly pretty good. I actually read it in one sitting and found it kind of refreshing, as I haven’t liked many Batman stories within the regular continuity since Morrison’s era. Granted, I did enjoy some of Scott Snyder’s work.

I also loved Andy Kubert’s artwork and I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit as one of the premiere Batman artists. It was this era of Batman that got me reading the comic again after a several year hiatus and Kubert’s art had a lot to do with that.

This edition features a couple of story arcs. I liked the first one the best, as it is the debut of Damian Wayne, Batman’s son. It had been a long time since I read these issues but it was fun to revisit.

All in all, this was the start of one of the best runs in the last few decades and it didn’t disappoint. While it might not be as strong as my memories of it, it was still much better than most of the stuff that came after it.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the other stories in the Grant Morrison Batman run.

Comic Review: Gotham City Sirens: Book Two

Published: May 5th, 2015
Written by: Tony Bernard, Peter Calloway
Art by: Andres Guinaldo, Jeremy Haun

DC Comics, 288 Pages

Review:

Well, losing Paul Dini as the series’ writer was a bit of a blow to Gotham City Sirens, as this second book doesn’t live up to the pretty solid first one.

Still, this is mostly a decent read and it carries on the story Dini started. Although, it does feel like it knew it was going to be wrapping up, as the bond between these three women seems to dissolve just as fast as it gelled.

I guess the most interesting parts within this are the ones dealing with Harley Quinn and how she’s processing her issues with The Joker and their very abusive, one-sided relationship.

But I’m glad that this presents Harley well unlike the more modern comics with her that have turned her into a one-dimensional joke character that has evolved into DC’s half-assed attempt at trying to make their own Deadpool.

Compared to the first book, this is almost forgettable other than the Harley stuff.

The art is really good, however, and it helps carry this series as it quickly loses steam and sort of just whimpers away because DC Comics had to reboot their universe for the umpteenth time.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the first book in the Gotham City Sirens series.