Number eight in the ten best pieces of writing this year comes from the same writer as number 10. Scott Snyder was just what DC comics were looking for at the start of this year. Grant Morrison’s brilliant run was admittedly complex and mystifying for those looking for a real Batman story and Snyder, fresh off the hit series American Vampire had just the plan.
His eleven part story was entitled The Black Mirror. His theory; that Gotham city is a dark reflection of whoever protects it. The Joker was spewed forth from the bowels of the sewers as a way of combating Bruce Wayne. But Bruce is no longer Batman. His young ward, Dick Grayson has taken the mantle. To all intents and purposes he is the son of Bruce Wayne. And who better to be the dark reflection of him?
8. Detective Comics Issue #874 (Skeleton Cases part 3) by Scott Snyder
Way back when Frank Miller wasn’t writing his own brand of crazy he wrote a Batman arc called ‘Year One’. Within the story he introduced James Gordon Jnr. That was nearly twenty years ago and Jnr hasn’t seen a return to comics since. Until now. Until this scene.
Commissioner Gordon has been investigating an act of vandalism at the local zoo. A group of birds have been set free and he suspects his son, who has been away for a long time. Something happened on a family holiday that caused Gordon to believe his own son was capable of murder.
At the start of this issue James Jnr sits down opposite his father in a neon tinted diner and over the next four pages, the most tense, awkward conversation unfurls. Jnr pleads for his dad to hear him out. Gordon tries to leave and turns accusatory.
“What’s that on your shirt?”
“It’s blood dad. I killed a waitress while you were talking to Barbara. Her head is stuffed in the toilet of the men’s room…it’s just ketchup, see?”
But Gordon is wary. He keeps glancing back to the toilet door just behind him. Worse still, when Jnr starts talking about doing something terrible, and in the background, water starts peeking through the toilet door. The whole conversation is pitched as a plea for trust from the son to his father, but through the visuals (and writing) we get the complete opposite. We understand Gordon’s distrust. In his mind, this is a kid who absolutely could have killed a waitress. By the end, with a flooded diner floor, it’s up to Gordon to sever the ties, not with any words, but simply by opening the toilet door to find the sinks blocked.