As Batman attempts to confront Karma and stop his bloodthirsty quest for revenge, Black Lightning tries to keep an eye out for the remaining members of the Batfamily. This is an issue of Detective Comics that reminds readers what it’s like to be a hero!
Title: Detective Comics #986
Author(s): Bryan Hill
Artist(s): Philippe Briones
Colorist(s): Adriano Lucas
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: DC Comics
Published Date: August 8th, 2018
Recap: Black Lightning, the Signal, and Cassandra Cain are working very well together…but now they’re up against a foe who can tap directly into their worst emotions and play them like music! When you’ve seen the kinds of horrors these poor souls have, there’s plenty of trauma to work with…and with that, you can turn these heroes into deadly weapons! Meanwhile Batman’s “side project” has been revealed-what are the Brainiac Files, and what, exactly, does Batman plan to do with them?
Review: Writer Bryan Hill continues the “On the Outside” arc featuring a villain of Batman’s own creation in Fleet Delmar aka Karma from a mission in Markovia. Delmar had been a gun runner in Markovia where he tortured and killed families until Batman found him and neutralized him with fear toxin and a swarm of bats. Now he is back and taking out members of the Batfamily who he believes makes Batman weaker. The arc has been slow-burning up to this point with obviously strategic moves from Karma driving the narrative forward. Now, with a group of school children held hostage, the issue is able to weave the various narrative threads and culminate into a classic tale of action-packed heroism.
Black Lightning’s role in the story continues to find an interesting place as a teacher for the more youthful members of the Batfamily that need a watchful eye. Writer Bryan Hill has managed to find a unique place for Jefferson in such a strange environment for a principle, and this issue finds him in a position that allows him to not only guide individuals but come to their rescue as well. Although the use of his powers could be more inventive, his presence has felt less forced with each appearance and he has a lot to offer a struggling Batfamily.
While the issue does focus on the many different players currently involved in the battle against Karma, Batman is once again the driving force behind their success, however little it may seem. A small phrase spoken to Orphan before confronting Karma turns out to be yet another example of Batman’s contingencies coming to fruition seemingly out of nowhere. And the fight with Karma exposed a small flaw in his unnatural ability to read minds, which Batman was quickly able to exploit to save his life and so many others. Scrambling his thoughts allowed Batman to find a weak point in Karma, and it is a method that will surely be used again, though probably in a much grander fashion. While the fight was interesting and the stakes were high, it was unfortunate that their confrontation ended with another escape. This means we will be seeing another face-off, where hopefully a more decisive victory can be had.
“On the Outside” part four features a solid artistic direction from the creative team with a few beautiful panels depicting Orphan and her interactions with Batman as well as Karma in his battle against Batman. The visuals work well with the story, and while it isn’t anything groundbreaking, it has a classic feel that suits Batman and the cast very well. Some of the classic comic tropes used such as Karma’s explosive and unintentional escape and the three hero’s escape from the explosion played expertly into the heroic nature of the issue.
Detective Comics #986 is an action-packed and well-crafted story that considers the emotional and physical toll that the members of the Batfamily take on Batman himself, but it also brilliantly emphasizes the value of their support. Together they may be able to take on Karma, but Batman must first acquire the knowledge and teammates necessary to win the fight!
Final Thoughts: The slow burn of previous issues come to a head with a violent clash between the villain Karma and Batman while the others try to rescue a group of children held hostage. A strong artistic direction, interesting character development, and plenty of action help this issue stand out as a quality entry in a “just okay” arc.
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