Batman: Detective Comics #982 – Michael Moreci, Writer; Sebastian Fiumara, Artist; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Single Issue Tale
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Batman: Detective Comics #982 was supposed to be the start of Bryan Hill’s Outsiders-focused arc, but that was pushed back two weeks and in its place, we’re getting this horror-themed done-in-one by veteran indie writer and DC Writer’s Workshop graduate Michael Moreci. Moreci goes back to one of Batman’s more obscure villains, the cult leader Deacon Blackfire, to tell an intimate story that focuses on Batman’s ability to cut through the darkness of Gotham. It kicks off with a tense segment as Batman is interrogating a cult member, who was involved in the kidnapping of a little boy named Joshua as well as countless other attacks in Gotham. Moreci and Fiumara show this segment from the perspective of the hapless cult leader who has gotten Batman’s attention, and that makes this segment a lot more intense than it would otherwise be. Batman may be a hero, but he can still be genuinely scary when a writer knows how to use him.
Deacon Blackfire, last seen in the pages of Batman: Eternal, is not a villain that’s ever quite worked for me. Moreci even lampshades how he doesn’t quite fit into Batman’s world by Batman explaining that he’s not quite sure whether he’s a ghost, a trick, or what. However, it’s all in the execution and the nature of Blackfire’s existence really doesn’t matter here. What does matter is his attempt to corrupt Batman by showing him a hellish futuristic Gotham where he’s failed. The segment where Batman is pulled out of this illusion by the love and support of his network is a bit cheesy, but it works better once you realize that they’re not actually there – they’re Batman’s subconscious fighting back. Batman’s just a softy underneath it all. I don’t think the plot in this issue is all that strong, but the mood is. Moreci’s an experienced horror and suspense writer, and it shows. The best scene, however, is a short segment with Batman and the rescued boy at the end. I like how more writers aren’t afraid to show Batman as a human being lately, and that’s what ultimately makes this issue work.
Corrina: All you can ask of a fill-in story is that it’s effective. This is more than effective, this is haunting. It features a human Batman, capable of mistakes, but focused on what always keeps him going: saving the innocent. Moreci also allows more of Batman’s compassion to show than usual in his stories and that’s a pleasant change.
I agree the plot is slight but that’s fine because it’s a solid showcase for the Gotham characters but, more than that, it’s a master class in how to depict Gotham City in all its horror and hope. Fiumara and the rest of the art team are stellar, including the letterer, who makes the narration boxes fit so well into the mood of the story.
This is the kind of story that, back in the day when I was grabbing single issues off a spinner rack, that would have made me a fan of Batman stories.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.