Review – Batman: Detective Comics #984: Karma Comes for the Batfam

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Detective Comics #984 variant cover, credit to DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #984 – Bryan Hill, Writer; Miguel Mendonca, Penciller; Diana Egea, Inker; Adriano Lucas, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Two issues in, Bryan Hill has proven one thing about his five-issue Detective Comics run – it should not be a five issue run. I’m already ready to say this arc has the potential to equal the best of the Tynion run, and I think DC will have a very hard time matching this level of quality when they pick the new permanent creative team. Batman: Detective Comics #984 pulls back the curtain a lot on the new villain, Karma, beginning with an opening segment that finds them in Russia, years ago, buying shady black-market tech to begin an elaborate revenge plot against Batman. In some ways, I can see parallels between Karma and fellow new DCU villain Rogol Zaar – they’re both mysterious, incredibly powerful villains who have a blood grudge against the hero and absolutely no issues with making it incredibly personal. They also seem to have deep ties to the hero’s past – as Karma’s dialogue makes it very clear that he knows exactly who Batman is, and what drives him to be Batman. That instantly makes him incredibly dangerous, as his mission to kill Batman’s “kids” seems to be targeting not the mask but Bruce Wayne himself. I’m reminded of the obscure BKV villain The Skeleton, from the 1990s whose story never actually wound up happening.

Karma sets his eyes on Cassandra Cain. Credit to DC Comics.

I was instantly predisposed to love this issue, because it stars Cassandra Cain in full-on kick-butt mode. Last issue saw her get knocked off her bike and stared down by the rifle-toting villain, but she wastes no time fighting back. Unlike Duke, who’s still a rookie and got taken by surprise (although the epilogue this issue makes it look like he’ll be back in the action next issue), Cass is able to give Karma as good as she gets, even when her arm gets broken by the masked villain. Black Lightning, recruited by Batman early in the issue, joins the fray, and eventually Batman himself. As good as the action is, though, it feels almost secondary to Hill’s whip-smart dialogue as Jefferson Pierce winds up getting fully inducted into the Bat-family as one of Bruce’s official secret-keepers. The respect and tension between the two heroes is great – it’s about time Batman had someone who respects him, but is not afraid to call him on the carpet for his failures. As for the last panel, I’m sure it’ll have a lot of people debating, but what I took out of it is this – Batman is scared of Karma, more scared than he has been of a villain in a very long time. What that means, and what twists Hill has planned for us, I can’t wait to find out.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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