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Detective Comics #985 Review

Comic Books

Detective Comics #985 Review

What is Batman hiding from Black Lightning? And who is Karma?

I thought about starting this review out with a bad joke involving the hit 1983 song ‘Karma Chameleon’ by Boy George and the Culture Club, but decided not to. Unlike the song, there is nothing about the new villain Karma that makes you happy or dance in ways you wouldn’t dare to try in public. So far the dude is all types of lethal and scary. Let’s see what he’s up to this week, shall we?

First Read Reactions

  • Of all Alfred’s many exceptional qualities, my favorite might be his way of throwing paternal shade at Bruce.
  • When a flashback takes you to Markovia, you know it won’t reveal anything pleasant.
  • Nothing helps maintain discipline like being able to make your hand glow.
  • Barbara Gordon was that kid in school who could always convince the teacher to delay the test until the next week or grade it on a curve.
  • Threatening a bus full of children is awful enough without also threatening their phones.
  • Alfred and Jefferson would make a good team–fighting crime or in the classroom.
  • Yep, this Karma dude is pretty sick.
  • You know it’s bad when you make Batman acknowledge his own fear.

The Verdict

Okay, since I’ve harped on it for the last couple issues, I’ve got to give credit to Adriano Lucas for toning down the colors. The issue looks great, thanks in no small part to penciller Philippe Briones, who doesn’t miss a beat filling in for Miguel Mendonca. In addition to the expected fantastic action sequences, Brionnes also deftly handles the issue’s many intimate dialogue scenes.

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Story-wise, there were a few forgivable (albeit noticeable) bumps. For starters, the flashback to Markovia is a pretty deep cut into modern DC Comics history…which is totally fine, except it ends up giving us a backstory for Karma that feels far less connected to Batman’s mythology/character history than I would’ve liked.

Also, it feels like Jefferson was a bit too easily swayed by the Bat Family to begin hedging against Bruce’s orders–although to be fair, he ends up being totally right in doing so.

And that’s when we get to where Hill’s script really cooks. Good lord. I’m not sure if there are are big plans for Karma after this, but he’s definitely making his mark now. For newer comic readers, his homicidal ruthlessness and twisted ideals are reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Instead of being theatrical, however, Karma is ruthlessly efficient, all while still seeming to possess a bizarre conviction that his horrific acts are a means to a better end for Batman.

Also, much as I disagreed with Jefferson’s concession to the Bat Family, I did very much enjoy watching all of them interact with each other. Add in some excellent Alfred moments and it’s another solid issue in what’s turning out to be an impactful and highly entertaining story arc.

Detective Comics #985 Review
Detective Comics #985 Review
Is it good?
Despite a few bumps in the narrative, Detective Comics #985 moves Karma--and the story--into the realm where you truly fear what might happen next.
In addition to the great art, the colors this time around are much more muted (and they look great).
Karma--and the story--move into rarified territory where you're genuinely afraid of what might happen next.
Some great moments between Alfred/Jefferson and Jefferson/Bat Family.
Unless it's a misdirect, what we learn about Karma's backstory is a bit of a letdown.
Jefferson is a bit too easily swayed by the Bat Family's arguments.

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