Detective Comics #982
Detective Comics #982
- Muddled story and Blurry art make this a skippable issue
- "Fill-In" issue has NO effect on current continuity
- Deacon Blackfire is an obscure villain with a very confusing backstory
- Said backstory is almost not referrenced at all
There is a one issue gap between the end of James Tynion IV’s run on Detective Comics, and the start of Bryna Hill’s run. So, as is DC tradition, they publish a fill-in issue. It is usually a “throwaway story, which simply serves to “fill-the-gap.” It is usually a “dream assignment”, handed to an up-and-comer creative team. Most of these issues are harmless and, once in a while, you find a “diamond in the rough”, and are thrilled to be witness to the first big exposure of a talent that you know will be big in the future
Unfortunately, that’s not what you get here. God, I wish it was, but it isn’t. Instead, you get an issue that I can only recommend you pick up if you are A, a completist who MUST have every issue, or B, a HUGE fan of obscure Batman villains who likes it when Batman dives into the paranormal. I am neither, so I did not like this issue.
The story concerns Deacon Blackfire, a SUPER obscure Batman villain, who apparently has taken spiritual form and has no physical body. He wants to possess Batman, but he kidnaps a child to possess him. Arrgh, I can feel myself getting angry at this story all over again as I am writing this. There is also a bit where Batman suffers hallucinations and gets some help from other members of the Family that he has imagined. There are also some mutating henchmen and a subplot about how Deacon Blackfire draws his strength from belief. Honestly, it’s a bit of a mess.
It really all starts with the choice of Deacon Blackfire as the villain. There are references to the history between him and Batman, but no helpful footnotes telling us what issues to go back and read if we want to know that history. This, in my opinion, is the a big mistake. Most casual Batman readers have NO IDEA who the hell Deacon Blackfire is, or what his motivations are, or how he ended up as a spectre. Including a short backstory bit, or at least a link to this information, would have gone a long way towards making this story more comprehensible.
Also, there is NO MENTION in this story of any of the events of the last issue, which makes it stand out as a “fill-in”. It completely establishes the issue’s “throwaway” nature and diminishes it’s importance and relevance. In short, it makes it fell unnecessary.
Unfortunately, these characteristics also carry over to the art. Though, I suspect that this is more because we have been spoiled by the beautiful art by Eddy Barrows. In any case, the art style is a jarring change from the previous issue, and it is nowhere near as detailed. It is blurred in places and never quite feels as sharp. It does nothing to assist in understanding this somewhat complicated story, and the color palette, due to the nature of the story, is very dark and grimy.
IN THE END: I cannot recommend buying this issue unless you must have ever issue of Detective Comics or are a huge Deacon Blackfire fan. I’m sure both this writer and artist have a great deal of talent, I’m just sorry that they are wasted on this issue.