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Bryan Hill continues his fantastic run on Detective Comics by reintroducing a Batman that’s been missing for years. His Caped Crusader is dark, gritty, smart and has been sorely missed. But does Batman get any closer to finding out who Karma is? And, does Karma strike again? Let’s find out.

Detective Comics #985

WRITTEN BY: Bryan Hill
ART BY: Philippe Briones
COLORS: Adriano Lucas
LETTERS: Sal Cipriano

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Spoilers

DETECTIVE COMICS SPOILERS TOO!

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Summary

Batman takes a drive to clear his head and figure out who Karma is, BUT he finds out too late. By that time, Karma takes a bus full of kids hostage and burns a reporter alive on TV to send a message to the Dark Knight. Karma wants a trade: the bus of kids for his kids.

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Alfred is Back!

There is so much to like in #985. Hill does the little things that add up to make this issue one of the best Detective Comic issues I’ve read since REBIRTH began. For example, readers get snarky Alfred back.

Alfred is a friend, a father figure, a coworker, and the only person alive who can shoot straight with Bruce. This has been missing from the character mainly because Tynion’s Detective Squad overshadowed some of the other classic characters like Alfred and Commissioner Gordon. But, Hill gives readers both of them back!

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The Detective is Back!

Hill‘s inner monologue of Bruce is perfect. This is something that has been missing as well. It’s what shows the reader how cunning, smart, and organized this detective can be. The entire scene when Bruce is speeding in his car on the cliffs was an essential part of this issue.

This is how Hill not only shows readers who Karma is but how he figured it out. Hill guided the readers throughout this entire issue but still made Batman the smartest guy in the room. Lately, Batman writers want to make readers think he’s so intelligent by answering questions and finding solutions off panel. But that’s just confusing and comes off sloppy. Hill has been doing the opposite and I love it!

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Hill Explains 

In #984, I stated in my review that it seemed silly that Karma could take down Orphan and injure Batman so much that he’s wrapped up in bandages. I said that Tynion painted Hill into a corner with Orphan’s hand-to-hand combat skills. Well, Hill dodges that bullet and explains that fight away quickly and effectively. He uses mind reading as the answer. If you can read minds, then you know the attacker’s next move. This could make any average fighter ten times better, AND it’s the explanation readers NEED when reading comics.

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Hill made a comic book villain in a mind-reading mask seem genuinely realistic. My goodness; that’s hard to do. Karma shot and killed the bus driver, kidnaps a bus of school children, then kidnaps a reporter and burns her alive on TV. Readers see it all unfold, and it elevates this superhuman story into something that feels like it could happen, which has been missing from a comic that is supposed to be more gritty and real. Spectacular job Hill!

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The Art

Briones and Lucas help Hill paint this dark story with the design and color. Any panel containing Bruce or Batman is drawn so dark, but it felt like the opposite was done on purpose. Panels without our Dark Knight were bright and vibrant. They focused on facial reactions and emotions throughout and helped to elevate the level of terror that Karma was inflicting in his captures. Not only is Hill bringing back Detective Comics to where it needs to be, but Briones and Lucas played a huge role in setting the dark and gritty tone this book has been desperately missing for years. Excellent job team!

Final Thoughts 

I was strangely bothered by Bruce’s hair. It seemed shaggy and weird at spots. I know… nitpick. It’s nothing that hurt my score it just annoyed me. But my big question is: why was Batman such a douchebag to Karma in Markovia? He sprays him with Scarecrows gas and leaves him there. I’m all for a brutal Batman. I genuinely love Batman that way but it just seems out of character in Hill’s book as well as REBIRTH in general.

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Should you buy this issue?

Absolutely! This Batman finally feels like the Dark Knight. Sure, the last issue he got his butt kicked. But this issue, readers see a smarter and more calculating detective. Hill gives readers explanation for Batman’s actions, as well as a purpose behind his actions, and answers that we’ve had since the arc opened. Readers leave the issue knowing Karma’s abilities, how he was created, and even why he’s faired so well against Bruce and his family so far.

Should you add this to your pull list?

Hill has created the best Bat Book out now, and possibly since REBIRTH. Heck, he even gives readers Commissioner Gordon. Geez, I didn’t realize he still existed! Briones’ art mixed with Lucas’ colors makes this series great to look at. Hill doesn’t oversaturate his issue with dialogue and makes the panel transitions easy to follow. If you want a Batman comic that looks like it’s heading back to its roots, Hill’s Detective Comics is for you.


What did you guys think of DETECTIVE COMICS #985? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter @dispatchdcu