Detective Comics #998

Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils by Doug Mahnke
Inks by Jaime Mendoza
Colored by David Baron

In the previous issue, Batman and his mentor, Thaddeus Brown, fought their way out of a trap set by a monster that’s been killing all of Batman’s mentors. Batman fights the monster that morphs to look like him and knew all his idiosyncrasies. In this issue, Batman confronts Dr. Strange about his possible involvement in the development of this monster. However, the evidence points toward Jason Blood, Demon, and another possible villain. Batman dons the Hellbat Suit, which is specially developed to withstand extreme environments with high powered weapons. He fights a monster, which is the manifestation of all Batman’s fears. Furthermore, Jason Blood confronts him with the question: what do you fear?

This story highlights Batman the detective and Batman the resourceful fighter. What intrigued me most is what the story asks about Batman the person: are you able to wage war with yourself, and win? Batman’s fight with himself is shown through the art, as layers of his suit is torn away, versus the heavy use of dialogue. This way of telling the story allowed the images to breathe and to do the talking. In addition, the battle sequence demonstrates Batman’s resourcefulness, the technology in his suit which his friends helped develop. However, it also highlights his weakness which is his fear of not being Batman – as his suit is being peeled away.  

The story was entertaining and included a couple of large scenes that act like set-pieces. It starts with Batman and Dr. Strange, then transitions to hell, and then to a private conversation between Jason Blood and Batman. The pacing felt fine; however, the bridge between transitions in the story lacked essential details. For example, how did Batman know that Demon was a key to the mystery behind the monster?  It’s possible that if the connecting tissue of Dr. Strange to Jason Blood was more compelling, it would have helped.

At the end of the day, the confusion I felt about parts of the story didn’t ruin the issue because the art depicting the battle scenes was entertaining. The Hellbat suit looked straight out of Scott Snyder’s Dark Knights Metal. Even the backstory for the Hellbat suit was interesting; the idea that the Justice League helped forge it was compelling.

Overall = 9/10

Final Impressions

Detective Comics is marching toward #1000 with Batman on a deadly version of a scavenger hunt: Who is responsible for creating the monster? Is it a villain? Who is the monster? Batman? I encourage readers who love Batman and DC to jump on board this series.