Deacon Blackfire has returned, and he is using the homeless and downtrodden of Gotham as the scions of his revival. He has kidnapped a young boy named Joshua to be his new vessel. Thankfully, Batman is here to stop Blackfire's schemes, but the deacon may yet infect the Dark Knight too.
Detective Comics #982 is a remarkable one-off comic that leans on the horror potential of the Batman character and his mythos. The story takes place in the sewers with hordes of unfortunate souls driven mad by the ghost of an apocalyptic preacher.
That's a hell of a setup, and the payoff is just as good. The comic is told entirely from Batman's perspective, so we are made privy to his fears, weaknesses, and doubts in this fight.
There is no buildup; we start the comic in the sewers with one of Blackfire's victims rambling about his belief in the deacon.
Blackfire's effect on Batman leaves him hallucinating, so the followers of the deacon morph into monstrous beings. You are left to question what is real and what isn't, and the Batman must contend with how alone he is in this chaos.
That's before we even touch on the incredible art Sebastian Fiumara contributes to this comic. He too leans on the horror aesthetic, making heavy use of shadow and distorted figures. Batman himself first appears like a hellish shade arriving to torment the victims of Blackfire. Oftentimes, we only see the silhouette of the cowl and cape with few human features. The world looks grainy in the details, and Dave Stewart compliments it with a color palette that waivers between the abysmally dark and the sickly.
Batman: Detective Comics #982 leaves me less heartbroken over James Tynion IV's departure from the title. While Tynion did incredible things with the Detective Comics title, Michael Moreci crafted something unique and enthralling with this one-off tale. Hopefully Bryan Hill can do something just as impressive when he joins the title.
Needless to say, this one earns a recommendation. Give it a read.