[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Bryan Hill
Artist: Philippe Briones
Batman called Black Lightning to Gotham City for help with a specific case-but what is Batman hiding from Jefferson Pierce? It looks like he’s in touch with somebody from their mutual past, and he doesn’t want Black Lightning to know about it -and that operative might be in over their head!
The art in this issue by Briones is a masterpiece to look at, as if Alex Ross had a artistic doppelganger out in the universe. His artwork here feels like its Godsent, as each panel feels visceral and lifelike. Readers are treated to another excellent find by DC’s powers that be. Within the first few panels, we find Bruce Wayne at a philosophical crossroads trying to understand what Karma left behind for the Caped Crusader as he confides in his longest and most personal relationship of all, the father and son dynamic of him and Alfred. This is a welcome reprieve from the usual bravado the book tends to posture, as we get a rare heart to heart that Hill smartly writes. Another rare treat that Hill provides in the book, is how he mentions the concept of “memory palaces”, something that was explained in full in the TV show Sherlock, in a line where he recalls a lesson that Ra’s taught him about treating memory like a museum, a rare connection that proves Hill had done his homework on crime fiction.
We also find out exactly who Karma is and how he came to be, and as many great villains have been created, this one Batman came to create from his actions in an overseas mission. We also get to see the dynamic between Jefferson and the Bat Family’s young stalwarts, as he proves to be more of an unruly substitute teacher than quiet disciplinarian.
Lastly, Jefferson also tries to understand the reason why Bruce asked him to Gotham, trying to pry an answer from Alfred, who gives up not much in the way of an answer. This shows readers and longtime fans that sometimes Batman can ask for help, knowing that he is not as invincible as his superpowered friends.
There are no negatives worth mentioning in this issue.
This issue shows fans even more layers of Bruce Wayne, revealing a cavernous look into the Dark Knight, one which gives fans a better appreciation for how keen Bruce Wayne is and just how difficult it is for the character to operate in both worlds.
The story by Hill is a clever character study that both pushes the readers into uncomfortable spaces and illuminates those dark corridors of Bruce Wayne’s mind. The art by Briones is arresting and vivid. Altogether, a change in creative teams doesn’t slow the book down one bit, but instead provides for a beautiful change.