[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]
Batman interrogates Hugo Strange on the monsters that have recently assailed the Dark Knight and his closest allies. Strange seems to know nothing of their origin but is fascinated. Before Batman has the opportunity to pry further, he receives an alert from Alfred that Jason Blood, the man bound to Etrigan the Demon, has come under attack from another beast. Batman dons the Hellbat armor and goes out to save his friend.
Detective Comics #998 finds Batman once again saving a close friend and ally that help shaped the Caped Crusader in his early days. As you gleaned, it also has Etrigan the Demon as a guest star–something more DC comics should have.
This back-to-back “fight a monster, save a friend” setup does mean we aren’t learning much about the individual or individuals behind this attack on Batman, but we learn at least a little from the nature of the beast in this issue.
Beyond that, it’s another fun romp with the Bat. He gets to team up with Etrigan and whip out the Hellbat armor, a suit that is powered by the abilities of the Justice League but rapidly drains Bruce’s metabolism.
There is a sort of epilogue where Bruce goes to another of his old allies to check in on them. It takes a strange turn and leaves with a bizarre cliffhanger. I’m still not sure where this is going, but I look forward to finding out.
Doug Mahnke’s artwork continues to be worthy of high praise, as the Hellbat, the monster, Etrigan, Strange, and Batman himself all look quite awesome. Mahnke is a master of rendering the Bat. David Baron gives it an excellent color treatment that remains atmospheric and moody throughout.
Detective Comics #998 brings us another step closer to #1000 while expanding the mystery of who is trying to strike at the heart of the Dark Knight. It’s a solid issue with the ever-welcome Etrigan, and it earns a recommendation. Feel free to check this one out.
Detective Comics #998 comes to us from writer Peter J. Tomasi, artist Doug Mahnke, inkers Jaime Mendoza and Mark Irwin, color artist David Baron, letterer Rob Leigh, cover artist Mahnke with Mendoza and Baron, and variant cover artist Gary Frank with Brad Anderson.