REVIEW: ‘Detective Comics,’ Issue #1018

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Detecitve Comics

Detective Comics #1018 is published by DC Comics, written by Peter J. Tomasi, with art by Scott Godlewski, colors by David Baron, and letters by Rob Leigh. This issue launches a grim new story-line for Batman. It’s your typical Christmas tale, full of holiday cheer and light dismemberment. Entitled “Dead of Winter”, this grisly fable finds the World’s Greatest Detective on the hunt for a ritualistic ax murderer. In Batman Detective Comics #1018  “Have Yourself A Pagan Little Christmas”, Batman searches the illuminated streets of Gotham for a holiday themed killer.

Justice never takes a vacation. Neither does Batman. The masked billionaire begins his holidays by punching out a few street goons before paying a visit to Harvey Bullock. In the wake of ‘City of Bane‘ newly appointed Police Commissioner Bullock acts in the sort of executive police role most commonly filled by Commissioner Gordon. Contrasted to Gordon’s collegial demeanor, Bullock treats the caped crusader like an irritation, using his trademark abrasive wit to get under Bat’s skin. It’s one reason I love seeing Bullock pop up in Batman storylines. Batman’s entire dramatic persona relies on his ability to intimidate the weak willed. While you can call Bullock a slob, a grouch, or any number of unflattering things, he’s certainly got backbone. Seeing the stubbled top cop casually dismiss Batman while eating a sandwich is more than worth the price of admission.

Scott Godlewski takes over the art duties for this issue, delivering us a striking image of a wintery Gotham. Batman may operate in the shadows, but come December every dark alley in Gotham comes equipped with icicle lights and candy cane lawn stakes. Things look cozy, is what I’m saying. Godlewski’s tactical application of white snowfall and cheery decorations brings a holiday shine to the typically grim metropolis. David Baron colors the city with warm tones that play well against the city night.

While creeping holiday cheer makes for a more compelling Gotham, Detective Comics #1018‘s visual cheeriness works against the issue’s grisly focus. This Christmas, Batman must investigate a series of supernaturally linked ax slayings. Some unhappy holiday maker has been going after christmas tree salesmen with an ax. The killer decapitated the lucky ones. The rest were dismembered alive, their bodies hung as gore soaked decorations on the surrounding trees. Of course this is still a T rated comic, so Tomasi doesn’t linger too much on the absurd depravity of it all. But when you look at the all ages aura of Godlewski’s art against the grim dark goriness of Tomasi’s mystery, you can’t help but notice the disconnect.

With that said, Detective Comics #1018 does show off some of the Batman’s warmer side. In the wake of City of Bane’s Bat-Family shaking events, Batman is back to his lone wolf ways. But even when he’s feeling the blues, Batman always has time for certified good dogs Ace and Titus.  It does my heart good seeing Bruce Wayne playing fetch with the bat hounds. The holidays inspire joy for those we love, after all. It’s good to see Batman loves his good dogs as much as we do.

Detective Comics #1018 sets the stage for a supernatural story of Holiday Horror. Infused with good holiday cheer and cozy warmth, this first chapter shows us the kinder face of Gotham. Those are two distinctly different flavors of storytelling, creating a tonal mismatch that keeps Batman Detective Comics #1018 from finding its footing. Still, this issue has me ready for scary ghost stories and tales of Christmases from long long ago.

Detective Comics #1018
3.5

TL:DR

Detective Comics #1018 features two distinctly different flavors of storytelling, creating a tonal mismatch that keeps it from finding its footing.