Detective Comics has been very strong since Peter J. Tomasi took over, and this week we get a brand new arc. Joining him is Scott Godlewski, who has done all kinds of great work, especially on the horror series The Dark & Bloody. The new story arc is titled “Dead of Winter” and starts in the Township of Gothame, December 1639. Oh, this is gonna be good.
This is a great first issue of a new story arc thanks to the setup of a seemingly holiday-themed bad guy and how it utilizes the fallout from Tom King’s run. If you don’t know yet, Alfred has been killed and Bruce is all alone in the mansion. In the opening scenes with Batman, we get to see him get home from a night of crime-fighting only to immediately get back to work playing with his dogs. This element is played up as the story progresses and it puts Batman in a very relatable situation. He might save lives at night, but he also does good work keeping his dogs happy. It’s also interesting to see how Bruce is handling his Wayne Corp duties while also being a crime fighter. Everything seems to be running smoothly, but it’s fun to see how that may fall apart when crime-fighting gets in the way.
The main bad guy is introduced in the opening flashback set in 1639 and Godlewski has designed quite a cool Norse-looking villain. We don’t see him much, but we do see some of the destruction he has left behind. I’ve read a few Norse-themed horror stories in my day and I have to say it’s quite bold for the team to bring in the blood eagle. Godlewski is the perfect artist for this type of tale in part because he’s able to make Batman look so clean and all-ages friendly but also can shock you with gore and violence. We get a taste of that here and I’m sure it’ll get much more graphic as things go on.
The art as a whole is quite good. I love the use of snowflakes throughout which are seen in every outdoor scene until a key moment. It adds a nice level of chaos up till that point. Characters look spot-on to how we expect them to look, and who doesn’t love the blue Batman costume? Speaking of, David Baron’s colors, along with Rob Leigh’s letters, complement the story very well. One thing that caught my eye was the use of onomatopoeia and how it’s translucent in an early scene. You don’t normally see this, and truth be told it’s solid throughout the rest of the issue, but it’s a neat effect.
I’m a bit shocked Godlewski didn’t go all-in with a sweeping Bat-cave shot, but maybe we’ll get one later in the story? That’s not much of a gripe, but the only real problem I had was the confrontation dropping as the cliffhanger. There isn’t a lot to go on with Batman’s detective work, though I continue to love how Tomasi weaves in real detective work into this series, leaving readers with the opening and closing as the real draw.
An expertly crafted story from top to bottom save for a weaker hook. This is an example of how Batman comics can subtly draw you in with character and detective work.