Review: Detective Comics #1018
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Scott Godlewski
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s Christmas time in Gotham City and there’s a bizarre murder at the Gotham Botanical Garden involving Gotham’s largest natural Christmas tree. Batman figures out it’s a ritual killing involving Norse mythology.
As with his entire run, Tomasi presents a classic Batman that is not borderline psychotic and is clearly balanced in his mental state. Since Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, many stories have explored the theme that Bruce is not “right” in the head. However, in the ’70’s and early to mid ’80’s, Batman was portrayed undeniably sane. (There’s a nice Easter Egg for Dough Moench, one of the Batman writers of this era, as well.) It is this Batman that Tomasi gives us in Detective Comics #1018. And, it’s remarkable, considering he has to incorporate the current status quo of the Alfred-less Batcave. Tomasi does so with some subtle moments that make the point effectively, but don’t overwhelm the story he’s trying to tell.
Firstly, how mundane is it for Batman to have to rush back to Wayne manner to “walk the dogs?” It’s not the sort of thing one normally associates with Batman’s duties, but without Alfred, someone has to do it. It’s a scene that is at first humorous, then turns as it becomes clear why Batman had to rush back home. Finally, Bruce succumbs to the moment emotionally as his cry for Alfred puts a fine point on the moments. We all miss Alfred, Bruce.
Interestingly, Tomasi may be pointing towards something different as Bruce falls asleep in front of the computer in the Batcave. As one of the dogs brings Bruce’s ringing cellphone to him, it’s clear that it may be difficult for Bruce to function without Alfred there to keep up with his calendar and un-costumed responsibilities. It’s Lucius Fox, and Bruce is late for the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in Wayne Plaza.
It’s nice to see a story set at Christmas time. There was a time in comics when seasonal stories would be in numerous issues released around the holidays. It not only provides a specific time in the calendar, but it makes Bruce’s difficulty in dealing with Alfred’s loss a little more poignant.
Lastly, the juxtaposition of the pagan invaders at the Christian holiday of Christmas provides an interesting opportunity for Tomasi to explore in the story arc. It might just be a humorous title for the issue, “Have Yourself a Pagan Little Christmas,” but it could turn out to be more.
The only drawback is that Tomasi has to deal with Alfred’s absence. He handles it well, but the decision to kill of Alfred will certainly turn out to be a negative for the Batman titles.
Tomasi continues his stellar run as Detective Comics #1018 takes us to the Christmas season with some great character work. He makes some great lemonade out of the lemons he’s given with Alfred’s death while presenting a great classic Batman. Along the way, Tomasi sets the stage for an interesting mystery with some Viking invaders!