Here we have the conclusion of Detective’s latest two-issue story: “Dead of Winter.” Basically, this is what some would consider filler material, and while I wouldn’t disagree with that, I don’t think that “filler” is always a bad thing. That said, seeing as the previous issue was mostly just setup, the creative team doesn’t have a lot of space to wrap up their story. So, let’s jump into the review and see how this comic turned out!

I’m a big fan of Tomasi’s work in general, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of this two-parter. Overall, I find this story to be rather underwhelming. The biggest problem, to me, is the pacing. With the previous issue spending a lot of time setting up the story, this issue barely has enough pages to wrap the story up properly. This becomes obvious in that every scene feels rushed. For example, there is some detective work in this, but it’s so bare-bones that it feels like we’re just going through the motions and, as a result, it comes across as somewhat uninspired. There’s barely any time to ponder Bruce’s analysis; there are hardly any clues sprinkled in for the reader; there isn’t enough context around the case that Bruce is investigating to get truly invested in it. It’s like the detective work merely exists in this book to get us from point A to B. While I definitely appreciate the inclusion of any detective work at all, I do think that this is a missed opportunity as it’s not being used to its full potential.

The conflict itself also doesn’t hold my attention for long. It turns out that there’s a cult behind everything. However, this cult is barely fleshed out and as such they just seem like generic crazy people that want to summon some kind of monster. I wouldn’t have minded this being an unoriginal idea if at least it made for a more compelling story, but since this threat is dealt with too easily, this entire two-parter seems pointless to me. Even if this cult and the monster were to feature again in an upcoming story arc, that arc would probably include the necessary exposition to bring (new) readers up to speed, and so it wouldn’t be necessary to revisit these two issues. I also think that the creative team failed to make any of the characters—aside from Bruce himself—interesting enough to warrant a read. Even the character moments that Tomasi usually writes so well are barely here. It’s almost like the creative team just wanted to get to the finish line as quickly as possible.

See, rather than taking the time to develop the mystery and the conflict, any sense of mystery is undercut by the exposition that fills the last few pages of the book. This is an example of a writer telling rather than showing their audience important pieces of information. I have nothing against telling if used properly, but relaying this information in this way makes said information seem like an afterthought instead of an important piece of the story.

To be fair, there are things in this book that I do like. Bruce and Lucius’ interaction is entertaining, even if it’s obvious that Lucius is intended to fill in for Alfred until DC decides to bring Alfred back from the dead. It’s also great seeing Bruce consulting books inside the Wayne Manor library instead of having the Batcomputer find everything for him within moments. Lastly, I appreciate how Bruce is dealing with the death of Alfred—clearly he misses Alfred, but he doesn’t let his grief blind him and send him on another path of destruction. Bruce’s grief is relatively peaceful, and it makes Alfred’s absense have a bigger impact because there’s something deeply sad about seeing Bruce trying to do his best without his oldest friend’s support.

Godlewski (pencils/inks) and Baron (colors) are back on art duties. Last time I thought that Godlewski’s art might perhaps be a bit too light-hearted for this type of story, but looking at it now I don’t mind that as much. Both the monster and the cultists lack the scary qualities that would make them more unique and intimidating, but Godlewski’s layouts more than make up for that. The art in this issue is crisp, from the clearly structured panel grids to the nice sequential flow and the smooth inks. Baron’s colorful palette blends with Godlewski’s art well. Since there aren’t many backgrounds, the colors help to make the comic more visually appealing, but at the same time the colors seem a little flat in places, as if the various things depicted are on the same layer rather than there being a strong sense of depth. This, however, might just be due to the fact that I’m reading the comic on a screen.

Recommended if…

  • Who cares it’s a little late? You’re always down for a Christmas-themed story!
  • You are determined to collect every single Detective issue written by Tomasi.

Overall: To me, this reads like a rushed issue, and that’s largely because the story as a whole is a little too big for two issues. Add to that the, in my opinion, misuse of exposition near the end, the generic bad guys and the lackluster action, and this results in a rather boring reading experience. The art is good, but it can’t save this issue. I recommend you wait for the next arc to start rather than spending hard-earned money on this issue, because it doesn’t look like this issue adds anything particularly interesting to the current run on Detective Comics.

Score: 5/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.