Detective Comics #27 ReviewJanuary 24, 2014
Batman’s first appearance was in Detective Comics Vol. 1 #27, way back in 1939. For Detective Comics Vol. 2’s 27th issue — as well as the Caped Crusader’s 75th anniversary — DC Comics has decided to put together a mega-sized issue featuring an all-star roster of Batman creators. Seven stories take a look at the Dark Knight’s roots, as well as alternate realities and the far-away future. What would have happened if Bruce Wayne’s parents survived that mugging? You’ll find the answer in the pages of Detective Comics #27.
“The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate” is a retelling of Bill Finger’s classic tale, updated by Brad Meltzer and Bryan Hitch. This version is an introspective character study of the Bat that sheds light on Bruce Wayne’s motivations for donning the cape and cowl. Is he a hero? Is he insane? Does he love the thrill of the hunt and striking fear in the hearts of his enemies? As it turns out, it’s all that and more. This tale also shows the beginnings of The Joker, as well as Jim Gordon’s first run-in with Batman. Bryan Hitch’s art is well-defined, and his version of the Batsuit feels like a cool mix of the 1970’s costume and the suit from the Arkham video games.
“Old School” has Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams taking the reader on a journey through the various Batman eras, from the Silver age all the way up to the modern Dark Knight era. It’s quite clever, and the way that Neal Adams mimics the various art styles from Carmine Infantino to Frank Miller really helps sell it. There’s some meta commentary here about how Batman has changed throughout the years to suit what people want to read, without feeling overly forced.
Peter Tomasi and Ian Bertram’s “Better Days” is one of my favorites in Detective Comics #27. The pair takes a look at Bruce Wayne’s later years – at age 75 to be exact. As everyone from Dick Grayson to Barbara Gordon to a barely-alive Alfred surprise Bruce with a party for his birthday, a distress call pulls the crime-fighters away. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Bruce dons the Batsuit one last time without anyone else’s knowledge, putting away swarms of criminals before making it back to the Bat Cave in time for cake. It’s a lighthearted tale with a unique art style courtesy of Bertram.
The two best stories in Detective Comics #27 are “Gothopia” which will tie into forthcoming comics, and “Twenty-Seven”. “Gothopia” sees another alternate reality in which Bruce is happy, but in a timeline where he still became Batman. He’s more of a White Knight than the Dark Knight we all know and love here, with a bit of a Captain America vibe as Gotham City’s celebrated hero. He fights on the clean city streets in the daylight, his suit is white (and armored, echoing the Arkham Origins suit), he fights alongside a hybrid Catwoman/ Robin named Catbird (who is also his lover), and among his allies are Mayor Cobblepott and Commissioner Sionis. Despite crime rates being down by 90%, a string of suicides are occurring in Gotham, and Bruce knows something is very wrong. With a twist that reminded me very much of The Matrix, this is an interesting tale that will hopefully be explored fully in the upcoming tie-ins. I should also note that Jason Fabok’s artwork here is exceptional – it’s honestly some of the coolest, most detailed art I’ve ever seen in a comic book.
Scott Snyder teams up with artist Sean Murphy for “Twenty-Seven”, a very intriguing look at Batman 200 years into the future. This is a story best left completely unspoiled, but suffice it to say that I will be very surprised if this isn’t explored further in a future graphic novel or animated movie.
Detective Comics #27 is successful at paying homage to the Dark Knight’s 75-year history. While there aren’t too many classic creators represented in this issue, the talent on display here is diverse and gifted enough to create a compelling collection of short stories that every Batman fan needs to have on their shelf.