Detective Comics #27: Special Edition (Batman 75 Day Comic)
DC Comics (posted to comiXology July, 2014)
As part of the 75th anniversary, on “Batman Day”, DC released this special comic, featuring the first appearance of “The Bat-Man”, a retelling of that story, and another story. The original Detective Comics #27 (I reviewed the Millenium Edition reprint if you’re curious) featured other not-Batman heroes that never really made a strong appearance, though The Crimson Avenger does pop up now and then.
The Bat-Man: The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate
(WRITER: Bill Finger; ARTIST/CREATOR: Bob Kane) And no, I’m not getting into that debate. That’s what’s written in the comic, although Finger’s credit was in the reprint’s credits section. This is also the original review from the reprint of the full original comic linked to above.
Socialite Bruce Wayne is hanging around Commissioner Gordon’s house when Gordon receives a call about a murder and invites his friend to tag along. (Boy, crime scenes were different in the 30’s.) A friend of the man receives the same death threat the current victim received and while the criminals kill him as well, they’re met by the “Bat-Man” (that’s how it’s written most of the time) who manages to save the final victim and cover the reason for the murders.
There are a lot of differences. When the “Bat-Man” punches the villain and he falls into a tank of acid that happens to be there for some reason his response is “A fitting ending for his kind”. That’s pretty cold, the “Bat-Man”. You can see most of his classic outfit except the cape isn’t nearly as cool as it would become (not quite “best cape in comics” level) and the ears point on an angle. It’s still an interesting story, as the “Bat-Man” shows some decent detective work but there is a big difference from the Batman we know and love today.
The other two stories come from the 2014 volume (post New 52) version of Detective Comics #27 and are new reviews for me.
The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate
WRITER: Brad Meltzer | ARTIST: Bryan Hutch | COLORIST: David Baron | LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
Meltzer modernized the original story and makes a bunch of changes. So I think work or are at least necessary. It was odd even in the 1930s for Commissioner Gordon to just invite a friend a long to a murder scene like it’s a show, so he has Bruce bug his car keys, though it’s odd that the narration says that’s why he had the fundraiser. Bruce holds the fundraisers so the police can afford to hire less crooked cops I always thought. Batman heads to the second murder and still punches out the crooks, finding the contract, but after Alfred hacks the first victims phone lines. The climax doesn’t take place in the murder’s home, which is admittedly silly to have that kind of lab setup when he has the factory that he is trying to get out of paying for in the original, but they do remove the twist by leaving out the assistant. Meltzer also decides this is early in Batman’s career so Batman doesn’t think to grab a wrench to break the chamber glass before diving in (at least it isn’t a big glass dome this time) and nearly breaks his arm trying to break the glass, which I’m not a fan of.
It’s the change to the motivation and the lack of change to the villain’s fate I think was a misstep. In the original story the killer didn’t have the money to pay his colleagues for the factory so decided to have his men kill the others and steal the contracts to hide the plan from the victims’ heirs. Here they’re going to vote him out so he decides to kill them. Also it’s Ace Chemicals, which is usually tied to the Joker thanks to Tim Burton’s movie. However, the bad guy still falls into the acid, not during a fight with Batman but when Batman tries to save the arriving Gordon and another officer. It didn’t feel right if you’re modernizing a Batman story to have him kill a dude. The worst part however is that there’s two narration boxes, which are distinct but while one actually fills out the story the other is the supposed first journal entry. It just goes on and on about why he does it and it’s both distracting and a bit disturbing. I would have rather they dropped that part entirely. And the story ends with the dude’s green hand coming out of the chemical vat. Was he trying to set up another villain or give us yet another Joker origin? Despite my nitpicks though I did enjoy the story overall. There’s just decisions I wouldn’t have made and didn’t really care for.
WRITER: Scott Snyder | ARTIST: Sean Murphy | COLORIST: Matt Hollingsworth | LETTERER: Steve Wands
This is a weird one. Bruce is sitting the chair promising his father he’ll become a bat, and then is woken up by an old man with one arm. He claims to be Bruce, the inference being that Batman clones himself, but the new clones only have twenty seven years of effectiveness before they burn out. So if Gotham still needs a Batman a new clone is made. Bruce considers leaving until he hears a police bulletin that a villain is lose and returns, ready to become the next Batman.
First off I am not a fan of the art style. If you read this comic and really like it, fine. It just looks weird to me and not very interesting. The story itself is also a bit weird, so I guess it matches the art. I could see if this was some tribute to the various interpretations of Batman over the years, some of which have been in a futuristic setting if not straight up in the future. However, it’s just about how each generation had their own Batman with no ties to any previous version but the original (or presumably New 52 version) of Batman so it also feels like a missed opportunity.
The book ends with a redo of the fight from the original first story with that same annoying “journal” narration of the modern rework so I already don’t like it. It’s a preview of an Batman story collection for the 75th anniversary.
Overall…I mean it’s free if you have a free comiXology account but otherwise it’s not really a must-read story. The original is since it’s where the “Bat-Man” got his start but the remake is a curiosity at best (nice artwork though) and was already printed in a different comic. The new tale is just a bunch of gibberish to me and not worth your time. For the price why not I guess but I’m happy having a reprint of the actual first appearance and the stories that came with it. I’d recommend finding that instead as it at least has more historical value.