Detective Comics #27
Written by various
Art by various
This week you get an extra Deadshirt Is Reading! We’re starting by picking apart DC’s celebration of Batman’s 75th Anniversary, which conveniently coincides with the release of Detective Comics #27 volume 2. (Batman first appeared in Detective #27 in 1939.) The issue is an anthology of seven stories, most of them reflecting on the character’s history and legacy. You can catch our thoughts on each story below.
“The Case of The Chemical Syndicate”
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by Bryan Hitch
Calling myself a Brad Meltzer apologist isn’t the thing I’d be proudest to put on my resume, but I tend to rate Identity Crisis and his Justice League run considerably higher than a lot of my friends, so his take on the over-captioned, real world “modern” update of a very well worn Bat yarn, drawn by Bryan Hitch on a real deadline, is right up my own personal Crime Alley. Unfortunately, Scott Snyder just got finished revamping the Joker origin in a far more spectacular fashion, so this short little outing, while appreciated, gets completely overshadowed. I enjoyed the set-up, with Wayne Manor being treated like an eavesdropping hotbed, a la Tim Burton’s 1989 film.
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art by Neal Adams
I had to go back and check that Gregg Hurwitz was the credited writer on this thing because it reads a lot like Neal Adams’ inexplicable BATMAN: ODYSSEY. This isn’t a good comic but it does have Batman comparing himself to Christ on a cross while he crawls to a comic book store so uh.
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Ian Bertram
It’s pretty weird that there are two different “old Batman” stories in this collection and this is handily the lesser of the two. Like, they’re all out of continuity stories (except for “Gothtopia”) but some diversity would’ve been nice. In general, I think this anthology is hurt by teams trying to make outside the box meta Batman “concept” stories rather than just good Batman stories. Bertram’s art has a cool Paul Pope vibe to it and I dug the giant “bat” splash page.
Written and drawn by Francesco Francavilla
Not so much a story as a story McNugget. Francavilla’s art is lovely as usual but the “twist” at the end’s only going to make sense if you’re super caught up on Snyder’s Batman. The name of the story in the table of contents lists the story as “Hero”, the comic itself says “Rain”?
Written by Mike Barr
Art by Guillem March
Since no one asked Grant Morrison to be involved, Mike Barr joins nearly every other writer in this anniversary special in trying to do a meta, self-aware take on Batman mythology and coming up short. March’s art is less overtly cheesecakey than usual, and Barr taps into that supernatural lane Batman can inhabit with ease, but it comes too close to aping Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert’s “Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?” for comfort. It was a fascinating read, but I am diametrically opposed to any story with the thesis that Bruce needs to watch his parents die to protect people from villains that only exist because of him becoming Batman.
“Gothtopia” (Part One of Three)
Written by John Layman
Art by Jason Fabok
While most of ‘Tec 27 is populated by metatextual meditations on the nature and history of the Batman mythology, “Gothtopia” is back to our regularly scheduled programming, a 26-page story from the book’s regular creative team that’s the launch pad for a crossover event. It is, however, disguised as a “what-if” story, where all the characters play slightly different roles in a hallucination of a shiny, happy Gotham. Violent crime is so low in Gotham that Batman and his team of uncharacteristically pastel allies (Selina Kyle is “Catbird,” Barbara Gordon is “Bluebelle”) now just respond to accidents and natural disasters. The Penguin is mayor and Scarecrow runs the mental hospital. It is, of course, all a lie, and now Batman has to unravel it.
Just like “The Sacrifice” before it, this story feels a little rote, as both of them have to end with Batman destroying a comfortable lie in order to restore an unpleasant truth, a la “For The Man Who Has Everything.” If nothing else, this issue includes strong artwork from rising star Jason Fabok, who demonstrates the best qualities of Jim Lee or Ethan Van Sciver without the ridiculous proportions.
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Sean Murphy
Wrapping up this 75th anniversary super special is another story (the third or fourth, depending on what you count) story about how “there must always be a Batman.” This one takes place 200 years after Batman’s first appearance, where it’s revealed that Batman has been passing the torch to generation after generation of clones, and that each one chooses to be Batman rather than start his own life. The story, like the other similar pieces in this issue, isn’t a terribly original concept, but it’s saved by gorgeous artwork by Sean Murphy, presenting a half-dozen alternate future versions of the dynamic duo, including one that drives a muscle car and another that has a Pacific Rim-scale Bat-mech. It’s essentially the final pages of Grant Morrison’s Batman #700, but from the guys who brought you The Wake.
On the whole, it’s hard to shrug off how homogenous this issue feels, despite seven stories from over a dozen creators. (But if you want to talk homogeny, consider that of the 47 people credited at the front of this issue that almost all of them are American caucasian males, and that only 2 of them are women – Katie Kubert served as assistant editor and Laura Allred inked a pin-up page. It’s DC’s representation problem summed up in a page.) But there are some fun stories and some gorgeous art to be enjoyed here in celebration of 75 years of Batman.