DC celebrates 75 years of Batman with mega-sized 'Detective Comics' #27
(CBR) While DC Comics sacrificed some bragging rights in 2011 when it rebooted its superhero line, even the never-before-renumbered "Action Comics" and "Detective Comics", one consequence of relaunching "TEC" was that it was only a matter of time — 26 months, to be exact — before the company got around to publishing a new "Detective Comics" #27. And that the second "Detective Comics" #27 would see release during the 75th year of Batman’s career, well, all the better.
The first "Detective Comics" #27, published in 1939, was, of course, the first appearance of Batman. The anthology’s cover was surrendered to an arresting image of a spooky man in tights, wearing a bat-mask and sporting huge bat-like wings, scooping up a gangster in a headlock while swinging in front of the yellow field above a city skyline. “Starting this issue,” the cover trumpted, “The Amazing and Unique Adventures of The Batman.” Inside, Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s pulp- and film-inspired detective hero cracked the “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and the amazing and unique adventures begun therein have yet to cease.
DC has honored that milestone in various ways over the years, with notable celebrations including Michael Uslan and Peter Snejbjerg’s 2003 Elseworlds one-shot "Batman: Detective No. 27", and 1991′s "Detective Comics" #627, in which the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle and Marv Wolfman/Jim Aparo creative teams did their own takes on “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” and both the original story and a 30th-anniversary version by Mike Friedrich and Bob Brown were reprinted.
This week brings "Detective Comics" (Vol. 2) #27, and another opportunity to celebrate that original issue, and Batman’s 75th anniversary, which DC does in a 90-page, prestige-format special issue — essentially a trade paperback with some ads in it — featuring contributions from the writers of all four of the main Batman books of the moment and about as strong a list of contributing artists as a reader could hope for.
In general, it’s an excellent package, and a pretty good value — sure, eight bucks is a lot for a comic, but considering some 22-page books cost half of that these days, that’s pretty hard to beat. And there’s enough talent in here that it’s hard to imagine any fan of Batman comics for any length of time not finding something to their liking in here. Or, more likely, a whole lot of things to their liking.
Let’s look at them all one by one, shall we?
COVERS AND PIN-UPS
Regular "Batman" artist Greg Capullo provides the cover, an evocative if somewhat generic image of Batman in silhouette, standing on a gargoyle, and looking up at the Bat-signal shining on a cloudy night sky (as for why Capullo didn’t try an homage to the original "TEC" #27‘s cover, he’s actually already worked one into an issue of the “Zero Year” arc in "Batman"). The table of contents lists additional variant covers penciled by Chris Burnham, Tony S. Daniel, Jason Fabok, Jim Lee and Frank Miller, of which only the latter really stands out as particularly arresting, although perhaps not for the right reasons (it’s a wraparound cover featuring a Catwoman, in a costume of Miller’s own design, on all fours).
Sprinkled throughout the issue are pin-ups from Pat Gleason (the "Batman and Robin" artist, working in a nearly unrecognizable retro style in order to depict the original Batwoman and Bat-Mite, among others), Jock (Snyder’s collaborator on the first arc of his pre-"Batman" run on "TEC"), Kelley Jones (one of the most highly stylized artists to ever draw Batman, having a healthy run as a cover artist and as the interior artist on "Batman", in addition to a string of Elseworlds projects with Doug Moench), Graham Nolan (who had an excellent run on "TEC" with writer Chuck Dixon in the ’90s) and, finally, Mike Allred (whose best-known Batman work is probably the "Batman ’66" covers). Of these, none are particularly exceptional pieces, and each creator has definitely done better Batman work elsewhere, but they’re all nice shout-outs of sorts to various Batman artists (Norm Breyfogle and Tim Sale seem somewhat conspicuous in their absence, though, and either artist, or Bruce Timm, seem, more “deserving” of a page in here than, say, Jock).
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