Celebrating 1000 issues since Batman’s first appearance, DC comics released Detective Comics #1027 on September 15. The issue features Batman writers current and past like James Tynion IV, Peter Tomasi, Scott Snyder, and Tom King, along with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s first Batman story. The plethora of writers is joined by many legendary artists, including John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Walter Simonson, and Dan Jurgens.
Fans of Grant Morrison’s Batman run will be happy to see his return to the title in a story entitled “Detective #26.” In standard Morrison fashion, he tells a meta-story incorporating the real-world publishing history and precedents to Batman in this retelling of Batman’s first adventure from Detective Comics #27, “The Case of the Criminal Syndicate.” The story follows “The Silver Ghost,” a gun-wielding pulp hero who answers Gotham’s call for a hero to fight crime in the tradition of the pulp heroes that preceded superheroes like Batman and Superman. However, the Silver Ghost quickly discovers that Gotham has given birth to a new hero, leaving the pulp heroes of the earlier era behind. In exemplary Morrison fashion, the story ends with an anti-climax for our hero, who after waxing eloquent about the importance of the vow he made to be Gotham’s savior, states rather wryly that he’ll never make another vow again, having seen that Gotham has a hero, and he’s not it.
There are several cool easter eggs in this story. Characters who preceded Batman in Detective Comics, like Crimson Avenger and Slam Bradley, are mentioned by name. In one image beautifully rendered by Chris Burnham, one can make out The Grey Ghost.
If you love Morrison’s penchant for going meta, you’ll love this story!
It was also nice seeing Greg Rucka return to write a very Gotham Central style story about a rookie cop attempting to navigate the politics of a corrupt police force (one wonders how much Rucka intended this story to speak to our current historical and political moment). Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen make an appearance, and Batman remains a constant but peripheral presence throughout the story, just like in Rucka’s former series. Fans of Gotham Central will want to grab this issue.
Walter Simonson joins Tom King in a tale dedicated to the late, great Denny O’Neil. In this story, readers discover how Batman dies, not at the hands of one of his more classic rogues gallery, but by the more obscure (and poisonous) Dr. Phosphorus (initially designed by Simonson in his first appearance in Detective Comics #469). Simonson’s images move back and forth between Phosphorus’s fight with Batman and an older Bruce Wayne, smiling at Selina Kyle as he passes away from cancer. Simonson’s action scenes are kinetic and action-packed, while his scenes of Bruce on his deathbed capture the final tender moments between Selina and her dying love.
Riley Rossmo serves as the artist for James Tynion IV’s for “Ghost Story,” a tale that sees Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson, judging by the outfit) team up with Deadman to stop a villain who captures the spirits of the dead and feeds on them, destroying them before they can find their final resting place. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Rossmo’s style is reminiscent of a Tim Burton aesthetic and is a perfect complement to the horror themes of this story. Rossmo’s style communicates an almost demonically mischievous when his characters smile, while the shape of his characters’ bodies is a bit inhuman and unsettling in a Jack Skellington kind of way.
This issue has a lot going for it. Several great artists are contributing to the posters and stories in this issue, and the writers create some very entertaining short stories (remember standalone comic stories? Good times…). The weakest stories in this issue, the ones that won’t stand up as potentially timeless in this milestone issue, are those that tie into current ongoing series like Death Metal, Tomasi’s Detective run, and Tynion’s Joker War. These stories aren’t bad, but I’m just not sure they belong in an anniversary issue like this one.
Detective Comics #1027 also follows in a long line of special anniversary issues from DC Comics. While 1027 is indeed a significant number for Batman as a character, it comes across as a little bit of a gimmicky cash grab, considering that readers have done this already with Detective Comics #1000.
That said, this was still a very enjoyable issue with many talented creators bringing their A-game.
What did you think of Detective Comics #1027? Tell us in the comments below!