Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review of Detective Comics #27

Earlier in the year, I declared this a Year for Batman. This was in light of it being the 75th anniversary of his first appearance, in Detective Comics #27. That story was written and drawn by Bob Kane, and almost certainly Bill Finger.

My daughter Emily and I recently talked about this historical issue on an episode of Shortbox Showcase. Here is a brief discussion of the Caped Crusader's very first appearance.

In reading these old stories, it is always fun to see plot elements and characters who have "stuck" for all these years. And in the very first panel of the very first Batman story every published, we find Bruce Wayne chatting with his old friend, Commissioner Gordon. I love that this key supporting character is literally there from the very beginning.

Within the first few years of publication, Robin, the Joker, and Cat-Woman (first known as The Cat) had all appeared. The plot in this first story involves the deaths of leading industrialists, and revolves around a secret agreement the men had signed to divide the ownership of their enterprise. I liked the business angle -- in these days, the idea of "super-villains" had not quite been developed, so Batman and his crime-fighting allies spent most of their early adventures ... well, fighting actual crimes.

And the last panel reveal of Bruce Wayne as Bat-Man (with the hyphen, at that point) must have been a dramatic moment for a young person reading the magazine for the first time, back in 1939.

These are six action-packed pages, certainly dated in a number of ways and not terribly sophisticated, but certainly enjoyable. Not every new action character introduced in this era became a big hit, not by a long shot. But reading this first Bat-Man story, one can see how that this character had the makings of a long-term success.

Source: from the book Batman From The Thirties To The Seventies, which I own.

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