To say Detective Comics #1027 is historic is an understatement. It’s not only the 1,000th appearance of Batman, but it also harbors some of the greatest talents in modern comics. Names like Greg Rucka, Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Tom King, Lee Bermejo, Brad Walker, Chris Burnham, Jamal Campbell, Walt Simonson, Jim Cheung, and Olivier Coipel grace these pages, and that’s not even all of them! Over the course of 12 stories, these creators aim to honor Batman, honor the series itself, and honor DC Comics. They’ve done that in spades.
As an anthology book, not every story is going to resonate the same, so in this review I’ll focus on the stories that spoke to me the most. Considering the talent involved, though, there is literally something here for every Batman fan, from the Bat-family story to a kooky tale connecting Bruce to his mother and ghosts, to a reminder of Batman’s greatest rogues, to a story about heroism in Gotham. Editors Paul Kaminski and Dave Wielgosz have put together 144 pages of true Bat-loving enjoyment. You can’t go wrong with this book.
The opening story by Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker (with inks by Andrew Hennessy and colors by Nathan Fairbairn) is a great way to start this book. It’s a fun look at the rogues all displayed in profiles exquisitely drawn by Walker. It reads like a love letter to Batman’s greatest villains, all the while Batman is drowning in a trap pondering his villains. The cohesion between his imminent death and the villains is a testament to Batman’s ability to stay hyperfocused and also one step ahead of the game. The art is gorgeous and poster-worthy throughout, and a reminder Walker is possibly the best Batman artist going today.
Following this is Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s “The Master Class” story, which features all of the Bat-Family. It’s a good story thanks to the detective work in play — something many writers seem to forget when they write Detective Comics — and it utilizes the many personalities of Batman’s family well. This story, much like a few others, could have easily been sold as-is and the books would have flown off the shelves. Marquez’s style works well with the cast, which all have the appropriate sizes and details in their costumes. There’s a great full-page spread of a victim complete with panels pointing to clues all over his body that’s quite cool. That victim is laying on top of a glass ceiling, beautifully colored by Alejandro Sanchez. It’s a good example of a slightly shorter story feeling whole and complete.
Next up — yes, the first three stories are all stellar — Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (who draws and colors) tell a birthday story. It’s a great back and forth between Batman and Joker, showing us the years-long adventure of Joker attempting to give Batman a present (usually dead bodies). The story is as clever as Fraction’s great Jimmy Olsen series and plays into Batman’s patience being tested by the Joker. It’s a love affair of sorts between them, and it’s a cleverly told story.
Other stories that are great include James Tynion and Riley Rossmo’s (with colors by Ivan Plascencia) Deadman team-up story that does a clever thing with ghosts. It also plays into Bruce’s loss of his mother. You gotta love Rossmo’s cartoony and unique style. It’s loads of fun. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham team up again–after their amazing Batman run years ago–for a clever story about another hero in Gotham. It plays into the old-school nature of Gotham–old cars, the old style of clothing–and has a fun twist ending you won’t see coming. Scott Snyder and Ivan Reis deliver a tale about Batman’s inability to quit and to always find solutions. The story weaves in the many other heroes and caps off with a definitive statement on how Batman will always find a way.
I did have reservations with a few of the stories. I didn’t love a tale involving an oceanic journey (though the flashback story to Bruce’s ancestor was intriguing), and in another the use of Radioactive Man is interesting, but the captioning was too obtuse for my liking. Considering some may enjoy these angles on Batman, and there are so many other good stories surrounding them, I suspect most will glide right on by.
Many will be talking about Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan’s “Generations: Fractured” story due to its connection to the Generations: Shattered #1 one-shot. This story blends a fun caper in with a multiverse twist that’s quite cool. The blue Batman costume is a welcome return too and there’s a deep-cut reveal that should be fun to explore in the upcoming one-shot.
This is without a doubt one of the finest extra-sized Batman issues ever made. It seems like DC Comics learned a few things from Detective Comics #1000 by not tying into the current storylines too much, and instead, showing different slivers of the character. There’s a lot of variance in the tales, showing Batman’s fighting ability, his inability to give up, his ability to solve crimes as Bruce Wayne, and showing off his rogues gallery too. Anyone could read this and know why Batman is great and how the many shades that make up the hero make him all the greater.
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