Review: Detective Comics #27

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Don’t miss a modern-day retelling of The Dark Knight’s origin by the incredible team of writer Brad Meltzer and artist Bryan Hitch! Plus, all-new stories by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, Peter J. Tomasi and Guillem March, Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen, Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams, new art by legendary Batman writer/artist Frank Miller and more! Also in this issue, John Layman and Jason Fabok kick off the new storyline “GOTHTOPIA”! It’s a bright, shiny, happy place where dreams come true…as long as you don’t look at things too closely.

This year is a very special year for Batman. Yes, he’s going to be appearing in a new movie sporting Ben Affleck’s face, but more importantly the Caped Crusader is turning 75.  You don’t let a milestone like that go by without some fanfare. To celebrate the anniversary of DC’s greatest hero (yeah I said it), Detective Comics #27 brings together a murders’ row of talent with Bat talent new and old. Oddly enough Detective Comics #27 was when Batman first appeared. This Detective #27 brings together writers Brad Meltzer, Gregg Hurwitz, Peter J. Tomasi, Francesco Francavilla (who handles his own art), Mike Barr, John Layman, and Scott Snyder. Artists include Bryan Hitch, Neal Adams, Ian Bertram, Guillem March, Jason Fabok, and Sean Murphy. So how does the 96 page celebration issue measure up?

There are seven stories and several pin-ups included in this over-sized issue. One could easily dissect these stories and write an entire thesis on them, I’ll save you the time and just share some quick thoughts on them.

batman coverThe Case of the Chemical Syndicate kicks things off. Meltzer takes a different approach in his retelling of Batman’s first adventure. Batman goes through the case laid out 75 years ago, but the story as told as Batman’s first journal entry. Meltzer strips Batman down and tries to explore why he does what he does. Hitch’s art is spectacular as always when it comes to characters and backgrounds, but it seems like he was reigned in a little with this one. It doesn’t have quite the cinematic scope since the artist goes with a more traditional panel and page layout style.

Old School is just that, an old school and meta look at Batman through the ages. Hurwitz goes a little out there with his story, but this is one of the more fun shorts included. The legendary Neal Adams does art and he gets to draw many different Batman costumes. That’s enough said about that. This one was fun and felt like a good natured anniversary short.

Better Days by Tomasi with art by Bertram is fantastic. It takes the hardcore edge of Frank Miller’s Batman and tells the story of Bruce celebrating his 75th birthday. He’s old, he’s down, but he’s not out. Bertram’s art is stellar. From tone, characters, action, and layout, Bertram hits all the marks and presents some crisp and clean art that riffs on Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.

Hero by Francavilla is the shortest of the lot. The artist uses his style to convey some emotion with his use of profiles and really selling the stormy setting. It’s the shortest of the bunch, so it feels a little hollower than the others, but read it again to catch the real meaning.

The Sacrafice by Barr and March is one of the more powerful stories. The Phantom Stranger stops by to show Batman what the world would be like if his parents weren’t gunned down in that alley all those years ago. You can only imagine how things go from there. March’s art feel very old school Batman and serves the story tremendously well.

Gothtopia from Layman and Fabok set up the new story that will be taking place in future Detective issues. It’s a nice start but it feels a little out of place as odd as that sounds. The story has a huge amount of potential, but it doesn’t quite have a big kick. You can kind of see where things are going with the introduction though I’m sure there’s going to be more twists and turns in the subsequent stories and tie-ins.

Finally, Twenty-Seven by Snyder and Murphy is pure perfection. Forget Batman Beyond, this is the future of Batman. I could have read 96 pages of this and would have been just as satisfied. Snyder crafts a future and an end story as it were for his Batman. Whether this actually becomes canon or not, it doesn’t matter. This is Snyder’s finale but he does seed a lot of things he may well pick up on in his current Batman run. Murphy and Snyder work well together (see The Wake), so Murphy’s art is nothing less than perfect for what Snyder presents. This story was my favorite.

Bottom Line: As comic fans we shell out money for anniversary issues and the like all the time, but Detective Comics #27 is one you will not regret. 96 pages for the cost essentially 2 comics isn’t a bad price considering everything that’s included. If you’re a Batman fan this is a no brainer. It’s really good even if you’re not a bat-maniac. 4.5/5

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