Detective Comics #1027
Since this is an anthology issue, in lieu of a recap, here is the listing of each story and their respective creative teams.
A good anthology, even one published as an issue in a long-running ongoing series, succeeds more on vibe, and how much its stories gel with that overall vibe. What this usually means is that heavily plot- and story-focused stories tend to falter, while stories that read more as mood pieces, or dig into unexplored narrative corners, really pop off the page.
This particular anthology—celebrating the 1000th issue anniversary since Batman’s very first appearance in Detective Comics #27—features no bad stories, mostly varying levels of satisfying. Every writer and artist involved brought their A-Game, and it really shows in the work on display here. Tomasi and Walker’s opening story, “Blowback”, does a lot of work to set up the feel of the issue: this is a celebration of a long-running character, one that’s been through several iterations, moods, looks, and eras. Villains have undergone similar evolutions over the years, and the art-heavy story does a lot to showcase just how much Batman is out there. Bendis’ story, “The Master Class”, is a pleasant hang-out filled with lots of snappy dialog, showcasing one of his strengths when writing teams. Not much happens, but it’s a pleasure to read through. David Marquez provides a smooth, cartoony look that helps cement the casual nature of the story.
From there, the issue really showcases the durability and adaptability of the Batman/Gotham mythos, the wide range of stories that have been told over the years using the same basic set of characters and tools. Stories of Gotham and the Bat have come in many different forms over the years, and this issue really drives that point home.
Again, the stories that hone in on a vibe, rather than tell a straightforward story, are the most successful here. Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso channel some of that Gotham Central (and Year One) energy for a story about being a good cop in a land of nothing but bad ones (it reads a little awkwardly in 2020, but the general thesis is commendable), complete with a small cameo from Montoya and Allen. James Tynion IV illustrates Batman’s relationship to the mystical in a way that feels true to the character—he’s a detective, not a skeptic or cold rationalist, and that means he’s always ready to accept things beyond normal human comprehension. This pair of stories are charming in their own way, showcasting their own senses of resilience in an admittedly weird and cruel world.
Tom King and Walter Simonson (with John Workman on letters!) get their own powerful story about Batman engaging with death—his own and his enemy’s. There’s a beautiful, tragic feeling to it, King’s selfless Batman unwilling to compromise his own morals, even when he knows it will endanger him in the long run. Simonson’s art, long the exemplar of KRAKOOM-style whiz-bang action, is an odd choice here, but underneath that is an artist that knows how to put together a page for maximum dramatic impact, and he pulls that off wonderfully here.
Elsewhere, the stories are average, elevated by the top-flight art on display. Ivan Reis showcases his talent for massive action scenes in a story with Scott Snyder, Marv Wolfman gets a story that captures some of that free-wheeling 70’s Batman complete with smooth, fluid, Neal Adams-esque art. At the back of the book are two stories that function as trailers for upcoming storylines. The first, written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain, is a moody piece focused on the fallout of the Joker War. Fine stuff.
The other, with slightly confusing credits (Dan Jurgens is listed as writer and artist, with Kevin Nowlan credited for “finished art”) is a teaser story for DC Generations, and while it is, again, average at best, the art is top-notch, and the twist it pulls at the end is enough is draw readers in for whatever might come next. The issue is filled with lots of this sort of elevated but conventional superhero storytelling, a welcome, warm hug of an issue that comforts as much as it thrills.
But the story that feels the most out of place, but also the most apt, is “Detective #26”, written by Grant Morrison with art by Chris Burnham. It details the rise and abrupt fall of the Silver Ghost, a hero modeled on the hat-wearing, scarved pulp heroes of the late 30’s and early 40’s. It is a story capturing a moment in time, a few seconds before the world changed. He’s modeling himself on what’s current and what’s come before, not what might be coming next. It’s a story about Batman, and superheroes more generally, about how radically things can change in the blink of an eye. His conceptual weight exerts a force strong enough to change history, and Gotham would never be the same again.
And that’s what this anthology is about. Batman, as a symbol, a character, and a storytelling vehicle, has endured because of his singularity, but also his elasticity. This issue, and the decades of classic runs and stories by everyone from Marv Wolfman, Alan Moore, and Frank Miller, as well as non-Batman Gotham books like Hitman and Gotham Central, are a testament to the durability of Batman and Gotham. So many stories can be told, and so many corners can be explored—all a writer has to do is dig into those dark places, and see what comes up.
An all-star lineup of writers and artists showcase the durability and versatility of the Batman in Detective Comics #1027.
Detective Comics #1027: Vibing On A Symbol
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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