A Tribute of the Highest Quality
2014 marks a pretty momentous occasion, as the 75th anniversary of Batman is finally upon us. DC Comics have decided to appropriately celebrate this milestone with delivering a super-sized issue of the second volume of Detective Comics #27. With numerous talents that were instrumental in shaping stories for the Dark Knight, it really beckons anyone that is curious at this book to gaze at this collaboration. But the entry price of $7.99 may be a bit too much to ask.
Is this issue of Detective Comics worth the $7.99 admission? Will it deliver with an amazing series of stories or will it be a victim of its own hype? Grab your cape and cowl, get your utility belts ready, and join me, as I review the landmark anniversary issue of Detective Comics #27.
Firstly, the covers for this issue are impressive. The Frank Miller cover is a welcome addition. His take on Catwoman, which happens to be an unused art piece for All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, shows that even his unused art, when used correctly, can be pretty eye-catching. The Greg Capullo cover is simple and yet, efficient in conveying an iconic look, for it's somewhat synonymous with the ending scene in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie. And the astounding part of this, is that both these covers, which can easily pass off as variants, are both regular covers.
The variant covers made by Jim Lee, Jason Fabok, Tony Daniel, and Chris Burnham are all exhilarating to look at. Lee does a great close-up of how Batman used to look and operate as a crime fighter, while adding his own modern touches. Daniel's cover was good, but it would've benefited from having a blue night sky background instead of the green background that's present. Fabok's cover is just a gem in its own right, mixing the tragedy of Bruce Wayne's childhood with the man that he has been for 75 years. Burnham's cover brings back wonderful memories to his work on Batman Inc.with Grant Morrison, while skillfully giving a spotlight to the supporting characters of Batman as well.
The stories, while some were short, and others were introductions to a future storyline, were all superb to read. The quality in each of the tales shows how much each writer and artist took this task seriously, and didn't fail to deliver.
Brad Meltzer and Bryan Hitch's take on The Case of the Chemical Syndicate does an exemplary job of retelling the story that Bob Kane and Bill Finger made a volume ago. The art by Hitch constantly knocked it out of the park, showing his ability to dazzle as he has done countless times in Age of Ultron and America's Got Powers.
Gregg Hurwitz, the scribe who has made great work on Batman: The Dark Knight, teams up with the legendary Neal Adams, to create a surprisingly humorous, yet strong short story of Batman's history in Old School. Adams shows he can still go draw a really good story, effortlessly blending Silver Age art with Bronze Age art without forcing a change of pace in the story. This story easily steals the show.
Better Days by Peter Tomasi and Ian Bertram has Batman effectively aged at 75, to reflect his anniversary. Ian Bertram's art, at first, can be confused with Frank Quitely because of the art style they both share, but as the short story goes on, Bertram easily shatters that notion with a double-page spread that has to be appreciated in its ease of combining with the narrative that Tomasi has laid out. The writing by Tomasi is solid as always, further showing that his work on the Batman and Robin book is not to be ignored.
Francesco Francavilla was a surprise entry with his short story, called Hero. He uses his art to tell a short, but very sweet story of how the Gordons always appreciate Batman's help. His pulp-style art never stops to amaze, and even though his story was only 4 pages, they're worth looking at again and again.
Mike W. Barr, the scribe from the wonderful Batman and the Outsiders book from years past, joins with Guillem March to show how drastically different the world, and the people that inhabit it can be, if his parents' death didn't occur in The Sacrifice. It's minimally colored, but it compliments the story as well as March's art. Barr's writing really goes for the jugular in the writing of this alternate timeline, making emphasis on how important a sacrifice can be.
Gothtopia by John Layman and Jason Fabok, aside from being their final story together in Detective Comics, is also a story that delivers a hell of an opening salvo for this storyline. As the solicits describe, Gotham is a happy place, with little to no crime. This would normally be welcome for Batman, but as the story goes on, nothing is what it seems, and the truth becomes more jarring than expected. For his last story in Detective, Layman does a great job of detailing this dreamland of sorts, having wonderful aliases and new positions for Batman's supporting cast, and giving a great platform for the tie-in issues to start from. Jason Fabok continues to delivers that crisp, detailed art that has adorned Detective Comics since issue 13. The coloring by Tomeu Morey does a great job of complimenting Fabok's art, varying from the sunny days to the all too familiar rainy nights that blanket Gotham. If they're going out, they're going out with a bang, as the saying goes.
And last, but definitely not least, is Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy with Twenty Seven, a futuristic tale about the legacy of Batman, and the people that take up the mantle. Murphy's art is exceptional, as he crafts a future that becomes more and more unique in its details, and the calamities that occur in said future. Snyder's writing was good for the story, creating his own take on the future and Batman inhabiting it.
Throughout the book, there were also pin-ups from several artists, ranging from Jock, Graham Nolan, Michael Allred, among others. These drawings happen to compliment all the styles that have been used with Batman, from the 60s TV show, to the 90s style of drawing.
All in all, this was a well-executed book that paid a very respectful tribute to the World's Greatest Detective. And it is worth the $8 it asks. If you're on the fence about Detective Comics, or if you just happen to enjoy this wonderful medium for the first time, give this book a shot. It's a lot more than just a simple cash grab, it's a labor of love for this iconic hero in which everyone stepped up and gave it their all. Detective Comics #27 is easily the Wrestlemania of comic book anniversary issues, and future issues should aspire to reach its execution, if not surpass it.
It's so nice, I decided it to buy it twice. All jokes aside, buy this book. The high quality it emits will win you over.