Thanks to the precedent set by last year’s Action Comics #1000, Detective Comics #1000 was always going to be a continuation of that success, with an oversized anthology of tales from some of the industry’s leading lights, and creators closely associated with Batman over the years to boot. From fairly newcomers such as Tom King and Brian Michael Bendis (hey, we are talking 80 years of Detective Comics, don’t forget) there are also tales from Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, both legends who served up some of the greatest Batman stories in his entire history.
Such anniversary issues, especially one that marks such an auspicious occasion, give the creators and readers alike a time to reflect, as well as find new corners that were previously unexplored. One such tale is that written by filmmaker and comics fan, Kevin Smith and illustrated by Jim Lee and Scott Williams, with colour by Alex Sinclair and lettering provided by Todd Klein, in which we discover the final fate of the gun that shot down Bruce’s parents on that fatal night.
The lead-in story, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, which acts as a prologue to the varied tales to follow, nicely reminds longer term readers that once upon a time, albeit for 26 issues, Detective Comics had stories that didn’t feature the Dark Knight. And, it was a welcome return for Detective Comics #1’s featured character of Slam Bradley (a lesser know Siegel and Shuster creation), leading up the secretive Guild of Detection. The story – Batman following clue after clue throughout his caped career – gives this anniversary issue more resonance as Batman ponders that the endless succession of clues he’s following are part of “a case that seems to have a thousand parts“. I thought that as a nice touch, cementing the issue’s landmark in style.
The standout story for me was, surprisingly enough, one that barely featured Batman at all. And that honour goes to Paul Dini’s ballad to the worst henchman in Gotham City, in “The Legend of Knute Brody”, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs with colours by John Kalisz and letters from Steve Wands. A fun look at the doofus that is Knute Brodsy through the eyes of the colourful criminals who rue the day they hired him. It’s a humorous tale and a reminder that god old Batsy doesn’t always have to be so dark. Plus, it adds to the overall feeling of celebration you’ll get from reading these stories. It reminded me of the vibe from the 3 series of The Brave and The Bold animation series from a few years back. But then, Dini is known for his animation work and the groundbreaking Batman The Animated Series as well as the memorable episode of The Brave and The Bold, “Legends of the Dark Mite“. And, it’s this humour he unleashes here. You’ll love it!
One more to look out for from a set of stories that are all worthy of being included in this special issue-for-the-ages is “The Precedent” by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez-Beuno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson and Sal Cipriano, who deliver a different perspective on the whole Batman/Robin dynamics. Like I said, issue’s like this allow creators to review and revise; or in some cases offer up new ways of looking at familiar things. It all adds to the Batman mythos, enriching it forever. Another good element to an anniversary issue of this stature. Something old, something new.
I could go on, but it’s best you discover your this issue for yourself. With its playfulness and celebratory tone, all delivered by a comic book powerhouse of talent, this is a truly classic anniversary issue that reminds us all of the amazing legacy of Batman, but also looks to the future too and what could be.
Oh, and I nominate the above panel by Kelley Jones as the “Panel of the Week” if there was such a prize. Beautifully chilling and purposefully evocative of Joker presager, The Man Who Laughs. In this panel alone, the whole of the best of Batman is exquisitely captured. An honourable tribute to Batman’s influences, the horror, and the magnificent, colourful ghouls that have plagued our heroes for the past 80 years. And counting.
Happy Birthday, Batman.
Detective Comics #1000 is currently available from DC Comics.