In the years of reading all different types of stories, I’ve always appreciated a good detective story/mystery. Two of my favorites have always been Sherlock Holmes and, of course, Batman.
These 2 have crossed paths in the past. In the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics, Issue 572, our heroes are taken abroad to London, in search of answers to a yet another case. In this particular story, Batman is assisted by an elderly Sherlock near the end of the story.
However, a few years ago, the 2 greatest detectives battled with much more than wits. They battled in rhymes. In a popular Internet video series, they pit various fictional, and non-fictional figures, in a rap battle in order to prove dominance. In one particular video, I was overjoyed to see the Caped Crusader take on the pipe-sporting eccentric genius. My joy soon turned to salt, as the video comes to an end. Holmes drops the mic in a fashion popularized by the feature films.
I was stunned. Thankfully, this was merely a fan made video strictly for entertainment, but that wasn’t enough. I had to know who truly was the better detective. Now, in my extensive knowledge of Batman (far from all-knowing, but I’m getting there), I have never read a story where Batman has wrongfully accused a criminal. There was the occasional induced hysteria, or possible hypnotizing, but he always solved the case.
Holmes, on the other hand, though incredibly rare, has been overconfident, and missed key pieces to a case, six times to be specific. Only 2 times have been written in full detail: The Adventure of the Yellow Face and The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual. In The Yellow Face, Watson recounts “…where he failed it happened too often that no one else succeeded. Now, and again, however, it chanced that even when he erred, the truth was discovered.”
In the story, Holmes was hired to find a yellow-faced figure hiding in a cottage on the edge of the client’s property. He was tasked to find out who the mysterious stranger is, and why the client’s wife had been seen nearby. Holmes deduces the stranger is the woman’s ex-husband, and she had been spotted bringing him food. We soon discover that the yellow-faced figure was the wife’s daughter from her previous marriage.
The 2nd instance was a much smaller mistake. Holmes is visited by an old acquaintance (Musgrave) after the disappearance of his friend’s domestic staff (a maid and butler). Once informed that the butler stumbled across a secret poem dating back 2 centuries, Holmes gathers all the evidence andquickly realizes that the poem is in fact a riddle, and that the butler had made the same discovery. Holmes and Musgrave make it to what Holmes believes to be the final location where Sherlock explains the situation. Then, towards the end, he realizes he forgot the end of the riddle, and finds the secret hideout with (dramatic crescendo) the body of the butler.
I know. It’s a very minor detail, but he was wrong. The other 4 times were never discussed because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wasn’t about to sell stories about his star detective being incorrect. Nevertheless, there are literally no stories wherein Batman didn’t find the answer. He has always gotten his man, and knew every step of the way to get them. I scoured the Internet for hours, I even searched through The Essential Batman Encyclopedia and found nothing (besides one very interesting fan fiction) that says the Dark Knight has ever been amiss about a case. Thus I deduce, my good chum, that Batman is the superior investigator.
If you’ve ever read a story where the Batman was mistaken (which let’s face it, there are none), let us know in the comments. Or let us know if you agree, and earn him rap battle redemption.