DKN Spotlight Review: Detective Comics #1027

Detective Comics #1027
Writers: Peter J. Tomasi, Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, James Tynion IV, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marv Wolfman, Grant Morrison, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Dan Jurgens, and Mariko Tamaki
Artists: Brad Walker, Andrew Hennessy, David Marquez, Chip Zdarsky, Eduardo Risso, Riley Rossmo, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Emanuela Luppachino, Bill Sienkiewicz, Chris Burnham, Walter Simonson, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Dan Jurgens, Kevin Nowlan, and Dan Mora
Color Artists: Nathan Fairbairn, Alejandro Sanchez, Chip Zdarsky, Eduardo Risso, Ivan Plascencia, Arif Prianto, Jordie Bellaire, Laura Martin, Marcelo Maiolo, Hi-Fi, and Tamra Bonvillain
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Joshua Reed, Aditya Bidikar, Tom Napolitano, AndWorld Design, Troy Peteri, Carlos Mangual, Steve Wands, and John Workman
Review by Steve J. Ray

Wow. Not content with giving readers 100 page anniversary specials for Detective Comics #1000, The Joker, Robin, and Catwoman, plus a deluxe hardcover version of Detective Comics #1000 with two extra stories, DC have now blessed us with 144 pages of comic-book goodness in Detective Comics #1027, which celebrates 1000 issues of the bat!

This spectacular anthology was first teased back in June, and I’ve been on tenterhooks ever since. Over the last four months, we’ve been getting tasters, teases, first looks and so much more… I’ve been positively salivating! The one drawback of so much hype can be a final product which doesn’t live up to it… I’m very glad to say that this comic doesn’t just matched my expectations, it has exceeded them.

Blowback

The book starts with a gem of a tale by the incumbent ‘Tec team of Peter J. Tomasi, Brad Walker, and Andrew Hennessy, with colors by Nathan Fairbairn. What an intro! Batman most nefarious villains, death traps, sidekicks, femmes fatale, Assassins and a Batman who’s not just a detective, but an escape artist.

It’s a stroll down memory lane, and a wonderful example of just how awesome the Dark Knight is. For those (very) few people who may never have read a Batman story before, this tale is as good an intro to the character as anyone could hope for.

The Master Class

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Not only does Batman have the best villains in all of comics – as seen in the previous story – he’s got the best supporting cast too! Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin, Batgirl, Spoiler, and Red Hood all make an appearance in this terrific little detective story. Brian Bendis writes all six characters, and the Dark Knight himself, brilliantly. It’s no secret that I haven’t been 100% sold on Bendis’ take on the Man Of Steel, but his grasp of Batman and his world, as seen here and in the wonderful Batman Universe, has been spot on perfect.

David Marquez’s art, not just on the amazing characters, but with his version of Gotham City, is incredible. I really want to see this guy drawing more Batman stories. Alejandro Sanchez’s colors are equally impressive, particularly his use of the city lights, phone screens, camera flares and shadows. I love this story.

Many Happy Returns

Batman and The Joker, The Joker And Batman. A rivalry, and a relationship for the ages. Their war has been fought on many fronts, and for over eight decades, so seeing anyone shed a new light, or offer a new perspective on their rivalry, has become a rare thing. This unnerving, scary, yet funny tale does just that. Matt Fraction is one of those writers that makes you laugh, nervously, and also makes you think. Chip Zdarsky is one of those artists whose style is deceptively simple, but whose storytelling is sublime. Oh… and he pencils, inks, and colors the whole thing himself.

I thought Batman’s birthday present to himself in the wonderful “Mythology” arc (Detective Comics 994-999) was disturbing… but wait ’til you see what Joker considers birthday gifts! I don’t know if this little gem of a tale is disturbingly hilarious or hilariously disturbing.

Rookie

This is a detective story about a new member of the GCPD, written by Greg Rucka, and drawn/colored by Eduardo Risso. If you’re a long time Batman fan, have ever read Gotham Central, the novelisation of No Man’s Land, or drooled over the art in Broken City, then you know that this story is going to be excellent before you’ve even read it. Batman’s little more than a supporting character in this story, but he’s a presence behind, and the catalyst for, everything that occurs.

It was a joy seeing the wonderful Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya again, it transported me back to the great “New Gotham” era of Detective Comics. If you liked those stories, you’ll love this one too. I really want to see Lynne Baker again, as any Rookie who can beat back the darkness to become a good cop in Gotham, deserves her time in the sun.

Ghost Story

Do you remember The Brave And The Bold, back when it was a team-up series featuring Batman and a guest DC hero every month? Man, I loved those stories. We got great, self contained, done in one tales, and we met some of the lesser known heroes of the DC Universe. One of my favorites was Boston Brand – Deadman.

This fantastic story by James Tynion, with art by Riley Rossmo and color by Ivan Plascencia, took me right back to that era. Batman and Robin, their supernatural co-star, ghosts, ghouls, and grisly grotesques in Gotham. Seeing the original Dynamic Duo in action again, just as they were in the wonderful O’Neil, Adams, and Aparo tales of yesteryear, made my heart beat a little faster, and put a big cheesy grin on my face.

Specter Collector… I love it!

Fore

Everybody knows that you don’t mess with Batman, this tale shows that Bruce Wayne’s no slouch either. Kelly Sue DeConnick’s terrific character piece gives us another well imagined, fresh perspective on Batman’s alter-ego. That enough is worth the price of admission, but when it’s drawn by two of the greatest storytellers in the history of the business, penciller John Romita Jr. and inker Klaus Janson, just as with “Rookie”, excellence is guaranteed. Oh, and Arif Prianto’s colors elevate the visuals to a whole other level!

I’ll never look at a golf club the same way again.

Odyssey

I love stories that take a loving look at the past, at Bruce Wayne’s ancestors, the history of Gotham City, and the classic DC detectives that some may have forgotten. I hope that by saying names like Roy Raymond, Slam Bradley, Captain Compass, and Cyril “Speed” Saunders, I will bring a nostalgic glow to the hearts of veteran comics nerds, like myself. Do you ever wonder if those guys ever had kids… or grand-kids?

Comics legend Marv Wolfman, rising star Emanuela Lupacchino, and the iconic Bill Sienkiewicz answer that question, and deliver a rip-roaring action tale at the same time. Detective Comics #1027 doesn’t just celebrate Batman, little tips of the hat to those other Golden Age heroes wasn’t just nice, it was essential.

Bravo, team… bravo.

Detective #26

This story doesn’t just have a clever title, it’s a wonderful tribute to the Crimson Avengers, Shadows, Grey Ghosts, Sandmen, and all the other pulp, noir avengers of the night.

This is a lovely little cautionary tale from writer Grant Morrison, artist Chris Burnham, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn, warns of the pitfalls of becoming a costumed crime-fighter, particularly if you’re not particularly well equipped to do so. I wonder how many other budding vigilantes’ careers the appearance of Batman had an effect on?

I also love the way that this story ties in so beautifully to the first ever Batman story, “The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate” from 1939’s Detective Comics #27. Batman doesn’t kill? Maybe not since the 50s, but that definitely wasn’t the case in the 1940s.

Legacy

I’ve been reading comics for about 45 years, and seriously collecting them for over 35. This means that I remember colorful characters like Doctor Phosphorous. So, when I saw the brilliant Tom King touting this story on social media, and almost losing his mind that comics icon Walt Simonson would be drawing it, I understood his excitement.

Not every supervillain can be a Joker, or a Lex Luthor, but I will definitely not be silently sniggering at Phosphorus any more, not after reading this clever story. It’s vintage King, picture perfect Simonson and Laura Martin’s colors tie the package up with a neat little bow, Oh… and that “For Denny” on the title page brought a lump to my throat.

I love the way that Tom King always throws in aged Bruce and Selina into his “possible future” stories. I want them all to come true… eventually.

As Always

No Batman anthology would be complete without a Scott Snyder story, and this one’s a doozy! Cosmic events, crises, and Earth shattering adventures are a DC staple, so we needed one in Detective Comics #1027.

Ivan Reis provides Scott’s Story with some truly epic visuals. Living Gargoyles, the Earth plucked from its orbit, The Justice League, Darkseid, the Anti-Monitor, Brainiac, Kandor and dark magic… it’s all here. Many fans like Batman grounded, and street-wise. Some even argue that he doesn’t work that well in cosmic, or supernatural stories. “Ghost Story”, “As Always”, “Dark Nights: Metal”, and its sequel, “Death Metal”, say otherwise.

Part of the reason the character is still going strong, after over 80 years of continuous publication, is his versatility and adaptability. This tale, and all the others in this wonderful collection, prove that.

Generations: Fractured

This is the one I’d been waiting for. We’ve already seen many different sides of Bruce Wayne, and Batman in this issue, but in this story we see him exactly as he appeared in Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s introductory Detective Comics #27. Once again we get a story from two comics veterans, who are also two of my all-time favorites: Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan, with great color art by Hi-Fi.

Wow, this tale is comics gold… and the best part is that this is just the beginning! I so want to drop spoilers, but honor forbids me. Suffice it to say, the title “Generations” is one you need to look out for in the coming weeks and months. Trust me.

A Gift

For those aforementioned fans of the grim and gritty Batman, here’s a tale that should be right up your (Crime) Alley. This story is a gorgeously atmospheric “Joker War” tie-in, that also evokes the classic Batman: Year One. Dan Mora’s art and Tamra Bonvillain’s colors are a stark contrast to the technicolor explosion of the “Generations: Fractured” chapter that preceded it.

Here we see a world weary, beaten and tired – but still inspiring and awesome – Batman. This story brings us fractured skylights, billowing capes, flames, fisticuffs, and another tip of the hat to a classic era. Writer Mariko Tamaki has re-introduced the mysterious “Black Casebook”, and in doing so, really captured my attention.

We’ve seen the past, and some possible futures in this issue, but this tale drags us right back to the hear and now. We all know that big changes are coming, after the “Joker War” comes to an end, and “Death Metal” reaches its cosmic conclusion. When the dust settles, will Bruce Wayne be the same again? What does the future hold for Batman? This story is well named, as it’s a gift that plants seeds of anticipation.

Conclusion

So far DC Comics’ anniversary spectaculars have been batting 100, and Detective Comics #1027 is no exception. I do have one tiny gripe, though… Batwoman was the star of this book for 10 issues (#854-#863), and a part of Batman’s Gotham Knights team in issues #934-#981, so the fact that she appears on Stanley “Artgerm” Lau’s variant cover, but not in the book itself, was a little disappointing.

On a more positive note, I must give kudos, to the exceptional letterers on this book, who have provided explosions, dialogue, emotions and exposition. Thank you all for your wonderful, essential and underappreciated work:

The prolific Rob Leigh, the amazing AndWorld Design, the brilliant Joshua Reed, the tremendous Troy Peteri, the incredible Carlos Mangual, the wonderful Steve Wands, the legendary John Workman, the bodacious Aditya Bidikar, and the terrific Tom (THREE STORIES IN THIS COLLECTION) Napolitano. Thank you all for putting the writers’ words on these pages, in a beautiful, legible and artistic manner, thus giving us something to actually read. I salute you all.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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Steve J Ray

Dad/husband, writer/artist, amateur chef and Bat-Fan Extraordinaire. Animal lover and fan of all things comic-book and sci-fi related. His wife thinks that he owns too many comics, books, and movies. He thinks this is an oxymoron.