Thursday, March 29, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Detective Comics #627!

Detective Comics #627, featuring stories from Bill Finger, Mike Friedrich, Marv Wolfman, and Alan Grant; and art by Bob Kane, Bob Brown, Jim Aparo, and Norm Breyfogle. The cover proudly proclaims it's the "Anniversary celebrating Batman's 600th Appearance in Detective Comics," the GCD notes "Mistakenly labeled 600th appearance of Batman anniversary issue. Actually 601st appearance in Detective Comics." I don't know if anyone noticed at the time...

I also don't know if I appreciated this issue when it first came out: starting with a reprint of Finger and Kane's "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" from Batman's first appearance in Detective Comics #27, then a reprint of a redone version from Detective #387. Then Wolfman and Aparo, and Grant and Breyfogle put their spin on it. So, it's basically the same story four times.

But, along with getting to see how it first began (and I know that was the first time I read it!) there are some interesting differences. The sixties version, for example, is the only one to feature Robin. Wolfman and Aparo's feature a more modern super villain with a more modern body count, although their Batman seems more saddened than the others, and there's a nod to the current continuity with Commissioner Gordon still recovering from his heart attack. Grant and Breyfogle play up themes they used in their Detective run: garbage, drugs, and the homeless. I didn't care for Breyfogle playing with a more Kane-modeled Bats for the denouement, but there's a spectacular "Batman busts-in" page and scattered through the story are shout-outs to dozens of past Bat-creators, like "Haney Security" or "Englehart Signs, Inc."

A good one, and I don't believe the second two versions have been reprinted to date. Since the renumbering, I don't know if it will anytime soon either, but I don't think it's overly hard to find. Get to it!

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