Detective Comics #27 (Comics Review)

Less than a year since Detective Comics celebrated its 900th issue with New 52: Detective Comics #19, an anthology issue which brought together several different creators, we have New 52: Detective Comics #27, which celebrates the landmark issue of the original series that first introduced Batman to the world as Bat-Man, the caped crusader and dark knight of Gotham who solved the city’s crime with acts of vigilantism. And again, we have an anthology issue bringing together different creators, and telling some really different stories while also giving some bonus art to fans.

I was really excited for this issue. I kind of missed the whole lead-up to Detective Comics #19 since I wasn’t reading the series at the time, but I am now. And one thing that happened this afternoon was that I was massively disappointed. This issue, in its first half, basically retells classic tales and does a hack-job. The second half, with original stories that will be carried over in future issues, is actually good. But the first half definitely bothered me, and it was the writing far more than the art that bothered me.

Detective Comics 27First, there is something that I want to say. I am very, very disappointed that there are no female creators on this issue. This is a dude’s club through and through, same as Detective Comics #19. I could kind of forgive that previous issue to a degree, but DC really should have learned from that. They have several female writers working for them right now (Gail Simone, Marguerite Bennett, Ann Nocenti, Christy Marx, Amanda Conner) and a few female artists too (Becky Cloonan, Amanda Conner, Nicola Scott). So why are none of them on this issue? From the credits list, the only one I can make out is Laura Allred, who coloured a single page of pinup art by Mike Allred. One page of non-story material from 80. Very dreadful.

Anyway, moving on.

Brad Meltzer and Bryan Hitch’s The Case of The Chemical Syndicate is basically a retelling of Batman’s introductory story from Detective Comics #27. It could have been a decent story if the writing didn’t have plot holes and if the art was better. There’s one splashpage in one Batman is air-kicking at a bad guy and it is a full-on spine-breaker pose, or rather, hip-breaker. The way Batman kicks, is physically impossible as far as I can tell. And no, it is not a side-kick. There’s just no… heart to the story at all.

Gregg Hurwitz and Neal Adams’ Old School is next and has a very classic art style with the dialogue reminiscent of the days of Adam West’s Batman from the 60s show. Once again, some really weird panel and story transitions prevent this story from being good. Full-on wacky and campy but without any heart. And the way it ends, completely confusing. Talk about breaking the fourth wall.

Better Days by Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram had a really good first half but the second half was somewhat terrible. and Bertram art doesn’t really help differentiate the different characters, compounded by the fact that the way Dave Stewart colours them makes it impossible to gauge how old the characters are. Bruce is 75, but how old are the others? And where’s Jason Todd in this reunion? Or Luke Fox? The absence of Stephanie Brown and Cass Cain I can understand since they are not a part of the current continuity, but the other two? I don’t get it. And Tim Drake and Richard “Dick” Grayson just flow into each other. They might as well be twins. Plus it doesn’t make sense that Dick is still Nightwing at this point while Damian Wayne has become Batman, given that Dick mentored Damian as Robin while Bruce was reportedly dead and missing for a long time in some pre-New 52 comics. So, another mess.

Then we have Francesco Francavilla’s Hero (credit as Rain in the actual story), both written and drawn by him. Very little dialogue and the story relies almost entirely on the art, which is pretty fantastic, but that’s Francavilla for you, one of the best damn artists in the industry right now. If I’m right about who Batman saves in this story though, then that’s pretty major, given how that character ends up in the current New 52 continuity. I liked it.

Mike W. Barr and Guillem March’s The Sacrifice is the retelling of an older story featuring the Phantom Stranger and is one where he basically snaps his fingers and lets Batman live a life where Bruce Wayne never became Batman and eventually had a family and a kid with his parents both being alive, but one where the criminals came to rule all of Gotham and where Commissioner Gordon is a broken man. The original story, I can’t remember the names of the creators, is actually really good, but Barr and March rush through the story here and end up ruining it.

The penultimate story is Gothtopia, written by John Layman, drawn by Jason Fabok, coloured by Tomeu Morey and lettered by Jared K. Fletcher. This was definitely the best story here. This was a straight-up Elseworlds story, with an alternative Gotham where Batman is actually winning the war on crime in Gotham and has almost made it a utopia. But there are some great beats in this story and I loved it. I could have done without all the weird sounding names which prevented me from connecting these characters with the actual Earth 1 characters, but that’s about the only criticism I have of this. This is also the first story in a big crossover coming soon to the Bat-family titles and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

Batman superstar Scott Snyder finishes off with Twenty Seven, which is drawn and coloured by his The Wake collaborators Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth and was fantastic. This story was essentially a full-on science fiction romp with lots of great alternate, future takes on Batman and I enjoyed it because of the scope of the story, which is huge. Another Elseworlds style story but something very different still. I can’t wait to see where Scott and Sean go with this next.

Overall, I’m very disappointed with this story. The good parts were not enough to outweigh the bad, sadly. And it definitely is not worth the $7.99 price tag. Detective Comics #19 was a far better issue and celebration in pretty much every single way.

Rating: 6/10

More Detective Comics: #19-24, #23.4.

Posted on January 12, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

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