Detective Comics #1000–Sizing up the big Batman 80th anniversary issue

We’ve had a great response here at borg to our complete checklist of the variant covers for the 80th anniversary of Batman and benchmark 1000th issue of his long-standing comic book series, Detective Comics Check it out here if you missed it.  The cover art, especially when merged with the variety of historical and modern title art and legends, makes for one attractive looking book, whichever copy you go for.  At least one of the ten main covers will provide a dose of nostalgia and excitement for any Batman fan.  But for $9.99 is it worth the price?  Can you tell the book by its 84 covers?

Incorporating eleven short stories and three pin-ups with a variety of stories, themes, and eras, this anthology is tilted in favor of the modern dark knight detective over the versions of the character from his first decades in print (Batman TV fans have several Batman ’66 comic book series to turn to for the lighter fare).  Is the issue epic?  That’s in the eye of the beholder.  Groundbreaking?  Probably not.  But it’s a fun read, and using mixed pairs of writers and artists–a few classic pairs and a few nice change-ups from then and now–it’s a great exercise in searching out what works and what works really well for DC Comics’ editorial department.  Love a particular story or visual style?  Surprise–you the reader now have new creators to keep an eye on in future series.

Becky Cloonan’s Batman from Detective Comics #1000.

You might find your next favorite creators in “Batman’s Longest Case,” with writer Scott Snyder and artists Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion, the kind of story you think of when you see Batman as master detective.  Writer Kevin Smith pulled out the stops for his team-up with Jim Lee and Scott Williams in “Manufacture for Use,” including one of those great splash pages Lee/Williams fans can’t get enough of.  Artist Becky Cloonan delivered the biggest visual win with a flawless Batman: Year One-inspired Frank Miller style in one panel and a cool Bernie Wrightson caped crusader in another, matched nicely with Jordie Bellaire‘s colors in the story “The Batman’s Design.”  Tight writing and story make for an exceptional contribution from writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev called “I Know,” probably the best writing of the book.  I’ll admit I was hoping for a Jim Aparo, Gene Colan, or Marv Wolfman homage (they defined the look of the Batman of my youth), but it wasn’t to be this time.  But based on this issue, who would I like to see in an ongoing monthly?  Brian Michael Bendis and Becky Cloonan.  And my favorite part of the book?  That goes to Mikel Janin‘s take on Batman with Joker and the Riddler in his one-page pin-up, which stopped me in my tracks, and should have been a variant cover option.  More, please!

To me, Batman comics are fun reads.  And this anthology is a better read all-around than its sister book in last year’s Action Comics #1000.  I’m not looking for any world-changing views or ideas–some followers can read into any of the stories something more, or not.  It’s reader’s choice.  And whichever incarnation of the character of Batman you like–and there are more than a hundred variations to choose from–search out the corresponding stories you like.  Maybe that’s Hush, or The Dark Knight Returns, or Batman: Year One, or A Death in the Family, or The Court of Owls Or Archie Meets Batman ’66.  Or one of the best and most fun of the 21st century series, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–this #1000 anthology doesn’t begin to capture all the best Batman incarnations of past and present.

And who knows what the future holds?  I’d love to see all those Batman variant covers by Alex Ross and Frank Cho translated into a mini-series.  Or better yet, Batman/TMNT artist Freddie Williams II on the ongoing Batman or Detective Comics monthly.  But that’s for the future.  For what DC Comics can do in 96 pages now, Detective Comics #1000 is right there, waiting for you at your local comic book shop.

With a book like Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns second official sequel, The Master Race, getting a single issue hardcover series as recently as 2015, Detective Comics #1000 is more than a worthy one-shot for Batman readers. (It’s even more worthy than Miller’s book for a hardcover release, and, as with Action Comics #1000, you can pre-order the Detective Comics #1000 hardcover edition including all the variant covers and additional content now here at Amazon).

What’s your favorite story or cover from this issue?  Let us know in the comments.  For those wanting to continue with the series, they have the introduction of new villain Arkham Knight in the last tale of the issue, by writer Peter J. Tomasi and artists Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza, although its more of a tease than character feature.  (If you’re attending Planet Comicon Kansas City this weekend, don’t forget your one chance to purchase Mahnke’s convention exclusive variant cover version, the only cover featuring Arkham Knight).

This book was printed in sufficient quantities you should be able to get a copy at the published price without much effort.  Detective Comics Issue #1000 is in stores now.

C.J. Bunce

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