Welcome to another installment of Rob’s Reviews. This month I will be beginning a 12-month tribute to Batman. I will be posting (in chronological order) reviews of Batman, starting with Batman’s introduction in Detective Comics #27 from May of 1939.
What struck me in reading Detective Comics #27 was the Batman portion is only 6 pages in length. Yep, that’s right, 6 pages long. Talk about humble beginnings to one of the most recognized characters in the world.
The plot is simple and direct with Batman foiling an extortion/murder racket perpetrated by an owner-partner of a chemical company who was killing off his partners so he could be the sole owner. A couple of aspects of Batman’s introduction that was of interest to me were: First, Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon are buddies from the opening panel, in which they are smoking pipes and talking about Commissioner Gordon’s problems with the “Bat-Man”. Secondly, Batman remorselessly kills the protagonist by knocking him into a vat of acid. The reason these are interesting to me is these will, at some point in the future in the evolution of Batman, be changed dramatically.
The art is simple but effective, and includes elements of the time in which Detective Comics #27 was written. For example, the suits worn by the men had wide lapels, had two sets of buttons, and had a “V” taper. All of which were reminiscent of the suits worn in the 1930s. Another example is the cars, which seemed to be based on the 1939 Chrysler New-Yorker.
For me, reading Detective Comics #27 was like a combination of watching Humphry Bogart play Sam Spade, watching highlights of 1939 World Series, and the smell of pipe tobacco and old books.
In addition to Batman being introduced, here are some historical associations in May of 1939:
- Germany and Italy announce their alliance which is known as the Rome-Berlin Axis
- Food Stamps are issued for the first time
- First sports telecast: College baseball game featuring Columbia vs Princeton
- Actors Harvey Keitel and Sir Ian McKellen are born