This review series is basically an extended “thank you” to the industry that has provided me with ample enjoyment over the course of many years, particularly in my youth, so I have to acknowledge the first mainstream superhero comic I ever read.
Detective Comics #646. Part three of a three-part storyline. Also the conclusion of writer Chuck Dixon’s first story arc on the title. Starring Batman and Robin as they try to save Commissioner Gordon and his girlfriend Detective Sarah Essen from an electrically powered lunatic hell-bent on revenge.
Previously, my main exposure to Batman was reruns of the Adam West show, which of course I loved. It was so much fun, and innocent fun at that, with all the bright colors and POW! BOP! ZAP!
Then I open this comic, and the villain actually zaps a man—and kills him—right on the second page. It’s nothing gory, and it’s not gratuitous. Rather, it serves the (at the time) new Robin’s ongoing development, as young Tim Drake continues to learn just how dangerous his new life is. A tense confrontation with the villain later in the issue hammers the lesson in a bit further.
At the time, of course, I didn’t realize this Robin was new and wasn’t Dick Grayson, and I doubt I could have articulated how the stakes appeared much higher and more genuine than in the old TV show. Nor did I notice that Robin grew up a little more somewhere between page 1 and page 22 (that certainly didn’t happen on television).
But I did understand that this comic was far better than POW! BOP! ZAP! and I would be coming back for more. Lots more.
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciler: Tom Lyle
Inker: Scott Hanna
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology;
Appropriate For: ages 9 and up