To celebrate Batman’s 600th appearance in Detective Comics, DC Comics (Detective Comics Comics?) not only reprinted Batman’s first-ever appearance from 1939, but they also included three other interpretations of that six-page story. One originally appeared in 1969 to celebrate the Caped Crusader’s 30th anniversary, and it updated the story to the tone and style of that campy era. The remaining two iterations of “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” were produced by the then-current creative teams of Batman and Detective Comics, Marv Wolfman & Jim Aparo and Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle.
Each team took the same basic idea and executed it in totally different ways, thereby showing a clear glimpse of Batman’s tremendous versatility.
What really makes this gimmick work is the fact that they’re not rehashing Batman’s origin story. That first story, by Bill Finger & Bob Kane, was just a standalone, dropping us into a city where the “Bat-Man” was already active. The big twist ending was the stunning revelation that the “Bat-Man” was…gasp!…Commissioner Gordon’s bored socialite friend, Bruce Wayne! (I wonder if that was genuinely surprising to the readers of 1939 or if they saw it coming a mile away.)
So Detective Comics #627 doesn’t give us any bold new reinterpretations of the Dark Knight himself—it gives us four creative teams from three eras each trying to tell a good, solid Batman story. And succeeding.
Cover: Norm Breyfogle
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology
Appropriate For: ages 9 and up