Detective Comics #27 – Batman Begins
So what better way to start off this blog than with a classic? As previously stated, my favorite comic book character is probably Batman, the dark knight of Gotham City. Batman first saw the light of day in the 27th issue of Detective Comics in May 1939. The monthly publication featured mostly detective stories, like the title suggests. The first appearance of ‘The Bat-Man’, as he was then called, is not an origin story, but the reader is thrown right in the middle of a typical adventure. Only 6 pages long, this first story immediately turned the man with the black cape into a popular hero.
In this tale, the characters of Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon are also established. After the heinous murder of the millionaire Lambert, the Commissioner is called in to investigate. He brings along Bruce Wayne, not knowing that is good friend has a secret life at night, hunting criminals as the Batman. They are informed that Lambert had three business partners called Steven Crane, Paul Rogers and Alfred Stryker. When Batman surprises the murderers at a second crime scene, sadly too late to save Mr. Crane, he discovers a contract, similar to the one missing from the first crime scene. He follows the lead to Alfred Stryker’s lab where he arrives just in time to save Rogers from the murderous intent of Stryker and his assistant. During the ensuing fight Batman delivers a vicious blow to Stryker, who falls into a bucket of acid. The final frame of the comic gives the secret identity of the hero away to the reader.
It is interesting to see that Batman is in this first appearance still very different from today’s incarnation. In this early form he has no trouble to kill his opponents in a fight. His only concern is the protection of the innocent. The modern Batman however would never willingly kill, not even his worst nemesis. Still, the figure was compelling enough to the readers to secure a monthly return in the Detective Comics. When Bob Kane and Bill Finger had first created the Batman they probably never expected to establish one of the most popular comic figures of all times. The first appearance of the hero is still very basic. Kane had not yet perfected his drawings and was still experimenting with the form of the dark knight, but already a few issues later, the initial quirky look had turned into a truly awe inspiring appearance. This first issues is a typical detective story which is perfect for the introduction of the greatest detective who ever lived.