Detective Comics #1000 / Writers: Scott Snyder, Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Denny O’Neil, Christopher Priest, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, James Tynion IV, Tom King, and Peter J. Tomasi / Artists: Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Becky Cloonan, Steve Epting, Neil Adams, Alex Maleev, Kelly Jones, Alvarez Martinez-Bueno, Tony S. Daniel, Joelle Jones, Doug Mahnke, Mikel Janin, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Amanda Conner, and Paul Mounts. / Inker: Jonathan Glapion, Scott Williams, Derek Fridolfs, Raul Fernandez, and Jaimie Mendoza / Color Artist: FCO Plascencia, Alex Sinclair, John Kalsiz, Jordie Bellaire, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Dave Stewart, Michelle Madson, Brad Anderson, Tomeu Morey, and David Baron/ Letterer: Tom Napolitano, Todd Klein, Steve Wands, Simon Bowland, Andworld Designs, Willie Schubert, Josh Reed, Rob Leigh, Sal Cipriano, and Clayton Cowles / Cover Artist: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair / Publisher: DC Comics / Published: March 27, 2019
A Lot of Batman Stories
This issue is a 96-page celebration of Batman, the caped crusader that has been millions upon millions of comic book readers favorite character for over seventy-five years. The issue has several stories within, so I’ll be reviewing the individual stories along with the overall issue at the end. So, if your more curious about one creative teams’ short story than the whole thing, you’ll see a review for just that. Though I don’t care to give these because this is a review and reviews always spoil something in some way here’s a spoiler warning just in case.
Batman’s Longest Case by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
The now iconic creative team behind the New 52’s Batman run, Scott Snyder (American Vampire) and Greg Capullo (Dark Nights: Metal), tell a true detective story for this special anniversary issue. Batman has had a case on his mind for days and finally solves it to reveal a test by the Guild of Detection.
The team is made up of the DC Universes including Elongated Man and his wife Sue Dibney, The Question, Detective Chimp, The Question, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Detective Comics original lead character Detective Slam Bradley from Detective Comics #1. There are two others in the background and assumedly more, but this is a fine selection of DC’s deductive minds. Many, including Martian Manhunter and Slam Bradley, who first appeared in this very book. The story goes on to say that the mysteries of the universe are never completely solved and that’s a good thing for Detectives because they live off the mystery. The story and art remind me of why the New 52 run of Batman was one of the few decent, in this case amazing, things about that reboot.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Manufacture For Use by Kevin Smith and Jim Lee
Clerks and Chasing Amy director and all around nerd king Kevin Smith teams up with comic artist legend Jim Lee (Batman: Hush) to tell a tale filled Batman nostalgia that, though a little cliché at the end, moved this old nerds heart. So, in the story, Matches Malone (Who’s Batman for those that don’t know) goes to a secret shop of Batman villain leftover gadgets and buys none other than the gun that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. Then he takes the gun and melts it down to be a chest plate behind his the bat symbol, a classic Batman reference, on his chest to protect him. I enjoyed the tale and Jim Lee’s art, gorgeous images of one-off Batman villain fights from throughout the rogue gallery, is on point, but there’s one problem.
I don’t know why this story felt this way to me. I really enjoyed how it was a conversation about buying the thing that in retrospect was a bunch of fight scenes in the background where Batman villains would’ve won if it wasn’t for that chest plate, but it seemed a little to convenient, though that sounds like a compliment. While others in this wonderfully nostalgia-filled 96 pages did many the same and didn’t make me feel this way, but this story did.
Kevin Smith seemed to rely on a lot of niche lore for the tale. Stuff like Matches and the chest plate. Which isn’t hard to grasp or look up per se, and totally deserves to be among these stories, but felt like it might be confusing to new readers. Big anniversary issues are big for new readers. They symbolize a place to start and an up-sell at a lot of Local Comic Shops. This tale wasn’t the only one to have this problem, but it felt the most prominent. For that, I think it deserves a bit of a demerit.
Then again, as a Batman fan, and I’m sure the diverse array of other Batman fans will read this issue too, I appreciated the lore for this anniversary issue.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 (For new readers)
Verdict: 4 out of 5 (For returning fans)
The Legend of Knute Brody by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen
The creative team behind Lil’ Gotham, Paul Dini (Dark Night: A True Batman Story) and Dustin Nguyen (Descender), tell a Batman: The Animated Series kind of short story about a recurring imbecile minion named Knute Brody. This story is just fun and silly and has a kind of obvious twist at the end, but has an overall happy and adventurous feel like some of the best Batman TAS episodes of yesteryear. In the end, I loved the story, and it accomplished all the tale set out to do. Plus seeing Nguyen draw Batman villains is always a plus he gets them down to such an authentic detail I feel like he created them.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
The Batman’s Design by Warren Ellis and Becky Cloonan
Warren Ellis (Planetary) and Becky Cloonan (The Punisher) give us an action pack scene of Batman versus a superpowered group of terrorist soldiers that feels similar to the classic Batman versus S.W.A.T. fight from Miller’s Batman: Year One. This story is serious and strictly drawn and feels a lot like Ellis’s Red in the fight, but it’s just a great scene of Batman taking down bad guys and being one step ahead of them all the way. Also, the intimidation switch is turned to an eleven when Batman threatens down the bomber at the end.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
Return to Crime Alley by Denny O’Neil and Steve Epting
One of the greatest Batman writers of all time, Denny O’Neil (Birth of the Demon) joins artist Steve Epting (The Avengers) to tell an old school Batman story back where it all started in Crime Alley. It’s a short and poignant story about the anniversary of the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and Batman supporting character all-star, Leslie Thompkins, shows up to make a quick a decisive critique of the caped crusader. The tale is in a very classic vein of the character, but short and leaves on a sincere, but dour note.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5
Heretic by Christopher Priest and Neal Adams
DC needs to get Christopher Priest (Deathstroke) on a regular Batman book especially if it is drawn by Neal Adams (Batman: Odyssey) with his undeniable style. Reading the O’Neil story before this made my eyes crave some Neal Adams and they were satisfied in the form of Christopher Priest’s out of order Pulp Fiction style of storytelling. A story about redemption and deals with Ra’s and the League of Assassins and getting out of a bad situation with more layers than a birthday cake. Seriously, if Priest and Adams ever do another Batman book together, I will be first in line.
Verdict: 5 out of 5
I Know by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Brian Michael Bendis (Superman), with one of his usual partners in crime, Alex Maleev (Batman: No Man’s Land), continues to show he can crack it in the DC Universe as well as he ever did over at Marvel with this Batman story. An old man Oswald Cobblepot, The Penguin, comes to brag about how he figured out who Batman was years ago in a long, simply villainous monologue, that has many gorgeous panels and ends with an obvious but clever twist, like most Batman stories, that put Bruce back on top. It’s my favorite art in the issue other than maybe Nguyen, and all the designs are gorgeous.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
The Last Crime in Gotham by Geoff Johns and Kelly Jones
Geoff Johns (Batman: Earth One) takes a break from DC’s TV and movies to work with Kelly Jones (Batman & Dracula: Red Rain) to tell a very golden age style Batman story. Where it’s set in the future and everything’s been solved except one new case, and after that it’s done, only to turn out to be Batman’s birthday wish in the present. A bittersweet tale that shows what Batman hopes to come to pass with some super weird, but awesome Kelly Jones art of a future Bat Family, dog included.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
The Precedent by James Tynion IV and Alvarez Martinez-Bueno
James Tynion IV (Talon) and Alvarez Martinez-Bueno (Justice League Dark) tell the sweet tale of a young Batman that recently adopted Dick Grayson and is a question if he should let him be Robin. Which would set a precedent for the future stories. The story has a subtle twist and a lot of art showing Batman fights like the other tales in this issue, but hits home in a simple way that is just nice though a little boring. Maybe if I read this earlier in the cue I would’ve liked it better, but it was a good story and struck the cord of Batman like the others, and for that it deserves recognition.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
Batman’s Greatest Case by Tom King with Tony S. Daniel and Joelle Jones
Current writer of the main Batman title Tom King (Heroes in Crisis) with the talented duo of Tony S. Daniel and Joelle Jones continues to write clever philosophical Batman stories that feel like they should’ve stopped working a year ago, but still do. A simple and fun story about family, but unlike Geoff Johns tale of a possible future, this is about appreciating the present while respecting the past and is told in that age-old tradition of showing you. Which is shown beautifully with some gorgeous Tony S. Daniel (Batman: Battle for the Cowl) and Joelle Jones (Catwoman) art.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
After Tom King’s tale, we get some beautiful art by Mikel Janin Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts. They are gorgeously drawn and have depicted key Batman moments and characters in neat ways, and this is a paragraph that is telling you to take a moment to look at them, soak them in, breath, and look again. Got back and did that for all the art in this book.
Medieval by Peter J. Tomasi and Dough Mahnke
Like at the end of Action Comics #1000 the last story of the 96-page issue sets up for future stories. Peter J. Tomasi (Batman& Robin) and Doug Mahnke (Batman: The Man Who Laughs) depict images of Batman’s greatest battles alongside a monologue of someone who does not seem to care for the dark knight. It’s a simple set up for a storyline I’m excited to read involving a character never before seen in the comics, the Arkham Knight. It was awesome but was more of a setup for a future storyline than a standalone tale. That’s fine but gets a lower score.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5.
80 Years of Batman
These issues are hard to review because of all that’s in them, in fact, I think this is the longest comic review I’ve ever written, and that’s just insane, but so is Batman. He’s so many fans favorite superhero, and we all have a version of him we prefer, but he’s gone past anyone one depiction of the character in these 80 years of stories. Overall these stories are heart-filled tales by creators that love this iconic character and no matter my personal opinion or others, but their own, and for that alone it is worth a read.
Overall Verdict: 4 out of 5