Detective Comics #1000
Neal Adams (artist), Brad Anderson (colors), Andworld Design (letters), David Baron (colors), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Simon Bowland (letters), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colors), Greg Capullo (pencils), Sal Cipriano (letters), Becky Cloonan (art), Amanda Conner (pencils), Clayton Cowles (letters), Tony S. Daniel (art), Paul Dini (writer), Warren Ellis (writer), Steve Epting (art), Jason Fabok (art), FCO Plascencia (colors), Raul Fernandez (inks), Derek Fridolfs (inks), Jonathan Glapion (inks), Mikel Janin (art), Geoff Johns (writer), Joëlle Jones (art), Kelley Jones (art), John Kalisz (colors), Tom King (writer), Todd Klein (letters), Jim Lee (pencils and cover), Rob Leigh (letters), Michelle Madsen (colors), Doug Mahnke (art) Alex Maleev (art), Alvaro Martínez-Bueno (pencils), Jaime Mendoza (inks), Tomeu Morey (colors), Paul Mounts (inks), Tom Napolitano (letters), Dustin Nguyen (pencils), Denny O’Neil (writer), Christopher Priest (writer), Josh Reed (letters), Willie Schubert (letters), Alex Sinclair (colors and cover), Kevin Smith (writer), Scott Snyder (writer), Dave Stewart (colors), Peter Tomasi (writer), James Tynion IV (writer), Steve Wands (letters), Scott Williams (inks and cover)
March 27th, 2019
My fellow writer, Cori McCreery, wrote about Action Comics #1000 last year and its celebration of 80 years of Superman. This year marks 80 years of the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, the World’s Greatest Detective and one of the most recognizable characters in pop culture: Batman. I didn’t grow up with Batman from the comic book world but was a child of the animated Batman of the 90s and 2000s. It wasn’t until the New 52 that I felt like I could access the world of gutters, panels and WHAM! POW! (but broody). It led me to explore the back catalogue featuring stories like “No Man’s Land” (including the novelization) and the wild “Venom” arc.
I didn’t expect to write about Detective Comics #1000 after taking a two and a half year break from monthly comics but I was recently asked to reflect on 80 years of Batman for a radio show. I was interested to see how DC Comics would celebrate a character that’s had multiple titles over decades under the care of hundreds of storytellers across mediums.
There are eleven stories but I’ll discuss the two that I enjoyed the most:
“The Batman’s Design” by Warren Ellis, Becky Cloonan, Jordie Bellaire and Simon Bowland
I really like this story because it does three things: it showcases Batman’s intellect, it shows us how brutal Batman can be, and it also allows Batman’s compassionate side to come through. The art is a lovely sight to behold; I’ve been a fan of Becky Cloonan since she was releasing her mini comics like Demeter and she became the first female artist to draw the main Batman title in 2012. Pair her with Jordie Bellaire’s colours and I was captivated from start to finish as Batman (who reminds me of the 1939 cover version of the character) maneuvers through a warehouse–in greens, blues, and reds–dealing with unstable super soldiers. Warren Ellis did a fantastic job at balancing different aspects of Batman which reminded me of why I love the character, and I’d read an ongoing series with this team.
“The Precedent”by James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez-Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson and Sal Cipriano
In this story, Bruce and Alfred debate on whether or not they should involve the recently adopted Dick Grayson in Bruce’s side gig as Batman. This story really pulled at my heart strings because it does a great job at reminding readers of why Robin is so necessary for Batman. The art team really drove home the feeling James Tynion IV was trying to evoke and there’s an excellent POOW! that is probably my favourite visual in the entire issue. Similar to “The Batman’s Design,” it’s effective in honouring and acknowledging Batman’s legacy.
I mentioned that Becky Cloonan was the first woman to draw the main Batman title in 2012 which is wild. There haven’t been many women or people of colour (or those whose identities intersects with both) involved with the character in the past 80 years, especially as writers, and this extends to Detective Comics #1000. So it’s not surprising that 80 years of Batman dominated by the perspective of straight white men resulted in this celebratory issue that skews heavily towards white and male.
I’ve enjoyed many Batman arcs over the years (I personally think the best Batman stories are in the animated shows) but I’m finding it difficult to find stories that don’t constantly tread the same ground. There have been attempts at interrogating Batman’s violence, his trauma, his role as a white male billionaire punching on poor folks who would likely come from marginalized communities at night and what his existence could mean for the criminal justice system, but it’s either been the same answer given or a failure in execution (usually not going far enough).
The challenge I’d like to pose (and have been posing for years) for the future of Batman is this: invite new perspectives. Twenty years from now, I don’t want to read a comic celebrating 100 years of Batman that doesn’t feature stories written by people who would look like me. It’s been happening outside of comics (see Nightwalker by Marie Lu).
We’re all fans of Batman and it would do the old man some good to get a fresh take (and look).