Ricky Church reviews Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman – The Deluxe Edition…
If you’re still feeling celebratory for Batman’s longevity after the release of Detective Comics #1000, DC has just the thing to scratch that it. Whereas the landmark issue of Detective was a celebration on how far Batman has come and a look to the future, Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman – The Deluxe Edition is instead a look to the past at some of the title’s most significant moments. Along with these special issues, various writers, artists and academics examine the popularity Batman continues to enjoy in pop culture and how much of a game changer Detective Comics was for the comic book industry so soon after it began. This book isn’t just essential for any Batman fan, but for anyone who has loved comics or is interested in the industry’s history.
There is a pretty nice wealth of content in this book. Between the classic stories and essays, 80 Years of Batman comes in at a whopping 416 pages. The issues of Detective Comics chosen range from some pretty significant ones, such as Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 obviously, but also from the introduction of several characters to the Batman mythos and larger DC Universe. Here you’ll find the first issues with Robin, Batgirl, Two-Face, The Riddler, Batwoman and even Batman’s own 5th dimensional imp prankster/superfan Bat-Mite. Readers will also see the very first appearances of Martian Manhunter and Deadshot, two characters who have become big fan-favourites in their own right through the Justice League and Suicide Squad. It’s a pretty nice look back at these character’s past to see just how much they’ve changed between then and now.
One of the draws of the book aside from the Dark Knight comes from a couple pre-Batman stories in Detective Comics. He’s been such a staple of the title since his creation it’s easy to forget there were 26 issues before Batman’s arrival. The Crimson Avenger, who has gone on to appear as one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, is seen in Detective Comics #20 and private eye Slam Bradley (who I not only didn’t know appeared before Batman in Detective #1, but was even created by Superman’s very own Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster!) appears in a back-up story from Batman’s introductory issue. It again lends itself to the history of the title as a film noir-driven series and just how much it evolved into a mystery series with a strong superhero theme once Batman entered the scene.
However, a lot of fans may not even find these classic comics and the introductions of so many Batman characters the real draw to this book, but rather the collection of essays and memories on the history of DC Comics and why Batman has been such an integral part of it. From the likes of comic legends such as Dan Didio, Denny O’Neil, Paul Levitz and Neil Gaiman to several authors and journalists, a lawyer and a cop, the thought pieces on Batman are diverse and very interesting. Levitz goes into detail on how the name DC Comics originated, dispelling a common myth that it stands for the repetitive ‘Detective Comics Comics’ while author/journalist Glen David Gold focuses on the trauma Batman and several other heroes from both Marvel and DC face, noting Batman is one of the only superheroes who fully embraces his trauma instead of properly moving past it. Even U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a huge Batman fan who has cameoed in several of the films (he’s the man who tells Joker “We’re not intimidated by thugs” in The Dark Knight) writes a piece on how he became a fan and what the Dark Knight has meant to him in both his personal and professional lives. Aside from the special essays, there is also an unpublished story from Paul Levitz and Denys Cowan from 2012 and Lew Sayre Schwartz’s original sketches for the Detective Comics #200 special he illustrated.
Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman – The Deluxe Edition is a must-have for not only Batman fans, but anyone interested in learning more about one of the longest running titles in comics as well as the comic industry itself. The essays provide some very thought-provoking material on how special Batman is and the history of the comic book while the stories themselves are a great look back at the significance of the title and longevity of the various characters that have been introduced through the eight decades. Its a great celebration of Batman’s 80th anniversary that will make many fans happy to add it to their own collections.
SEE ALSO: Comic Book Review – Detective Comics #1000