THE BATMAN! Swinging through rooftops. In some unnamed city, while two gown (you know their goons because one of them is awkwardly holding a gun) watch. for some reason.
This is Detective Comics (1939) with an emphasis on 1939 (despite it being in brackets) The very first Batman story ever published and I'm going to review it because current comics make me want to die.
WARNING: It's a really long post, so only read if you have time and patience to waste.
Okay first lets talk about that front cover, that rope he's swinging on is simply wrapped around one of his arms. In other words, he's lost that arm or at least damaged it quiet badly (don't try this at home kiddos)
Next, he's carrying a man with him, in a head-lock. So, that man's probably dead (again, don't try at home)
And finally, did the sky need to be yellow? The rooftops blue? Or the buildings red and purple? DO ANY OF THESE COLORS MAKE SENSE?
Anyway, quick explanation. Detective Comics don't function like most modern comics, it doesn't resolve around one single superhero and their fight against evil. Instead, it introduces multiple in the same issue.
Also, the caps lock is permanently on, to make everything exciting! (Pro tip: use exclamation marks for EVERYTHING!)
The Bat-Man doesn't appear until the 27th issue (according to Wikipedia) which is where we'll be starting, other superheroes be damned.
This is the first introduction of the character of Batman at all.
And it goes like this:
“The Bat-Man, a mysterious and adventurous figure, fighting for righteousness and apprehending the wrong doer, in his lone battle against the evil forces of society. His identity remains unknown. "
Okay, so immediately drawn to the 'his identity remains unknown' for two reasons. One, everyone knows who Bat-Man is but I get it at this point no-one would know which sounds ridiculous but then it goes on to tell you who Bat-Man is. Like by the end of this one story.
You would think they'd drag it out a little longer, but old comics don't play around like that.
Next thing to note, Bat-Man really did start out as a moody loner which is both disgusting and impressive. On account of a lot of character's becoming unrecognizable to their past interpretations, especially spanning decades.
Now the story is called:
"The case of the Chemical Syndicate."
It starts in Commissioner Gordon's house, who has some of the most colourful furniture. We are talking bright fireman red arm chair, and a sky blue arm chair. Like old comics just went crazy with colours.
Also, Bruce Wayne used to smoke a pipe (back in the day when everyone smoked) while Gordon prefers what looks like a cigar. Old comics aren't the easiest to tell what's going on half the time.
Anyway, Gordon is entertaining the young socialite Bruce Wayne.
(Side note: At the moment Commissioner Gordon doesn't even have a first name which is deeply disrespectful to the man).
Bruce is playing up the bored rich boy act, head in hand and wishing for death. While Gordon's puzzling over the Bat-Man (which again is extremely disrespectful to my man, Commissioner Gordon who knows better)
Then the phone rings! Dun Dun Duuuun!
We only hear Gordon's side of the story, which explains that a man named Lambert, known as the Chemical King has been stabbed and his son's finger prints are on the knife.
Okay, first mistake deary. That crime literally just happened, Gordon turns up to the scene is a few panels over and the body hasn't been moved, the crime scene hasn't been analysed and the son's sat waiting for the Commissioner.
This isn't a case closed, better let the Commissioner know. This is a, their a case that needs the Commissioner phone call. How the hell did they know whose prints are on the knife, how did they know anything about the knife if they're waiting for the Commissioner to analyse the scene.
But jumping back to the phone call, Bruce Wayne's still in the room. Within hearing distance which is bad but then Gordon asks if he'd liked to come along.
Commissioner Gordon invites Bruce Wayne to a crime scene. If the people who first read this, didn't immediately work out who Bat-Man is, they're stupid. Plain and simple.
Anyway, they speed over (because they have to) in a little red car that's looks exactly like Bat-Man's car. (But we don't know that yet)
Arriving at the scene, Gordon examines the scene but doesn't really have anything to say about it. For summary, it's a dead man in a dressing gown who got stabbed in the back (because where else would you get stabbed) and died on his library floor.
If you haven't worked it out yet, this man is rich. Big mansion, named after him. He's known as Old Lambert, and he's the Chemical King. Which I researched a little into, and it really was early days for chemical corporations in America (and other places) so I'm guessing they wanted to show that's he's some big-shot of a chemical corporation or something?
Either way, Gordon's right on to the good part. Accusing the son of murder, who immediately panics and goes on the defence. Which by todays standards makes him seem guilty as hell.
As it turns out, he came home early (don't sons just always do that, when their father's getting murdered) heard a noise from the library, found his father with a knife in his back and removed it.
So technically, he did murder his father.
The boys story also contains a part where he got the impression someone had jumped out of an open window (not sure what that means) and that the safe was open, and his father's dying words as he held him in his arms were contract.
God damn it, just once think about your son Old Lambert, but no once again business comes first.
Gordon then proves himself a good detective and asks the lad about any enemies. Which the boy replies with, no but yeah and lists three names who all become relevant to this story, almost like the boy knew all along. (Kidding)
The first former businessman is Steven Crane, and guess who just phoned the Lambert residency. Steve Crane (maybe it's his brother) who informs the commissioner that Lambert had received a death threat before he'd died, and that he has also received a death threat.
Gordon tells him to stay put, don't let anyone in. At this point Bruce Wayne taps out and then we're in Crane's library. And oh no, he's just been shot.
Why give the death threat, did these businessmen just immediately go sit in their libraries and stare at their safe's when threatened?
Crane's murderer steals something from the safe and immediately runs to a nearby rooftop to meet up with Lambert's murderer.
Okay, mistake number one. If there's two of you, and you're both going to murder a businessman, strike at the same time. Don't wait for the police to turn up to one crime and don't threaten the second victim so he has time to warn the police.
Next mistake, don't meet on a rooftop, that draws attention. Meet inside a car, or a back alley or at least a few streets away, not down the street from victim two's house.
Finally, don't carry paper around in your hands when your going to meet on a rooftop. Like nothing happens to that paper, but I'm telling you that's the biggest lie of this comic, that paper should be gone.
Instead, they get their ass kicked by Bat-Man who sends one of the criminals flying through space. (The comics words not mine) like Bat-Man just yeets one over his shoulder without looking.
Anyway, the police turn up, Gordon shouts about catching Bat-Man who is able to disappear into the night with his piece of paper (unrealistic) and then Gordon gives up on finding Bat-Man and goes to Crane's house.
That's right, one panel of Gordon shouting at Bat-Man and then he's outside Crane's house, speaking with the man's butler who explains Crane's dead. And it's terrible. Heck, Gordon doesn't even check just takes the butler's word for it.
Gordon then comes to the conclusion that if two out of four businessmen, who Lambert's son mentioned got death threats before dying, the other two businessmen must also have gotten death threats.
Once again, the are just mention as former businessmen, not even if they knew each other or were part of the same business. Gordon's going out on a limb here.
Doesn't matter anyway, because he's investigation ends here.
Bat-Man on the other hand is sat in Bruce Wayne's car, grime smile as he looks at a piece of paper. And then he speeds forward onto an unknown destination. (Um, what?)
Next we jump to the former businessman number two, Paul Rogers whose heard of Lambert's death on the news. Rushing over to the last businessman the son name dropped Alfred Stryker.
Rogers is met by Mr Jennings, the assistant of Stryker at the door to the neighbouring lab, who lets Rogers in. Only to sock him in the back of the head. Ouch!
He's then tied up, taken to the basement and placed under a glass cylinder. Mr Jennings explains its a gas chamber he's used on guinea pigs (why always guinea pigs)
Anyway, Bat-Man jumps in through the skylight and picks up a wrench. Jumping into the cylinder with Rogers, plugs up the gas jet with a handkerchief before breaking the glass.
I want to call bullshit, but like it could work. Maybe. I don't know.
Jennings pulls a pistol on Bat-Man. Idiot. He's thrown over Bat-Man's shoulders for his troubles and sat on (that's right) by Bat-Man who then punches him in the face a good few times.
Stryker finally arrives. Tries to kill Rogers with what looks like a butter knife, Bat-Man immediately twists the knife of out his hands, before grabbing him by the front of his clothes.
Now comes the part where Bat-Man explains what's going on. Okay, so basically, Stryker didn't have ready cash to buy the company (Apex Chemical Corporation) off the other three. So, he set up secret contracts saying he'll pay them off in set amount, but instead had them killed.
Not much of a chemical syndicate (which is an organized crime)
Anyway, then Bat-Man kicks the man into a tank of acid (did I forget to mention the tank of acid) for hiring people to kill of some businessmen. I mean what about the people who actual kill them.
Whatever, Jason's proud Bruce.
Bat-Man leaves with a quick “a fitting end for his kind” before pulling the disappearing act on Rogers, the only surviving businessman who can't prove Bat-Man was ever there and has to explain the disappearance of Stryker.
Anyway, Bruce joins the Commissioner again at his house and hears all about the Bat-Man. Not sure what Gordon actual knows about that but Bruce pretends to be uninterested and Gordon thinks Bruce has a boring life and he's disinterested in everything.
Then, we see Bruce return home and disappear into a room, only for Bat-Man to step out. OH NO! BAT-MAN KILLED BRUCE WAYNE.
Quick summary, four former businessmen. One gets stabbed in the back and for a hot second it looks like his son is the murderer. Businessman two get shot in the front. Both have contracts stolen from their safe. The murderer's meet on the rooftop and are beaten up by Bat-Man.
Businessman three goes to businessman four whose assistant tries to kill him. Saved by Bat-Man. Businessman four is kicked into a tank of acid for his trouble and businessman three goes down for the crime. Maybe, he can't prove Bat-Man murdered businessman four.
Bat-Man says keep calm and yeet criminals into space (and the one's who hire them into tanks of acid)
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