It’s Batman’s 80th birthday! What better way to celebrate than by having your favorite comic review team come together to discuss the landmark Detective Comics #1000? Well, that’s what we’re here to do! So grab your bat party hat, a piece of bat-birthday cake, and your best bat-buddy, and join us for this conversation!
“Batman’s Longest Case”
Jay: This may be a controversial stance, but I liked this more after the twist dropped. Up to that point, it was a fun little detective story, but the clues were getting more and more obscure and it was feeling a little over-written. But then BAM, Detective Chimp and Slam Bradley? Scott Snyder knows the way to my heart.
Josh: I don’t think your stance is controversial at all, Jay. I’m right there with you. I was starting to feel as if the punchline was that Batman wouldn’t resolve the case by the end of the story – which would have annoyed me – but then we got the Detection Guild. Is it a little cheesy? Sure. But it includes some great characters, and I wouldn’t mind seeing these minds assess situations together in the future.
Dan: I’d be up for seeing this team again too, even though this story didn’t do much for me (which is especially odd as I love Snyder and Capullo). I can’t get over the way the Guild wasted Batman’s time – he could have been saving people in Gotham instead of running all over the world solving a made-up mystery! It rubbed me up the wrong way that Batman (the World’s Greatest Detective) is considered junior to the rest, and I didn’t feel like Capullo really got to stretch his wings anywhere except the splash page of the Guild.
Josh: Detective Chimp did have that line that some of the mysteries/ clues were from them, and some were not… I found that line to be very telling. It’s almost as if someone else entirely was toying with Batman and the Guild. Either way, even if this isn’t set-up to tease a book or story, I do feel as though it was purposely set-up to create and establish the relationship between these characters.
Casper: Yeah, this very much felt like a teaser for an upcoming book to me. No idea if that’s what this is, but if it is, I’d love to see this team get together and solve some mysteries as well. As long as the focus is on detective work instead of flashy superhero action, I would definitely give such a book a chance. As for the story itself, the scope might be a bit too large for 8 pages, and especially in the beginning, I struggled with the story a little bit because I wasn’t sure where it was headed. But once Batman found the Guild, I ended up really enjoying this story a lot! I love that Slam is in this, too. All things considered, it’s just a really nice story to start off Detective Comics #1000.
Brian: Snyder gets a lot of flak for his Wiki-dumps, but I kind of like it when he’s doing it for Batman. I enjoyed this one, though I didn’t quite love it. Biggest highlight: seeing the blue and gray on a Capullo Batman.
“Manufacture For Use”
Jay: This was a fun little story with some of Jim Lee’s best sequential storytelling in years.
Josh: I’ve seen a number of people cite this as their favorite story, and while I love the heart of it, especially by the end, the logic of it all left me a little underwhelmed. The theme that Kevin Smith presented is great, I’m just not sure if I enjoyed the entire bit about the gun still being around.
I did, however, like the idea that this guy collected and secretly sold these items. I wouldn’t mind seeing him/ this idea pop up in future stories. He could easily be a source of information for Matches in the future.
Dan: Has that guy taken over from The Dealer (remember him?) or is he his rival?
Josh: The Dealer… Wasn’t that from when Dick was Batman? The Snyder story, right? I think he died. I need to revisit that story.
Dan: I think The Black Mirror left it vague and he returned in an issue of Nightwing. Anyway, I really liked this one. As you’ve mentioned, Smith’s script has heart and offers Lee the perfect excuse to draw the rogues gallery (I didn’t pick up on the fact they were all attacking Bruce’s chest until the end of the story!). Like Kubert and Adams, Lee’s work has lost some of its polish over the years, but it’s still outstanding, and instantly recognizable as his.
Casper: I just appreciate this story because the art is really good and the message is very positive, which adds to this idea of Batman being this inspirational hero. He literally takes a negative situation/object and turns it into something positive. I don’t know how much closer you can get to the core of this character. This isn’t my favorite story in this issue, but it’s definitely one I enjoy a lot!
Brian: Metal can’t pay for its sins, because it cannot commit sins, and I feel like Batman of all people would understand that and not be so sentimental. That quibble aside, I thought it was a sweet story. I agree with Jay that Lee’s storytelling is great, though I think his actual finishes are not as polished as they usually are—there are a few rough takes on Batman.
Josh: Yeah, in general I think most of Lee’s recent artwork isn’t as polished as it used to be. I think he just has too much on his plate and has to rush. Not that I’m complaining, nor do I want him to stop. Lee’s rushed art is still better than a number of artists in the industry.
“The Legend of Knute Brody”
Jay: This was just fun period. Love the concept to the point that it needs to be used more often. Have Knute Brody and Matches Malone feature in more Batman stories.
Josh: I felt like this could have easily been a story from The New Batman Adventures, and I consider that a good thing. Knute Brody is a fun character and a great parallel to Matches Malone.
In fact, this almost felt like the antithesis of Batman the Animated Series’ “Almost Got’Im.” I know this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found this to be a fun, light-hearted romp.
Dan: It reminded me of a lot of 90’s stories too, mainly because it played with the format, which we don’t see often anymore. The Riddler’s voice is spot-on and I loved the twist ending. I prefer Nguyen’s watercolour work but his clear sequential storytelling and expressive faces were still there.
Josh: You spelled it c-o-l-o-u-r… You European… Haha! I prefer Nguyen’s watercolor work as well. I think it gives his art more of a distinct character, but this isn’t bad by any means. It reminded me of Streets of Gotham/ Heart of Hush.
Dan: I sure did! I’ll see if I can sneak ‘favourite’ in somewhere as well.
Josh: Do it!
Casper: This story is so cool. I agree with you guys that it felt very much like an Animated Series episode, but that alone isn’t what made it so cool to me. It’s the whole notion of the family sharing the same disguise/secret identity — it’s a nice example of how the Bat-family can be portrayed as a tight unit that works to achieve the same goal. The art is also really nice. It’s crisp! Although I’m with you Dan, I also prefer Nguyen’s watercolors. Lastly, Damian wearing a disguise and saying, “Just call me Knute Brody junior!” had me laughing out loud. I love how silly that is.
Brian: What else can I add? This was just a lot of fun, and it has Dini all over it, even if you didn’t see the credits. I prefer Nguyen’s watercolor, too, but this aesthetic grows on you with more time—at least I think it did when reading through some of the Dini/Nguyen run on ‘Tec.
“The Batman’s Design”
Jay: This began a stretch of stories where I really wasn’t enjoying the issue. Lovely art from Becky Cloonan and Jordie Bellaire, but Warren Ellis’ Batman is almost a sadist.
Josh: I agree with you on Cloonan’s art! I’d love to see her do more Batman work – or any of the Bat family for that matter. I believe she had a good run on Punisher as well, she can definitely deliver the “grim” aspects of Gotham.
Brian: I believe Cloonan was writer/cover artist on Punisher, with the legendary Steve Dillon on pencils.
Josh: Ah! You are correct! As for the story… I found it kind of confusing. I’m assuming this is a warehouse that Batman staged and purposely chased the criminals there? Is that what everyone else assumed?
Dan: Yeah, that’s what I gathered too. I’m not sure why anyone would want to celebrate 1000 issues of Detective Comics by painting the hero as an asshole. Are we supposed to enjoy the effortless downfall of these vaguely defined cultist mercenaries?
Casper: You know, this isn’t my favorite, not by a long shot, but I’ll start with the positive. As you guys have already said, Becky Cloonan and Jordie Bellaire’s artwork is amazing. Cloonan’s pencils/inks and Bellaire’s colors just fit so well together, like it’s meant to be. I’ve been a big fan of Bellaire’s colors for a long time now, and Cloonan’s always been on my radar but I don’t actually have a lot of her work in my collection, so I’m happy to pick up this book and put it on my Bat shelf for the art. However, the writing really let me down here. I’ve always seen Warren Ellis as one of the great British comic writers, alongside Gaiman, Morrison, Moore, etc, but I’ve never really read a lot of his work. Seeing his name on this issue got me excited because I still want to read more of Ellis’ stuff and see what he has in store, but I really dislike how this story is set up. It’s just a lot of explosions and aggression and I don’t think it has any more to offer besides that: to me, it reads like a generic 8-page backup story in a middle-of-the-road Batman or Detective issue — not like a celebration at all. But again, the art is great, so I guess I’ll celebrate by studying the art itself!
Brian: Cloonan is amazing here, and after going through this a number of times, that’s enough for me. I don’t like what Ellis is doing here, but Cloonan, Bellaire, and Bowland (if I can take in the aesthetic of his lettering while ignoring the words) deliver so well that it doesn’t matter.
“Return to Crime Alley”
Josh: I was not a fan of this story.
Jay: Probably the most disappointing story of the lot.
Jay: It’s effectively “There is No Hope in Crime Alley,” but not as good. Derivative even down to the “you dare pull a gun on me?” line.
Dan: Leslie wittering in Bruce’s ear was just exhausting in this story. What’s he supposed to do? Let her get mugged? I understand she feels sorry for the way he’s been defined by his tragedy but complaining about his methods isn’t going to help anyone, especially as late as this.
Josh: Look, I’m just saying, after Leslie’s complaining and the fact that she yelled out “Bruce” instead of “Batman,” he should’ve let her get mugged… Ok, I really don’t want Leslie to get mugged – or anyone for that matter – but this entire story was just problematic for me from concept to execution. Nothing worked for me here.
Also… Why is Leslie dressed like it’s 1925?
Casper: This is another story where I really appreciate the truly amazing artwork, but where the writing just let me down. In this case, it’s because the story left me feeling empty: no victorious feelings, no celebration, no tears, no anger, no frustration, nothing. It’s just so dreary, depressing, and, frankly, boring… Of course, I’m not expecting every single story in #1000 to be colorful and fun and super positive — it’s good to have a mix of different flavors, and besides, considering what Bruce has gone through not every story about him should be fun and positive as that would be disingenuous. But in this one, it just seemed like Leslie was telling Batman that he did something wrong after Batman saved her from a bunch of muggers. Like, come on, Leslie, one of those muggers pulled a gun on you! Also, why the hell would these muggers approach an old woman who is standing right next to the goddamn Batman in the first place? It doesn’t really make sense to me XD
Brian: Always delighted to see the color work of Elizabeth Breitweiser (who works well with Epting—see their recent collaboration at TKO Comics), but that’s about where it ends for me.
Josh: I’m not going to lie… I kind of thought this was going to be a story about Damian. After reading this, I kind of wish it was…
Jay: I know I read this, and I know Neal Adams drew it, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember a single detail about it until I flipped back through. Even now I’m having a hard time making anything stick.
Josh: I experienced a silent “Oh brother…” on the first page when Bruce is told he doesn’t belong there, but his money does, and after being mugged, is called greedy… Cause, you know, that makes a ton of sense (eye roll).
Casper: It’s the same for me, Jay. I read this and can’t remember much either, and, honestly, I have no desire to go back and read it again. I’m also never sure if I like Adams’ work or dislike it anymore. There are elements about it that I enjoy: it’s still very expressive and there’s a kind of energy to it that’s appealing to me. For example, everything and everyone is always in motion and there’s a lot going on visually in that sense. But despite this, the artwork overall still doesn’t really do it for me, and I’m just not entirely sure why that is. I love Adams’ older work, though. Anyway, I’m moving on to the next story.
Josh: I feel as though Adam’s art looks more and more corny/ overdramatic each year that he releases new work. It reminds me of overacting. That’s the best way I can put it.
As for the story, the concept at its core could be interesting. We’ve seen many stories about the people who served as a mentor or teacher to Bruce, and we’ve seen a number of current-day stories that show negative impacts these mentors face today because of Bruce’s lifestyle. What we don’t necessarily see much of are the “peers” Bruce had while training, or even the people he may have influenced.
I started to say that with a better writer, this could be executed better… but Priest wrote this story. While I’m hit and miss with his work overall, I do think he’s often much better than what he presented here.
Dan: I’ve seen pinballs bounce around less chaotically than this narrative. The only things I liked in this story was the Bat-Coffee Cup and a couple of the images of Batman looking heroic.
Brian: Nope. Nope, nope, nope.
Josh: Brian will clearly be revisiting this story numerous times throughout his life… Haha!
Josh: Bendis and Maleev! Ah! I love these two together… So many great Daredevil memories, and this story didn’t disappoint either.
Jay: This was without a doubt the best of the middle third of the book. Good concept, and I liked Oswald’s character here. Maleev’s Batman is kind of odd, but otherwise, I liked the aesthetic. I just don’t think the punchline landed. Still, not bad.
Josh: You thought Maleev’s Batman was odd? Like, old Bruce Wayne, or actual Batman?
Brian: Maleev’s stuff is good and moody, but I don’t think I actually like it all that much in the present-day sequences. As for Ozzie having the goods on Bruce and keeping it under his top hat? Bah.
Josh: I personally loved the look of Batman, but thought his old Bruce Wayne looked a little odd. The rogues looked incredible though.
I didn’t mind the Oswald bit. I do agree with Jay concerning the punchline though.
Dan: Yeah, I loved how petty and cowardly Oswald is here. I didn’t care for all the ‘weyp’ stuff, though. Maleev’s moody art is gorgeous, and the perfect fit for this type of story.
Casper: I didn’t care for the weyp stuff, either, Dan. It was too much.
Josh: I didn’t mind the “weyp” stuff. At first, I read it was Penguin trying to make his “Penguin sound,” but then I read it as a sound effect of up gasping for breath. Once I read it that way, I loved it.
Casper: Yeah, I guess if you read it that way it makes a lot more sense. Anyway, I really like this story. I usually can’t stand Bendis’ dialogue and I actually kind of stopped reading his comics in general for that very reason. It tends to be so off-putting that the entire comic becomes unreadable for me. But I think the dialogue on this story is actually pretty engaging. The story overall is fun and stands out from the rest because both Oswald and Bruce are in their old age. Also, contrary to Jay’s stance, I actually do think that the punchline landed. Lastly, the artwork was great, but then I’ve always loved Maleev’s work. I think it’s just right for a Batman story, and I think his rendition of Batman is powerful and awesome. I’d love to see Maleev illustrate more Detective Comics issues, or even some of the main Batman issues.
“The Last Crime in Gotham”
Jay: Oy. I didn’t hate this, but I certainly didn’t like it either. The bookending motif with the candle turning into the Bat-signal, and then Batman’s silhouette turning into the rising smoke from the extinguished flame was really cool. Besides that, Jones’ pencils didn’t work for me at all, and Johns’ story was… just weird.
Josh: Yeah… You basically summed up my opinion. And Jones’ pencils here reflect why I didn’t like his work for so long. Just… No.
Jay: I forgot about it on my first readthrough, but I really, really hope Jason and Babs don’t become a thing. That’s… no.
Casper: Oh no…
Josh: Wait… What? I totally read that as “Barbara and James”… As in, they had each married someone and had kids… Yikes… Please, no. I’m going to assume Johns was the one pushing for the Babs/ Jason romance back during one of the Eternal runs?
Dan: Haha! That can’t happen (#Dick+Babs4Ever)! Jones’ style suits Batman and the villains well, but it’s clear from this story that he should stay away from Batman’s family and allies. This story was indeed very strange, but also notable for including a crime scene (it is Detective Comics, after all!).
Casper: You know, I kind of fell in love with Jones’ work in Kings of Fear, a series that I consistently gave high scores when I reviewed those books. His art was so right for that psychedelic nightmare trip! But I think it doesn’t work as well here. I’m with Jay that the bookending sequences were set up very well, and I still think that Jones manages to convey a kind of moodiness that really suits Batman/Bruce. And that panel that’s a close-up on Joker Jr’s face was really scary, but in a cool way. However, overall I think the tone of this story is perhaps too bright for Jones’ art style. And about that Jason/Babs thing, I’ll say this much: the majority of this story is in Bruce’s head, right, because it’s his birthday wish? So is Bruce then actually wishing for Jason and Babs to end up in a relationship? That just makes zero sense to me. It’s really weird. And why is Bruce all alone with his cake in the final panel? That’s kind of sad, actually. None of the Bat-family members are there to celebrate with him!
Brian: The “Last Crime in Gotham” was the design of Echo’s costume.
Josh: Ha! Why didn’t they just call her Huntress? Isn’t this supposed to be Earth 2? Why call her Echo? Am I forgetting something? I don’t remember her ever being called Echo. The only Echo I remember is from No Man’s Land.
Jay: Well color me surprised: this was hands down my favorite story. Tynion’s dialogue was just right for the message he was delivering. Absolutely stunning work from Alvaro too.
Dan: This was my favourite too, along with the one that followed it. When I first started reading, I thought ‘Not the origin of Robin again!’ but the wisdom and justification of Alfred’s advice set this apart from previous versions of the story. Martínez Bueno delivers as usual (though I think his work on Justice League Dark is a little more detailed), with unique layouts and perfect character designs.
Casper: Oh yes! That artwork is just so good, isn’t it? I especially love the image where we see Batman and Robin together, looking up, and above them, we see the skyscrapers of Gotham and among those skyscrapers, we see some of the rogues. So cool. The final splash page that concludes this story is also fantastic. I’m happy that there’s at least one story in this issue that focuses on Robin. And honestly, Dick Grayson was the Robin that I grew up with because of the Animated Series, so I’m happy that Tynion and Martínez-Bueno decided to focus on him.
Brian: Brad Anderson covers a multitude of sins. Martinez-Bueno’s aesthetic isn’t especially distinct, but with Anderson, it still looks really good. Add in some cool storytelling devices (the criminals at the top of the buildings, looking down), and it’s a win in that respect. Tynion also does a decent job, and I appreciate that one of the writers decided to take on such a fundamental “why?” of Batman’s mythology head-on.
Josh: Completely agree! I also like that we received an argument of why people should take up the cause. I so easy and sensible to question Batman’s “call to arms,” but I don’t feel as though we talk about the benefits of it – at least in the context of the DC universe – enough.
I also liked the heart that this story presented. The one thing I’d been thinking up to this point was, “Man, I wish we would get some nice, heartfelt, inspirational stories thrown in here like Action Comics #1000 had.” I know Batman isn’t necessarily the poster boy of inspirational messages, but it does exist within the Bat family. I’m glad it wasn’t neglected.
“Batman’s Greatest Case”
Jay: Look, it was very Tom Kingy-
Josh: -Very Tom Kingy-
Jay: – and the lack of clarity on who was talking at certain points drove me insane, but the intent made up for any shortcomings. Just a sweet little story. And Jason thinking he was going to get fired is pretty on-brand.
Dan: It was very endearing seeing and hearing the family all together, even if they talk a little too much in this story. Everyone looks great in this story but Tony S Daniel’s versions of Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl are particularly great (the only spread that beats his in this issue is Fabok’s). The ending at the graveside was so heartwarming; perfect for a landmark issue like this.
Josh: Yeah, the ending at the graveside really allowed this story to stick it’s landing. The concept and idea of family here is perfect. I’m with Jay on the panels where everyone is talking though.
Casper: I like the message/intent too. And the artwork is incredible. Sometimes I think that Daniel’s characters have slightly odd faces, but I definitely respect him as one of the best artists working at DC at the moment. This guy has done so much Batman work that he truly deserves a spot on #1000. And Joëlle Jones is as great as ever, although I wish that she had a little bit more to work with, instead of just the graveyard scene. But, in any case, the two different art styles complement each other well because they each depict different environments. That said… there’s way too much talking! At some point, I couldn’t tell who was saying what. That got annoying. Still, not a bad story — just extremely overwritten.
Brian: Fun enough on the first read, but I won’t read it again. Daniel, Jones, and co do good work, but it isn’t especially memorable.
Josh: I think that if every beat of the story hit with the impact of say, Dick and Damian, Helena and Cass, and the graveside moment, then this would have been stellar. But the girl/woman conversation between Batgirl and Batwoman was just weird, as were the “I dated Dick Grayson” follow-ups. I don’t understand why writers are having such a hard time writing Barbara Gordon the past few years. But overall, I thought it was a nice moment, and I enjoyed seeing the entire “gang” together. It took me back to the 90’s and 2000’s when everyone actually interacted in the comics. I miss those days.
Josh: As expected, we got our first glimpse into Tomasi’s upcoming arc.
Jay: Great artwork and an interesting look into the Arkham Knight’s M.O. A villain who sympathizes with the madmen that Batman puts away isn’t a completely original idea, but I trust Tomasi can do something great with it.
Josh: Well, I wouldn’t say he sympathizes with the villains necessarily. I think he just disapproves of the extent of Batman’s methods in most cases. The page featuring Bane speaks to how he sides with Batman in certain circumstances. Overall, it just appears that Arkham Knight finds Batman’s perceived arrogance, self-righteousness, and harshness as the problem. That he goes too far when he doesn’t need to…
Dan: Yeah, when you dissect him, Batman is a rich guy that punches the mentally ill, so I get where villains like this are coming from. He doesn’t stand for hope in the way Superman does; he doles out justice instead. Obviously, the Arkham Knight is wrong, but at least he has a stance we can understand. The ‘Batman’ / ‘Bad man’ bit was naff but the rest of the script was excellent, as were the nostalgic, detailed splashes that accompanied it.
Casper: Dude, the artwork is absolutely stellar. Mahnke outdid himself for #1000. I love every single page of this story. There’s so much to discover in the art. On first glance these might seem like static images: Batman striking a pose here, Batman striking a pose there. But once you really look at what’s going on (and not just focus on the writing, for example), the art turns out to be so alive. There’s so much emotion, power, and character here. The art’s so strong and confident too. That said, Tomasi writes a great narration to accompany the art — basically, you guys have said it all already. I’m looking forward to #1001!
Brian: Awesome artwork, great takes on a variety of villains, interesting-but-not-too-exciting ramp up to the Arkham Knight. Who, by the way, will almost certainly turn out to be a mental health professional or connected to that work in some way.
Josh: Yeah, I think Arkham Knight’s identity is mostly what I thought about following this issue. I’m not sure if Tomasi is going for a new character or a character that already exists, but we got a strong idea if AK’s beliefs and stances here.
I bet it’s Harley Quinn! Kidding… Or am I? (I am).
Casper: Josh, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if DC forced that on us — haha!
Josh: Anyway, that wraps up our discussion for Detective Comics #1000. I’d love to hear from our readers: What’s your favorite story from this collection? Did you pick up any variant covers? If so, which one(s)? And finally, who do you think is behind the Arkham Knight mask? Let’s have some fun and discuss all of this in the comments section!
What’s that? You don’t want the Bat-festivities to end? Check out these other great posts celebrating Batman’s 80-year legacy.
- Batman: 80th Anniversary – The journey of the Dark Knight by decade!
- Batman: 80th Anniversary Giveaway – There’s still time to enter! The contest runs through 11:59 PM Pacific on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
- Detective Comics #1000 review – Come say farewell to Elena as she signs off from Batman-News with her final review for the site.
- This Week in Comics: Detective Comics #1000 came out, but here we talk about everything else.