Friday, May 13, 2016

Detective Comics #27 (and #28)

Since my electronic copy of the next oldest comic in my collection contains only the 7 pages from Detective Comics #27 in which Bat-Man first appears (available for free on comiXology), I'll also tackle the 7-page Bat-Man story from issue #28 (which comiXology so thoughtfully combined with issue #29 into one 99¢ "issue").

Most Amusing Panel Prize (Detective #27):
Bruce Wayne's blase reply to his friend, Commissioner Gordon's, 
invite to visit a murder scene with him: "Oh Well. Nothing else to do."
Detective Comics (1937) #27 Page 1 Panel 4: Blase Bruce Wayne, socialite, invited to a murder scene by Commissioner Gordon.

Surprising Details: 

Detective Comics (1937) #27 Page 3 Panels 9 & 10: Batman speeds off in his red sedan.I was a tad disappointed to discover that the Bat-Mobile is in fact but a red sedan in the early issues of Detective Comics; however, Bat's utility belt does make an appearance in issues 28 as the source of his "silk rope" that helps him make his escape.


Detective Comics (1937) #28 Page 2 Panel 8: Batman's utility belt saves the day.

Dual Identities: 

The motif of dual identities, oft commented upon and requiring no addition from me, will nevertheless be touched upon here because how could I not? This motif is introduced with the first appearances of both Superman and Batman.

What I find difficult to determine is which alter ego I find the most dismaying.

Action Comics (1938) #1 Page 7 Panel 2: Lois stands up for herself while Clark acts the wimp.
Clark Kent, Superman's guise, is willing to sacrifice Lois' safety and comfort in order to maintain his rouse of being a "weakling" while on their first date. However, Clark's refusal to "defend" Lois from the sexist advances of Pushy Guy does, in fact, undermine the notion that a woman needs a man to defend her, which is cool.

Detective Comics (1937) #27 Page 6 Panel 8: Commissioner Gordon muses about Bruce Wayne's apparent apathy despite his being a "nice guy."His pretense also sets up Lois' brilliant retort when Clark suggests she dance with Pushy Guy to appease him. Lois: "You can stay and dance with him if you wish but I'm leaving NOW."

Bruce Wayne plays the bored socialite, but as a 1%-er, his feigned lack of "interest" in the murder of a fellow 1%-er makes him appear truly callow, especially since Bruce's motivation for his crime fighting (the death of his parents at the hands of an armed criminal) has not yet been established.

The intention seems to be to create a humorous contrast between Bruce Wayne's "boring" life and Batman's exciting one, but Batman's use of violence in this issue (and those that follow) dampens that levity.


Detective Comics (1937) #27 Cover
Series: Detective Comics (1937)

Issue #: 027

Copyright: DC Comics

Cover Date: May 1939

Cover Price: 10¢

Page Count: 7 pages

Print Release: 15-March-1939

Digital Release: 10-September-2011


Writer:
DC Comics Logo
Penciler:
Inker:
Colorist:
None Listed
Cover Art:
Source Links:
Story Title:
The Batman: “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate”

Most Amusing Panel Prize (Detective #28):
Bat-Man's secret ID is not so secret (in case you have forgotten what is revealed at the end of the last issue. (Hint: He's Bruce Wayne.)
Detective Comics (1937) #28 Page 1 Panel 1: Brief Summary of Batman (for first-timers who missed out on last issue)

Heroes or Hooligans?:

What I find most interesting is how much these early incarnations of Batman and Superman resort to the very violence they would stop in others

Both Batman and Superman use their skills/strength to intimidate and menace the "bad guys."

Action Comics (1938) #1 Page 13 Panel 3: Superman "flies" the corrupt Washington lobbyist around the capitol.
In Action Comics #1, in order to get information out of a corrupt Washington lobbyist, Superman abducts him and dangles him from various heights throughout the capitol. 

The fact that Superman seems to enjoy his terrorizing of another person does not help.

Batman's record over two issues is even more distressing. In Detective Comics #27, Alfred Stryker is responsible for two murders and the attempted murder of a third business partner, all because of his greed.

Clearly the man deserves incarceration and punishment; however, in Batman's effort to stop Stryker, he strikes him and Stryker falls into his own "tank of acid."

Detective Comics (1937) #27 Page 6 Panels 3 & 4: Murderous businessman Alfred Stryker plummets to his death in an acid pit for which Batman feels no compunction.
For this death, Batman feels no remorse declaring it a "fitting death for his kind" (his kind presumably being the criminal one).

Batman again grapples with a "bad guy" in issue #28 who also plummets to his death, this time off the roof of a high rise.

Detective Comics (1937) #28 Page 1 Panels 7 & 8:: Oops! There goes one of the bad guys off the roof.




Batman later dangles the leader of this band of thieves out a window, threatening to drop him if he does not confess to his crimes.

Detective Comics (1937) #28 Page 5 Panel 6 & Page 6 Panel 2: Batman terrorizes and beats the "bad guy" into submission.






After he consents and Batman brings him up to safety, the thief tries to escape, and Batman beats him so thoroughly, the man begs for Batman to stop: "Don't hit me like that again. Please don't hit me. Don't...."

Last Notions:

Do these heroes need dual identities because seeking justice against criminals requires criminal behavior in the corrupted currents of this world and they need a place to hide from the consequences of their "crimes"?

Or does the capacity for menace that both Superman and Batman possess require weak/disinterested guises to hide the depth of the violence of their antisocial tendencies.

And was the violence that Batman and Superman use in these early episodes acceptable to its contemporary audience in part because it is only inflicted upon criminals?



Detective Comics (1937) #28 CoverSeries: Detective Comics (1937)

Issue #: 028

Copyright: DC Comics

Cover Date: June 1939

Cover Price: 10¢

Page Count: 7 pages

Print Release: 19-April-1939

Digital Release: 10-September-2011

Writer:
DC Comics Logo
Penciler:
Inker:
Colorist:
None Listed
Cover Art:
Source Links:
Story Title:
The Batman: “Frenchy Blake’s Jewel Gang”



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