Happy Birthday Batman!!! Detective Comics #1000 Review

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

80 years of Batman and 1000 issues of Detective Comics culminates in this landmark issue celebrating everything Batman from the past, present, and future.

Much like the Action Comics #1000, the book is split into several anthology stories with the last one being the actual story of the continuing Detective Comics story arc by Peter J. Tomasi. With that out of the way, I’ll try to highlight a few good ones and summarize others. Let’s begin.

Batman's Longest Case by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

A mystery dating back to Batman’s early adventures sees the Dark Knight use his skills as one of the world’s greatest detectives to figure it out. It leads to the discovery of the Guild of Detection, made up of such members as the Hawk People, the Dibnys, the Question, and Slam Bradley. Here, some of DC’s greatest sleuths and detectives spend their time trying to solve the universe’s unsolved mysteries.

Snyder & Capullo start us off running as they deliver a fantastic Batman story here. Snyder does a great job on writing duty and Capullo gives us his usually great work on art duty. It looks, feels, and reads amazing. I like Slam Bradley being here as a pull from way back to Detective Comics #1. It’s also great to see Batman’s detective skills put on spotlight as it’s something that isn’t always shown 100% of the time. All in all, an amazing start to the issue.

Verdict: 9/10 Clues Discovered

Manufacture For Use by Kevin Smith and Jim Lee

Bruce Wayne, in his Matches Malone persona, goes to what seems to be a pawn shop for Gotham City Villains paraphernalia in search of a specific item. The owner shows him through the shop, mirrored by times Batman has fought off his rogue’s gallery, until he finds the item he was looking for: the gun used to kill the Waynes. He pays the man and returns to the cave to enact his plan. Turn out it’s not just a collector’s item, Batman melts it down and turns it into plating that he can put in his costume, underneath the Bat symbol on his chest. That way the gun and all the pain that comes with it can be destroyed and turned into something useful, something that can protect instead of hurt.

I didn’t like this story as much as the previous story but it’s still good. It’s got heart and a great conclusion. The poetic justice of Batman using the gun that killed his parents as armor to protect his heart is a great take. Kevin Smith’s use of the Matches Malone persona and a nice Easter egg of his creation from his Green Arrow writing days Onomatopoeia are perfect. Jim Lee’s art is awesome here as well, just as good here as it was in Hush. So far this issue has yet to fail and this story helps keep the goodness going.

Verdict: 6.5/10 Batman Rogues Villains

The Legend of Knute Brody by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen

Now gather ‘round and hear the story of Knute Brody, aka the worst henchmen in Gotham City. That’s not just me saying it though. It’s his super villainous employers. Like that time he worked for the Joker and Harley during their attempt to scare off the voters from the polls and accidentally hit Harley with a sign. Or that time he fell asleep on the job working for the Mad Hatter, leaving him wide open for an attack by the Bat Family. And what about that time he accidentally burned down Poison Ivy’s greenhouse, killing him for his actions? But wait, plot twist! It turns out that Knute Brody is an identity used by different members of the Bat Family to undermine the villains!

I’m a bit biased because I’m a big fan of Batman: the Animated Series but I loved this story! Paul Dini, co-creator and writer of BTAS, does an excellent job of writing. It feels just like an episode of the animated series, something like “Harley’s Holiday”, “Joker’s Favor”, or parts of “The Man Who Killed Batman”. Dustin Nguyen’s art compliments the Dini’s writings beautifully, cartoon-ish and comic book-y (and I mean in the best possible way). Terrific Story!

Verdict: 9/10 Unpatented Joker Fish

The Batman's Design by Warren Ellis and Becky Cloonan

Batman chases down and traps would-be hostage takers/terrorists hopped up on superhuman drugs and dangerously armed in a warehouse. There he takes them down one by one until he gets to the last thug who’s strapped with an explosive and its trigger. Knowing he can’t fight him, the Dark Knight successfully talks him down.

Warren Ellis writes a good Batman that’s tactically intelligent and calculating. He’s a bit aggressive but it works for this story. Not that he isn’t aggressive just a bit more than usual. Becky Cloonan’s art is stunning and a highlight of this story, just amazing. Great Story!

Verdict: 8/10 Broken Bones

Return to Crime Alley by Dennis O’Neil and Steve Epting

Batman meets with Leslie Thompkins to discuss how Bruce uses the death of his parents as a motive. They’re interrupted by masked hoodlums, who Batman quickly dispatches but is stopped by Leslie before he can finish off the last one.

I’ll be honest folks I don’t know what happened here. First, it’s a bit shorter than the other stories. Second, Dennis O’Neil, while a Batman writer extraordinaire, fails to excite. Most of the issue is Leslie complaining that Batman brings misery with him and Batman’s dialogue is a bit weird. For instance, when one of the hoodlums points a gun at him, he responds with “You dare pull a gun on me?” Third, Epting’s art is usually pretty good but here’s it’s a little off, mostly around Leslie.

Verdict: 4.5/10 Dark Nights

Heretic by Christopher Priest and Neal Adams

A murder in Gotham of a former League of Assassins member leads Batman to confront Ra’s Al Ghul. He learns from the Demon’s Head that the murderer was the victim’s brother who did so as an honor killing for some League of Assassin quitter.

This is a fine story that fizzles at out by the end with Batman promising to help people leave the League his way. The most interesting part was the beginning where Bats tries to figure out the mystery of the killer. Comics legend Neal Adams’ art is pretty great though.

Verdict: 6/10 League of Assassins Members

I Know by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

In Batman’s old age he is confronted by an elderly Penguin who came to tell the retired hero that he always knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman but decided not to do anything with the info because if he tried to kill the Wayne side of the Bat, he’d just make him more dangerous for the criminals. Batman gets the last laugh by shocking the old bird.

Bendis writes a clever story, though involving a frequent superhero cliché, uses it to its fullest extent and much to his advantage, making quite an interesting spin of it. Maleev’s art is gorgeous. Nuff said.

Verdict: 7/10 Penguins Strapped with Explosives

The Last Crime in Gotham by Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones

Batman and Family in the future tracked down the last bit of Gotham’s criminal element on Batman’s birthday.

While that’s a gross oversimplification, this story is quite fun with appearances by the classic Earth 2/Generations team of Batman, Robin (Damian Wayne), Catwoman, and Echo (Batman’s daughter). Jones’ art is classic!

Verdict: 8/10 Birthday Cakes

The Precedent by James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez-Bueno

Batman and Alfred discuss the Dark Knight’s impact on Dick Grayson, as well as vice versa.

Fantastic story with spectacular Art! Great Job guys!

Verdict: 9/10 Haley’s Circus Performers

Batman's Greatest Case by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel, and Joelle Jones

Batman assembles the Bat Family to take a group picture, which he then leaves a copy of at the grave of his parents.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of Tom King’s recent work on Batman but here he nails it, making a short and sweet moment for the Caped Crusader

Verdict 7/10 Bat Family Members

Medieval by Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Manke

The Arkham Knight criticizes Batman for his methods of beating up the mentally ill. He decides to step in to be the hero that Gotham deserves.

While I’m not a big fan of making the Arkham Knight canon in the comics, I do like the “who watches the Watchmen” aspect of the Arkham Knight’s mission. I’m interested to see where Tomasi will take this. Manke’s art is phenomenal; every page is full of awesomeness. Praise be that they had him do full pages instead of panels. Good finish to the 1000th issue.

Verdict: 7/10 Canon Immigrants

In conclusion, this was an adequate issue to celebrate both 1000 issues of Detective Comics and 80 years of the Dark Knight. While not every story was a home run, nothing was really that bad. Though I will say that I believe Action Comics #1000 did a better job of celebrating their title character and their 1000th issue. Also some of the writers were a weird choice. Not bad or inappropriate, but just odd. Like Kevin Smith is a good writer but he’s only written a few Batman stories. I feel like a lot of people who worked on Batman for a longer time were absent here, even if their relationship with DC is a bit rocky. Where’s Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, Greg Rucka, Judd Winick, Chuck Dixon, Frank Miller? Where are the Kuberts, David Mazzucchelli, Matt Wagner, Tim Sale, Jim Starlin? I know I’m missing some but still.

Overall I’d say this was a little underwhelming but still a great issue.

Overall Verdict: Buy (if you have the $10)

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