80 Years of Batman (Part 4): A Review of Detective Comics 1000
In the anniversary issue of the series which gave DC its name, Detective Comics 1000 is the quintessential Batman celebration of the year. It’s in this 96-page comic that multiple creators who’ve worked on the character in the past come together to tell different stories in honor of the Dark Knight. Popular Batman writers and artists including Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Paul Dini, Geoff Johns, and others create short stories on different aspects of Batman, and some of these stories highlight what the character has stood for and symbolized in the past 80 years. Filled with nostalgia, creativity, and surprises, Detective Comics 1000 reminds us of the many different aspects that make up who Batman is.
The biggest surprise in Detective Comics 1000 also happened to be my favorite short story of the bunch. Written by Kevin Smith, which in and of itself itself was a surprise contribution to the issue, and illustrated by the world-famous Jim Lee, the story “Manufacture for Use” captures the more optimistic side of Bruce Wayne that makes me such a big fan of the character. The story begins with Matches Malone, one of Bruce Wayne’s main disguise personas, going underground in a crime-based Gotham City gift shop to find the gun that was used to murder his parents. He purchases the weapon, but instead of putting it on display in the Batcave to mourn or brood, Batman uses it in a creative way that gives an added power and purpose to being a masked vigilante refusing to use a gun. I won’t go into more detail in order to avoid potential spoilers, but Bruce explains to his butler and friend Alfred that how he puts the old weapon to use will save lives instead of taking them, and he realizes that bringing the weapon’s story full-circle in this manner is a perfect example of the justice Batman symbolizes.
“The Precedent” is another one of my favorite stories, although it’s one of the shortest. It’s a flashback in which Batman, the first Robin, and Alfred all talk to one another just before the Boy Wonder first begins aiding Batman in his war on crime. Some stories were so short like this one, however, that I felt they were partially stripped of their potential. I believe that legendary Batman writer Dennis O’Neil fell victim to this problem, as his story feels rushed, and ended more abruptly than I’d have liked. However, most of the writers were able to make do and give something significant with the short space they’re provided.
While the price may be steep for a new comic book, I highly recommend Detective Comics 1000 for Batman fans new and old, as it really captures the character in its many short stories through great writing as well as the many different art styles which the book contains. The book is a celebration of all things Batman, from his allies and enemies to his best moments and darkest ones. DC’s Caped Crusader has been an icon in our culture for 80 years, and this giant-size issue shows why he’ll remain for decades to come.