Detective 27 (May 1929) saw the introduction of Batman, or “Bat-Man” as he is labelled in this issue. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the character was close enough to the Shadow or Green Hornet to be on familiar ground, but unlike the Crimson Avenger, not so blatantly a rip-off.
The look of the Batman was heavily inspired by the popular horror films of the time. Bruce Wayne is introduced at the top of the story, a wealthy young man with nothing better to do with his time than hang out at the Police Commissioner’s office. Not that Commissioner Gordon appears to mind this.
Gordon and the police investigate the murder of the owner of a chemical factory, and the Batman appears, doing his own, more rough and tumble, investigation.
The car he drives is nothing special, other than being sort of vibrantly red.
Batman finds a secret contract and figures out part of the crime, though not all of it. He escapes from a gas chamber death-trap, and punches the villain into a chemical vat, commenting that it is a “fitting end for his kind.”
The final couple of panels are sort of charming in their attempt to use cinematic effects. Batman is explained to be Bruce Wayne, for anyone incapable of figuring that out.
The series would run in Detective Comics for decades, even with some changes in the identity of Batman along the way, until replaced by a Batwoman series for a year after the Batman R.I.P. storyline.
Speed Saunders case in this issue is just so obvious. Too obvious. Shame on Guardineer for this one. Speed is pursuing a murderous cult called the Red Crescent.
Along the way he meets a woman virtually covered in red crescents. What a way to conceal your secret cult!
And in the end, guess what, she is the evil mastermind and leader of the cult. Who would have guessed? Sigh.
Bart goes solo for the first time in this Siegel and Shuster Spy tale. No mention whatsoever is made of Sally, nor will one ever be, for the rest of his run.
In this issue Bart tries to keep a bunch of senators from being poisoned, despite the senators being real dorks whose childish behaviour makes the killers job easier.
I’m including the Cosmo story in here because it’s so awful it just makes me laugh, envisioning it. To investigate human smuggling from Asia, Cosmo goes in disguise as a Chinese man.
Despite the story telling us he can speak Chinese, we read the most insulting and stereotypical version of the Chinese accent, and are left believing this was how he spoke in Chinatown. Amazing they didn’t slit his throat in seconds.
There is a page of excellent art in this story, showing the barges being used to smuggle people.