Commentary for Detective Comics #27 (Ben-Day Shots)

And now it’s time for the return of Ben-Day Shots. It’s going to take a bit to get the old ones up here (need to find a blogging client that I like, which should make it easier). Anyway, let’s get to it.

Detective Comics #27

1939 May, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents

The Case of the Chemical Syndicate

Characters: Bruce Wayne / Batman (first appearance, as ‘Bat-Man’), Commissioner Gordon (first appearance)

Well, it’s Batman. It’s not fair to judge anything by it’s first issue. It’s not fantastic, it’s not quite on character yet, but it’s Batman.

Anyway, it starts in media res with Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon talking at Gordon’s home. They’re apparently old friends. At this point, Bruce Wayne is a pipe-smoking layabout that somehow still manages to get invited on police investigations (was this okay in the 40s? Seriously?) Gordon is a white-haired cigarette / cigar-smoking (I can’t quite tell) man with a tiny mustache and a tacky suit (well, I’m sure it was fine in the 40s). Actually Bruce’s isn’t that great either.

So anyway, Commissioner Gordon lets ‘young socialite’ Bruce Wayne come along to investigate Lambert, the Chemical King’s, death. Including being there as they question his son.

OK, seriously either police procedure in the 40s was very very lax, or the Gotham police just suck. Who the hell mentions that a victim was killed to just anybody who calls? Bruce’s reaction is just adorable. And slap-worthy (see below.)

(slightly edited for ease of reading)

So the man that called gets whacked, but the Bat-man shows up to beat up the perps. He doesn’t look that bad, although the purple gloves are ridiculous (or possibly fabulous. It rather depends on whether you care about fun or plausible crime-fighting).

 

It should be noted that the Bat-Man is also wanted by the police. And he drives a red, non-bat-in-any-way, car, which I quite like.

Again, edited for conciseness.

So Rogers (one of dead Lambert’s partners) goes to see Alfred Stryker, who, notably, is the only one to get a first name in a caption (the other names are mentioned by young Lambert). Stryker is the last partner and apparently employs an evil chemist named Jennings. Jennings knocks out Rogers and then prepares to gas him. You know he’s evil because he’s continually going ‘heh! heh!’.

In case you thought I was kidding.

Naturally Batman shows up just in the nick of time to save Rogers, keep Jennings from shooting anyway (because if you have a gun you should only try to kill people with it after the hero shows up.) And naturally this wakes up Stryker who tries to kill Rogers some more. The Bat-Man explains everything to Rogers, while holding Stryker with one hand (which is apparently enough to immobilize a person until they get pissed off). Stryker gets mad, the Bat-Man hits him and he falls into the acid tank, which naturally any chemist has. And the Bat-Man does nothing.

Well, basically nothing.

And the story ends with this:

Because your bedroom closet is the perfect place to store your vigilante costume.

Icons:

 

 

 

(Icons may be used or modified wherever, with credit to DC comics)

See Dial B For Blog #389 – 391 for how Batman was created (and things that DC will never tell you) (there’s some in the final installment that I personally think is a stretch, but judge for yourself)

Credits: (uncredited & details) Rob’t Kane (that is, Bob Kane. Pencils, inks, letters) (script: Bill Finger)