The first official Batman solo series staring our favorite Dynamic Duo which means this post might be a bit longer. We are continuing our #ComicEssentials. Make sure to read until the end to know which comic I’ll cover next so you can follow me along on this long journey of all the needed Batman comics.
Issue(s): Batman #1
🖊Writer(s): Bill Finger
Penciler(s): Bob Kane
So in the old days most comics were divided into 4 stories. With Detective Comics 1/4 were dedicated to Batman, but given how this is his solo he gets all 4 stories to himself. Let’s see what each had to offer.
Shocker! The comic opens with a Batman origin. If you don’t know it already, what’s wrong with you? Either way it was nice to see the original iconic tale of how our hero came to be. Next our main villain is the JOKER! That’s right his debut issue. Very important character in the Bat mythos. Anyway, the Joker broadcasts on the radio his threats to kill a rich man, Henry Claridge, and steal his diamond. Police prepare, never leave Claridge out of sight, but when the hour came in which was announced the villain would murder him, he falls to the ground.
The Joker apparently injected venon into Claridge and stole the real diamond a day ago. The poison activates 24 hours later and leaves its victim dead with a grim on their face. The story really shows how smart and calculated the Prince of Crime is. This act captures the attention of Batman and the Gotham gangsters. The leader of the gang calls out the Joker, the Prince of Crime invades his home to kill him, the mob boss was prepared and calls in his backup, Batman shows up expecting a clash. Joker kills the boss while Batman beats the crooks. Then the Caped Crusader chases after the Joker.
Anyway, Batman looses to the Joker in a hand-to-hand (feels weird saying that). The villain moves onto his next prey. The upcoming victim is guarded by a policeman, but it turns out that guard is the Joker himself. Really crazy! Did not expect for this outcome to take place. Yet again proves how smart the Joker is.
The Joker leaves to his hideout, Robin follows and gets attacked by the clown. He is about to inject Dick with his venom, but Batman comes right on time. The final battle moves to a rooftop, Robin kicks the villain off and for some crazy reason Batman catches the Joker as he’s falling and says, “You’re too valuable a prize to lose!” What the hell does that even mean?! You telling a Batman who kills would allow the Joker to leave? That’s annoying. Or maybe they really are in love. Joker ends up in jail swearing an escape. You won’t wait too long to find out about what it is.
STORY: Very surprised by the overall writing. It actually went to places I didn’t expect an older comic to go to. Having this said it was still very simple and watching the villains lose because they get followed by the hero to their hideout is getting overdone. Get original Bill.
ART: Pencils allow to tell everyone apart and make for great displays of action in more than one similar location. Sadly, the letter boxes and panels are in awkward positions which make it harder for the reader to keep track of. Just threw me off.
ACTION: Really happy with what we got here. A lot of different locations which add to the thrill of the rivalry. We finally got a villain who was able to beat Batman.
CHARACTERS: Batman and Robin continue to be cool heroes, but the highlight is the Joker. I didn’t expect such a strong debut. Batman described it perfectly, “It seems I’ve at last met a foe that can give me a good fight!”. Joker is a calculated strategist who can even throw a couple punches and be harmful to our heroes. Now this I call awesome.
This is not a good story. But it hella glorious! Hugo Strange escapes from prison and creates a formula that mutates humans into monsters with bulletproof clothes. Just silly. Guess how Batman found Hugo’s hideout? That’s right! He followed them, but this time with a twist. He used a Batplane. Unoriginal and silly. Batman goes to confront Hugo, but he loses to the monsters, he gets injected with the monster serum.
That’s a really cheap shot! But can we talk about how weird this thing has become? Defeating GIANTS with a STICK!
Bruce manages to escape, punch Strange out a window, he falls into water. Further our hero fights off the monsters with a poll stick and creates a cure before he is about to turn. Next he flies to the monsters that got loose in their truck and gets ready to blow it up!
The monster survives, but Batman’s got a rope around his neck and basically hangs the poor creature.
He defeats the 2nd monster and the 3rd (last) one he kills in a King Kong style. And this story ends just like that. Yup.
STORY: Geez! This was a bit of a mess. Even though I laughed when Batman downright murdered his enemies it was all very formulaic and boring. Was entertained but not the right kind.
ART: Consistent and remains favorable. Those letter boxes and panels though!
ACTION: A part of me likes some of the battles like the King Kong tribute and the other Bat Plane scenes, but fighting those monsters with a stick was just so silly.
CHARACTERS: The monsters have a lot of potential yet other than a neat reference this is not really an enjoyable showcase for anyone.
Here we go, another ridiculous one….Robin is sent on a mission on a yacht full of rich people where a half a million dollar worth necklace is found. The jewelry belonged to an old woman who later said someone stole it. Suddenly a boat swims by and within it is a gang. The lady laughs and informs they were too late as it was already stolen. That doesn’t stop them from ending up stealing from others. They try to escape but Batman comes in just on time.
Robin helped him. Then he freed the criminals just so he can show the “kids of America” how cowardly the bad guys are without a gun. Dick beats them and Batman literally breaks the 4th wall and speaks directly to kids reading. Gosh this is painful, charming and quirky all at the same time.
Batman returns the stolen money and jewelry to the rich people on the yacht during a masquerade competition. Because your first reaction after being robbed is to hold a costume contest. Okay. It gets worse, Batman wins first place. Next Robin pounds the fire alarm to see who really stole the necklace. This is how Bruce determined it.
The old woman turned out to be Catwoman in disguise. Sorry! I meant Cat. *shivers* *gets a Tom King flashback* Catwoman next issue gets her proper name. She seduces Batman which he very much likes. Cat ends up escaping, Robin would’ve cought her if Batman didn’t accidentally bump onto him. I cannot be making this up.
Well, ‘accidentally’ since it turns out Batman purposefully made it look like he accidentally ran into Robin because he got a boner for Catwoman.
STORY: Completely awful. Bill clearly didn’t know what to add into this issue. Batman wasn’t present until the action started. What was the point of only sending Robin solo at first? Next, Finger wrote a freaking comedy! These remaining stories are only ruining the score of the first one which was really good. Cat’s introduction into the lore is a complete waste and the pretentious delivery of the message is just painful. It reminds of the silliness that the Silver Age was.
ART: Bob Kane is the only thing keeping this bit alive. This category probably remains unchanged since not much is standing out.
ACTION: Not a lot of fighting scenes, but there was a lot happening so maybe I’ll go easy on this one for this category.
CHARACTERS: Terrible character developments, villains are wacky and weird. Cat has a nice moment when she tries to persuade Batman onto her side, but that is about it. It doesn’t help her plan was to dress as a grandma. The idea Batman would allow a villain to escape because he was attracted to her is just stupid. Send this back to Silver Age.
The Return of the Joker! Yay? Sadly not so much. He escapes from prison by mixing the chemicals together which caused an explosion. Where did he store those chemicals you ask? His two false teeth. Sadly the Joker’s plans become too similar to the previous ones. Very uninspiring. At least we get cooler fighting scenes. While fighting Batman and Robin the Joker accidentally stabs himself with a poisoned blade and dies. But plot twist! In the ambulance it turns out he lives. The editor asked to change the ending when he found out Finger and Kane originally planned to kill the Prince of Crime. All we can say is thank you Whitney Ellsworth for keeping the Joker alive. He saw the potential of a character when the creators didn’t.
Also let’s talk about what was left at the end of the issue.
STORY: It was a direct sequel to the very first story we read. Doesn’t stack up. In truth, it retreads some of the steps.
ART: Like I said Bob Kane really saves the show here.
ACTION: Improvement in action, heroes find themselves in a life & death situation, and Batman does some badass moves. The most redeeming trait of this story.
CHARACTERS: Another step back from the original. Not much to say, really. Even Joker isn’t as interesting.
These posts are divided into 3 parts. The summary, review and conclusion. Review is supposed to be the ‘objective’ score, but honestly to this is very much a essential. Hilarious! It reminds me so much of the Adam West TV Show so if you love campiness this is for you. I usually enjoy those, sadly I got to compare it to the quality of what came before and this may not stack up. The Batman non-comic media didn’t have a high bar which is why the Adam West was well ragrded, but now skip to 90s with Batman and Robin with George Clooney, after we had a history of great Batmen on screen. This is how this felt to me. The score may discourage you, but I say go for it and have fun. But it you’ve read the comic like I asked you to before reading this post I guess you didn’t have a choice.
•95/160 = 59% = Mediocre
•Favorite Quote: “He’s probably better off this way.”
•Next Bat-Time: Batman #217 – “One Bullet Too Many”
That’s right! We are leaving 40s, 50s and early 60s. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to those, I promise, but for now 1969 is our next year. I got an interesting plan for Silver Age, just for now we will have to go to its last straws. Anyway yell about what you thought about Batman #1 in the comments.