Issue #27, Detective Comics (May 1939)
The Bat-Man “The Case Of The Chemical Syndicate”
Alright! *cracking of the knuckles* Let’s get this party started with a bit of a forward:
The very first Superhero movie that I went to see in the theater was none other than Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and from the opening scene with Batsy dangling the baddie from the rooftop and his gruff “I’m Batman” line, I was hooked. The combined performances of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson instilled in me a need to know more about this shadowy figure who fought the most colorful and ridiculous baddies I’d ever seen.
I started reading the comics as soon as I could find them (and begged my parents mercilessly until they relented), immersing myself in the gritty world of Gotham and all things Batman. In fact, that very Halloween, I wheedled my mother until she made me a Joker costume. Yes. I wore it with pride because, not only was I a huge fan of Batman by then, but the Joker, especially, was my favorite DC villain… and still is, to this day.
I not only restricted myself to the comics, either, but read every book, watched every show, every movie (even the abomination known as Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin) , every ANYTHING involving my beloved Dark Knight and his cohorts.
So when I realized the other night, while talking with Dragon, that I’d completely neglected to give Batman the same snarky treatment I was giving my OTHER favorite superhero (Emo!Thor!), I decided to rectify that glaring deficiency.
Which brings us to now. And what I’m about to show you. Because, ladies n’ gents, Broody!Batsy was not always that way! And considering how old he is, well, let’s just say he’s got a wealth of history to snark. So without further ado… I present the very first appearance of my favorite hero, the one who started it all…
Our first introduction to the series starts with two of the iconic characters having a little sit-down chat:
But wait! The phone! Commissioner Gordon answers the call of duty, only to find out that someone’s been murdered, so he has to leave:
They hop in the roadster and head off to the Lambert residence, where the rest of the police force are already hard at work, leaving Gordon to question the suspect:
Gordon gets the story from the suspect, takes a phone call from Steve Crane, and then turns to his companion, presumably to ask if he’d like to stick around, but Brucie beats him to the punch:
Crane, on the other hand, waiting for the police to show up to ease his worried mind (he received a death threat similar to the one that Lambert received before he was offed):
And as the baddie meets his cohort, preparing to hand off the “document” he’s stolen, they’re interrupted:
Faboo!Batman proceeds to kick both of the scoundrels soundly in the ass and takes off with the paper. As he’s fleeing across the rooftop, Commissioner Gordon pulls up outside Crane’s residence and sends his boys in blue after Batsy, but he gives them the slip. While Gordon is finding out the bad news from Crane’s butler about his employers demise and the potential next victim, Batman decides to take a peek at what all the hubub is about:
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city, the next victim, No-Name Rogers, seeks refuge with the other surviving partner, Mr. Stryker. Jennings, the assistant, invites him in:
Apparently, Jennings is hoping to “control everything”, whatever that everything might be has yet to be revealed, and rather than get his hands messy with all the blood, he has a creative alternative way of offing his competition:
Jennings, secure in his mistaken knowledge that he has everything under control, disappears down a hatch in the room to “turn on the gas” as the glass cover lowers. Just then, our friendly neighborhood Batsy drops in for a visit:
Overlord!Jennings returns and is completely thrown off to see Batman standing in his now-broken deathtrap. He does what any evil-assistant-cum-overlord would do… He pulls a gun.
Alfred Stryker, Jenning’s boss, arrives on the scene, having heard all the commotion while Batsy was taking down Overlord!Jennings. Rogers explains the situation, and we then discover…
Angry!Rogers demands to know why he’s turned into one big red bullseye and Batman takes a moment to explain. See, apparently Rogers, Lambert, Crane, and Stryker were all partners in the Apex Chemical Corporation. Stryker wanted it all and drafted up secret contracts to pay a set amount of money to each partner until he owned the entire corporation, and realized it’d just be easier to kill everyone off. When asked, Batman goes on to let Rogers and Stryker know he discovered this fiendish plot because he’d snagged one of the contracts from the baddies he dispatched earlier.
Stryker reacts about as calmly as a man facing a potential death sentence can be expected to react, striking out at Batman, pulling a gun and claiming his refusal to go to the chair for what he’s done:
Contrary to the Broody!Batsy we’re used to, he doesn’t leap out to save the sinking Stryker:
The next day, Commissioner Gordon relates all of this to his good friend Bruce, who laughs and calls it a very lovely fairytale.
And once Bruce has excused himself yet again, Gordon mentions that poor ol’ Bruce must be just dreadfully bored all the time because he really seems disinterested in everything! But across town…
And there you have it! Until next issue!
~GO TEAM BATMAN!