Batman From the Beginning: Detective Comics #28

Detective Comics 28 cover

Welcome back to the series where I attempt the task I once thought impossible: reading Batman comics from the beginning. This time we are looking at his second appearance in Detective Comics #28.

Sadly we are still saddled with quotation marks and a hyphen “Bat-Man.” He is also still absent any sort of murdered parentage, and is instead doing this because of rich boy ennui. I also spent a good chunk of time laughing about fighting “the evil” (just the one evil, one singular evil, a specifically designated evil) before I pieced together that it was probably being used as a collective noun for evildoers. 

The plot begins with an interesting enough hook. Batman stops a jewel heist (and you know casually murders a thief in the process). He then waits around for the cops to almost catch him so that they would think that he was one of the jewel thieves. Why? Well. That's where things get weird.

Head thief dude in his super suave smoking jacket and monocle is convinced that “Bat-Man” will be too busy to hunt them down, and this was “Bat-Man’s” plan all along somehow? To distract the criminals by pretending to be a criminal so he could sneak up on the criminals? This seems logical. Really. It's not in the least overly convoluted. Also whoever told Bill Finger that nicknames have to go in quotes should be ashamed of themself. Unusual nicknames like “Bat-Man” and “Gloves” almost make sense, but “Ricky?” Ricky is just a normal diminutive. 

Here I need to take a quick break from commenting directly on the plot. So here we have “Bat-Man” wearing a nice pair of long gloves like we are all used to. This to me is the biggest mystery of this comic. This is the only frame where he has any gloves on at all in this comic. Last comic he had short purple gloves. Next couple of comics feature short blue gloves. The more aesthetically pleasing longer gloves don’t come back until issue 31. I flipped ahead to check. Why are they here? Why don’t they stay? I have such questions about this, but they are not answered, so back to the plot.

“Bat-Man” then pulls what will become a signature move, extracting a confession by threatening to drop a crook off something tall. Post confession they end up fighting anyway after what has to be the most unintentionally hilarious panel of the comic. All it needs is a "SPROING!" sound effect to match the spring-loaded jump. Also, how did Frenchy escape the quote-pox? I refuse to believe that Frenchy is the head crook’s given name, and yet his nickname is excluded from such fates as "Ricky?" Still “Bat-Man” emerges victorious and calls the cops in to bring the criminals to justice.

The comic ends with “Bat-Man” leaving Commissioner Gordon a note where he signs his name with a drawing of a bat. That is commitment to the character right there. Batman doesn’t write his name. Batman just draws a bat. Maybe this is some sort of subconscious effort to avoid “Bat-Man” because deep down he knows it looks preposterous.

I have to admit while the coloring looks a bit better this time out, but I’m still kinda turned off by the art. The posing is often clunky and the anatomy is questionable. On top of that, this time around the characterization is kinda dull. Frenchy is a stock character with no noticeable motivation for his crimes, and Batman isn’t given much to talk about other than explaining his detective-ing, so outside of one rather charming grin we are left with the awkward posing to convey any sort of emotional content. This simply isn’t the best showing for Batman. Hopefully Detective Comics #29 will have more to offer.

Miz Opifex is a union electrician by day and a champion of feminine geekery by night. She lives in the American Rust Belt with her cat and a staggering amount of books, movies, and albums on vinyl.