Nothing beats a classic, and Detective Comics #27, from May 1939, is definitely a classic. “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” by Bob Kane and the unduly uncredited Bill Finger, features the first appearance of the Caped Crusader himself– Batman!– and it holds a particularly special place of honor this year, as 2014 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of this groundbreaking edition.
As far as actual story goes, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” unfortunately wears a bit thin. It’s only a few pages long, so it doesn’t have much time to really dig into its tale, but the brief glimpse we get at Gotham through it gives us a good sense of the world nonetheless. Familiar faces make their appearance (Commissioner Gordon plays a key role), and the entire story hinges on a reveal that hasn’t been all that revealing since May ’39– that Bruce Wayne is in fact the elusive “Bat-Man.”
Still, to say that reading Detective Comics 27 isn’t fun would be a huge mistake, and one I won’t soon make! After all, in light of seventy-five years of rich Batman history, it’s refreshing to take a look at where it all began, back when the Batmobile was just a red sports car, and the Bat himself wore bright purple gloves while referring to a villain falling into a pit of acid as “a fitting end for his kind.” How far we’ve come! It’s also exciting to see, though, that for all the changes Batman has undergone through his tenure of nearly a century, there are certain elements of his character that have always remained the same (and hopefully always will.) Detective Comics 27 ‘s Batman is just as clever and quick-witted as his modern counterpart, piecing together the mystery of a string of murders in a heartbeat and swooping in just in time to save the day and not only outwit but all around outdo the scheming businessman behind it all.