[World of Bats] Batman Book Club: Detective Decades!

Greetings, Bat-Fans!

This time, we’ll be looking at some selected oneshots from each decade of the Dark Knight’s history! After the first four turned out to be 'Tec issues, I decided to make it a theme. We can return to the same gimmick for the Batman series some other time.

The selection looks a little intimidating, but a few of them should be quick reads.

Our selections for this week are:
Detective Comics #31 (stuck on the end of #30 in the scans DCU has for reasons unknown)-32 (#33 has likewise been appended to #32, so don’t read that - unless you want to, of course) (1939)
Detective Comics #140 (1948)
Detective Comics #156 (1950)
Detective Comics #327 (1964)
Detective Comics #411 (1971)
Detective Comics #549 (1985)
Detective Comics #703 (1996)
Detective Comics #826 (2007)
Detective Comics #950 (2017)

Also, I got punchy and about half of the questions are jokes (and at least one is a riddle, but not my riddle - if you want to cheat, google search “difficult riddles” and click the first link), so feel free to add general thoughts.

OK, so I cheated and gave you two issues, but since all we’ve got are the Batman stories, it’ll still be a quick read for you. And honestly, I mostly picked this because I love #31’s cover. Is that not awesome? No, that’s not the question.

1: What do you think of Batman’s first superpowered villain? Are Batman and vampires two great tastes that taste great together?

And here we meet unquestionably the greatest Batman villain of all time, the Riddler! Shut up, he’s awesome.

2: I’m never scared but can be petrified, I can’t make a bird but can make a bat, and I don’t live in a house but would die to build one. What am I?

The introduction of the classic Dick Sprang Batmobile, ten years ahead of anything else on wheels! Let’s take it for a spin!

3: Did you spot the Batmobile, Batmobile Spotters? If so, which comic Batmobile is the best? (The placement of this question should tell you my vote.)

The New Look! Ain’t it wild?

4: Yellow oval: Yea or yea? There is no nay.

Alright, I confess: I cheated again. This is technically part two of a story, but since we don’t even have the first part on DCU, and it stands alright on its own, I’m assigning it as a oneshot.

5: So, how about this “Talia” character, huh? She seems pretty trustworthy to me. I bet that father of hers won’t be important.

Almost all of the 'Tec issues from the '80s I’ve read were from the Post-Crisis era, and I’ve already assigned all one of the issues from that era that I liked, so here’s the only one from Pre-Crisis '80s 'Tec that I’ve actually read! This is a good issue, though.

6: What do you think of Bullock’s little secret?

OK, fine. That adjective was a bit of a stretch. Sue me.

Uh, right, anyway, this is technically a tie-in more than a oneshot, but it stands on its own, is my favorite done-in-one 'Tec issue from the '90s (and I’ve read a lot more '90s 'Tec than '80s), and my new avatar comes from this issue, so it seemed like a good one to pick

7: Do you think the talk show host is right to be pessimistic, or should the citizens of the DCU be able to trust that things will work out by this point?

And this one is here because it’s my favorite oneshot. Basically, this is an incredibly self-indulgent book club.

8: The most important question raised by this issue: Marx Brothers or Three Stooges? (Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello are acceptable answers if you must, but Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton are sort of a different category. )

Here, I’m foiled not so much by a lack of reading (I’ve read most of Rebirth 'Tec) so much as writing for the trade. There were pretty much three genuine oneshots to choose from. Detective Comics #1000 is huge, and there’s nothing particularly notable about #982.

9: I know some people are very opinionated about this subject, so I’ll light this fuse: Tynion’s take on Cassandra Cain - good or bad?


Whoops! Forgot again: We’re going to midnight on Monday the 30th.

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Batjamags haven’t done a World of Bats club selection yet, so one shots from each decade sounds like a good one to jump on. I’m in.


Hey, I’m looking at the page for Detective Comics on the app, and I’m not finding the issues for #140, #156, or #327. There’s basically a big gap between #132-200 and #325-341.

Looking at it, while it isn’t anywhere else, #140 and #327 are part of the 80 Years of Batman hardcover book.

Oh, crap. Should’ve double-checked DCU’s selection. If anybody doesn’t have access to those issues, just ignore them. I’ll see if I can fish around for substitutes, but we may have to just skip some decades.

What’s funny is tonight they just released onto DCU…#326. #327 might show up next week!

the answer to the riddle: a tree


Burned through a bunch of these at lunch today. The Golden Age two-parter is great for the time period. We get the first batarang and the bat- gyro :stuffed_flatbread:. This also shows that Batman works well in a horror setting. It wouldn’t be too long before Robin arrives and we go from grim Batman to the quip for every punch Batman. But the original version is so compelling that the 70s version we next see is closer to the original than it is to the 60s version. What’s also great about the 70s story is we got Talia with us already knowing how very important she will become over the years.
Batgirl backup story: who knew the fashion industry was so violent


I’ll quickly knock out the first few:

'Tec 31-32: Gardner Fox (who would later return to the Batman books in the 1960s) introduces us to Batman’s first major love interest, Julie Madison. Crazily enough, he doesn’t treat the idea of Bruce in a serious relationship as unfathomable. Take note, subsequent writers. Of course, anyone who has seen Batman & Robin knows that their relationship won’t last. Also, we get a rare instance of Batman killing someone with a gun, but it’s a vampire, so we’ll forgive it.

'Tec 140: See, this is why I don’t like Zero Year. The Riddler is very much a post-Robin sort of baddie. He needs to be silly.

'Tec 156: Bruce and Dick fight Smiley Dix, drawn by Dick Sprang. ahem

'Tec 327: Batman not only gets the yellow oval, but he gets to use a gun again for one issue before fan backlash makes him put it back away. So much for getting back to your roots with this soft reboot, eh Batsy?


Batman and Harvey, this is probably the weakest of this week’s stories. Bumbling Harvey is really a sensitive classic movie buff who beats up thugs with Batman then sees their redeeming qualities. Ummm, okay.

Final Night. As it happens just read Final Night for the first time last week. Not the best big event DC has done, but a nice idea and enjoyable. This issue fits right in with the heroes trying to hold everything together. A good quick read.

'Tec 411: Ah, back when Denny’s stories were fun and silly. We need Batman saying “doodads” again. Another highlight is when Bats calls a bull an “overgrown hamburger.” Good times. Oh, and the debut of Talia!

'Tec 549: Doug Moench puts a fun spin on Bullock. And as a bonus, we get some Alan Moore Green Arrow goodness!

'Tec 703: Man, Larry King is having a bad night in this blackout. Also, I’m reminded of how much I hate the “Huntress isn’t cut out to be part of the team” garbage from the 90s. It all culminates in the ultimate middle finger to the character, namely the introduction of Cassie Cain.

'Tec 826: Hot take time. I don’t have much affection for this issue. Paul Dini stories too often just feel like rejected BTAS episodes. If I want to watch BTAS, I’ll watch BTAS. I don’t need the main books to be indistinguishable from The Batman Adventures.

'Tec 950: This one’s good enough as a breather issue. I do like Tynion’s run overall.

I’m looking in the wrong place obviously. Detective Comics skips from 132 to 200 for me…

First, as to why they have the two issues of the 40s era books put together, I think it’s because that’s how Comixology has them printed with the exception of #27, which is free. At a guess, I guess they figured they wouldn’t be able to sell 10-ish pages of a Golden Age story for a buck.

For Detective Comics #30-31, two things that came to mind when I was reading this that surprised me was how there was a sense of serialized storytelling and the panel usage. From what I’ve experienced, most stories in this era are mostly telling one-shots, so having some sort of continuation from the last story definitely makes it stand out. Similarly, I was surprised by how there were several panels where there was no dialogue or narration boxes, just pure visual storytelling, and I thought that was both well done.

As for the question:

“What do you think of Batman’s first superpowered villain? Are Batman and vampires two great tastes that taste great together?”

I definitely think so. After all, consider that one of the more well known species of bat is the “vampire” variety. And I liked how even though they are vampires (or are they werewolves? The writer does seem to confuse them at times.

Reading this also reminded me of the time they remade this story for a more modern storytelling. “Batman & The Mad Monk,” also a sequel to the “Batman & The Monster Men” story. I wish this was collected under DCU.

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First off – looking at my last post, DAMN I need to not post when about to fall asleep, I hope I made any lick of sense.


Detective Comics #140, pretty solid introduction to The Riddler. While technically he had been in the life of crime for longer, I’m not sure how much I like Nygma just deciding to become The Riddler – I think his best origins come from him having some sort of downfall and he uses The Riddler as a form of revenge. But hey, it’s the 40s – you can’t really expect a whole lot of complexity.

I was thinking with what @AlexanderKnox has said about Riddler needing to be silly. While I think it’s fair to say the '66 version of Riddler is one of the most iconic takes on the character, I think my personal favorite take is in the Batman Arkham series, where he’s probably his creepiest and deadliest – the classic take on the character with a Jigsaw twist. Though he is a colossal pain in the ASS when you’re trying to collect all his trophies.

@HurricaneDaddy: Sorry about the confusion. I compiled my list from the wiki and didn’t cross-reference to make sure everything was actually on here. You can disregard those issues.

@AlexanderKnox and @Jay_Kay re: The Riddler, I think the reason he was good in the Arkham series is because he wasn’t entirely non-silly despite how threatening he was. His blatantly overinflated ego and creative insults are amusing, but also just threatening enough that you can really believe this is the sort of guy who’ll stick you in a death trap. Honestly, now that I phrase it like that, it’s also similar to how a good Joker is both genuinely amusing and threatening at the same time. And personally, I love Paul Dini’s take on both characters (with his having written one of our selections for today and the first two Arkham games) precisely because of that.

Now, I do also like a more Frank Gorshin-esque wild, manic trickster Riddler (He really was the best villain on the '66 show), but what made that take work better in the Silver Age is that as goofy as he is, he’s still treated as a legitimately dangerous villain. Writers from the '80s on who use that characterization often seem to be tempted to make him an ineffectual joke. While I think I prefer the Arkham series take, I could totally see a Gorshin-style Riddler who was still actually competent.

That’s one thing that Batman writers don’t always get, but I always find interesting about his world: It’s a place where the gangster kingpins and immortal assassins are never going to be as much of a headache as a guy dressed up like a clown and a dude with a freeze ray. The reason Gotham City is a world that needs Batman is because it’s a world where the problems are so trippy that dressing up as a bat and throwing boomerangs at them is a solution that actually makes sense.


When you put it like that, I’m reminded of what I’ve heard Douglas Adams say about villains when he was script editing Doctor Who (which of course I now can’t find, funny how that works, isn’t it?). A good Who villain should at first seem absolutely silly and camp…until you realize that they are actually serious in their goals, where they then become terrifying. Similarly, The Riddler just sounds like an overblown incel blowhard, until you realize that he is actually serious and willing to kill to prove it, and then he becomes menacing.

And yeah, that’s part of why I tend to feel like having Batman deal with stuff like real world drugs to be kind of a waste. He’s at his best when he’s solving the really, REALLY weird and impossible cases that the police can’t figure out on their own.

In the words of the Joker ‘sup
AK, bad hot take, bad. The Tim Joker Detective issue is my favorite of this week’s stories. Joker is nuts enough you don’t know for sure what he’ll do. Tim is smart and resourceful, artwork is great. Just a very nice one issue story.
The final selection for the week is just okay. The Orphan part is interesting but too long, and the rest is all setup. Fine as far as it goes but not compelling

^The problem is that I knew exactly what the Joker would do. He would do what Mark Hamill’s Joker would do. Like I said, the issue feels as if it were a story that Dini had unsuccessfully pitched for The New Batman Adventures. I know that I’m in the extreme minority on this, but I don’t really like it when the comics try to imitate the DCAU (which is why I just flat-out dislike the DCAU tie-in comics). And it kinda works the other way around: I’m not all that fond of some of the DCAU’s most direct animated adaptations of particular comic issues (e.g. “The Laughing Fish” and “Joker’s Millions”). In both cases, I’m left thinking, “I’d rather be reading this,” or, “I’d rather be watching this.” People who don’t see as big a difference between the DCAU and the mainstream comic universe as I do (or people who want the mainstream comic universe to resemble the DCAU) are undoubtedly going to think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but we can’t all agree on everything.

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Since I don’t have #156 here or in the hardcover, I’ll say that the Sprang Batmobile is cool, but when I think of the Batmobile, my mind tends to go to either the Burton films or B:TAS (and the one in the comics reminiscent of the animated Batmobile that started in Tom King’s run is pretty great). I also really liked the BVS Batmobile – especially with the deail that it used to be a two-seater, but Batman threw in a lot of computers controlling the weaponry after the death of Robin. The cars in Arkham Asylum and Arkham Knight are great looking as well.

Really there’s not a lot of Batmobiles I’ve seen that I’ve hated.