Batman was not a character I got into right away. I mean, I always liked him as a kid, but when I first got into comics I read exclusively Marvel. But a wise friend, Brian, showed me the error of my ways, and slowly introduced me into the world of Batman by lending me his favourite batman books. I initially read stories like No Man’s Land and Knightfall, which were great, but nothing could prepare me for the awesomeness of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween. Batman isn’t my favourite character, though he is up there, but this is my favourite book. Flat out. No exceptions.
I read it every year on Halloween religiously. I have bought and worn out several copies (I even returned the original copy I borrowed with the cover removed). I have bought extra copies for the sake of lending out. I have bought the special edition copy with the Batman and Joker figures that came along. I even bought the extra-large, extra-expensive, slip cased Absolute edition, and had it signed by Kevin Conroy. One day, I would like to own each of the 13 individual prestige format issues.
But it’s only October 1st. I still have 30 days to wait to read it. In the mean time, I think I am going to do what I used to do every October for a few years. Dedicate the month to reading several of the adventures set in Batman’s early days, leading up to this book. This includes a few of the actual early books, such as first appearances of characters, as well as more recent books such as Year One, Shaman, The Man Who Laughs, and The Halloween Specials, which lead to The Long Halloween in both real-time and Bat-time.
To kick off this month I went to two stories at the very beginning. 1939’s The Case of the Chemical Syndicate – Batman’s first appearance from Detective Comics #27 and 1940’s Batman: Who He Is and How He Came To Be from Batman #1.
To be fair, they aren’t that great. The Case of the Chemical Syndicate, is just a story about a guy who doesn’t want to make is loan payments, so he starts killing people, and Batman: WHIaHHCTB just tells the story of a kid whose parents get shot and focuses on increasing his knowledge and intellect. He only decides to become a “Bat-Man” when a bat flies by his window. Neither really get to in-depth into the character. Stories and writers later will really flesh this out and expand on what drives him, but if I read only these stories back in the day, I wouldn’t have put them aside to sell for $100,000, 75 years later. These are just typical, dime a dozen, stories from that era. They weren’t really meant to be taken as serious literature to be studied for years to come.
But that is what they became. This is where it started. This is the first time we
meet both Batman and Commissioner Gordon (whom I think in some ways is a character almost as great as Batman). This is also where we learn that his parents were brutally murdered right in front of him as a child. These 2 issues have become highly sought out commodities with a hefty price on them. The stories have been reprinted time and time again. They have entered the pantheon of the stories starring Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and his comrade, Superman. I will also note that even in the few months between these issues, Batman has developed physically more into the character he is today.
So thanks Bill Finger and Bob Kane, for creating one of the greatest characters of all time, and thanks Brian for introducing me to him.
Welcome to Batman Month
Images from: http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_medium/6/62444/1479492-51tnomzvbel._ss500_.jpg, http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20111101021944/batman/images/4/46/BTAS.png, http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-EvAsin4wiJk/Tp2KRMoI6GI/AAAAAAAAALM/CRNFpKHJW-M/s1600/BatmanOrigin.JPG, https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-0DZymY-8Mik/U9CEaOV0FRI/AAAAAAAAfkw/cv9q7K-eim4/s800/Detective1-27-P.jpg