The Time Capsule – Detective Comics #27 (Who Is The Bat-Man?)


Welcome one and all to The Time Capsule! It has been a long time since I’ve done one of these but considering this is Bat-Week and also my 750th Post, I thought I’d pull it out of retirement. Hope everyone enjoys it as much as I enjoyed journeying back through time to put it together. Let me share the memories with you!


The Coverdc27Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)

The first panel of the very first issue of the Dark Knight. It has a catchy title (The Case of the Chemical Syndicate), they tease of with his shadowed silhouette framed in front of the moon, and they mention that his identity is unknown, even to us. Notice the use of the hyphen between Bat and Man.dc27-1________________________________________________________

Here we get our first look at Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon, having a casual conversation which is broken up by a phone call detailing the death of Mr. Lambert by his own son.dc27-2________________________________________________________

The Commissioner needs to leave to the crime scene but he asks his friend Bruce if he’d like to tag along. The rich socialite has nothing better to do and they speed towards the murder post-haste.dc27-2B________________________________________________________

Upon arriving, Gordon interviews the suspected killer but he is adamant that he did not murder his father.dc27-3________________________________________________________

Gordon is willing to hear his side of the story and he tells Gordon how he found his father on the ground, a knife shoved through his back, his safe open.dc27-4 ________________________________________________________

He pulls the knife out his father’s back (hence why his fingerprints are on the knife) and hears his father’s last words about a contract. Gordon seems to believe his story and asks him about any enemies that his father had.dc27-5________________________________________________________

It turns out there are three: Steven Crane, Paul Rogers, and Alfred Stryker whom were all ex-business partners of Lambert. Just then a phone call from Crane comes in who is out of mind once he hears that Lambert is dead. Gordon learns that, just like Lambert, Crane had received an anonymous threat on his life.dc27-6________________________________________________________

Gordon readies himself to take off but Bruce decides to part his company, finding the whole affair simply “ho hum” and wanting to retire back to his home.dc27-6B________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, Crane’s fear for his life was justified as a robber shoots him dead and takes a paper from his safe.dc27-7________________________________________________________

And here we have the first appearance of the Batman, ready to dispense justice on this criminal lot.dc27-8________________________________________________________

He leaps into action and delivers the very first punch we have ever seen him throw.dc27-9________________________________________________________

After defeating the duo of criminals, Batman secures the paper they stole from Crane’s safe but before he can read it…dc27-10________________________________________________________

…Commissioner Gordon and his fellow police officers arrive on the scene. It is apparent that he is not a friend of the police as they are encouraged to capture him by Gordon though he easily evades them. dc27-11________________________________________________________

And here we have the first shot of the Batmobile albeit I could have sworn we saw this vehicle earlier in the issue. Hmmm… Anyways, Batman reads the paper and everything begins to make sense for him.dc27-12________________________________________________________

At that same time, Rogers goes to meet the last surviving ex-partner, Stryker, but is caught unaware by Stryker’s lab assistant, Jennings, and knocked out cold.dc27-13________________________________________________________

It appears that Jennings is the mastermind of the plot and prepares to murder Rogers by use of a gas-chamber.dc27-14________________________________________________________

Lucky for Rogers, Batman has pieced things together and is on the scene, bravely rushing into the gas-chamber, wrench in hand.dc27-15________________________________________________________

Using said wrench, he breaks the glass…dc27-16________________________________________________________

…and defeats the villain in combat.dc27-17________________________________________________________

Stryker, hearing the commotion, bursts onto the scene, wondering what has transpired only to find out about the heinous ambition of his assistant.dc27-18________________________________________________________

But it is time for a twist and Jennings is not the mastermind but Stryker himself. He attempts to murder Rogers himself not knowing Batman is there to put a stop to him.dc27-19________________________________________________________

But why would Stryker murder his ex-partners? Batman explains that he wanted to be sole owner of Apex Chemicals but didn’t have the cash to buy each one of them out. He made secret contracts with them to pay them a sum of money each year until he would own it outright. But not wanting to pay all this money, his plan was hatched to murder each one and take the secret contracts.dc27-20________________________________________________________

Batman reveals that he figured it all out from that piece of paper stolen from Crane’s safe.dc27-21________________________________________________________

Not wanting to go quietly, Stryker breaks free of Batman and pulls a gun…dc27-22________________________________________________________

…but Batman delivers a left cross to the villains who plummets through the railing…dc27-23________________________________________________________

…and into a vat of acid. Batman calls it a “fitting ending” for him, showing no remorse whatsoever. Before Rogers can give a proper thank you, the Batman has already vanished up the skylight and into the night.dc27-24________________________________________________________

The next day, Gordon entertains Bruce Wayne at his house, telling him the exploits of this Batman. Bruce calls it a “lovely fairy-tale” and leaves it at that.dc27-25________________________________________________________

After Bruce takes his leave, Gordon, muses that Bruce leads a rather dull life and he seems rather disinterested in anything that happens.dc27-26________________________________________________________

Meanwhile, Bruce returns home only to be revealed as the Batman. Bruce Wayne is the Batman! Who saw that one coming? With that startling revelation, the issue ends.dc27-27________________________________________________________

My ThoughtsBatman’s debut made up only six pages of Detective Comics #27 but his debut captured the imagination of anyone who read it and was the launching pad for a 75 year and counting career. It was an interesting start for two big reasons: #1) it did not contain an origin story for our hero and #2) Batman’s identity was kept a secret until the very last page. Not knowing what would drive a young socialite such as Bruce Wayne to a life of crime fighting is an enticing mystery unto itself and leaves us wanting to find out more about him. He has a great look (purple gloves aside) and the fact that he seems to be an ordinary human dispensing justice is great. Add that to a noir genre and the fact that here we will have a superhero who is also a detective is simply brilliant. While killing the villain and being glad about it was very unlike the Batman we now know, this was his first appearance and they were still working out his character traits. Regardless, Batman has stood the test of time and this issue marked his all too brief debut into legend. Thank you Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Thank you!

Have any of your memories you’d like to share in relation to this issue? Any other comments? Comment Below!

3 thoughts on “The Time Capsule – Detective Comics #27 (Who Is The Bat-Man?)

  1. What a great Time Capsule for Batman Day! Detective Comics #27 is such a classic, so glad you revisited it with this feature. Always fun to look back on classic issue like this 😀

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