Batmans 10 Greatest Mysteries

first_img This week sees the release of Detective Comics issue #1000, a staggering milestone as DC’s flagship title — and the one they’re named after — reaches the quadruple digits. The issue is a jumbo-sized, 96-page celebration of Batman and his adventures, featuring contributions by Jim Lee, Neal Adams, Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, and a host of other artists and writers.For our money, the Batman stories we like best are the ones where he really leans into his “World’s Greatest Detective” moniker, using brains instead of brawn to figure out puzzling cases. As we get ready for Detective‘s thousandth issue, let’s revisit some of the best Batman mystery storylines.Blood Secrets1989’s Detective Comics Annual has a fascinating story of Bruce Wayne before he donned the cowl, back when he was still learning the skills that would serve him in his never-ending battle against crime. In “Blood Secrets,” a young Bruce meets an elderly detective named Harvey Harris and the duo set out to investigate a string of small-town murders that are eventually tied back to a white supremacist group and a hushed-up interracial child. It’s a taut and clever done-in-one story that puts Wayne’s deductive mind center stage despite having few appearances of his alter ego.The Long HalloweenThe team of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale have an impeccable track record — when they take over a book, you know something special is about to happen. So for 1996’s The Long Halloween, it shouldn’t surprise you that they produced one of Batman’s most enduring modern tales. When a Falcone crime family enforcer is killed on Halloween, it kicks off a year-long saga set early in the Dark Knight’s career. The mysterious killer known as Holiday is picking off the Mob one by one, a month at a time, and Batman struggles to figure out his true identity while contending with both familiar villains and new faces.Night CriesWritten by long-time Bat-editor Archie Goodwin, “Night Cries” is a solid slice of street-level Batman that deserves to be more widely read. When Jim Gordon and Batman work a series of murders, they begin to see a dark correlation between the victims and a group of abused children. Things get even more complicated when the city starts thinking that Batman himself is laying down vigilante justice on the abusers. This is a topic that it’s very easy to get wrong, but Goodwin and artist Scott Hampton nail every note, creating a hidden gem of Bat-history.City Of CrimeWritten by David Lapham, “City Of Crime” — which has been collected into a stand-alone trade paperback — is a great tour through some of Bruce Wayne’s most effective methods of investigation. When a young girl is kidnapped, Batman works his way into a massive conspiracy that runs through Gotham’s halls of power. One of the most compelling aspects of the storyline is when Bruce Wayne goes undercover as a manual laborer in a working-class neighborhood hit hard by crime, showing how Bruce Wayne is a master of both disguise and eliciting information out of the people around him.ShamanRunning through the first five issues of Legends Of The Dark Knight, “Shaman” is a fascinating tale that takes Batman out of his comfort zone in multiple ways as he tries to get to the bottom of a group of cultists of the god Chubala coming to his city for a murder spree. The truth lies in his pre-Batman past, when he took a trip to Alaska to study under one of the world’s best trackers. Dense, involved and dramatic, this is a great example of Batman bringing all of his mental and physical tools to bear against a complex puzzle with some fascinating ethical dimensions.Broken CityThe problem with fighting crime in Gotham is that there are so many nefarious forces maneuvering for control that it’s very easy to get crossed up. As Batman investigates the murder of a woman by Killer Croc, he stumbles upon another tragedy: a child left orphaned by an alleyway shooting much like the one that took the lives of his own parents. Because he’s Batman, he gets obsessed with both, and the denouement of these two plot lines ends up not being what anybody would expect. It’s a fun, fast-paced story that has Batman taxing the limits of his skills.Perpetual MourningFrom the pages of quirky multi-creator series Batman: Black & White, “Perpetual Mourning” by Ted McKeever sees the Dark Knight in the deepest minutiae of the job, conducting an autopsy on a woman killed by a mugger. As he examines her body, cataloging her wounds, he recreates the last moments of her life and discovers the disparate pieces of evidence that he needs to find her identity and hunt down her killer. It’s a short story, but it does one of the best jobs we’ve seen at bringing Batman’s internal process to the surface.Made Of WoodSome of our favorite Batman stories are the ones where characters from the wider DC Universe find their way to Gotham and have to deal with how things are there. Written by Ed Brubaker, the three-part “Made Of Wood” storyline from Detective Comics guest-stars Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern. Before Bruce Wayne, Scott was Gotham’s protector, but one case that always stymied him was a serial killer who was never caught. Now, 40 years later, Alan comes back to town when a new killer has adopted the old one’s motif for mysterious ends.The Black MirrorThe span of time when Dick Grayson took up the cowl while Bruce Wayne was lost in time (don’t ask) delivered some of Batman’s strongest storytelling in years, and this is a great example. As Dick works to establish himself in Gotham, he comes up against a twisted reflection of himself — James Gordon Jr, the Commissioner’s son who has become a remorseless sociopath. He engineers a massive plan for revenge that has Dick straining every investigative bone in his body, but foresight and reasoning lead him to the solution and James’s eventual capture.GothicA decade or more before DC gave Grant Morrison the reins on the main Bat-franchise, they let him pen a story in Legends of the Dark Knight that would lay the groundwork for lots of his more esoteric theories about Gotham City’s history. “Gothic” introduces a murderer named Mr. Whisper who is targeting the city’s mob bosses. With no other recourse, they turn to Batman for help and the Darknight Detective learns that the culprit is a figure from his own past, as well as the past of the city. It’s a taut and compelling melding of the street-level and the supernatural that still holds up today.Get Detective Comics #1000 (available March 27, 2019) on ComixologyMore on Pick: Comixology Is Still Netflix for Comics‘White’ Graphic Novel Brings Back ‘Black’ Superhero WorldThe History of Ultraviolence in Comic Books Stay on target Marvel Censors Criticism of America From Marvel Comics #1000Can Even Jonathan Hickman Save the X-Men? last_img