Overview: This oversized issue brings together some of Batman’s most famous creators in a commemorative celebration of his long and beloved history.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each short story, rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: Batman’s Longest Case by writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo
Synopsis: Tonight, Batman is working his first case. It began as he was examining the crime scene involving a businessman who was supposedly killed by his son. He noticed the victim’s museum piece had been replaced with a forgery. He first thought the theft was part of the motive for the killing. The forgery came from a foundry in Japan. He checked the computers in the foundry to see if there were any records. He noticed the computer was hacked the previous day. He was surprised because the malware left behind made the computer searches faster. The malware led him to Egypt; it specifically led him to a tomb in the old kingdom. He noticed there was a hidden code in the hieroglyphs on the wall.
And, his search continued across the world. From the snow peaks on the mountains to a sunken ship in the Pacific, he followed each and every clue. These clues led him back to an apartment in Gotham. Once inside, he finds a hidden entrance behind a bookcase.
Upon entry, he finds a welcome party waiting for him consisting of Martian Manhunter, The Question, Detective Chimp, Hawkgirl, Hawkman, and others. This group, called the Guild, has been waiting for him for a while. They explain they are an elite group of detectives who help solve mysteries of the universe. In order for Batman to be a member of the Guild, he had to solve this near impossible case. and with that, the world’s greatest detective is now a part of the most elite group of detectives in the universe.
Analysis: I really enjoyed this story. It is appropriate that Snyder’s story is a tried-and-true detective story. We think of Batman being the greatest detective in the world, but he is also one of the best in the universe. We see his brilliance all the time when he works with the Justice League. Solving the Riddler’s riddles do not even compare with the mysteries of the Source Wall. Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder work so well together. And, Capullo continues his excellent work from Batman during the New 52.
Story #2: Manufacture For Use by writer Kevin Smith and artist Jim Lee
Synopsis: Bruce, undercover as Matches Malone, tells the attendant of a pawnshop he is looking for a souvenir – a unique one which says “Gotham.” He mentions money is not an issue. The attendant tells him he has what he is looking for; he should come at midnight.
Bruce arrives and the attendant tells him this place is the Gift Shop. This place has any and all things related to crime in Gotham City. Bruce asks if the man has what he is looking for. The man pulls out a handgun. This gun is the gun which was used in the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Bruce gives him $1,500 for the piece and heads home.
Bruce arrives back at the Batcave and Alfred asks if he had found it. He tells Bruce he does not mind having the giant penny and dinosaur in the Batcave, but he is not in favor of having the gun in of Bruce’s parents’ murders on display. Bruce tells him it will not be a trophy. Instead, this gun, which violently pierced the hearts of his parents, will be transformed into something greater. That which was used in malice will be used to preserve life. In front of Alfred, he melts this gun and forges a metal plate which will protect his heart.
Analysis: At first, I was pretty confused by this story. About 60% of the panels have nothing to do directly with Kevin Smith’s story. This is not a bad thing at all! But, the art and plot were not really in sync. Because of this, I had to reread this story multiple times. As I read it more, I began to understand what Kevin Smith is doing. And, this story is really moving. Bruce reclaims the gun which changed his life. This gun is the impetus for Batman. And, Bruce takes this item of evil and makes sure it will never hurt anyone again.
But you see, the art actually does sync up with the story. This gun created Batman. He fights the evil of Gotham City so that others do not have to. Batman and the gun will forever have this special relationship. I do like Jim Lee’s art. He basically draws the entire rogues gallery of Batman – which is impressive.
Story #3: The Legend of Knute Brody by writer Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen
Synopsis: On television, a documentary airs which explores the legend of the worst henchman in Gotham. A film crew went to every major crime lord in Gotham and interviewed them about their experience with Knute Brody.
The crew interviewed Harley Quinn first, and she shares her experience with this henchman. She recounts a memory from her days with the Joker where she and the Joker were contracted by a corrupt congressman to go to a polling center and scare voters away from voting. Naturally, the Joker went overboard and decided to blow up every voting center in Gotham. Batman and Robin confronted the two, and the Joker gave Harley the detonator so she can escape with it. At this moment, Knute Brody goes to attack Robin with a baseball bat, only to hit Harley in the head and knock her out. Thus, Batman and Robin stopped the Joker from detonating all the bombs.
The crew next interviewed the Mad Hatter. He hired Knute Broody as a lookout for a heist. Unfortunately, he fell asleep and the Hatter’s crew was arrested. The Riddler was interviewed, and he shared how Knute Brody gave Batman the secret code to escape the Riddler’s trap. Poison Ivy recounts how he burned her greenhouse to the ground.
In the Batcave, Alfred, Bruce, Dick, and Barbara are watching this documentary and laughing about how they each were Knute Brody. As a “tradition”, each member infiltrated each crime lord’s crew and brought them down from the inside by being the absolute worst henchman ever. Bruce comments they should retire that identity now, due to this documentary bringing attention to this character. However, Damian enters the cave and says it his turn. Barbara tells him to go for it.
Analysis: This story is awesome. It is one of those stories you never asked for, but you are so incredibly glad you got it. I have not read many comics which were in a “documentary” style. Which is why I am so impressed with this issue. This reminds me of an episode from Batman: The Animated Series, titled “Almost Got ‘Im'”, where the villains recount how they almost captured/killed Batman. All the villains – almost as a documentary – discuss their deeds, only to have Batman impersonate one of the crime lords. The episode was also written by Paul Dini.
I felt the art was okay. Damian, in the last panel, looks like an eight-year-old. He looks odd.
Story #4: The Batman’s Design by writer Warren Ellis and artist Becky Cloonan
Synopsis: Batman comments that these criminals he is chasing are having a bad day. They think they are running away from him, but in reality, he is leading them away from the population. He forces them into a warehouse where he has set up his ambush. This group is a mercenary outfit which is deep into black market arms. Each member has military-grade body armor. Finally, this will be a fun challenge for him.
As Batman works his way through the warehouse, he takes these goons out one by one. He has read all their files. One of these men has never lost a fight. Another has killed children. When Batman catches up with the last member of the group, he notices this man has a suicide bomb on him. Batman notices this man is nervous and does not want to die today. He tells the man to look at him. He has already died and haunts the living. He asks this man if he wants the same fate. The man hands over the detonator, and the situation is diffused.
Analysis: I am not going to lie, I did not like this story. Basically, it is an admission of how Batman is “dead.” But, this is conflicting to other stories in canon and to other stories in this issue. Bruce is not dead. Yes, his life went down a path when his parents were murdered, but you can clearly see how he is alive. I was just very disappointed with this story. The only saving grace was Becky Cloonan’s art.
Story #5: Return to Crime Alley by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Steve Epting
Synopsis: A group of kids put on their masks and one of them have a gun; they are ready to rob anyone who steps in their path.
Walking down Crime Alley, Leslie Thompkins calls for Bruce to stop lurking in the shadows. He comes down from his perch and joins her. Tonight is the anniversary of his parents’ death. Leslie corrects him and tells him to call it what it really is – they were murdered. She sometimes thinks he does not know anything else. That tragedy was indeed obscene, but he survived. He could have used this experience to craft a life of charity and altruism. Instead, he haunts the living at night from the shadows. He thinks he is serving justice, but in reality, he is serving cruelty.
Bruce tells her he is grateful for her, but in the middle of their conversation, the group of kids heads toward them. These kids ask Leslie for her purse, and Batman tells them to stand back. They believe Bruce is dressed up in cosplay as Batman, but they are gravely mistaken. One of the kids pulls a gun on Bruce and shoots him. In retaliation, Bruce begins to beat up this group. During this altercation, Bruce has become increasingly more violent. Leslie calls for Bruce to stop. She sighs and says someone a poor thing. Bruce asks if she feels sorry for them. She tells him she feels sorry for Bruce.
Analysis: This story is quick and simple, yet perfectly displays Leslie’s and Bruce’s relationship. As a followup to O’Neil’s “There is no hope in crime alley!” (found in Detective Comics #457), we see how Bruce comes back every year to the place where it all started. We all know how Leslie does not approve of Bruce’s nocturnal activity, but that is not what strikes me about this issue.
Bruce goes back to Crime Alley to both mourn and remember his parents. Although this place is the site of a tragedy, it is the last place where he and his family were together. Crime Alley will always be an important place for Bruce. Leslie knows this as well. Each year, she hopes Bruce will be able to come to Crime Alley and drop his crusade. Overall, this was just a beautiful, succinct story.
Story #6: Heretic by writer Christopher Priest and artist Neal Adams
Synopsis: Bruce Wayne meets Commissioner Gordon at the murder scene of a twenty-year-old student. The victim has no wallet or any other identification. The only thing of note on the body was an old Wayne Foundation business card. Batman meets Gordon and asks what Bruce Wayne was doing there. He tells Batman about the business card. Batman states that that card is a warning to Wayne. With that, Batman disappears.
In the Batcave, Bruce thanks Dick for filling for Batman. Bruce and Dick go over the forensics, and they find that the victim was killed by a martial arts strike. They were also able to deduce that this man was a member of the League of Assassins.
Batman and Ra’s al Ghul meet at an abandoned parking lot to discuss the victim. Ra’s tells Bruce he is responsible for the boy’s death. When Bruce was traveling and learning skills, he met the victim at the temple of the Sensei. Batman confronts the victim’s brother and announces that he killed his brother, the victim. Bruce Wayne corrupted his brother because his brother was introduced to capitalism. The victim found there can be a life outside of violence.
Analysis: This will be short and quick: I am confused about why this story was included. I have no clue what the point of the story is.
Story #7: I Know by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Alex Maleev
Synopsis: In the far feature, Oswald Cobblepot goes to a disabled man and shares a secret he has been holding on to for years: he knows the identity of the Batman. He tells the man he has known for years that Bruce Wayne was Batman.
Years ago, Batman’s Rogues Galley all met to try to form a union to fight Batman. In many of their meetups, they discussed who the man is underneath the cowl. After thinking it over, Bruce Wayne is the only man in Gotham who has the money to fund a war against crime. He planned to assassinate Bruce Wayne at Wayne Manor, but he decided to not go through with it. He tells the disabled man that Bruce Wayne is the only thing keeping him alive. If he took down the secret identity of Batman, then Batman would have more time to stop crime. Thus, keeping his identity secret was in his best interest.
He tells the disabled man, who is the one and only Bruce Wayne, that he knew all along. He knew he was Batman. Bruce flips a switch on his wheelchair and electrocutes Oswald. He tells him he knew all along that Oswald knew his identity. With that, he tells him it was good to see him.
Analysis: Wow, this story was awesome. Gosh, I love stories with old Bruce. Old Bruce just does not care about anything, and I love it! I also think Oswald made a good point. If Batman was unencumbered with his public persona, he would be free to be Batman all the time. And in Oswald’s self-interest, he kept this secret to himself. Out of all the criminals, I believe Penguin (and maybe Bane) would be the only one(s) to have this reaction. I have to say, Alex Maleev’s art is superb. I was a tad sad when this story was finished.
Story #8: The Last Crime in Gotham by writer Geoff Johns and artist Kelley Jones
Synopsis: Damian comments how it has been over a month since Gordon turned on the Bat-Signal. Bruce tells him to be grateful, but Damian really wishes for some action. Selina comments about how things have gotten quiet in Gotham since the Joker has gotten sick. Echo, Selina’s and Bruce’s daughter, comments how there is nothing wrong with a crime-free Gotham. Bruce tells her Gotham is not crime-free yet.
Commissioner Gordon meets the Bat-Family at a crime scene with multiple victims. These victims were celebrating at a party. They discover the cake was poisoned. Before anyone can say it, Gordon tells them the Joker died last night. Selina asks who else would do something like this. Bruce says it is someone who is trying to recreate the greatest crimes in Gotham in a single night. Bruce shares the perpetrator is the April Fool, also known as the Son of Joker. However, the Fool was one of the dead at the table. The Fool did all this because his father died, and he wanted to honor his father.
Bruce tells everyone it is now time for family. Gotham’s streets are now safe. However, all this was just Bruce’s birthday wish. He just wants crime to end.
Analysis: I found this story to be interesting. I was confused at first, but I finally realized this was all just Bruce’s birthday wish. Although it being a little odd, it makes sense Bruce’s wish/goal is there is no more crime in Gotham. When that happens, he can finally rest. I am not going to lie, the “April Fool” is a cool villain’s name.
Story #9: The Precedent by writer James Tynion IV and artist Alvaro Martinez-Bueno
Synopsis: In the study, Bruce and Alfred discuss the precedent of letting Dick Grayson join him in the field. Alfred tells Bruce he will be able to give Dick some closure. He will also be able to provide him with opportunities for friendship, romance, and other things teenagers do. Growing up, Bruce was not able to have a normal life. He was forged in the fire, unable to live free as a kid. His childhood was stolen from him on that dark night in Crime Alley.
Bruce tells Alfred this life can be consumed by the darkness in Gotham. Alfred responds Dick can help him see the light. Dick can be the hero forged in the light. Dick overhears all of this and tells them he is ready and excited.
Analysis: I thought this was a sweet story which dives into the moments before Dick became part of Bruce’s family. Alfred tells Bruce Dick can be the “hero forged in the light.” And, he could not be more right.
Story #10: Batman’s Greatest Case by writer Tom King and artists Tony Daniel and Joelle Jones
Synopsis: Without knowing why, the entire Bat-Family stands on a rooftop, anxiously waiting for Bruce to arrive. As each member theorizes why they are all together, Bruce uses a Batarang as a camera and captures a family portrait of them all. He then lays this at the grave of his parents, letting them know he has found his own family.
Analysis: This story was perfect. With this story, we can definitively tell know is a member of the Bat-Family. The members of the Bat-family include Bruce, Alfred, Selina, Dick, Damian, Barbara, Jason, Kate, Tim, Duke, Stephanie, Cassandra, Helena, and Ace. I love the individual conversations amongst the Batfamily.
The art in this story is just beautiful. The two-page spread of the entire Bat-Family can be framed because it is so good. Daniel and Jones draw each member of the family to perfection.
Supplemental Material: The issue also contains an original piece of art by Mikel Janin, featuring Batman, Joker and Riddler, a two-page spread by Jason Fabok featuring members of the Bat-Family and the Rogues Gallery, and an original piece by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts featuring Batman remembering his parents.
Story #11: Medieval by writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke
Synopsis: He has seen him; he has seen the Batman. He has heard stories throughout the years of how Batman is a creature of the night who preys on the weak and broken. The Batman he knows is a cancer which has metastasized across Gotham. The cancer is so deep where Gotham’s citizens hide in fear of him. The Batman only cares about gaining control and forcing the masses to follow his code. To Batman, the deviants must decrease for its citizens to live in the light. Batman has no sense of empathy. He is blind to the world around him. He is a purveyor of pain, and his brashness needlessly puts others in danger. Batman’s most grievous sin is building a family in his name with short words and powerful deed which have altered the course of youthful lives and minds forever.
In the end, Batman is at the head of a masterclass with one overarching theme: pain used diligently can serve a purpose. He says “Batman” faster and faster, noting that Batman begins to sound like “bad man.” And to him, he believes Batman is evil, and Gotham deserves better than the Dark Knight. Gotham will bear witness to him – the Arkham Knight, the one who has been narrating the entire time – finally deliver justice to the Batman.
Analysis: This story is the setup for Tomasi’s run. He is introducing the Arkham Knight into the DC Universe. The Arkham Knight has been a popular video game villain of Batman for a while now, and I am happy we get to see this villain’s comics debut. I was worried about how the Arkham Knight will look, but I am really impressed with Mahnke’s vision for this character.
The Arkham Knight details his hate and contempt for Batman. Clearly, he believes Batman is Gotham’s true villain. We get to see into the mind of the Knight, but I want to know what caused the Knight to hate Batman. Each page of this story highlights an important time in Batman career. During the Knight’s monologue, the art reinforces what he is saying. Mahnke drew this issue to near perfection. Overall, I am excited about what Tomasi has next in #1001.
Final Thoughts: There were many stories in this commemorative issue, but this issue highlights who Batman really is: he wishes there would be no more crime in Gotham, he is still scarred from his parents’ deaths but we can see all the progress he has made, and he is thankful for his family.