The Batman Chronicles—Volume 1

batman chronicles volume 1 cover trade paperback
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10

Batman is born!

Better than average but typical old comic book style

Comic Info

Comic Name: Detective Comics (Volume 1)/Batman (Volume 1)

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Bill Finger/Gardner Fox

Artist: Bob Kane

# of Issues: 13

Release Date:  2005

detective comics #27 cover 1st batman

Detective Comics (1) #27

Reprints Detective Comics (1) #27-38 and Batman (1) #1 (May 1939-Spring 1940). Meet the Batman! He’s mysterious, dangerous, and dark, and the criminals that cross him usually end up dead. Batman has a secret identity of playboy Bruce Wayne and not even his closet friends or fiancé Julie Madison knows the truth. As he battles villains like Dr. Death, Hugo Strange, the Cat, and the Joker, Batman finds help from a young ally named Robin while trying to keep out of reach of Commissioner Gordon.

Written by Bill Finger and Gardner Fox, The Batman Chronicles—Volume 1 presents the earliest Batman adventures in chronological order.  The series features art by Batman’s co-creater Bob Kane and features on the Batman stories of the Detective Comics issues and the complete first issue of Batman.

The stories are very basic, and as opposed to Superman’s origin, Batman’s origin hasn’t been altered over time. Batman’s initial appearance in Detective Comics (1) #27 has Batman skirting the law and working in the dark…not much has changed. His character Bruce Wayne is less of a playboy and more of a wallflower and the amount of Wayne’s wealth is a bit unclear. Batman’s origin wasn’t revealed until Detective Comics #33 (which was also reprinted in Batman #1).

Gordon works as more of a foil against the lawless Batman in this collection. He is friends with Bruce Wayne and even thinks he is boring. Bruce doesn’t have an Alfred at this point and it isn’t until Detective Comics #38 that he even picks up his famous sidekick Robin. The Batman-Robin relationship was always kind of odd and it even is odd here from the start (yes, lets let a kid in a costume risk his life with me everyday).

detective comics #38 cover 1st robin batman

Detective Comics (1) #38

Villain-wise, the big players in this book are Dr. Death and Hugo Strange who make multiple appearances, but Batman #1 introduces the Joker and a thief called the Cat…aka Catwoman. Dr. Death (first appearing in Detective Comics (1) #29) is very generic and remained pretty dormant in the DC Universe and only made a few appearances recently (becoming a player in the New 52)…but does hold the title as Batman’s first “super-villain”. Hugo Strange first appears in Detective Comics (1) #36 and has held on as a Batman villain (and was recently in Batman: Arkham City). The real villain The Joker really kicks off Batman’s rogue gallery in the first issue of his own series and keeps true to form and greatly resembles the 1928 film character The Man Who Laughs. The Cat already begins to be set up as a femme fatale for Batman, through her story is almost filler between Joker stories.

The strangest thing about the early Batman is that Batman really doesn’t have many qualms against killing. He breaks enemies necks, knocks people out of windows, etc. He doesn’t go out of his way to save a criminal’s life. He also has his fiancé Julie Madison who never really made the transition out of the Golden Age, but recently also resurfaced in the DC New 52.

Batman is an interesting character and comic fans should check out this series to see his original roots. The book is nicely colored and affordable for books you will never be able to own. The Batman Chronicles went out of print, but if you want to start reading some Golden Age books, this is a good choice…start at the beginning.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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