A look at anniversary issues of “Batman” comics

“Detective Comics” is DC Comics’ oldest still-published series, and the book where Batman first appeared in 1939’s issue #27. The following year, Batman gained his own self-titled ongoing book, and both have been core DC titles since.

Several years ago, I looked at the centennial anniversary issues of “Detective,” so now I thought I’d do the same for issues of “Batman.” Note there’s been a lot of changes to Bats over the years.

Batman #100 (June 1956)

https://www.comics.org/issue/12844/

Yes, it took awhile for Batman to get to its 100th issue. The cover’s a collage of several previous issues.

The stories include: a town renaming itself after Batman (to attract tourism/business), which backfires; the Dynamic Duo stopping jewel smugglers; and Batman giving a scholarship to a student that can design the most useful new Bat-gadget to fight crime. I wonder if that last story would make for a good real-life publicity event for DC to offer some student.

Batman #200 (March 1968)

https://www.comics.org/issue/21697/

This story features a battle with the Scarecrow, plus a recap of Batman and Robin’s origins. Like #100, this issue’s cover’s another montage of several previous issues.

Batman #300 (June 1978)

https://www.comics.org/issue/32289/

This issue’s set several years in a possible future of Earth-1, where Batman’s contemplating retirement. As this story features what looks like an adult version of Robin, I can assume it’s just that—a possible future that didn’t come to pass, as Dick changed his superhero identity to Nightwing in 1984.

Batman #400 (October 1986)

https://www.comics.org/issue/41885/

This landmark issue sees Batman face Ra’s al Ghul and a metric ton of his enemies, who Ra’s released from Arkham Asylum and Gotham’s state prison.

This issue and “Detective” #567 (also released in October 1986) are generally considered the final appearances of the Silver Age/Earth-1 Batman. The next issues of both titles (“Batman” #401/”Detective” #568) are tie-ins to “Legends,” DC’s first post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover storyline.

Batman #500 (October 1993)

https://www.comics.org/issue/53733/

This issue featured the Jean-Paul Valley version of Batman, as this was the final issue of the “Knightfall” storyline (aka the story where Bane famously broke Batman’s back). As such, it’s pretty much just one piece of a very extended storyline, rather than an anniversary issue, though it is an extra-sized book.

Batman #600 (April 2002)

https://www.comics.org/issue/103138/

This anniversary issue was a part of the “Bruce Wayne, Fugitive” storyline (about Bruce Wayne being falsely framed for murder).

The back-ups feature stories told in previous eras’ styles. The most interesting one’s the 1950s/60s-style story featuring Batman and Robin sent back in time (via Professor Carter Nichols‘ time-travel hypnosis) to investigate a supposed Civil War-era bat-like crime-fighter. (The hero, who the Dynamic Duo befriend, is actually an African-American working to free others from slavery.)

“Batman” #700 (August 2010). Art by David Finch.

Batman #700 (August 2010)

https://www.comics.org/issue/760845/

This anniversary issue involves a generation-spanning story, which includes the world of “Batman Beyond.” Professor Nichols appears here too, albeit as deceased.

Conclusion

The New 52 rebooted the numbering of “Batman” with a new issue #1. In 2016, DC’s Rebirth revamp also gave a new “Batman” #1, plus a new twice-a-month release schedule.

There have been a few one-off gimmick numberings: decimal-point issues in the New 52 era, and issues #0 and #1,000,000 during the 90s as part of “Zero Hour”/”DC One Million” respectively. However, not counting those, the 800th issue of “Batman” should be released sometime in late 2017. Based on the above, I’m sure DC will have something special in mind for that issue. (Maybe another appearance by Professor Nichols?)

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