Reaching a four-digit issue count is an impressive feat for any publication, but for comic books, it's a cause for celebration. When Action Comics hit this milestone in 2018, DC Comics went for broke, enlisting numerous top creators to champion the legacy of the Man of Steel in an over-sized anthology. Now that Superman has had his day in the sun, the dark yin to Clark Kent's yang gets a similar treatment in Detective Comics #1000, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular.
Batman is a superhero known to many as the man among gods. Other than the power of the almighty dollar (and an uncanny ability to outwit just about every other character in DC's extensive pantheon), Bruce Wayne is a man of flesh and blood. This aspect of Batman is explored in Detective Comics #1000, but not in terms of it being a hindrance. If anything, this book is a hundred pages of celebrating the fact that Batman's humanity is his greatest strength. The stories in this issue dive into how his rogues gallery views him, and how Batman is more than just a man in a cape. He's a legend.
Despite this being an anthology comic, there isn't really weak link among the stories as you might expect. Yes, some are more effective than others, but none are objectively bad. We get some fun reunions between creators who have left their marks on the character in years past, with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's coming off as a missing chapter from their collaborative work on the New 52 run on Batman. We also get contributors who have not dabbled in telling stories about the Dark Knight in quite some time, like the Jim Lee-illustrated entry penned by filmmaker Kevin Smith.
This issue has a certain weight to it beyond the physical one brought on by the huge page count. What makes this comic so hefty is the history between the covers. There are stories designed to give readers a sense of familiarity with the hero's eighty plus years history, even if they've never cracked open a comic in their life. Conversely, iconic moments fans know well are reimagined (if ever so briefly) by artists and writers from all corners of comics, some of whom may have not even been born when these moments occurred. All of this, while new story threads are seeded for future adventures.
There are too many great stories here to dive too deeply into all of them, but certain ones really stand out. Seeing returning Batman titans like Neal Adams and Kelley Jones draw the Dark Knight is always a treat, but the stories illustrated by Becky Cloonan, Alex Maleev and Steve Epting are especially intriguing. They not only stand up right alongside well-versed Batman artists like Jim Lee, Tony S. Daniel and Doug Mahnke, they lean wonderfully into the noir aesthetics that put the "detective" in Detective Comics.
This comic doesn't lack in the writing department, either, with the entries penned by Warren Ellis, Christopher Priest, Brian Michael Bendis and Denny O'Neil as particular stand outs. However, the story which hits hardest is the one written by Kevin Smith. Yes, it's a bit too saccharine, but it's a tale of comic book romanticism built upon unexplored minutiae, and that sort of mining piques fandom's no matter how trivial it may seem.
Detective Comics #1000 is filled with the ghosts of Batman past, present and future, making it a must-read for comic fans and newcomers alike. There really is something in this issue for everyone, making it feel like the massive celebratory event it set out to be.