Flashback: Detective Comics #871

Our flashback in the Greatest Comics of The 21st Century is Detective Comics #871 from 2011. This first Batman story from Scott Snyder has all that you would expect from a story about the Dark Knight originally from greatestcomics21.com our companion website created to highlight the greatness of the comic media.



January, 2011

Batman has always been billed as the world’s greatest detective an unparalleled fighter and a great strategist and the smartest person in the room. So what happens if the Batman is not Bruce Wayne but Dick Grayson the original Robin. Turns out it is not that much of a step down from the original Dark Knight.

In Detective Comics #871, this story by Scott Snyder Grayson sets up a period when Bruce Wayne was busy running Batman Incorporated, leaving his former protege Dick Grayson behind the mask, the story is an intimate, creepy look at how Gotham corrupts its heroes and residents. Focusing in part on Commissioner Gordon and his family, Scott Snyder reintroduces his dangerous, mentally unstable son James Gordon Jr.

The story is started here in The Black Mirror, Part One of Three and Skeleton Cases, Part One of Three. Black Mirror cemented the fact that Dick is beyond capable and worthy of taking on the Batman mantle, but it also established the idea that there were creepy corners of Gotham that even the Batman did not know about. The story also confirmed Snyder as a great, promising writer who would later create other classic Batman stories like “The Court of Owls” and “The City of Owls” which are already considered classics.

It truly reads like an illustrated novel, Detective Comics #871 is a wonderful down and gritty Batman story and worthy of a place in the Greatest Comics of the 20th Century.

When I was a boy, my parents kept a big map of the country tacked to the wall of our dressing room. The map had pins stuck in all the places our troupe was going to stop that season. Different towns and cities were marked with different color pins. Blue pins meant small towns… which meant small shows, less dangerous tricks. Red pins meant big cities. So, big shows and more dangerous tricks. All the stops were marked red or blue… except for one — Gotham City, which was marked by a black pin. According to my father, the black pin meant no holds barred. Pull out all the stops. Bring down the house. It meant to put on the biggest, riskiest show of the season. No catch wires. No safety nets. Everyone pushing themselves to the limit. I remember one time I asked my father why. What made Gotham so special? And my father, he looked down at me, and he said… “…some places just have a hunger about them, son. And you either feed them what they want… or you stay far, far away.” — Dick Grayson From the first pages of the story.

Did You Know…

Dick Grayson

Dick Grayson has been Batman before starting in Batman #512 November 1994 through January 1995 in Robin Vol 2 #13. The story was called Batman: Prodigal and was a crossover written by Chuck Dixon, Alan Grant, and Doug Moench with illustrations by Bret Blevins, M.D. Bright, John Cleary, Mike Gustovich, Phil Jimenez, Graham Nolan, Ron Wagner, and Lee Weeks. The storyline features Dick Grayson temporarily replacing Bruce Wayne as Batman. This takes place directly following the Knightfall crossover and tie-ins to the Zero Hour event, then leads into the Troika crossover. It’s published directly following Zero Month through Batman, Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Detective Comics, and Robin.

After the events of Batman R.I.P. in 2008, Dick moved operations to Gotham to protect the city after Bruce’s apparent death in Final Crisis. Despite Bruce’s will wanting him not to succeed Wayne permanently as Batman, the chaos in Gotham following Batman’s disappearance prompts Dick to take up his mentor’s identity once again and has returned to operating as the new Batman. His Nightwing mantel would then be passed on to Chris Kent.


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