This was the issue that sold me on the annual format in comics. I’m a very big fan of single issue, self-contained story. With the extra pages that an annual has, the creative team has more space (and time) to develop the story. Detective Comics Annual #3 pits the Dark Knight against a ninja clan.
The story, written by longtime Batman writer Archie Goodwin, is pretty straight forward with Batman battling the Japanese mafia in Gotham City, which leads him to Japan where he faces his former mentor Tsunetomo in one of those “hey I’m going to die so kill me honorably” battles. It’s a bit more complex than that, but the story works.
The art is by Dan Jurgens, who based on my past posts you can see I’m a super fan. He’s backed up by Dick Giordano on inks, so combine that with Goodwin’s script and this feels like the story could have definitely came out in the early 1980s, which is a good thing. Jurgens and Giordano did a brilliant action sequence about halfway through the book, with Batman hiding in a snow drift, only to appear taking on a few ninjas.
I would also like to take some time to talk about the cover of this book. It’s a painting of Batman crouched in some zen garden with two warriors in the background? Do you know who did it?
I’ll give you some hints…he went on to become one of the biggest names in comics, not for his painting but for his pencils and later his writing. I’m talking about Marvel’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada! A decade after this came out, he became the editor in chief over at Marvel!