Review: The Untold Legend of the Batman #1

The Untold Legend of the Batman #1 cover
Cover by José Luis García-López

The Untold Legend of the Batman #1
Published and © by DC, July 1980

Title: “In the Beginning”
Synopsis: When someone steals his father’s original Bat-costume, Batman heads down memory lane in an effort to solve the case.

Writer: Len Wein
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Jim Aparo

Review: When this first came out, Little Me despised the art. To a young, rabid fan of John Byrne’s art, Jim Aparo’s finishes were overpowering to the point of criminal. Today, it’s unbelievably cool to see how these two great artists worked together; ultimately, each is probably stronger on their own, but it’s fascinating to see how their styles mesh, compliment and even struggle for control.  The story holds up well, too. Even if the main mystery is just an excuse to explore Batman’s past, writer Len Wein deftly weaves together the many threads of the character’s origin.

Grade: A

Second opinion: “This was a double play for me, a neat story and a good reference book.” – Michal Jacot, Comic Effect #30, Summer 2002 … “An excellent job of recapping Batman’s origin story. … 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.” – Brent Frankenhoff, Comics Buyer’s Guide #1630, July 2007 … “Though John Byrne pencils #1 … it’s Aparo’s moody style that stands out.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003

Cool factor: Byrne + Aparo = 2 of the greats

Notable: Recounts the origin of the Batman. … According to The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, this is John Byrne’s first work for DC.
Collector’s note: There are also cereal-premium mini-comic and book-on-tape versions of this issue.

Character quotable: “Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot – so I have to wear a disguise that will strike terror into their hearts!” – Young Bruce Wayne, plotting his future while enjoying the cool, night breeze by the open window

Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on Oct. 13, 2009.

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