The Case of the Chemical Syndicate
|"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate"|
|Publication date||May 1939|
|Main character(s)||Batman, Commissioner Gordon|
A man named Lambert is murdered and his son's fingerprints have been found on the knife. Commissioner Gordon goes to the crime scene, taking friend Bruce Wayne with him. Gordon interviews young Lambert who says that someone else, not he, had murdered his father and that his fingerprints got on the knife as he was pulling it out of his father's back. He also says that his father had three other business partners named Steven Crane, Alfred Stryker, and Paul Rogers.
Just then, Steven Crane calls and speaks with Commissioner Gordon, telling him that Lambert received an anonymous threat on his life yesterday and that he, Crane, had received the same one today and fears for his life. Wayne leaves, saying he is going home. The police go to Crane's house but are too late as the killer has already murdered him.
The murderer meets one of his accomplices and shows him the contract he stole. Both men leer. Suddenly, a dark, terrifying figure looms over them—the "Bat-Man"—who defeats the two criminals and proceeds to investigate the contract.
Later, Paul Rogers goes to Alfred Stryker's house. Stryker's assistant, Jennings, forces Rogers into a gas chamber in order to kill him. The "Bat-Man" arrives, saves Rogers, and defeats Jennings. Stryker then arrives, reveals himself to be the mastermind, and attacks Rogers, but the "Bat-Man" incapacitates him, too.
The "Bat-Man" reveals that Stryker wanted total control over the Apex Chemical Corporation without having to pay for it and that he, in order to obtain it, had hired the murderers to kill his business partners and steal the secret contracts he had with them. Stryker tears free and attacks the "Bat-Man" who, in turn, punches Stryker, knocking him into an acid tank that kills him. "A fitting end for his kind," says the "Bat-Man" before vanishing through a skylight.
The next day, Commissioner Gordon talks to young socialite Bruce Wayne and tells him about the Bat-Man's caper. Wayne acts incredulous and goes home…where it is revealed to the reader that he is none other than the "Bat-Man"!
As well as being printed in Detective Comics #27, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate has been reprinted in:
- Detective Comics #387
- Detective Comics #627
- Famous First Edition C-28
- Millennium Edition:Detective Comics #27
- Batman Archives Vol.1
- Batman Chronicles Vol.1
- Batman:From The 30's to the 70's
Due to holding a special place as Batman’s first published adventure, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” has been remade several times. In 1969, the thirtieth anniversary of the story, a contemporary update written by Mike Friedrich was published in Detective Comics #387 with art by Bob Brown and Joe Giella. Titled “The Cry of the Night is -- Sudden Death!”, it updated the setting to a contemporary one and introduced an element of generational gap, playing on a small aspect of the original in which the victim’s son was suspected of the crime.
Detective Comics #627 was a special issue that included four different versions of the story: the 1939 original, the 1969 update (retitled "The Cry of the Night is -- Kill!"), and two new takes on the story, one by Marv Wolfman and Jim Aparo, and another by Alan Grant with Norm Breyfogle art.
Brad Meltzer wrote an updated version of this story with art by Bryan Hitch for the New 52 Detective Comics volume 2 #27 which was released in January, 2014 as part of Batman's 75th anniversary. The plot and characters are largely the same as the original with a twist ending implying Stryker's dip in the acid transforms him into the Joker.