Jim Aparo Detective Comics #444, Cover

December 1974 - January 1975 issue, DC Comics

Len Wein took over the writing chores from Archie Goodwin with issue #444, and launched a darker version of Batman by using a Ras Al-Ghul frame-up as a plot device. The story teases with the idea of whether Batman (during the initial three issues of the multi-part tale) has indeed shot Talia down, and in the process become a bit unhinged (nearly strangling Commissioner Gordon isn't exactly a sign of disciplined self-control).

Of course Batman is sure he didn't perform the murder, but the available evidence looks otherwise, and so begins a run of issues in which Batman is faced by both criminals and police out to get him. This presages the even darker turn Batman took in the 1980s with Frank Miller's Dark Knight series which explored a similar idea of turning both police and the Gotham underworld in direct opposition to Batman. As an exercise in alienation it is a reflection of the darker side of 1970s American pop culture. This was certainly mined deeper during the 1980s, leading up to the Tim Burton Batman movie of 1989.

Jim Aparo cover Detective Comics #444 1975

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