The Case of the Chemical Syndicate

"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate"
PublisherDC Comics
Publication dateMay 1939
Main character(s)Batman, Commissioner Gordon
Creative team
Writer(s)Bill Finger
Artist(s)Bob Kane
Penciller(s)Bob Kane
Inker(s)Bob Kane
Letterer(s)Bob Kane
Editor(s)Vincent Sullivan

"The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" is the featured story in issue #27 of Detective Comics which introduced the popular DC Comics superhero Batman.

The plot has been compared to The Shadow novel Partners of Peril.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

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 his young, wealthy socialite 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 masked figure dubbed "the Bat-Man" looms over them before he 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 kills 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. The Bat-Man says, "A fitting end for his kind," before vanishing through a skylight.

The next day, Commissioner Gordon talks to 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 the Bat-Man.


As well as being printed in Detective Comics #27, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate has been reprinted in:


Due to holding a special place as Batman’s first published adventure, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” has been remade several times.[3] 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 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.

Another remake was included in Secret Origins #6 (1986) by Roy Thomas and Marshall Rogers, more closely mirroring the original’s plot, with updated art.

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 Night is -- Kill!"), and two new takes on the story, one by Marv Wolfman and Jim Aparo, and another by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle.

Brad Meltzer wrote an updated version of this story with art by Bryan Hitch for The New 52's Detective Comics volume 2 #27 which was released in January 2014 as part of Batman's 75th anniversary.[4] 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

All-American Comics series was debuted. See All-American Comics for more info and the previous timeline. Timeline of DC Comics (1930s)
May 1939
The characters Batman and James Gordon were debuted by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Other iconic debuts include the Batsuit and a version of the Batmobile. See Batman, James Gordon (character), Gotham City Police Department, Batsuit and Batmobile for more info and next timeline. →