Comic Book Review – Detective Comics #613 (April 1990)

Written by Alan Grant

Art by Norm Breyfogle

Eide’s Entertainment had their yearly anniversary sale and I decided to hit up the dollar bin for some comics to review. All dollar comics were 50 percent off, so I purchased about 15 to 20 of them. The first book up for read and review is Detective Comics #613.

Mike Dell is an eighth-grade student doing an ecology report on Gotham City. Mike spends the day shadowing his father, a garbage man, as he learns the ins and outs of garbage pickup and disposal. The day is going well until a truck from Krudco Enterprises pulls up alongside Mr. Dell and Mike. Two men step out of the truck and Mr. Dell goes to have a word with them. Mr. Dell gets thrown into a brick wall and punched in the stomach by the two men. These men work for Mr. Kruden and the boss has a message for Mr. Dell –Kruden’s district is off limits to Mr. Dell and his garbage company, Dell Dispo. Either Mr. Dell heeds their warning or else this situation will be handled permanently. Bruce Wayne witnesses this interaction taking place on the street between the two parties as he is having lunch with Vicki Vale. Later that night, Batman hits the streets to stop Kruden and his men from harming Mr. Dell and Mike.

For such a simple plot, Alan Grant crafts a tale filled with action, tragedy, and social commentary that still rings true today. As Batman stops three thugs from threatening a homeless man, he likens himself to a garbage man – “prowling the night –using the darkness—clearing away the trash the decent folk would rather forget.” Speaking of garbage men, Mr. Dell’s co-worker’s, Roy and Chally, have a conversation about how they would solve the world’s problems if they were in office. Roy thinks that big executives should be paid a minimal salary and men and women who work in essential services – garbage men, bus drivers, and sewer workers -should be paid more for their tireless efforts. This candid conversation rings true today, especially in light of recent events with the pandemic. Breyfogle’s art is amazing and the fight scenes in this issue are fluid, fast, and ferocious.

Reading this comic in 2020, I am very surprised that this story wasn’t used as the basis for one of the Batman: The Animated Series episodes in the 1990s. The animated series did such a wonderful job using Roland Daggett as a villain, I could see Mr. Kruden as a crime boss competing with Daggett for control of Gotham City. The cartoon did a great job of placing emphasis and importance on the citizens of Gotham City that most times they stole the spotlight from Batman in more than a few episodes.

I did enjoy how Alan Grant and DC Comics brought Vicki Vale back to the world of Batman after her starring role in the 1989 film. Vale’s return to Gotham City did coincide with the movie release and she would stick around the comic series until Batman’s defeat at the hands of Bane in Knightfall.

This comic does a great job of tackling environmental issues that affect our health and lives and how proper garbage disposal and curbing littering is important for the overall well being of our own backyard and the Planet Earth in general without being heavy-handed. This issue is another fine example of Bruce/Batman standing up for the little guy and protecting his fellow man from certain death and peril. The ending is a shocker and one that needs to be seen to believe. I definitely need to go back and read more of Grant and Breyfogle’s run on Batman.

My final rating for this issue – 3 garbage cans out of 5.

Next Issue – Batman helps a group of teenage boys against a motorcycle gang.