10) Punches Crook Into Acid Vat – Detective Comics #27
Every Batman fan knows the most commonly given origin story for the Joker. While foiling the Red Hood’s attack on the Ace Chemicals factory, Batman accidentally causes the crook to fall into a vat of acid. This, of course, turns him into the infamous Clown Prince of Crime.
In Batman’s early days, however, things were a bit different. Back then, there was no ambiguity to the act – the Dark Knight would straight up punch people into vats of acid. And they wouldn’t even come back as supervillains. They would just die a horrible, painful death.
At least, that’s what happened in the Caped Crusader’s first ever appearance in Detective Comics #27 back in 1939. The way the event is framed doesn’t suggest that Batman was intending to push the crook into the vat, but he definitely doesn’t feel bad about it. “A fitting end for his kind,” he soullessly quips.
9) Snapping A Criminal’s Neck – Detective Comics #30
We’ve seen the move dozens of times across Batman’s history. The crook goes after the Dark Knight with a gun, but our hero is too skulking and cunning for them and swoops in from out of nowhere, disarming them and saving the day. A version of that scene appears in Detective Comics #30, but the result is very different.
Mikhail, the henchman of the villainous Doctor Death, pokes his head out of the window in an attempt to locate Batman. In classic Caped Crusader style, he unexpectedly swings down from the roof and… snaps the guy’s neck with his foot. Or, as the caption colourfully puts it: “There is a sickening snap as the Cossack’s neck breaks under the mighty pressure of the Batman’s foot.”
Nowadays, Batman would simply kick the crook’s gun out of his hand, as would be the obvious move here. But nope, the hero had a craving for some neck-snapping back then. In terms of sheer needless brutality, this might just be Batman’s most shocking kill of the Golden Age.