David Lapham and Bill Sienkiewicz's Lost Batman Collaboration Is Available For Free Download

Stray Bullets creator David Lapham has provided fans with an opportunity to see what might have been during his Detective Comics run, with a free download from industry great Bill Sienkiewicz's unpublished issue of the gig. According to Lapham, Sienkiewicz's first issue thrilled everyone involved, but due to scheduling issues he ended up stepping away from the series. Rather than launch the first issue of a 12-issue story with one artist and then move on to someone else -- especially someone who would have the unenviable job of following Bill Sienkiewicz -- DC suggested that they start from scratch with a new artist.

The job ultimately went to Ramon Bachs, and Lapham was sure to clarify in his note to readers that the release of the Sienkiewicz pages is not meant to suggest he would have preferred the Sienkiewicz version, per se, but rather a look at the road not taken. In the issue, "Gotham City at night is no place for children, as Batman knows all too well. As the Dark Knight tries to shut down a drug ring that's turned deadly, Bruce Wayne must contend with a wayward 14-year-old who's getting dangerously close to Gotham's underworld!" The published issue also included a backup story written by Lucifer's Mike Carey.

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"Below is a link to Bill Sienkiewicz's unpublished artwork for Detective Comics #801," Lapham explained in a statement along with the download. "The first issue of what was supposed to be our collaboration of an arc of stories titled City of Crime. The art for the first issue was completed but never published. We came across a set of low-res photocopies of the pages while going through some boxes. Below is a link to a PDF of the art and a little story about why it's never seen publication (which I first thought was because the art was stolen but it turned out to be for far less nefarious reasons)."

The pages are unlettered and low-resolution, so it's pretty unlikely that DC would have any objection to those sequentials being posted...although if having them widely available online led to DC wanting to make a higher-resolution version with the apparently-not-stolen pages, we'd be pretty fine with that. For now, you can download the Sienkiewicz version here, and if you want to see what the dialogue would be, you can approximate it by picking up the Bachs version of the issue on ComiXology or other digital comics retailers. Lapham is also currently running a sale on breakdown art he did for the "City of Orphans" storyline (the one that begins in Detective Comics #801) on his website.