Created by Frank Robbins and Gil Kane
Another pipe-sucking shamus from the backpages of Detective Comics, playing second fiddle to Batman?
Gotham City private eye and ex-Marine JASON BARD is a young "resourceful, battle-scarred Viet-Nam vet, his only weapon a cane and a razor-sharp intelligence." In the straighter-than-thou world of DC of the seventies, Jason was positively mod-looking, what with the sideburns and a decent mop of hair (albeit neatly-trimmed). He doesn't carry a gun, and he needs a cane to get around due to injuries he sustained to his right leg while in Vietnam. He also seems to be rather cocky, referring to himself in later years as Gotham's brightest, youngest private investigator.
The back story, according to Who's Who in the DC Universe, is that when Jason was a child, his father murdered his beloved mother, Rose, and he vowed to find him. The problem was that his mother had destroyed all her pictures of him, and so Jason had no idea what his father looked like.
Upon returning from Vietnam, Jason attended college on the G.I. bill, majoring in criminology, before becoming a P.I. in Gotham where, occasionally, even Batman used his services
He lives alone, although he went out with the daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon, Barbara Gordon, better known as Batgirl, for a while. Batgirl doesn't seem to pop up in costume in any of Jason's cases that I've read, although he shows up in some of hers, and there must have been some attraction between Barbara and him -- at one point, Babs and Jason were engaged to be married.
The Batman connection actually runs even deeper, though. Jason's creator, Frank Robbins, was also a writer/artist for Batman at about the same time, and it is Robbins who seems to have scripted most of Jason's adventures. Bard made his debut in issue #392, and later appeared in a string of cases from #425 to at least #433, collectively plugged as "The Master Crime Files of Jason Bard."
Bard also made an appearance, along with a slew of other DC gumshoes, including Slam Bradley and Roy Raymond, in a special story in the 500th issue of Detective Comics, not to mention popping up somewhere in the first two years of Batman and the Outsiders, whilst doing a background check on a former identity of one of the Outsiders. He also worked for a while for the New York City-based Childfind Agency.
And then, in 1998, Jason Bard reappeared in the debut issue of Birds of Prey, older and maybe not quite so wise, shaken and stirred, travelling under another name, on a tropical hellhole of an island, consorting with local drug scum, much to the surprise of Barbara Gordon (now a sort of private eye herself, going by the name of Oracle). Jason also seems to have lost his aversion to guns. Relax, though -- it turns out he was working undercover, and that he's still a P.I., still based in Gotham... and he still has a thing for Babs.
But of course there had to be some retconning. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Jason's background was jettisoned and a new one nailed in place. He was now a former Gotham City police detective, forced to take early retirement due to injuries sustained on the job by Killer Moth. And so it is that a surprisingly youngish Bard is "hired" by Batman to dig up info on Orca, a super-villain, who's otherwise tied up, in an eight-part story arc entitled "Face the Face" that ran in 2006 in Batman (#651-654) and Detective Comics (#817-820).
- "The Open and Shut Case" was one of the best short detective stories I've read...Fast action that seemed needed for the plot, not just contrived...along with a nifty little clue...and a nice fast climax."
-- Mike W. Barr, later creator of The Maze Agency, in the Detective Comics #429 letter column
- DETECTIVE COMICS
(1969--, DC Comics)
Writer: Frank Robbins
Artists: Don Heck, Joe Giella
Back-up feature starred private eye Jason Bard, featured off and on in the early seventies, and throughout at least #425-433 as "The Master Crime Files of Jason Bard").
- "A Clue--Seven-Foot Tall" (October 1969, #392; Bard's first appearance)
- "Downfall of a Goliath" (November 1969, #393)
- "The Orchid-Crusher" (February 1970, #396)
- "The Hollow Man"(March 1970, #397)
- "Midnight Doom-Boy"(October 1970, #404)
- "The Living Statues" (November 1970, #405)
- "Invitation to Murder" (August 1971, #414)
- "Death Shares the Spotlight" (September 1971, #415)
- "The Kingpin Is Dead" (December 1971, #418)
- "Long Live the Kingpin" (January 1972, #419)
- "Target for Manana" (February 1972, #420)
- "Candidate for Danger" (May 1972, #423)
- "Batgirl's Last Case" (June 1972, #424)
- "The Open and Shut Case" (July 1972, #425)
- "I Wake Up Dying" (September 1972, #427)
- "The Case of the Loaded Case" (November 1972, #429)
- "Crime On My Hands" (January 1973, #431)
- "The Case of the Forged Face"(March 1973, #433)
- "The Case of the Dead-On Target" (June-July 1973, #435)
- "The Whittles Snatch" (December 1978-January 1979, #481)
- "SST -- the Super-Sonic Threat!" (August-September 1980, #485)
- "Fragrance of Death" (June 1980, #491)
- "The 'Too Many Cooks...' Caper" (March 1981, #500)
- "Academy of Crime, Part 2: Final Exams" (July 1982, #516)
- "The Monster in the Mirror" (August 1982, #517)
- "The Millionaire Contract" (September 1982, #518)
- "The Haunting of 'Boss' Thorne" (November 1982, #520)
- "Deathgrip" (March 1983, #524)
- "The Crime File of Jason Bard" (June 2006, #818)
- "The Crime File of Jason Bard" (July 2006, #819)
- "The Spook's Master Stroke" (October 1973, #252)
- "The Mad Hatter Goes Straight" (March 1978, #297 )
- "From the Ashes" (April 1981, #334)
- "Blood Sport" (July 1982, #349)
- "What Stalks the Gotham Night?" (September 1982, #351)
- "The Killer Sky" (October 1982, #352)
- "Never Scratch a Cat" (January 1983, #355)
- "Find the Batcave and Rule the Underworld" (December 1977-January 1978, #15)
- "Target: The Shotgun Sniper" (December 1977-January 1978, #15)
- "Bull's-Eye For Murder" (February-March 1978, #16)
- "Private Eye Man-Bat" (October-November 1978, #20)
- "Darkness and Dark Fire" (March 1981, #172)
- BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS
(1983-86, DC Comics)
- "Goodbye" (December 1984, #16)
- "Killer's Garden" (June 1996, #5)
- BIRDS OF PREY
(1998, DC Comics)
The return of Jason Bard
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Art: Greg Land, Drew Geraci, Mike McDonnell, Rodney Ramos
- "Long Time Gone" (January 1999, #1)
- "One of Those Days" (February 1999, #2)
- "Hounded" (March 1999, #3)
- "Facetime" (March 2000, #15)
- "The Hateful" (June 2000, #18)
- "Masks" (July 2000, #19)
- "The Big Romance" (July 2001, #31)
- "The Stray" (August 2001, #32 )
- "Wings Over Brentwood" (May 2000, #76)
- "Dark Is the Night" (June 2000, #77)
- THE BATMAN CHRONICLES
(2001, DC Comics)
Writer: Jay Faerber
Art: Paul Ryan
- "The Mimic" (Winter, 2001, #23)
A listing of all the private eyes who have shown up in DC Comics.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Dwight Williams and Anthony Durrant for their help with Jason's past.
Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
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