Detectives in DC's Detective Comics

Detective Comics #572Detective Comics #500

Known now as the home of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, many fans don't realize that when comics giant DC (which stands for "Detective Comics") first came out in March 1937, it was simply a kid-friendly comic book version of the hard-boiled pulps already available on the newsstands at the time; full of two-fisted cops, district attorneys, criminal lawyers and especially private eyes shooting it out or dukin' it out with the bad guys... and no superheroes at all. They promised "bang-up adventure yarns in thrilling pictures by your favorite artists!"

That first issue introduced private eye Slam Bradley and "ace investigator" Speed Saunders, among others. In fact, Batman only made his debut in issue #27, and although he hasn't left us yet, more than a few private eyes have managed to get into its pages of both Detective Comics and other DC publications, occasionally alongside the Dark Knight, and often as heroes in their own, separate back-up features or even as stars of their own comic books.

In the 500th issue of Detective Comics, in 1981, DC published "The 'Too Many Cooks...' Caper," they even brought back several non-costumed detectives to help Batman crack a case, including Bradley, Roy Raymond, Jason Bard, Captain Mark Compass, Steve Malone, Christopher Chance and Pow-Wow Smith...

Of course, Detective Comics is now completely dominated by Batman, with (sadly) less emphasis placed on detective work and more on "crime-fighting," increasingly silly multi-part storylines and whoever the latest Robin is.

But in fact, no matter how many twists and turns the on-going Batman saga takes, it never seems to entirely shake its roots. In 2001, DC released an "Elseworlds" graphic novel , Gotham Noir, wherein James Gordon, instead of rising through the ranks to become police commissioner, instead is forced to resign from the force in disgrace, and becomes an alcohol-sodden private eye, and a month or so later, Slam Bradley himself popped up, as a back-up feature in (where else?) Detective Comics.

Oh, and I'm proud to say that I've finally tracked down issue Detective Comics #155 from January 1950, which features "Bruce Wayne, Private Detective."


    (1937-present, DC)

Detectives who have appeared in Detective Comics, and their first appearance.

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