Known now as the home of Batman, many fans forget that when Detective Comics (which is what D.C. actually stands for) first came out in March 1937, it was simply a 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. 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 yet, more than a few private eyes have managed to get into its pages, either alongside the Dark Knight, or as heroes in their own, separate back-up stories.
In the 500th issue of Detective Comics, in 1981, DC published "The 'Too Many Cooks...' Caper", which brought back many of DC's non-costumed detectives (plus Batman), 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 an emphasis once more placed on detective work and crime-fighting.
And, 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 even 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."
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