Slam Bradley

Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel

SLAM BRADLEY, the original two-fisted, fightin'-mad (and occasionally pipe-sucking) comic book shamus, slugged his way through the mean streets of Cleveland, Ohio in the pages of Detective Comics, the comic book response to the hard-boiled crime and detective pulps of the time. Slam loved a good brouhaha (eyes left) and he usually found one.

During his long career as a "tough private detective" (his run in Detective Comics second only to Batman himself), Slam often went undercover, as a teacher, a magician, a prizefighter and even a singer on the radio, with only his aggravating, buffoonish "partner pal" "Shorty" Morgan for back-up.

Slam may not have been too original--he was only a slightly more cartoonish version of Race Williams and other hard-boiled dicks of the time--but his importance lies in other areas. He was the first private eye to appear regularly in comic books, and if tall, muscular, raven-haired and square-jawed Slam bore more than a passing resemblance to Superman, well, given his roots, that shouldn't come as a shock.

It's hard to remember, in these days of born-again Batmania, that Batman wasn't always the star of Detective Comics. But originally, the whole idea behind that comic was quite radical--an entire comic book of original stories devoted to one theme, not a hodge-podge of reprints shoved between two covers for a fast buck. In the case of Detective Comics, the theme was mystery and detection, mostly of the hard-boiled variety. And one of the detectives in that very first issue was Slam.

Over the first few years, the magazine would play host to a slew of various detectives and other crime fighters, be they cops, spies, district attorneys, criminal lawyers or, especially private eyes, shooting it out or dukin' it out with the bad guys. Unfortunately, after Batman's debut in issue #27, all those great old characters would have to make do with back-up feaure status. But Slam was there first, and he hung on a good long time, making him one of the longest-running comic book private eyes, with what must now be over 200 original stories.

Slam was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster -- you may have heard of them. Anyway, they were still trying to sell this Superman guy they'd come up with to DC when Slam made his first appearance in the first issue of Detective Comics. According to Shuster

"We turned it out with no restrictions, complete freedom to do what we wanted. The only problem was we had a deadline. We had to work very fast, so Jerry suggested we save time by putting less than six panels on a page. The kids loved it because it was spectacular. I could do so much more. Later on, the editors stopped us from doing that. They said the kids were not getting their money's worth."

Slam was still making appearances in Detective Comics well into the forties. In 1943, newspaper cartoonist/illustrator Jack Farr was hired by DC to do several episodes. but by the fifties, Slam was gone, presumably gone to sleep the big sleep. Or so we thought.

But then, in the eighties, Slam returned in a couple of special stories in issues of Detective Comics celebrating various anniversaries, although without his annoying sidekick. In issue 500, he appeared in "The 'Too Many Cooks...' Caper," billed as a Slam Bradley story, which reunites many of DC's non-costumed detectives, including Roy Raymond, Christopher Chance and Jason Bard. And in issue #572, he appears alongside Batman, The Elongated Man and Sherlock Holmes in "The Doomsday Book," to mark the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics. Pretty appropriate, I'd say....

Then, in the nineties, Slam began to show up in some of the Superman titles. Or at least a character called Slam Bradley, Jr. did, as detective in the Metropolis police deppartment. And there was a rather skewered version of the character in a comic called Guns of the Dragon, under the name of "Biff Bradley." Contributor Scott Hileman once asked the editor at a convention about it, and was told that they had indeed wanted to use Slam Bradley, but that he'd been already "optioned" by another editor. Hence "Biff."

But best of all, in 2001, the real deal, Slam himself, finally returned to the back pages of Detective Comics, in an original, decidely-stylish multi-part story by Ed Brubaker, of Scene of the Crime , Criminal and Captain America fame, entitled "Trail of the Catwoman."

In any revival of a long-ago comic book hero, there's a certain amount of creative revisionism, and this case was no exception. Fortunately, though, the tinkering's been kept to a minimum (no suddenly revealed superpowers, no brainspinning backstory to explain same). The only real change seems to have been location -- if Slam's original stomping ground was supposedly Cleveland, there's no doubt that it's now Gotham City. And Slam's allegedly comic sidekick, Shorty Morgan, is mercifully nowhere to be seen.

Slam, looking older, but no less brutal, and apparently no less fond of fisticuffs than he ever was, is hired by the mayor of Gotham to track down one of the city's more notorious costumed criminals. As Slam himself remarks, after pounding out a few thugs, "Not too shabby for an old guy." Indeed.... Catwoman must have been impressed with how Slam handled the case. He's currently appearing in the Catwoman comic, as a recurring character. He's even listed in the Catwoman Secret Files & Origins special issue, where we learn the shocking fact that Slam's middle name is Emerson!

Even more shocking are the revelations of issue #16 (April 2003), wherein Slam finally confesses his love for Catwoman.

COMIC BOOKS

  • DETECTIVE COMICS
    (1937-late 40's, DC Comics)
    Created by Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegal
    Other Writers: Ed Brubaker
    Other artists: Jack Farr, Terry Beatty, Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo, Darwyn Cooke, Cameron Stewart, Howard Sherman
  • "The Streets of Chinatown" (March 1937, Detective Comics #1)
  • "Skyscraper Death" ( April 1937, Detective Comics #2)
  • "Slam Delivers the Message" (May 1937, Detective Comics #3)
  • "The Hollywood Murders" (June 1937, Detective Comics #4)
  • "Undercover in Grade School" (July 1937, Detective Comics #5)
  • "In Mexico" (August 1937, Detective Comics #6)
  • "In Atlantic City" (September 1937, Detective Comics #7)
  • "The Hillbillies" (October 1937, Detective Comics #8)
  • "The Human Fly" (November 1937, Detective Comics #9)
  • "In the Ring" (December 1937, Detective Comics #10)
  • "The Flying Circus" (January 1938, Detective Comics #11)
  • "The Lumberjacks" (February 1938, Detective Comics #12)
  • "At Sea" (March 1938, Detective Comics #13)
  • "Up North" (April 1938, Detective Comics #14)
  • "The Lady-Killer" (May 1938, Detective Comics #15)
  • "The Broadway Bandit" (June 1938, Detective Comics #16)
  • "Slam Bradley Gets the Air" (July 1938, Detective Comics #17)
  • "In the Stratosphere" (August 1938, Detective Comics #18)
  • "In Africa" (September 1938, Detective Comics #19)
  • "The Magician" (October 1938, Detective Comics #20)
  • "Seth and the Slave Ring" (November 1938, Detective Comics #21)
  • "The Return of Fui Onyui" (December 1938, Detective Comics #22)
  • "In Two Billion A. D." (Part 1) (January 1939, Detective Comics #23)
  • "In Two Billion A. D." (Part 2) (February 1939, Detective Comics #24)
  • "The Merrivale Mystery" (March 1939, Detective Comics #25)
  • "Artists of Death" (April 1939, Detective Comics #26)
  • - Slam and Shorty go skiing (May, 1939, Detective Comics #27)
  • "The Whitethorne Inheritance" (June 1939, Detective Comics #28)
  • "Slam Bradley at the World's Fair" (1939, New York World's Fair Comics #1)
  • "Untitled" (July 1939, Detective Comics #29)
  • "The Granville Insane Asylum" (August 1939, Detective Comics #30)
  • "Untitled" (September 1939, Detective Comics #31)
  • "Undercover as Bellhops" (October 1939, Detective Comics #32)
  • "Untitled" (November 1939, Detective Comics #33)
  • "Untitled" (December 1939, Detective Comics #34)
  • "Untitled" (January 1940, Detective Comics #35)
  • "Untitled" (February 1940, Detective Comics #36)
  • "Untitled" (March 1940, Detective Comics #37)
  • - Slam and Shorty play firemen (April 1940, #38)
  • "Untitled" (May 1940, Detective Comics #39)
  • "Untitled" (June 1940, Detective Comics #40)
  • "Untitled" (July 1940, Detective Comics #41)
  • "At the 1940 World's Fair" (1940, New York World's Fair Comics #2)
  • "Untitled" (August 1940, Detective Comics #42)
  • "Untitled" (September 1940, Detective Comics #43)
  • "Untitled" (October 1940, Detective Comics #44)
  • "Untitled" (November 1940, Detective Comics #45)
  • "Untitled" (December 1940, Detective Comics #46)
  • "Untitled" (January 1941, Detective Comics #47)
  • "Untitled" (February 1941, Detective Comics #48)
  • "Untitled" (March 1941, Detective Comics #49)
  • "Untitled" (April 1941, Detective Comics #50)
  • "Broadway Opening Night" (May 1941, Detective Comics #51)
  • Untitled" (June 1941, Detective Comics #52)
  • "Untitled" (July 1941, Detective Comics #53)
  • "Untitled" (August 1941, Detective Comics #54)
  • "Untitled" (September 1941, Detective Comics #55)
  • "Untitled" (October 1941, Detective Comics #56)
  • "The Case of the Talking Dummy" (November 1941, Detective Comics #57)
  • "Untitled" (December 1941, Detective Comics #58)
  • "The Case of the Talking Dummy" (January 1942, Detective Comics #59)
  • "Untitled" (February 1942, Detective Comics #60)
  • "Untitled" (March 1942, Detective Comics #61)
  • "Untitled" (April 1942, Detective Comics #62)
  • "Case of the Wobbling Wizard" (May 1942, Detective Comics #63)
  • "The Mystery of the Unfortunate Teddy Bear" (June 1942, Detective Comics #64)
  • "Mystery of the Priceless Pooch" ( July 1942, Detective Comics #65)
  • "Case of the Dripping Drum" (August 1942, Detective Comics #66)
  • "Case of the Whistling Tooth" (September 1942, Detective Comics #67)
  • "The Case of the Cultured Crooks" (October 1942, Detective Comics #68)
  • "Case of the Artistic Ape" (November 1942, Detective Comics #69)
  • "X Marked the Spot at the Te" (December 1942, Detective Comics #70)
  • "Case of the Missing Grin" (January 1943, Detective Comics #71)
  • "The Mystery of the Missing Monkey" (February 1943, Detective Comics #72)
  • "The Histrionic Hoodlums" (March 1943, Detective Comics #73)
  • "The Adventure of the Wooden Indians" (April 1943, Detective Comics #74)
  • "The Elusive Elephant" (May 1943, Detective Comics #75)
  • "The Bashful Bandits" (June 1943, Detective Comics #76)
  • "Trail of the Red Herring" (July 1943, Detective Comics #77)
  • "The Meanest Mugs in the World" (August 1943, Detective Comics #78)
  • "Two Tickets to Trouble" (September 1943, Detective Comics #79)
  • "Refuge for Ruffians" (October 1943, Detective Comics #80)
  • "The Case of the Deceased Ham" (November 1943, Detective Comics #81)
  • "Wild and Woolly" (December 1943, Detective Comics #82)
  • "Vanishing Needles" (January 1944, Detective Comics #83)
  • "Shorty Falls in Love" (February 1944, Detective Comics #84)
  • "The Perfumed Diamonds" (March 1944, Detective Comics #85)
  • "General Lee Comes to Town" (April 1944, Detective Comics #86)
  • "Tuition Free" (May 1944, Detective Comics #87)
  • "Futures For Sale" (June 1944, Detective Comics #88)
  • "Borrowed Brains" (July 1944, Detective Comics #89)
  • "The Double Steal" (August 1944, Detective Comics #90)
  • "The Chicken and the Yegg" (September 1944, Detective Comics #91)
  • "Case of the Smoking Sign" (October 1944, Detective Comics #92)
  • "The Hand is Quicker Than the Eye" (November 1944, Detective Comics #93)
  • "The Clue of the Cat's Pajamas" (December 1944, Detective Comics #94)
  • "Marvelous Marbles" (January 1945, Detective Comics #95)
  • "Bargains in Burglary" (February 1945, Detective Comics #96)
  • "Call of Death" (March 1945, Detective Comics #97)
  • "Audacious Alibi" (April 1945, Detective Comics #98)
  • "Veteran in Villainy" (May 1945, Detective Comics #99)
  • ""Fools About Jewels" (June 1945, Detective Comics #100)
  • "Unknown" (July 1945, Detective Comics #101)
  • "Smash Your Bagage" (August 1945, Detective Comics #102)
  • "Stormy Weather" (September 1945, Detective Comics #103)
  • "The Buzzard and the Screech" (October 1945, Detective Comics #104)
  • "Unknown" (November 1945, Detective Comics #105)
  • "Unknown" (December 1945, Detective Comics #106)
  • "Playhouse of Plunder" (January 1946, Detective Comics #107)
  • "How High is Up?" (February 1946, Detective Comics #108)
  • "It's Off to Jail We Go" (March 1946, Detective Comics #109)
  • "The Crook Who Couldn't Be Jailed" (4/46Detective Comics #110)
  • "Unknown" (May 1946, Detective Comics #111)
  • "Unknown" (June 1946, Detective Comics #112)
  • "Unknown" (July 1946, Detective Comics #113)
  • "Something in the Air" (August 1946, Detective Comics #114)
  • "Molar Mobsters" (September 1946, Detective Comics #115)
  • "Tonic for Trouble" (October 1946, Detective Comics #116)
  • "The Fastest Snails in the World" (November 1946, Detective Comics #117)
  • "Crime is All Wet" (December 1946, Detective Comics #118)
  • "Danger - Crooks at Work" (January 1947, Detective Comics #119)
  • "Truth+Penalty=Crime-Catchers" (June 1948, Detective Comics #136)
  • "Shorty Grows Up" (July 1949, Detective Comics #149)
  • -Slam's last regular appearance (1949, Detective Comics #152)
    ..
  • "The 'Too Many Cooks...'Caper" (March 1981, Detective Comics #500).
  • "The Doomsday Book" (March 1987, Detective Comics #572; 50th Anniversary)
    Art by Jim Aparo.
  • "Trail of the Catwoman, Part 1" (August 2001, Detective Comics #759)
  • "Trail of the Catwoman, Part 2" (September 2001, Detective Comics #760)
  • "Trail of the Catwoman, Part 3" (October 2001, Detective Comics #761)
  • "Trail of the Catwoman, Part 4" (November 2001, Detective Comics #762)
    Written by Ed Brubaker
    Art by Darwyn Cooke and Cameron Stewart.
  • CATWOMAN
    (2001--, DC Comics)
    .
  • CATWOMAN SECRET FILES & ORIGINS
    (2002, DC Comics)

RELATED LINKS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to George Moss for putting me straight. And Scott Hileman for the extra leads. This one's for Jerry and Joe.


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