Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Detective Comics Stars Besides Batman Golden Age

Detective Comics has had many features over the decades, but Batman was usually the dominant one, being featured on most of its covers over the years.

Still, a few other characters have managed to be featured on Detective Comics covers, and, as Detective Comics #1000 approaches, time to take a look back at a few of them.

Crimson Avenger

Premiering before the Batman, Crimson Avenger was Lee Travis, who originally fought crime in a cloak, with a mask and a hat, like the old pulp heroes, starting in Detective Comics #20 (October, 1938) by Jim Chambers

With his chauffeur, Wing How, the two battled crime through Detective Comics #89 (July, 1944), with the two eventually adopting more traditional mystery men outfits (Crimson Avenger in Detective Comics #44, Wing in Detective Comics #59), with the two being members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory for the first 14 issues of Leading Comics

Retroactively, they were both members of the All-Star Squadron during World War II (though those comics didn't happen until the 1980s). 

Too few of their original tales have been reprinted, but here's a guide, adding Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman to it, with a reprint of Detective Comics #20.

A planned 2 volume reprint of Detective Comics #1-26 was scheduled, but cancelled...

....a shame, as a look at comics that existed before Batman would have been fascinating!

Boy Commandos

Very few characters even made it onto the cover of Detective Comics other than Batman, and it was a lock for the Dynamic Duo after Robin's debut.  Still, an issue after they debuted, the Boy Commandos did indeed share a cover with Batman and Robin.

The Boy Commandos were a creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, and ran in Detective Comics from Detective Comics #64 (June, 1942) to Detective Comics #150 (August, 1949), as well as having their own series that lasted 36 issues!

Read more about these youths that fought for our freedoms here, as we've covered them before as Jack Kirby was being celebrated!

All The Detectives

So many other characters didn't make the covers of Detective Comics, but quite a few did long after their premieres, with a special story in Detective Comics #500 (March, 1981), with the lot making the cover, as they all met in a special story covered here, but, here's a little bit more info on all of them....

Slam Bradley

Slam Bradley first appeared in Detective Comics #1 (March, 1937) in a story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

He was a simple but tough private investigator, not the smartest of men, but good in a fight, whose series ran until Detective Comics #152 (October, 1949), as well as appearances in both New York World's Fair Comics.

Bradley was an old school gumshoe....who was replaced by the latest in technology!

Roy Raymond TV Detective

Roy Raymond took the spot of Slam Bradley, starting in Detective Comics #153 (November, 1949), in a series that was first titled after his TV Show, Impossible -- But True in a story drawn by Ruben Moreira!

Roy was a wealthy man, but got that wealth by not believing in anything.  During his life, he would expose charlatans for what they were, and did so on his TV show, with his assistant, Karen Colby, for years, until Detective Comics #292 (June, 1961), after which he disappeared for a while...

....being saved by Superman in Superman #285 (March, 1975), with his show being revived for Galaxy Broadcasting under Morgan Edge, next being in Action Comics #448 and Superman Family #195, returning for one special appearance in Detective Comics #487 before issue #500.

Pow Wow Smith

This is actually the story of two heroes, both named Ohiyesa, who both got the unflattering nickname of Pow Wow Smith.

The first premiered in Detective Comics #151 (September, 1949) by Don Cameron, Carmine Infantino and George Klein.  Ohiyesa was a Sioux Indian Tribe member, who went to college, and came back to Red Deer Valley to become come home, to use his learning to help his people and becoming sheriff, with the locals giving the nickname Pow Wow Smith. 

This was the modern day Pow Wow Smith, which lasted until Detective Comics #202 (December, 1953), then switched over to Western Comics.  That series, which lasted from Western Comics #43 (January-February, 1954) to #85 (January-February, 1961), with the later series focused on 1880s adventures in the desert.

Captain Compass

Mark Compass started his career as a naval investigator in Star-Spangled Comics #83 (August, 1948) working as a detective for the Penny Steamship Lines in a story drawn by Jimmy Thompson (the title's covers were dominated by Robin at this time).  His adventures on the high seas lasted until Star-Spangled Comics #130 (July, 1952), moving World's Finest Comics #63 for an issue, then to Detective Comics, from #203 in January, 1954 to #224 in October, 1955 (with his spot going to Martian Manhunter's debut in the next issue).

Mysto Magician Detective

Rick Carter was a stage magician, who also solved crimes as a detective from time to time, with his adventures first appearing in Detective Comics #203 (January, 1954) by George Kashdan and Leonard Starr

Sadly, this didn't seem to catch on with readers... Mysto soon pulled a disappearing act for years after Detective Comics #212 (October, 1954).

Jason Bard

Jason Bard first appeared in Detective Comics #392 (October, 1969) in a Batgirl story by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, as Barbara Gordon saw a man with a limp fleeing a murder scene.  That was Jason, who was a Marine and a Vietnam veteran, who had taken up criminology on campus.  Working with Barbara and Batgirl, Jason eventually became a Private Investigator, hanging up his own detective shingle starting with Detective Comics #425 (July, 1972), appearing in every other issue of Detective Comics until #435, then Batman #252, Batman Family #15 and #16, Batman #297 before working regularly with Man-Bat, starting in Batman Family #20, Detective Comics #481, #485 and #491, and Batman in Brave and the Bold #165 and #172.

Human Target

Christopher Chance was an assassination expert for hire.  He wouldn't assassinate people, but instead take over their life for a time, using various Hollywood make-up tricks, then find the assassin as they tried to kill him, and stop the villain. 

Chance premiered in Action Comics #419 (December, 1972) by Len Wein, Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano, and had tales in Action Comics #420, #422, #423, #425, #426, #429, and #432, before making a cover with a back-up in Brave and the Bold #143 and #144  in 1978, then living to nearly die in Detective Comics #483, #484, #486 (saving Dane Dorrance of the Sea Devils) and #493, before attending the detective's send off for Archie Evergreen with all of the above.

The DC Universe by Len Wein recently collected the Action Comics stories of the Human Target (hoping the B&Bs and Detective Comics come somewhere soon).

Now, there were more back ups in Detective Comics, and even a few of the characters in them made it onto covers, but, more will come later, but here's the cover of the Best of DC #30 from November, 1982, with a cover by Jim Aparo, to give clues to who some of those characters are! 

This issue also has reprints of some of the ordinary men who were featured in Detective Comics mentioned above.

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