Detective Comics is an American comic book published monthly by DC Comics since 1937, best-known for introducing the iconic superhero Batman. It is, along with Action Comics, the book that launched with the debut of Superman, one of the medium's signature series, and the source of its company's name. With 852 monthly issues published as of March 2009, it is the longest continuously published comic book in the United States.

Publication HistoryEdit

Detective Comics was the final publication of the entrepreneur Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, whose comics company, National Allied Publications, would evolve into DC Comics, one of the world's two largest comic book publishers, though long after its founder had left it. Wheeler-Nicholson's first two titles were the landmark New Fun: The Big Comic Magazine #1 (Feb. 1935), colloquially called New Fun Comics #1 and the first such early comic book to contain all-original content, rather than a mix of newspaper comic strips and comic-strip-style new material. His second effort, New Comics #1, would be retitled twice to become Adventure Comics, another seminal series that ran for decades until issue #503 in 1983.

The third and final title published under his aegis would be Detective Comics, advertised with a cover illustration dated Dec. 1936, but eventually premiering three months late, with a March 1937 cover date. In 1937, however, Wheeler-Nicholson was in debt to printing-plant owner and magazine distributor Harry Donenfeld, who was as well a pulp-magazine publisher and a principal in the magazine distributorship Independent News. Wheeler-Nicholson took Donenfeld on as a partner in order to publish Detective Comics #1 through the newly formed Detective Comics, Inc., with Wheeler-Nicholson and Jack S. Liebowitz, Donenfeld's accountant, listed as owners. Wheeler-Nicholson was forced out a year later.

Originally an anthology comic, in the manner of the times, Detective Comics #1 (March 1937) featured stories in the "hard-boiled detective" genre popular, with such stars as Ching Lung (a Fu Manchu-style "yellow peril" villain); Slam Bradley (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster before their character Superman saw print two years later); and Speed Saunders, among others. Its first editor, Vin Sullivan, also drew the debut issue's cover.


Detective Comics #27 (May 1939) featured the first appearance of Batman (as "The Bat-Man"). That superhero would eventually become the star of the title, the cover logo of which is often written as "Detective Comics featuring Batman".

Issue #38 (April 1940) introduced Batman's sidekick Robin (billed as "The Sensational Character Find of 1940" on the cover). Robin's appearance and the subsequent increase in sales of the book soon led to the trend of superheroes and young sidekicks that characterize the era fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

In addition to the Batman stories, the comic also had numerous back up strips such as "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel" in Detective Comics #225, the story which introduced Martian Manhunter.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the magazine adopted the expanded format used by the canceled Batman Family, adding solo features including "Robin: the Teen Wonder", "Batgirl", "The Human Target" and the anthology called "Tales of Gotham City", which featured the stories of the ordinary people of Gotham City. This was done in part to boost sales, as at the time "Batman Family" outsold Detective Comics, putting Detective Comics in peril of cancellation following 1978's DC Implosion.

Another sales ploy of the 1980s was the use of serialization of the main Batman story, as stories from "Detective Comics" and "Batman" directly flowed from one book to another, with cliffhangers at the end of each book's monthly story that would be resolved in the other title of that month. A single writer handled both books during that time beginning with Gerry Conway and followed up by Doug Moench.


In 2009, as part of planned reorganization of the Batman universe due to the events shown in Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, "Detective Comics went on hiatus for three months while DC Comics published the Battle for the Cowl mini-series.

Upon its return, the series featured the newly reintroduced (in the pages of the 52 mini-series) Batwoman as the new star of the book as well as a ten page back-up feature starring Renee Montoya as the new Question. Greg Rucka is the new writer and is currently scheduled to write the book through 2010. With the Batwoman feature consisting of material created for the planned but ultimately aborted Batwoman series, it is through the Montoya back-up feature that the series remains semi-connected to the other main Batman books, with the current plans for a cross-over taking place within the pages of this year's Batman and Detective Comics annual to establish the new Azrael ongoing series.


The "Manhunter" series that ran as a backup in "Detective Comics" from 1973 to 1974 won the Shazam Award for Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic) in 1974 for "Cathedral Perilous" in issue 441 (with Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson).

Characters IntroducedEdit

Character   Issue Number   Month/Year  
Slam Bradley #1 March 1937
Crimson Avenger #20 Oct. 1938
Batman #27 May 1939
Commissioner James Gordon #27 May 1939
Joe Chill #33 Nov. 1939
Hugo Strange #36 Feb. 1940
Robin #38 April 1940
Clayface (Basil Karlo) #40 June 1940
Penguin #58 Dec. 1941
Two-Face #66 Aug. 1942
Tweedledum and Tweedledee #74 April 1943
Riddler #140 Oct. 1948
Red Hood #168 Feb. 1951
Firefly #184 June 1952
Batmen of All Nations #215 Jan. 1955
Martian Manhunter #225 Nov. 1955
Batwoman #233 July 1956
Calendar Man #259 Sep. 1958
Bat-Mite #267 May 1959
Clayface (Matt Hagen) #298 Dec. 1961
Catman #311 Jan. 1963
Blockbuster #345 Nov. 1965
Cluemaster #351 May. 1966
Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) #359 Jan. 1967
Jason Bard #392 Oct. 1969
Man-Bat #400 June 1970
Talia al Ghul #411 May 1971
Harvey Bullock #441 July 1974
Leslie Thompkins #457 March 1976
The Calculator #463 Sept. 1976
Silver St. Cloud #470 June 1977
Clayface (Preston Payne) #478 July 1978
Maxie Zeus #483 May 1979
Killer Croc #523 Feb. 1983
Jason Todd #524 March 1983
Onyx #546 Jan. 1985
Ventriloquist (Arnold Wesker) #583 Feb. 1988
Anarky #608 Nov. 1989
Renee Montoya #642 March 1992
Spoiler #647 Aug. 1992
Crispus Allen #742 March 2000
Sasha Bordeaux #751 Dec. 2000
Nyssa Raatko #783 August 2003
Ventriloquist (Peyton Reilly) #827 March 2007

Collected EditionsEdit

  • Batman Archives (seven volumes): Collects Batman stories issues from #27-154
  • Batman Chronicles (seven volumes): Includes Batman stories from #27-70
  • Batman: The Dynamic Duo Archives (two volumes): Collects #327-339 (1964-1965)
  • Showcase Presents: Batman (four volumes): Collects #327-390
  • Manhunter: The Special Edition: Collects Manhunter backup from #437-442, and the Batman/Manhunter crossover in #443
  • Batman: Strange Apparitions: Collects #469-476, 478-479 ISBN 1-56389-500-5
  • Batman: Year Two: Collects #575-578
  • Batman: Blind Justice: Collects #598-600
  • Batman: Anarky: Collects #608-609
  • Batman: Evolution: Collects #743-750
  • Batman: The Man Who Laughs: Collects #784-786
  • Batman: War Drums: Collects #790-796
  • Batman: City of Crime: Collects #800-808, 811-814
  • Batman: Detective: Collects #821-826
  • Batman: Death and the City: Collects #827-834
  • Batman: Private Casebook: Collects #840-845
  • Batman: Heart of Hush: Collects #846-850

Detective Comics stories also appear in other Batman collections.

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