Across DC and Marvel Comics, as well as several other publishers throughout the world, the idea of a detective with special abilities is nothing new. They allow the detectives to investigate on a deeper level than the police might be capable of, but with that superhuman power, they often become removed from the more human touch required to understand their suspects’ internal lives. Of course, Batman has always been monikered the World’s Greatest Detective even by his own declaration, but there are plenty of stories similar to that of Bruce Wayne , with varying degrees of tone and humor.
What better way for a Chimp to make clear to everyone that he is a detective than a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat? DC’s Detective Chimp, also known as Bobo T. Chimpanzee, has been monikered “the world’s greatest detective” within DC Comics itself, by none other than John Constantine. After first appearing in 1952’s Adventures of Rex the Wonder DogDetective Chimp has gone on to appear alongside Green Lantern (who will soon have his own detective show in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU) and The Flash Among others. Besides an intelligence that earned him a membership in MENSA, Detective Chimp’s powers extend to his communication with all animals in their own languages, respective of their origin, as well as all written and spoken human languages.
Much like Marvel’s Moon KnightDC’s original Jim Corrigan was a dead police officer who played host to the cosmic entity “the Spectre.” This 1940 character’s name was later given to an unrelated character in 1972; an African-American policeman who became a regular supporting character Black Lightning. Eventually, the name was given to another police officer and member of the Gotham City PD in Gotham Central. This latest Corrigan, however, was used as a red herring for readers, turning out to be a corrupt cop who kills his colleague, Crispus Allen, only for Allen to become the new Spectre. The original Jim Corrigan still stands as one of DC’s greatest superpowered detectives, however, even appearing in the Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths as played by Stephen Loboand portrayed by Emmett J. Scanlan in the Constantine TV series respectively.
Marvel Mutant Jamie Madrox was born with the special ability to duplicate due to his family’s proximity to his father’s work at the Nuclear Research Center. His power to split off into multiple versions of himself has earned him the name “Multiple Man,” with some of his duplicates (or “dupes”) going on to live independent lives as priests, lawyers, and even victims of possession. One dupe in particular has become “the world’s greatest detective” having discovered secrets so colossal that he saved Jamie from being burdened with the knowledge, killing himself without transferring his memories to Jamie. Singularity Investigations offered to raise Jamie as a child, suspecting him of being a “changeling,” a predecessor to mutants. After his parents refused to give him up, they were killed, making Jamie the hard-boiled superhero he is today.
Sandman (Wesley Dodds)
Wesley Dodds is a DC superhero known as Sandman, the first of many characters to bear the name. Recognized for his iconic WWI gas mask, green suit, and fedora, this Sandman is a relic of the 1930s hard-boiled detective era, and was one of the “mystery men.” Although updated at one point to wear a cape and unitard, he was eventually returned to his original look in order to preserve Detective Comics’ original style. His superhuman powers include his use of sleeping gas to sedate criminals (hence the mask). During Sandman’s less popular years, the moniker was given to other DC characters including Neil Gaiman‘s Sandmanthe embodiment of dreams. Since then Dodds has stood the test of time, and the popularity of his namesake, to establish himself as one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. Both as a superhero and a detective respectively, this Sandman is not one to be trifled with.
Marvel’s Misty Knight is a former NYPD officer who was given a new bionic arm from Tony Stark when hers was amputated after a bomb attack in the city. Having established her own PI firm with Colleen Wing, Knight is a frequent collaborator of Luke Cage and Iron Fisthaving been appeared in their Netflix television shows and on 2017’s The Defendersas played by Simone Missick.In the comics, she teamed up with Valkyrie as co-leader of the Valkyrior, leading fans to wonder whether she may one day appear in MCU movies alongside … Tessa Thompson. An ex-roommate of X-Men‘s Jean Grey, Knight’s roots within the Marvel Universe run deep, and her iron man-level arm gives her the power to fight the crime she investigates for a living. A powerful hero mentally and physically, Misty Knight is a superhero detective like no other.
Another superhero detective originally from the 1930s, Kent Allard is a WWI aviator who faked his own death in South America to become the Shadow. Having learned hypnotic tricks in Asia, he returned to America as millionaire Lamont Cranston, fighting crime by night in a vigi While Cranston is his most notable alias, Kent adopts a number of different identities to help him gather information. He also poses as businessman Henry Arnaud, an elderly man named Isaac Twambly, and a man named Fritz, all as part of his reconnaissance mission, before donning his fedora, scarf, and two pistols to become Shadow / The Dark Eagle. Although the Shadow’s training and wealth resemble that of Bruce Wayne, his story predated Batman’s by nine years.
Joe Golem: Occult Detective
Dark Horse’s Joe Golem comic series is written by Christopher Golden and Hellboy‘s Mike Mignolawhich expands on their promotional short story Joe Golem and the Copper Girl and their illustrated novel Joe Golem and the Drowning City from 2012. As the name suggests, Golem is a detective who takes on cases relating to the paranormal. The writing and artwork harken back to the 1930s era of Shadow and Sandmanwith a modern sensitivity attributed to the comic series’ 2015 origin. As a fairly new character, Joe Golem is a very accessible hero, with only a handful of stories published so far, titled The Rat Catcher, The Sunken Dead, The Outer Dark, Flesh and Blood, The Drowning City, and The Conjurors.
The Question is a DC superhero created by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko. Much like Marvel’s Spidey, the mantle of Question has passed down to a new younger hero, having originally been Charles Victor Szasz (no relation to Batman villain Victor Zsasz). Much like Batman, Question possesses no superhuman abilities besides being a skilled martial artist and displaying genius deductive skills. of authority and his conspiratorial nature. Having been affiliated with the Justice League, LAW, and Suicide Squad alike, it’s hard to believe the Question isn’t a more popular and famous hero worldwide. In 2007, his protégé Renee Montoya became the new Question .
Although his super-stretch powers draw comparisons between Elongated Man and Plastic Man, one of the key differences between the two elastic heroes is that Plastic Man’s elasticity is near-limitless while Elongated Man’s is limited. makes Elongated Man a more interesting character. To compensate, Elongated Man AKA Ralph Dibny, has a genius intellect that makes him an impressive detective. Dibny uses his powers less for fighting and more for sneaky investigation, proving that brains can be just as effective as brawn. The character made his live-action debut in the fourth season of The CW Arrowverse series The Flashplayed by Hartley Sawyer.
Arguably best known for her portrayal by Krysten Ritter on the Netflix series Jessica Jones (now on Disney+), this character is a super-strong private investigator at Alias Investigations. A rough-around-the-edges investigator, Jessica Jones uses her PI career to help support other victims of similar crimes that had traumatized her in the past . The character’s story is a powerful vessel for important conversations surrounding manipulation, and abusive and controlling relationships. The adaptation’s first season largely follows Hope Shlottman (The Boys‘ Erin Moriarty), a girl raped by Kilgrave (David Tennant) and forced to kill her own parents while under his control. Facing two life sentences, Hope is helped by Jessica Jones who proves Hope’s innocence by taking down Kilgrave.
After taking a deep dive into some of these underrated superhero detectives, it’s never a bad idea to return to the classic detective. Michael Keaton‘s Batman will return in DC’s The Flash film, set to speed into theaters this June. Read up on everything we know about The Flashincluding the World’s Greatest Detective’s supporting role. You can also watch the trailer below.