As human beings, we always love mysteries, suspense, and a fascinating detective to unveil these mysteries. And comic books are the ones that do that job perfectly. There are a ton of detectives in the comics but for today we’ve narrowed them down to a list of characters we think are the best.
10 Greatest Detective in Comics
I do want to mention that this list is very DC heavy and that’s because many DC characters fall into the criminal detective category, I mean DC literally stands for Detective Comics. The word detective is literally in their freaking name. So, it’s no shocker they have a ton of great detectives. anyway, that’s why you’re gonna see more DC characters on this list.
Kicking off the list is ‘The Shadow’. He first appeared in the detective story Our Radio Show in July of 1930. That’s before making his comic-book debut in Shadow Comics #1 in February of 1940. Putting it simply, he was basically Batman before Batman. And was created around 9 years before the Caped Crusader made his debut.
Batman beat him in several crossovers but there’s an argument to be made that the Dark Knight wouldn’t exist without the creation of The Shadow.
In Batman #259 we learned that a young Bruce Wayne encountered The Shadow when he stopped a robbery at a bank. And Bruce was there with his parents.
Years after Bruce became Batman, he would end up teaming up with The Shadow. Once they laid the smackdown on crime, The Shadow tells Batman, ‘I’m happy to state you fulfilled my greatest expectations.’ Batman replies, ‘I consider that a magnificent compliment I’ve never told anyone this but you were my biggest inspiration. I’d be honored to shake your hand.’
We also learn in Batman issue 259 that the shadow knew all along that Bruce Wayne was indeed Batman deducing his identity. Needless to say, he’s a pretty good detective to figure out who Batman is.
Multiple Man first appeared in Giant-Sized Fantastic Four #4 in February of 1975. For whatever reason, I feel like this one might be a shocker to a lot of people. But Multiple Man is a fantastic detective. So much so he made X-Factor investigations with several other allies in the Marvel Universe.
His mutant abilities allowed him to multiply himself hence his name. What this means for his detective work is that he can be in more than one place at once, being able to work different angles of a case all at the same time. Bides being able to do multiple things at once, once he reabsorbs all of his duplicates he also takes in all their experience and memory.
But to push that point even further, he can make duplicates and have them go live their own separate lives and gain experience in different things. So when he reabsorbs them he could solve problems from a bunch of different angles. Basically, when it comes down to him, two brains are better than one or in this case many.
Jessica Jones made her first appearance in Alias # in November of 2001. Now if you know anything about Jessica Jones or have even seen her Netflix series you know her whole character is rooted in detective work. So it shouldn’t be at all shocking she made this list.
The character whose whole background is based on her detective skills and being an investigative journalist better be good at her job and she is. She was one of the main people to expose Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin. But more than anything, it’s her street-level smarts that make her such a good detective.
The crazy thing is she didn’t set out to be a detective. After a brief run with the Avengers, she created Alias Investigations which let her work closely with people she wanted to help. It’s almost one of those scenarios that you just do something because you’re good at it not necessarily because you want to be doing it.
Detective Chimp first appearing at Adventures of Rex: The Wonder Dog #4 in 1952. This is probably the weirdest character on this list as he’s literally a Chimp.
If you know anything about Detective Chimp, he’s a really weird yet cool character. He’s a chimp with a genius-level intellect that gives him great investigation skills along with his ability to converse with all animals no matter where they’re from.
His skills kind of fall in line with the saying ‘if only these walls could talk’. Meaning people say and do stuff around animals all the time because well they can’t talk. but detective chimp can’t just talk to them; he could also write and talk in all forms of human language.
It is also said that his detective skills rival that of Batman’s. So it’s not surprising he was inching his way towards the top five.
Making his first appearance in a regularly published title in Next Men #21, Hellboy is widely considered to be the best paranormal investigator alive. His discovery actually led to the creation of BPRD, which stands for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. It’s a private organization that investigates any and all threats that are supernatural.
Besides his years of training, Hellboy’s investigation skills are aided by a bunch of arcane artifacts and talismans. This along with all of his knowledge of magical rituals and spells you give him a massive edge with all of his occult investigations.
On top of all his knowledge, Hellboy is a demon who possesses abilities like superhuman strength, a healing factor, immunity to all diseases, and the ability to comprehend ancient and magical languages. And it is just the tip of the iceberg.
So it’s easy to see why he’s rounding out the bottom five. And if you thought being a detective was hard, imagine being a supernatural detective.
Making his entry in the top five is The Question. His first appearance was in Blue Beetle #1 in 1967. Some people may be saying well which Question are you talking about? Well, both. Vic Stage and Renee Montoya.
What makes The Question such a great detective is the fact that he or she leaves nothing off the table, going into full conspiracy theory territory. The Question has a complete and utter dedication to his craft also being a master interrogator. In fact, The Question is such a great detective the character Rorschach is loosely based on The Question and is just a more extreme version of him Vic Sage.
I must admit though, my love for The Question came from the Justice League Unlimited animated series where again his detective skills were insane. It’s my personal favorite interpretation of the question to date.
Bearly missing the top three, we have the Elongated Man, first appearing in The Flash #112 in May of 1960. Ralph Dibny aka Elongated Man has been a detective right from the beginning. Besides his ability to stretch his limbs, Dibny has such a love for mysteries that his nose literally twitches when he smells mystery. Needless to say, this spider-sense of sorts gives him a huge leg up when it comes to detective work
Ralph and his wife Sue were actually detectives together and they solved the metahuman cases. But she was murdered and he died trying to resurrect her. But even death couldn’t stop their love for mystery so they became detectives in the supernatural realm and after a white, both of them were resurrected.
With all his intellectuals and sixth sense, I really have to say is Elongated Man is such a good detective, he is one of the top five detectives in the entire DC Universe. Sometimes his skills even rival Batman’s.
Taking the top three we have The Flash. Now, this shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone. Sure The Flash is known for being the fastest man alive, but he’s also one of the best detectives in all comics.
You probably know by now that The Flash aka Barry Allen is a crime-scene investigator. Which is one of the hardest forms of investigating. A lot of the time you’re dealing with investigations where people are dead. Meaning, you literally have to use math and science to figure everything out on your own. Because, well; dead bodies don’t talk much.
Besides being a brilliant CSI, what helps The Flash in being a great detective is the fact that he could think at the speed of light. Even if he is not the smartest person around; as he thinks so fast, he could still come to a conclusion before someone that’s smarter than him.
Here’s a cherry on top, which really solidifies how good of a detective he is. In The Flash #64, Batman says, “I’ve always respected Barry’s ability in the crime lab. Most people debate if he or Superman is faster, but I’ve privately always wondered who was the better detective between flash and me.” So even freaking Batman, the world’s greatest detective doesn’t necessarily know if he’s a better detective than The Flash. Do I even need to say more?
Runner up on our list of the best detective in comics is none other than Tim Drake, the third Robin. He first made his appearance as Robin in Batman #442.
The easiest and the best way I could prove to you why he’s the second-best detective in comics is because of something that Batman said. In Batman: Hush, Batman is quoted as saying “Dick saw Robin as being a thrill, it’s probably why he outgrew it. Jason saw Robin as a game, it’s probably what got him killed. But Tim, I have to hand it to the boy, he wants to be the world’s greatest detective. And from what I’ve seen so far, he will be someday.”
The detective compliments keep coming, Dick Greyson even once told Drake, “You’re twice the detective I ever was”. Then you have Ra’s al Ghul told Tim Drake “Well done detective,”
Now if you know anything about Ra’s al Ghul, that is an incredible compliment as he has to hold you in very high regard to call you that.
The number one should be no surprise to anyone in the comic book world. It is of course ‘Batman’ first appearing in Detective Comics #27 in May of 1939. Again this is not a shocker to any of you, and if it is, really? Literally one of Batman’s most famous and nicknames is the world’s greatest detective.
He’s such a good detective, that Ra’s al Ghul calls him “The Detective”. Not Batman, nor Bruce; but Detective. Just out of pure respect. And to have respect from someone like Ra’s al Ghul says a lot.
As we know Batman is a master of pretty much everything. Espionage, Stealth, Martial Arts, Computer Science…, the list goes on for almost infinity. But one of the things that makes him so dangerous besides all of that is this crime-solving and detective skills. It means he’s just always one step ahead of you. Which is one of the many reasons you have the saying, “Because he’s Batman.”