√ 11 Elementary Darknight Detectives

Nos. 27 – 37

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for the quick checklist go to Elementary DETECTIVE COMICS: Nos. 27 – 37

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DETECTIVE COMICS
essential for 1939

I

TEC27.covervintageTEC27.p3No. 27 (May ’39) on sale April 18th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

The Bat-Man: The Case of the Chemical Syndicate; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane (as Rob’t Kane); 6 pages.

A city commissioner named Gordon–presumably the commissioner of police or commissioner of public safety and not the commissioner of public works–is puzzled by a fellow they call the “Bat-Man.”

Gordon joins a murder investigation in progress, taking along his young friend–a bored socialite.

Someone has killed old Lambert and it’s feared other associates of Lambert are next in line for murder. On page 3, after yet another man is murdered, the Bat-Man fights the two thugs responsible, but another is presumed to have orchestrated the murders.  By page 5, we learn that this is Alfred Stryker. At the end of the story we learn that the young socialite is in fact the Bat-Man.

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Crimes of the Bat: Alfred Stryker tries to shoot Bat-Man, but the mystery man stops Stryker with one punch and the villain tumbles into a vat of acid. While the Bat-Man is not sorry to see Stryker die, it would be hard to argue that it was intentional homicide on Bat-Man’s part.

Crime Never Pays (inside front cover); 1 page.
Tenderfoot; story and art: Charles Biro; 1 page.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Killers of Kurdistan; story: Gardner Fox; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Bullet Bluff; story and art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 6 pages.
The Crimson Avenger; story and art: Jim Chambers; 6 pages.
Death on the Airwaves (text); story: Gardner Fox (as Paul Dean); spot illustrations: Fred Guardineer; 2 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
The Mysterious Doctor Fu Manchu; story: Sax Rohmer; adaptation and art: Leo O’Mealia; 4 pages.
Flatfoot Flannigan; story and art: Paul Gustavson; 1 page.
Stamp Collectors’ Corner: Danzig Marks Anniversary (text); 1 page.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Plain Clothes Pete; story and art: Russell Cole (as Alger); 4 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 9 pages.
House ad for ALL-AMERICAN COMICS No. 2 and MOVIE COMICS No. 2 (inside back cover); 1 page.

II

TEC28.p1TEC28.FRENCHYNo. 28 (June ’39) on sale May 11th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Fred Guardineer

The Bat-Man; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane (as Rob’t Kane); 6 pages.

The Bat-Man pretends to be a jewel thief to draw out criminal mastermind Frenchy Blake.

Crimes of the Bat: In a fight with Ricky on the roof of a building, the Bat-Man sends him toppling over to his death. Given the circumstance of the fight, it can’t be proved that Ricky’s death was intentional homicide. The Bat-Man obtains a confession from Frenchy by hanging him out the window of his apartment building and threatening to drop him to the ground several storeys below.

TEC28.backinsideJest a Second; art: Bob Kane; 1 page.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Dope Ring; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Killing by Proxy; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 6 pages.
The Crimson Avenger; story and art: Jim Chambers; 6 pages.
Human Cargo (text); story: Jack Anthony; 2 pages
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Doctor Fu Manchu; story: Sax Rohmer; adaptation and art: Leo O’Mealia; 4 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 13 pages.
House ad for ALL-AMERICAN COMICS No. 3 and MOVIE COMICS No. 3 (inside back cover); 1 page.

III

TEC29.insidefronttec29coverNo. 29 (July ’39) on sale June 13th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

The Bat-Man: The Batman Meets Doctor Death; story: Gardner Fox; art: Bob Kane; 10 pages.

Doctor Karl Hellfern has at last completed his life’s work and produced a deadly pollen that will allow him to extort money and grant him the honourary title of Doctor Death.

However, he foresees that the Batman might oppose him and takes steps to put the crimefighter out of the way. This is where his plans go wrong.

TEC29.p1TEC29.bwBatman is not so easily subdued. Commissioner Gordon never appears in this story or any of the subsequent Fox scripted tales–Gordon returns to DETECTIVE COMICS in issue 35, with the return of Bill Finger as the ongoing scripter.

Crimes of the Bat: The Batman hurls a fire extinguisher at Karl Hellfern, which cause him to drop a flammable tube and the criminal seems to die in the resulting fire. Batman doesn’t really care, but again it’s more likely an accidental homicide rather than pre-meditated murder on the Batman’s part.

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House ad for DC magazines (inside front cover, includes indicia); 1 page
Crime Never Pays; story and art: Vin Sullivan; 1 page.
The Stamp Detective (text); 1 page.
Larry Steele, Private Detective; art: Will Ely; 6 pages.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
The Crimson Avenger; story and art: Jim Chambers; 6 pages. The Crimson does not appear again unitl issue 37.
A Game for Two (text); story: Gardner Fox (as Paul Dean); 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Perfect Crime; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 13 pages.
House ad for ALL-AMERICAN COMICS No. 4 and MOVIE COMICS No. 4 (inside back cover); 1 page.

IV

TEC30.P1TEC30.P2No. 30 (August ’39) on sale July 13th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Fred Guardineer

The Batman; story: Gardner Fox; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 10 pages.

The 4th case of the Caped Crimefighter picks up less than a week after the previous one.

Doctor Death is not dead and has killed a man–John Jones. In the previous story, Doctor Death left a messsage addressed to John Jones for Batman.

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Crimes of the Bat: The Caped Crimefighter breaks the neck of Doctor Death’s henchman, Mikhail.

TEC30.BOBKANECrime Never Pays; art: Terry Gilkison; 1 page.
Oscar the Gumshoe; art: Bob Kane; 1 page
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Finger of Doom; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
Larry Steele, Private Detective; art: Will Ely; 6 pages.
Shadowed (text); story: Frank Thomas; 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Crossbow Mystery; story: Gardner Fox?; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Bruce Nelson: The Tea Racketeers; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 13 pages.
House ad for NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS [1939, 25¢] (inside back cover); 1 page.

V

tec31cedTEC31.SPLASHNo. 31 (September ’39) on sale August 10th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

The Batman; story: Gardner Fox; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 10 pages.

The first in a two part adventure. A lot happens in this yarn.

No sooner are we introduced to Julie Madison–who it turns out is the fiancee of Bruce Wayne (who knew)–then we see that she is under the spell of some mysterious force.

TEC31.JulieTEC31.batstuffThe case starts out in New York City but soon moves across the Atlantic to Paris and ultimately Hungary. Two significant bat–toys are introduced here–the Baterang (this is the original spelling) and the Batgyro (an autogyro rather than an aeroplane) which is sometimes called the Batplane. The main bad guy is the Monk, a mysterious being with supernatural powers, able to hold his victims in thrall with his hypnotisim.

TEC31.specCrimes of the Bat: Batman tangles with a caged, giant gorilla; however, the ape receives no severe injuries. No need to call the SPCA on this one.

House ad for ALL-AMERICAN COMICS No. 6 and MOVIE COMICS No. 6 (inside front cover, includes indicia); 1 page.
Crime Never Pays; story and art: Vin Sullivan; 1 page.
Policeman; art: Paul Gustavson; 1 page.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Killer’s Bait; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
Larry Steele, Private Detective; art: Ken Ernst; 6 pages.
Newspaper Nightmare (text); story: Gardner Fox (as Paul Dean); 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Mammoth Mystery; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 13 pages.
House ad for NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS [1939, 25¢] (inside back cover); 1 page.

VI

TEC32.splashTEC32.p3No. 32 (October ’39) on sale September 12th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Fred Guardineer

The Batman; story: Gardner Fox; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 10 pages.

The second part of this two parter picks up the action in Hungary.

We are introduced to Dala a vampiric confederate of the Monk. They are both described as vampires and werewolves. They intend that Julie Madison should join them in their twilight existence.

This is probably the most gothic of Fox’s gothic tales from this run.

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Crimes of the Bat: The Batman shoots Dala and the Monk with silver bullets, thus freeing Julie from their spell. There’s no doubt there’s something supernatural going on here–or else silver bullets wouldn’t be necessary. One can assume that the two vampires are not living human beings and so the Dark Knight’s action is no ordinary case of homicide.

TEC32.moldoffOdds ‘n Ends; story and art: Sheldon Moldoff; half page.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: The Last Act; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Crime Never Pays; story and art: Vin Sullivan; 1 page.
Larry Steele, Private Detective; art: Ken Ernst; 6 pages.
Vanishing Gems (text); story: Gardner Fox (as Paul Dean); 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Skull-Face Cult; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster; 13 pages.

VII

TEC33.coverTEC33.p3No. 33 (November ’39) on sale October 10th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

Batman: The Batman Wars against the Dirigible of Doom; story: Bill Finger (pages 1 – 2),  Gardner Fox (pages 3 – 12); art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 12 pages.

I have a theory that this story was meant to be published in issue 34 and the one from 34 in this issue. Next issue’s story more naturally follows from the action in the previous issue’s.

This one has a page and a third scripted by Bill Finger–as contrasted with the rest of the pages from Fox–where Finger gives the first origin story for the Batman. This origin might have been the reason for switching the story order, so they could get the origin into print earlier.

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This would mean that the origin was scripted just after Fox had completed Dirigible and around when Bob Kane got Vin Sullivan to hire Bill Finger as the ongoing scripter. The added origin pages have nothing to do with the rest of the story, where Bruce Wayne is again in Manhattan and the Batman takes on a mad, scientific genius with a Napoleon complex.

Crimes of the Bat: The Batman uses one of his gas pellets to take out Carl Krueger, as he pilots his catapult-plane. With Krueger now unconscious, the plane plummets into the river (either Hudson or East), killing the criminal.

TEC33.SPEEDOdds ‘n Ends; story and art: Sheldon Moldoff; half page.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Mine of Mystery; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Larry Steele, Private Detective; art: Ken Ernst; 6 pages.
Coffee-Colored Diamonds (text); story: Frank Thomas; 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Northwoods Mystery; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Crime Never Pays; story and art: Vin Sullivan; 1 page.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 10 pages.
House ad for NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS [1939, 15¢] and SUPERMAN No. 1; 1 page.

VIII

TEC34.coverTEC34.p6No. 34 (December ’39) on sale November 7th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Creig Flessel (Crimson Avenger? perhaps, although the Crimson does not appear in this issue and that character’s artist, Jim Chambers, does not provide the cover nor does the mystery man look exactly like the Crimson)

Batman; story: Gardner Fox; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 10 pages.

TEC34.p9The last published Fox story from the early run, but the opening caption makes it clear that it follows immediately after the events of issue 32.

Set in Paris, it’s Fox’s most surreal yarn, with talking flowers, a faceless man and a villain–the Duc d’Orterre–who looks like Salvador Dali.

While this story ought to have appeared in the previous issue, the cover from the next issue ought to have gone with this story.

Crimes of the Bat: The car carrying the Duc d’Orterre and the Batman careens off a bridge. The crimefighter leaps to safety, but the Duc is not so lucky.

House ad for DC and All-American magazines (inside front cover, includes indicia); 1 page.
Whatt A. Knutt; story and art: Bob Kane; 1 page.
TEC34.houseadSpy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: The Last Trick; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Crime Never Pays; story and art: Vin Sullivan; 1 page.
Steve Malone, District Attorney; story: Gardner Fox; art: Don Lynch; 6 pages.
Swift Justice (text); story: Gardner Fox (as Paul Dean); 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Spy Mystery; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
The G-Men; 2 pages.
Bruce Nelson: The White Goddess; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 10 pages.
House ad for FLASH COMICS, on sale Nov. 10th; 1 page.

IX

TEC35.coverTEC35.p1No. 35 (January ’40) on sale December 7th
editor: Vin Sullivan
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

Batman; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 12 pages.

With the return of Bill Finger, Commissioner Gordon also comes back.

And this case begins with a situation similar to the first story, where Bruce again pays Gordon a visit, while the Commissioner ponders on the mystery of the Batman.

But this is a much more sophisticated mystery at double the length of the first Batman case. And Finger gives the story a few good plot twists. In this story we also meet the Mayor of Chinatown, Wong, who lends the Batman assistance. Just as the cover for this issue rightly belongs with the story in the last issue, the cover for next issue better suits this tale.

Crimes of the Bat: The criminal mastermind receives a blow from the ruby idol, hurled by the Batman, causing him to tumble out an open window to his death. Batman is pictured with a handgun in the opening splash panel, but he does not use it in the actual story.

TEC35.rightorwrongFantastic Facts: Railroad Lingo; art: George Papp; half page.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mauric Kashuba; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Branded Yellow; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Steve Malone, District Attorney: The Kidnapping Racket; story: Gardner Fox; art: Don Lynch; 6 pages.
Mystery with Music (text); story: Richard Lawlor (2 pages)
Statement of Ownership (quarter page)
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Voodoo Vengeance; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
Spanky & Cranky, the Twins; art: Bob Kane; 1 page.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 10 pages.
Right or Wrong? plus house ad for FLASH COMICS, on sale Dec. 15th; 1 page.
House ad for SUPERMAN No. 3 (inside back cover); 1 page.

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DETECTIVE COMICS
essential for 1940

X

TEC36.coverTEC36.hugostrangeNo. 36 (February ’40) on sale January 4th
editor: Whitney Ellsworth
cover art: Bob Kane (Batman)

Batman; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane with Jerry Robinson; 12 pages.

Whitney Ellsworth is the new editor with this story.

The classic Bill Finger Batman emerges in fine form this time.

And with Jerry Robinson assisting, a more familiar Bob Kane style Dark Knight appears. Smiling as he subdues a gang of thugs, cracking jokes, making bad puns.
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The villain, Professor Hugo Strange, is a prototype of the classic Bat-villain. Saving the city from Strange’s threatening fog wins the Caped Crusader admiration and praise from ordinary citizens. Robinson uses a distinctive lettering style that will become synonymous with the early Batman–as well as inspiring a certain R.

Crimes of the Bat: The Batman fires a pistol to draw the attention of the police.

Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mauric Kashuba; 6 pages.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: Claim of Satan; art: Homer Fleming; 6 pages.
Steve Malone, District Attorney; art: Don Lynch; 6 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Spider; story: Gardner Fox; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
A Climax in Opera (text); story: Richard Martin; spot illustrations: Bernard Bailey; 2 pages.
Bruce Nelson; story and art: Tom Hickey; 6 pages.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 10 pages.

XI

TEC37.coverTEC37.roadsterNo. 37 (March ’40) on sale February 6th
editor: Whitney Ellsworth
cover art: Bob Kane with Jerry Robinson (Batman)

Batman; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane with Jerry Robinson; 12 pages.
TEC37.p2The Batman stumbles upon a nest of saboteurs.

The Caped Crimefighter uses a special pair of goggles that allow him to see in the dark. The whole yarn is a nice look at Batman’s procedural style.

The end of this story teases an adventure that ends up not appearing in the next issue, but rather appears belatedly in BATMAN No. 1 (see below).

Crimes of the Bat: Through misadventure, while fighting the Batman, Count Grutt is impaled on his own sword.

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Fantastic Facts; art: George Papp; 1 page.
Spy; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mauric Kashuba; 6 pages.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise; story and art: Sven Elven; 6 pages.
The Crimson Avenger; story: Jim Chambers; art: Harry Lucey; 6 pages.
Murder by Sea (text); story: John Randall; 2 pages.
Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator and the Crime Roundup; story: Gardner Fox; art: Fred Guardineer; 6 pages.
Steve Malone, District Attorney; art: Don Lynch; 6 pages.
Cliff Crosby; story and art: Chad Grothkopf; 6 pages
Tiny; 1 page.
Slam Bradley; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Mart Bailey; 10 pages.

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BATMAN
surplus for 1940

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BAT1L1.goodBAT1L2.feifferBATMAN No. 1 (Spring ’40) on sale April 25th
editor: Whitney Ellsworth

Batman: The Legend of the BatmanWho He Is and How He Came to Be; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane with Sheldon Moldoff; 2 pages.

This reprint couples panels from the Batman’s origin in DETECTIVE No. 33 with the splash panel from No. 34.

Crimes of the Bat: Young Bruce Wayne witnesses the murder of his parents.

bm1.monstersplashbm1.hugostrangeBatman; story: Bill Finger; art: Bob Kane with Jerry Robinson; 12 pages.

Originally intended for DETECTIVE COMICS No. 38. Hugo Strange breaks out of prison and frees a few mental patients from an asylum.

He experiments on their growth glands and turns them into giant monsters. Again, the action takes place in Manhattan. This story was originally intended to appear in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 38.
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Crimes of the Bat: In a fight with the Batman, Hugo Strange falls from his cliffside hideout to the choppy waters below–we know that he survived as he makes his return in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 46 (December ’40).

In his Batplane, the Masked Manhunter says he regrets to take human life and fires a machine gun which hits a truck carrying one of the monster men as cargo, driven by two of Strange’s gunsels.

The truck crashes into a tree and the monster empties out the back. From his aircraft, the Dark Knight lassos the monster who appears to be strangled, before the Batman cuts him down.

Then, using his Batplane, the Batman machine guns the other of Strange’s monsters who stands on the spires of a skyscraper a la King Kong–the bullets have no effect, so the crimefighter uses gas which renders the monster unconscious and he falls to his death.

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Researched using information provided on Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database and in THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC BOOK HEROES: Vol. 1–BATMAN by Michael L. Fleisher, as well as other resources.

All characters, logos, and images are owned and © 2015 by current copyright holders. They are used here for educational and review purposes.

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