10 Best Comic Book Detectives (That Aren't Batman)

There are many characters that use observation and deductive reasoning who aren't the Dark Knight.

Hellboy Thumbnail
Dark Horse Comics

Right next to the physical heroes, the fighters, and the strong men have always been the intellectual heroes, the thinkers, and the detectives. The detective hero predates the superhero by several years in comics. Superman creators, Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, had their earliest successes creating occult detective Dr. Occult in 1935 and Slam Bradley, a private investigator that appeared in the first issue of Detective Comics in 1937.

Of course, any list of comic book detectives has to have Batman at the very top of the list. For all his physical skills and martial artist training, it is Bruce’s brilliant mind that truly makes him the hero that is able to stand toe to toe with magical beings and demigods. His skills of observation allow him to see the smallest clues or tiniest details that others might miss. His powers of inductive and deductive reasoning are so keen he can solve seemingly impossible cases with few clues. Wayne truly lives up to the moniker the World’s Greatest Detective.

Batman is not alone in the pantheon of great detectives in comics. Some of them are characters that also possess an array of incredible powers that may overshadow their skills but all are created in the mould of the hard-bitten detective: follow the facts and pursue the truth, wherever it takes you until justice is served.

10. Hellboy

Hellboy Thumbnail
Dark Horse

Conceived in 1574 to an Archduke of Hell and a human female, Hellboy is a Cambion that was pulled from Hell by Nazi occultists and Grigori Rasputin in East Bromwich, UK. He was discovered by a group of Allied Forces including Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm on December 23, 1944.

Taken to a New Mexico Air Force Base and raised as normal as possible by the Professor, Hellboy was given “honorary human” status by the United Nations and became a member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence to specifically combat occult threats. After many successful missions, he became known as the world’s greatest paranormal investigator.

As an adult he had matured barely out of his teenage years, Hellboy became the lead agent for the BRPD along with aquatic Abe Sapien and pyrokinetic Liz Sherman among others. They had to search for the missing Professor Broom in the Arctic only to find him in time to witness his death. Hellboy again encountered Rasputin who encouraged Anung Un Rama to embrace his “destiny.” Liz burned the “Mad Monk” to cinders.

Created by writer/artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy fought Morgan Le fey when he learned that his mother was a direct descendant of Arthur Pendragon and the rightful king of England. In his hands, Excalibur became a flaming sword. He was killed fighting a witch army and sent to Hell but returned.

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John Wilson has been a comic book and pop culture fan his entire life. He has written for a number of websites on the subject over the years and is especially pleased to be at WhatCulture. John has written two comic books for Last Ember Press Studio and has recently self-published a children's book called "Blue." When not spending far too much time on the internet, John spends time with his lovely wife, Kim, their goofy dog, Tesla, and two very spoiled cats.