Some of the best fictional detectives of all time can be found in comics. And, truth be told, the best fictional comics detectives are found in DC Comics. But which one is the absolute best? Who would you call if you found yourself in the DC multiverse and desperately needed a case solved? Well, there are a lot of great options, but we think some are better than others. With that in mind, we created a list of 10 of the best detectives in DC Comics canon. Putting on your sleuthing hats and enjoy!
10 Elongated Man
Ralph Dibny’s abilities don’t stop at his Mr. Fantastic-like power to stretch his body in incredible ways. No, Elongated Man also has one of the sharpest detective minds in the DC Comics Universe.
He’s a frequent consultant to the Justice League in tricky problems, especially as a duo with his wife, Sue. Tragically, Sue Dibny was murdered, and after that, the Elongated Man’s mind started to slip. After his loss, Ralph couldn’t focus on solving the world’s problems and dealing with his grief. Not long after, Ralph himself was killed.
9 Lois Lane
Not everyone on this list wears a mask. In fact, not everyone on this list is a stereotypical crime fighter. Lois Lane, for example, doesn’t sport high-powered gadgets or wear a cowl. She’s just a hard-nosed, beat-the-pavement reporter for the Daily Planet. But does this reduce her detective skill at all? No. Lois is a force to be reckoned with without her superpowered friends. She’s got a freakish devotion to learning the truth, an endless supply of willpower, and an ability to think outside the box that would put Lex Luther to shame. Criminals who irk Lois Lane might not wind up in Arkham, but you can be sure they’ll wind up on the front page.
8 Jim Gordon
There’s a theory many Batman fans ascribe to that Commissioner Jim Gordon has always known who Batman is. Frank Miller’s Year One hints at this being the case, along with many other stories of the Dark Knight.
We suppose we’ll never quite know for sure if the current Jim Gordon knows Batman’s secret, but it wouldn’t surprise us. Jim is like Lois in that he matches a sharp mind with a willingness to gather information obsessively. Sure, Jim frequently consults Batman about really difficult mysteries, but who knows? Maybe if a certain billionaire would share his state-of-the-art crime solving tech, Gordon and Bats would be on the same level.
7 Henri Ducard
We know thy Batman is one of the best detective minds in the DCU, so we can assume the guy who trained him is pretty sharp as well. The only reason we’re putting Bruce Wayne’s mentor Henri Ducard at the bottom half of this list is that we don’t get to see his detective skills in action a whole lot. When he shows up in Gotham, Ducard is almost always an antagonist to Batman, setting up elaborate traps instead of figuring out how to avoid them. Still, we know he doesn’t deserve to be too high on the list, certainly not as high as Bats. We haven’t seen a student outwit a teacher that much since Zack Morris.
6 The Riddler
Speaking of Batman antagonists, it’s a shame we don’t get to see the Riddler solve more cases. After a brush with cancer in one Batman storyline, Riddler briefly changes his sense of morality.
For a little while, Edward Nygma worked on the side of the law as a private detective, and he made for a pretty good one. It wasn’t long, though, before E. Nygma’s psychopathic tendencies returned, placing him once again into the villainous crew of Batman’s rogues. Could he change his stripes again? Perhaps, although we definitely can’t see it happening on Gotham.
5 The Question - Renee Montoya
Fans were thrilled to see Renee Montoya pop up in the Birds of Prey teaser last week, and if you’re a fan of comic book mysteries, you should be, too. Not only is Renee a competent, aggressive detective, she is probably the best legacy character outside Captain Marvel herself.
Renee’s adventures are great examples of superhero noir, and she’s one of the most interesting detectives to follow in the DCU. And as for the guy who taught her... well, we’ll get to that in a minute.
4 Tim Drake
Eventually, Bruce Wayne’s third Robin will surpass his detective skill overall. There have been examples of him doing so already. However, we still believe that, when it comes right down to it, Tim Drake is still just a little shy of his mentor’s deductive skill. But don’t take that to mean he’s not an incredible detective. We put him so high up because he is exactly that; brilliant, analytical, and resourceful in one package. Frankly, if DC Comics would let Tim grow as much as Dick Grayson, he’d already be Gotham’s greatest mind. Hopefully, that’s something we’ll see soon.
Well, you knew this character would be up high on this list. But did you know he wouldn’t be number one? Yes, the character who we all call “The World’s Greatest Detective” is, in fact, not the greatest detective in the world of DC Comics. But don’t for a second believe this means he isn’t close.
Batman regularly puts fiction’s greatest detectives to shame. For every incredible gadget he’s got in his arsenal, Batman’s mind is still his greatest weapon. DC Comics villains, from a common Gotham thug to Darkseid himself, know this and fear him. But the thing is, even the Dark Knight himself knows when he’s beat. That’s right, the final entries on this list can out-detect Batman... by his own admission.
2 The Question - Vic Sage
Reporter turned vigilante, Vic Sage can’t turn the detective side of him off. He is a rabid conspiracy theorist, an off-the-charts collector of information, and an obsessive seeker of the truth. Probably the most popular example of The Question comes from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon when Sage uncovered a mystery that spanned dimensions.
In the comics, he’s done even more. Not to mention, he also is responsible for mentoring another fantastic detective on this list. If Batman is the Sherlock Holmes of DC Comics, then The Question is its Mycroft. Just a lot thinner and, you know, without a face.
1 Detective Chimp
There’s something about Detective Chimp that’s just so true to comics. Yes, he is a talking monkey dressed as Sherlock Holmes. And sure that’s silly, but he is played with deadly seriousness. It’s in that seriousness that his character shines, and that’s why he’s at the top of this list.
See, everyone else is a detective AND something else; detective and vigilante, detective and technician, detective and reporter... But Detective Chimp is only a detective. When he appears in a comic, you know that what he’s doing is solving a case above anything else. Batman admits it, so do other DC Comics geniuses. Detective Chimp isn’t just the best detective in that universe, he’s the most detective. And for that, we think the number one spot is his.
Besides, he’s the only one who’s got the right initials for it.
Who’s your favorite DC Comics detective? Do you agree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments section below!