July 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #408: Slam Bradley

Superman's creators made this detective character up once. Naturally, the guy these days hangs out in Gotham City.

Wait, I never covered Slam Bradley before?  How did that happen?  Cool Private Eye type characters like him can really enliven the right story.

Besides, his creators had a bigger idea that came a bit after him.

OK, Slam’s “creators” were maybe not his creators.  Malcolm Wheeler Nicholson, publisher of the company that would eventually become DC Comics, conceived of the basic concept of Slam Bradley and handed it off to two young creators to write and draw Slam’s adventures.  First appearing in Detective Comics #1 in March of 1937, Slam was your prototypical tough guy detective.  He solved crimes, roughed up suspects, and did it all with his partner/sidekick Shorty Morgan.  Quite frankly, there may not be much noteworthy about Slam Bradley until you remember that bit I mentioned about two young creators to write and draw his adventures.

Those two creators were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.  You know, the two guys who invented Superman.

Vintage Slam Bradley adventure!

And remember:  Superman came out in 1938, so Slam predated him.

Also, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics…in issue #27 roughly two years later.

That said, there isn’t a lot to Slam, so it isn’t surprising he maybe didn’t appear much outside of those early adventures that were probably a lot of back-up stories in Detective Comics.  I actually did read a few of the early Batman adventures from that title off DC Infinite, but most of the reprints only had the Batman stories.  When one reprint finally came with the other stories, I started to read ’em…and a lot of them were painful.  Fortunately, they were also forgettable, as in I completely forgot who the lead characters were.  So, why do I remember Slam Bradley?

Well, despite the fact Slam was largely developed by Superman’s creators, when he was finally revived, he was appearing in Gotham City because, you know, even though his Golden Age adventures were set in Cleveland and New York City, he did first appear in Detective Comics, and that’s generally a Batman book, so…

Even then, it would help if the right creator got his hands on Slam.  Enter Darwyn Cooke, who remade the character to look a bit like Robert Mitchum and made him a supporting character during his noir-ish Catwoman run.

That Slam was an ally to Selina Kyle, such that when she had a baby after One Year Later, he was among the suspects to be the father of the child alongside of Batman.  As it turns out, neither man was the father:  Slam’s son Sam Jr. was!

Yes, his real name is “Sam”.

Cooke really liked Slam, by the by, and even included the character in his fantastic New Frontier tribute story to the Silver Age of Comics.

As it is, Slam’s last appearances that I know about was in Detective Comics #1000 as a member of the secret Detectives Order.  Said order set out some clues to see if Batman could figure out a mystery which, it turned out, was his initiation into the Order.  Slam was there alongside a number of superhero detectives like J’onn J’onnz, the Elongated Man, and Detective Chimp.  Likewise, Slam is now the lead character in a Gotham City: Year One mini-series from writer Tom King and artist Phil Hester where Slam is interacting with Bruce Wayne’s grandparents in the 60s.

Point is, you can’t keep a good Slam down.

Yeah, that last line sucks.  You can’t expect them all to be good.