Welcome back for the April 2024 edition of ASK…THE QUESTION. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known to the DC Community as HubCityQuestion, where I, a professional comic book expert, hold court to answer any inquiry you may have about anything that even remotely has to do with DC. And if I don’t know it off-hand, I’ll seek it out. That’s the ATQ Guarantee. Let’s see what we’ve got in the mailbag for you this month.



What were all the features in Detective Comics / Action Comics from 1938-1985?

In our last edition, I exhaustively compiled every feature to run in Action Comics between its launch and Crisis on Infinite Earths. As promised, I return to do the same for Detective Comics in this edition—this time going back to 1937, when Detective Comics #1 was first printed.

As with Action Comics, I’ll be omitting most insubstantial one-shot features from the years we were still figuring out what a comic book magazine was.

Speed Saunders: FBI agent turned private eye.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-58.

Cosmo, Phantom of Disguise: Gentleman detective with a penchant for blending in.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-37.

Bret Lawton: American detective in Peru.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-2.

Bruce Nelson: Wealthy amateur detective.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-36.

Gumshoe Gus: A comical, overly self-confident detective.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-2, #6-7.

Bart Regan, Spy: Federal agent drafted into the Secret Service.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-83.

Eagle-Eyed Jake: Wannabe gumshoe enrolled in a mail-order sleuth program.
Featured: Detective Comics #1.

Buck Marshall: Range detective.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-36.

Slam Bradley: Hard-hitting private detective, and Detective’s best-known lead of the Pre-Bat period.
Featured: Detective Comics #1-151, #500.

Mr. Chang: A wealthy Asian criminologist.
Featured: Detective Comics #2-6.

Hope Hazard, G-Woman: Detective Comics’ first female lead.
Featured: Detective Comics #3.

Larry Steele: A detective who applied the principles of psychology to solve mysteries.
Featured: Detective Comics #5-63.

The Insidious Doctor Fu Manchu: Adaptation of the 1913 Sax Rohmer novel.
Featured: Detective Comics #17-28.

Steve Malone: Intrepid district attorney.
Featured: Detective Comics #18-59.

Inspector Kent: Police detective for Scotland Yard.
Featured: Detective Comics #19, #22.

Crimson Avenger: Detective Comics’ first costumed vigilante.
Featured: Detective Comics #20-89.

Batman: See also vengeance; see also the night.
Featured: Detective Comics #27-560 and onward.

Cliff Crosby: Globetrotting adventurer.
Featured: Detective Comics #37-63.

Red Logan: Investigative journalist.
Featured: Detective Comics #38-43.

Air Wave: Gadget-based superhero and father to the Action Comics Air Wave.
Featured: Detective Comics #60-137.

Super-Sleuth McFooey: A comical detective character.
Featured: Detective Comics #80, #146.

The Boy Commandos: Jack Kirby and Joe Simon’s Nazi-fighting American child soldiers.
Featured: Detective Comics #64-150.

Three-Ring Binks: The one-man circus. Appears intermittently.
Featured: Detective Comics #85-134.

Robotman: Scientist Dr. Robert Crane, a living brain operating a “mobile iron lung.”
Featured: Detective Comics #138-202.

Ohiyesa “Pow-Wow” Smith: Sioux sheriff of Elkhorn.
Featured: Detective Comics #151-202.

Roy Ramond, TV Detective: Host of the popular mystery program Impossible - But True. Detective’s only surviving backup to Batman through the Silver Age.
Featured: Detective Comics #153-292, #487.

Dover and Clover: Twin detectives. Appear intermittently.
Featured: Detective Comics #158-171

Mysto: Magician Detective.
Featured: Detective Comics #203-212.

Sierra Smith, Western Detective: Migrated from DC’s Dale Evans Comics for a final story in Detective Comics.
Featured: Detective Comics #206.

John Jones, Manhunter from Mars: Stranded on Earth and solving crimes.
Featured: Detective Comics #225-326.

Aquaman: Detective of the deep. Replaces Roy Raymond as Batman’s backup feature.
Featured: Detective Comics #293-300.

Elongated Man: The ductile detective, migrated from The Flash. Replaces Manhunter from Mars.
Featured: Detective Comics #327-383.

Batgirl: Librarian by day, daring crimefighter by night. Replaces Elongated Man.
Featured: Detective Comics #384-424, #481-519.

Robin: In Bronze Age Detective Comics, the Boy Wonder was intermittently afforded his own solo adventures.
Featured: Detective Comics #386-403, #445-451, #481-495.

Jason Bard: Gotham-based private eye. Appears intermittently.
Featured: Detective Comics #425-435.

Hawkman: Our book’s second alien lawman. Appears intermittently.
Featured: Detective Comics #428-480, #500.

The Atom: An infrequent guest star.
Featured: Detective Comics #432, #463, #489.

Manhunter: Highlight of the Bronze Age. Lauded by some discerning comic readers as Archie Goodwin’s magnum opus.
Featured: Detective Comics #437-443.

Man-Bat: Super-villain, or just a very dedicated furry?
Featured: Detective Comics #458-459, #481, #485, #492.

Tim Trench: Wonder Woman’s Bronze Age ex.
Featured: Detective Comics #460-461.

Black Canary: One night only.
Featured: Detective Comics #464.

Green Arrow: Black Canary’s boyfriend.
Featured: Detective Comics #466, #521-567.

The Demon: Jason Blood parks here for a brief stay with Etrigan.
Featured: Detective Comics #482-485.

The Human Target: Christopher gets another Chance.
Featured: Detective Comics #483-486, #493.

Tales of Gotham City: A street-eye civilian’s view of life and death in Gotham.
Featured: Detective Comics #488-507.

Black Lightning: A new temporary home after his own series’ cancellation.
Featured: Detective Comics #490-495.

That’s a whole lot of detectives!!


brvciewayne asks:

Hey HubCityQuestion, I’ve been watching the Teen Titans animated show and was wondering, who do you think Red X is?

Ah, one of my favorite unsolved mysteries. I actually wrote an article revisiting this cold case when Teen Titans Academy resurrected the Red X role a couple years back. To recap, I’ll share my personal favorite theory, and what I believe to be the most likely theory.

Long-lost siblings, magical imps, Jason Todd, robot duplicates and more have all been bandied about as potential answers, but I’m personally partial to the clone theory. The notion of Red X as a clone of Dick Grayson is one which cleverly builds on the show’s mythology up to that point, taking into account the series’ established themes.

In the first two seasons of Teen Titans, the team’s arch-enemy Slade has one consistent motivation: to find an apprentice worthy of continuing his work and inheriting his criminal operations. In season one, he sets his eyes on Robin as his ideal candidate. In fact, in the season one episode “Masks,” we see that Robin even specifically developed the Red X persona as a way to infiltrate Slade’s operations. By the end of the debut season, Slade has even (temporarily) blackmailed Robin into the role as the only way to guarantee the safety of his teammates. In season two, Slade moves on to Terra as his next choice—one which proves fatal.

But what if Terra wasn’t Slade’s only choice? What made Slade such a persistent enemy to the Teen Titans, after all, was that he always had a back-up plan. In the season three episode “X,” we see that the mysterious Red X has a connection to Professor Chang, a mad scientist responsible for bioengineering the honorary Teen Titan Red Star in the season five episode “Snowblind.” During Robin’s brief alliance with Slade, could Slade have procured a DNA sample from Robin with the intention of crafting a more obedient, lab-grown replacement?

By the time we meet the new Red X in season three, Slade is already dead. If indeed Red X is a clone created by Slade, then he awakes to a world in which his purpose was rendered irrelevant before he was born. And so, this perfect clone of Robin is unleashed on a world without direction, forced to find a path and identity of his own. Time and again, Red X indicates to Robin that he’s neither hero nor villain and plays by rules of his own. If no one was ever there to give you them, wouldn’t you?

But that’s just my theory. Ultimately, I believe in a much harder truth: if we were supposed to know who Red X was, then the show would have told us. It’s well-known lore among fans of the show that Teen Titans was originally planned to run for four seasons—hence the apocalyptic final story arc featuring Raven and Trigon at season four’s conclusion, “The End”—but the show’s unexpected popularity allowed renewal for a fifth season, which tellingly launched the story in an entirely new (and quite good) direction. With this Red X’s introduction as a separate character in season three, if there ever was an identity reveal planned for him, then we would have seen it before the intended end of the story in season four. The mystery of Red X is what has kept fans talking about him for all these years, and choosing to conceal his identity for all time, if one was ever written for him at all, was one of the smartest things the show’s writers ever did.

Finally, as a special treat, here’s a question submitted by a fellow I am humbled to count as a fan of ASK…THE QUESTION.


The Actual Mark Freaking Waid asks:

A research question for you, one I've been meaning to find the time to discover. Originally, as a carryover from x-ray vision's heat effects becoming distinctive heat vision, it was mentioned often that heat vision couldn't melt lead. That changed somewhere along the way. Can you dig up where and when?

This is absolutely a worthy question to light up the old Q-Signal. I don’t believe anyone has traced this particular separation in Superman’s powers. It was certainly made clear at some point. I vividly recall this particular scene I read at the age of six in 1995’s Action Comics #714.

So, we know that the transition did in fact happen at some point. We also know, thanks in part to Mark himself, that the division between heat vision and x-ray vision first occurred in 1961’s Superboy #88. So, finding the answer is simply a matter of combing through the over 3,000 Superman comics between 1961 and 1995.

Well, okay then.

Early in my research, I discovered that some other sources online attribute the first documented use of Superman’s vision powers to melt lead to 1953’s Superman #81, where Superman is depicted melting bullets in mid-flight. Those Superman scholars point out, reasonably, that there’s lead content within those bullets. However, because the author of the comic never calls attention to the lead factor, and as later stories explicitly refer to Superman’s inability to melt lead, I’m personally inclined to write this off as an oversight.

As I discovered, Superman’s inability to melt lead, even as heat vision became separate from his x-ray vision, continued in Superman comics in 1961 and 1962. This is specifically in contrast to the powers temporarily gained by Perry White in Action Comics #278 and through the introduction of Ultra Boy in 1962’s Superboy #98. Both characters were bestowed with a heat vision that could melt lead where the Kryptonian’s could not.

Fortunately, I only had to go through about 300 Superman comics of my initially estimated 3,000 before I found an answer that satisfied me. The first legitimate instance I could find of Superman’s heat vision working on lead occurred in 1963’s Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70. In the second story, "The Human Robot," Jimmy is given a "Robot Body" that Superman is unable to see through thanks to a lead coating:

However, later in the same story, Superman is able to melt the suit using his heat vision.

I checked with Mark to see if this answer met his standards, or if he needed even more explicit evidence, and I’m happy to say that he’s satisfied with this origin point for the discrete properties of x-ray and heat vision on lead. I am now the only person I know who has answered a Superman question for Mark Waid. Maybe I should retire right now because there’s no beating that.

Ah, who am I kidding? I live to solve your DC mysteries. Whether you’re one of the greatest living comic book writers or just a fan taking your first steps into the DCU, I’ll take all comers to my column. I’m always glad to hear you when you ASK…THE QUESTION.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Bluesky at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.