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365 Reasons to Love Comics #99

Ape-ril lumbers on! Who is the world’s smartest simian? With dumb clues like these, dear readers, it’s elementary.

4/9/07

99. Detective Chimp

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Detective Chimp, a.k.a. Bobo T. Chimpanzee, is the world’s greatest detective. Really. Better than Batman. And he’s the best detective to wear a deerstalker. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on Bobo.

Created by the brilliant John Broome and Carmine Infantino (coincidentally enough, the creators of my favorite comics character, Elongated Man– these guys knew how to create an interesting detective) first appeared in Rex the Wonder Dog #4, and showed up in dozens of issues of Rex. Originally, Bobo was just an exceptionally smart chimp with a good grasp of the English language (though he couldn’t talk) who wore a cool hat and helped a Floridian Sherriff named The Man in the Yellow Hat Ed Chase solve crimes. The premise was basically “Curious George fights crime!” but, y’know, that’s actually genius. You can read old-timey Detective Chimp bios here and here.

The stories were relentlessly charming, however. Check out some plot recaps and classic artwork over at Gorilla Daze or the happy look back from Dial B for Blog. The internet loves Detective Chimp. I can see why. Those old stories were wonderful. Scuba chimp! Cowboy chimp! Chimp with a gun! Ostrich-ridin’ chimp! I love ostrich-ridin’ chimp:

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Click it for the CHIMPLOSION! Wait. That doesn’t make any sense. It is chimploded. Curse my play on words!

After his series of back-ups, Detective Chimp didn’t appear so much. There was his bizarre retconned-in alien origin in Secret Origins, the “Whatever Happened to Rex the Wonder Dog?” back-up in DC Comics Presents, a one-panel appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths in which he suddenly gained the ability for human speech, and a cameo during the JLApe crossover– but that was pretty much it. It seems quite a few creators and editors thought Detective Chimp was… an embarassing concept! Blast them. Yes, Detective Chimp is silly, but by God, comics need to learn to embrace their inherent silliness! It can be a very good thing.

Luckily, the Day of Vengeance mini in 2005 brought Detective Chimp back to the forefront of comics. In fact, the return of Detective Chimp is probably the only good thing to come out of Infinite Crisis. He’s talkative, surly, brilliant, and a bit of alkie– I suppose that ain’t half-bad, considering the horrors we could’ve gotten out of a modernization. Now we can see him written by Bill Willingham every month in Shadowpact! He also pops up around the DCU on occasion and got his own Helmet of Fate one-shot.

Detective Chimp 2.JPG

Best detective in the world? Bobo seems to think so. He does seem to do quite a lot to prove it. I’d say there are few things more fun in comics than a crime-solving chimp. However, Detective Chimp is only my second-favorite comics non-human ape! For my favorite ape, check back tomorrow for #100. For my favorite monkey (and yours too, I bet), read Wednesday’s column.

For more on the Chimp who’s a Pimp, one could read Thrilling Detective’s comprehensive look at his history, or this fictional interview on the 52 website.

9 Comments

…..awesome. I can’t wait until #100 but I really can’t think of enough chimps for a whole month.

“The only good thing to come out of Infinite Crisis”? What about the Secret Six? If you squint hard enough, Parademon kinda looks like a gorilla!

Good choice with the Chimp, yet another example of how there are no such thing as bad characters. Is it just me, or does he share a face with Pinocchio from Fables?

While I’m not that into Vertigo except for borrowing tpbs from the library (I have Doom Patrol: Down Paradise Way, Fables: Arabian Nights And Days and the Michaelangelo bio at the moment), I’m chagrined that I didn’t think of Ampersand, the last male monkey on Earth.

Detective Chimp is awesome. Looking forward to tomorrow and Wednesday.

Is your favourite monkey, by chance, Beppo, the Super-Monkey? … Cuz he’s mine, even if his moniker was a nick-name for Dr. Mengele.

(The Beppo part. Not the Super-Monkey part.)

One thing I liked in a recent Shadowpact is how it reminded us that chimps are *really frickin’ strong* – their bodies are, like, all muscle, no body fat, and a really pissed-off chimp (even a middle-aged detective chimp) versus the average human in hand-to-hand combat… isn’t much of a contest.

The chimp kicks ass! Who would not pay to see Detective Chimp comics every month?

Although I thought Day of Vengeance was pretty rubbish (a huge disappointment from the writer of the excellent Fables) Detective Chimp was its one saving grace!

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