Promotional art for The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1 (March 2007) cover, art by Brian Bolland.
|First appearance||Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #4 (July–August 1952)|
|Created by||John Broome|
|Alter ego||Bobo T. Chimpanzee|
|Team affiliations||Justice League Dark|
Bureau of Amplified Animals
|Notable aliases||Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs |
Detective B.T. Chimp
Detective Chimp is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. A common chimpanzee who wears a deerstalker hat (à la Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes), Detective Chimp has human-level intelligence and solves crimes, often with the help of the Bureau of Amplified Animals, a group of intelligent animals that also includes Rex the Wonder Dog. He was originally created in the final years of the Golden Age of Comic Books, during the interregnum between the former and the Silver Age of Comic Books.
After his initial appearance in Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog he continued to appear in that title as a backup feature until 1959, at which point he faded into obscurity. Several decades after his last appearance, Detective Chimp appeared in several cameos, namely in a 1981 story, "Whatever Happened to Rex the Wonder Dog?" (DC Comics Presents #35) and later in a brief cameo with Sam Simeon in Gorilla City during 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following these appearances, Bobo started appearing in DC titles with some regularity, appearing in issues of Green Lantern, The Flash, and other titles. This eventually led to prominent roles in the 2005 Day of Vengeance miniseries and subsequently as a regular in its spin-off series Shadowpact. The character has gone on to guest-star in other DC Comics titles.
Fictional character biography
When first introduced, Detective Chimp was a simple, although intelligent, trained chimpanzee, who acted as a "helping mascot" for the local sheriff, after helping him to solve the murder of his chimpanzee trainer, Fred Thorpe. He could not speak, but could understand humans and make himself understood. Bobo, a smoker, is a member of Mensa, and had a long-standing partnership with four other detectives as the Croatoan Society. One of the other former members of the Society was the detective/superhero Ralph Dibny.
The Chimp's origin has been revamped and elaborated on several times since his initial Silver Age appearances. 1989's Secret Origins (vol. 2) #40 credited the experimentation of a microscopic alien race with Bobo's intelligence. This origin has since been retconned, notably in the Day of Vengeance six-part limited series. In the latter it was shown that Bobo was captured in Equatorial Africa in 1953 by Fred Thorpe, who sought to train him for his carnival act: "Bobo the Detective Chimp". For the act, Detective Chimp was trained to answer some detective-related questions using a combination of signals and rewards, giving the illusion that he could "discover the deepest secrets of the public". Bobo formed a strong bond with Thorpe because Thorpe took care of him, and gave him a simpler life than in the jungle. The success of the act lasted until a trip to Florida, at which time Rex the Wonder Dog, took him to the Fountain of Youth, where he gained the ability to speak to all living creatures, even humans, in their own language, as well as eternal youth. Rex's and Bobo's journey to the Fountain of Youth was originally depicted in the aforementioned DC Comics Presents #35, July 1981. The intelligence Bobo gained put a damper on the success of the sideshow act, and in at least one instance, he decided that a woman had in fact murdered her sister, and shared his insights with the local police.
At some point after this, Bobo was employed by the Bureau of Amplified Animals. It is not known how he left, or even if the Bureau still exists.
After the death of Fred Thorpe, he began to work by himself. Initially he did quite well, as a chimp detective was seen as a novelty. During this successful period he was visited by another detective, John Jones (actually the Martian Manhunter, during the JLApe crisis), who thought Bobo's agency seemed to be doing better than his own.
However, as an ape, without civil rights and being unable to stand as a juridical person, he could not enforce unpaid bills. When the public began to forget him, he became an alcoholic, never leaving the other-dimensional Oblivion Bar (which changed management twice during his time there), until the establishment was acquired by Jim Rook.
"Bobo" is not his real name, which he declines to share. It is revealed by the Phantom Stranger to be "mostly an unpronounceable screech and three grunts", which translates as "Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs".
When the Spectre attempts to destroy all magic and began killing wizards, Detective Chimp, while still mostly drunk, coerces a group of mystical characters gathered from the Oblivion Bar into battling the Spectre. This leads to the formation of the group the Shadowpact.
Although lacking superhuman powers, Detective Chimp exhibits not only fine detective skills but also the genius of a true tactician. Benefiting from the counsel of the Phantom Stranger (at the time transformed into a mouse), he devises a plan to use the powers of Black Alice and Nightshade to confront the combined menace of Eclipso and the Spectre.
Bobo also helps clean up the demonic damage left from the Rock of Eternity's explosion over Gotham City. He captures the sin of "Sloth", which had possessed his long-time friend Rex the Wonder Dog. After the Rock is reformed, the sins re-imprisoned, and all magical influence cleaned out of Gotham, the dying Doctor Fate gives Detective Chimp the powerful Helmet of Fate. After finding it does not fit him, Detective Chimp convinces Captain Marvel to throw it to Earth, to let fate choose its next bearer.
When the helmet of Doctor Fate returns to Earth, Detective Chimp for a brief time bonds with it, granting him additional powers that he uses to assist the Gotham City police in apprehending the villain Trickster. After struggling against the temptation of the helmet, Bobo sends it on to another journey.
Recently, it has been shown that Bobo occasionally assists Batman in his cases by way of a chat room where they swap theories. The Riddler is also known to chat with them, but he is unaware of the other two's identities.
The New 52
In DC's 2011 reboot of its continuity, Detective Chimp has been mentioned by Ambush Bug in the Channel 52 feature sections. He later appears as a brief cameo in aiding the Justice League United team rescue Adam Strange from the Zeta Beamand in the 2016 DC Comics Rebirth Christmas Special story "The Night We Saved Christmas".
In DC Rebirth, Detective Chimp, a.k.a. Bobo, has appeared in the Dark Nights: Metal event, is one of the survivors of the invasion of the Dark Nights (alternate versions of Batman from a Dark Multiverse) and is seen at the Oblivion Bar alongside the Justice League, Kendra Saunders, Doctor Fate and others. Bobo's close friend Nightmaster, the owner of the Oblivion Bar, is killed in this confrontation. Bobo later takes over the bar and Nightmaster's mystical duties. Bobo becomes a central part of a new mystical team called 'Justice League Dark'. This is led by Wonder Woman. It includes but is not limited to, John Constantine, Zatanna, Doctor Fate, Man-Bat and Swamp Thing. Bobo loses his friend the Blue Devil to mystical purists.
Powers and abilities
Detective Chimp possesses no unusual physical abilities, save the level of agility and physical strength that comes with being a chimpanzee with human knowledge of movement and tools. He is capable of conversing with all animals, regardless of origin, in their own language, including all spoken and written human languages. He is also one of the most highly skilled investigators in the world, with detective skills rivaling those of Ralph Dibny and Batman. Bobo has an Intelligence Quotient estimated to be higher than 98 percent of the adult (human) population, as evidenced by his Mensa membership. For a brief time, Detective Chimp also had additional sense-expanding powers granted him by the helmet of Doctor Fate.
Because a chimpanzee's muscles are much denser than a human's, Detective Chimp is unable to swim. Recent scientific evidence suggests that chimpanzees can swim, and this represents a continuity error (or Detective Chimp simply never learned to swim).
Tangent: Superman's Reign
DC One Million and Dark Nights: Metal
In DC One Million, the far future version of Detective Chimp is one of the heroes of the Gorilla Galaxy, and wears a costume similar to Batman's. In 2018's Dark Nights: Metal story arc, an identical character also appears with the same name and background, although now located on the DC Multiverse alternate Earth known as Earth 52
Injustice: Gods Among Us
Detective Chimp plays a key role in the opening issues of Year Three. John Constantine tracks down 'the world's greatest detective' - normally the moniker applied to Batman - to assist in defeating a fascistic Superman. At first, Chimp drunkenly curses Constantine, but then agrees to join him as he and Batman appear in the back of Chas Chandler's cab, where he and John mock the brooding detectives. Constantine then leads him and Batman to a church where he has magically sealed Raven, much to Chimp's surprise. Chimp then asks John why he is involved in this war between Batman and Superman, but Constantine explains how the conflict with the Green Lantern Corps killed his daughter Rose's mother and he wants revenge on Superman. Batman then gathers his allies, including Chimp, at Jason Blood's home, where Batman and Constantine try to explain their plan. Detective Harvey Bullock, though, announces that he plans on leaving, feeling that he is out of his element in this world of superheroes, but Chimp stops him and reveals that he knows his reputation as a detective and his work with Commissioner Gordon in the past on several cases. Chimp then admits he feels outside his own comfort zone but he is still here for the same reason that Gordon is and asks him to stay. Before Bullock can answer, Klarion the Witch Boy's cat, Teekl, senses something coming as Jason realizes his home's protective seal was broken when Bullock opened the door. Before Bullock can close the door, the Spectre vaporizes both Bullock and Blood, with Chimp getting caught in the blast. Alfred Pennyworth, though, manages to save Chimp as he, Zatanna, and Harley Quinn, manage to keep him alive, where Alfred carries his body while Zatanna teleports the others to the Tower of Fate. Chimp then awakens and grasps Harley's hand as she, Alfred, and Zatanna try to keep him alive, where it is revealed that Chimp is missing an eye. Doctor Fate then appears to take Constantine's daughter, Rose, away. Harley, though, demands Fate to help him save Chimp, but Fate says he cannot help him. Harley Quinn and Klarion the Witch Boy save Chimp's life, but Chimp loses the use of one eye and has to wear an eye patch. When Sinestro later kills Klarion, Chimp tells the assembled group that, without Klarion, he will cease to exist and fades away in front of Harley and the other rebels.
In other media
- Detective Chimp appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "The Golden Age of Justice!", voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Unlike the comic book version who speaks with a Boston accent, this version of Detective Chimp speaks in a pronounced English dialect. In the teaser, Batman and the seemingly animal-like Chimp try to figure out who stole the Golden Skull. The thief is revealed to be False-Face. After False-Face is defeated, Detective Chimp surprises the people watching by revealing he could talk by telling Batman "Don't patronize me, 'old chum'". He appears again in "Gorillas in Our Midst", helping Batman stop Gorilla Grodd when he replaces Gotham City's human population with gorillas. During the adventure, he expresses romantic interest in the super-heroine Vixen despite her different species. In this episode, the word "ape" is used to indicate something besides gorillas which does not include chimps or humans in spite of both being a species of ape.
- Detective Chimp makes a cameo appearance in the Teen Titans Go! episode "You're Fired!", voiced by Scott Menville. He is the third character to audition as Beast Boy's replacement, but is rejected the moment he introduces himself.
- Detective Chimp appears along with Batman, Black Canary, Question, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Plastic Man to help Scooby-Doo and the gang solve one of his few unsolved cases in Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, with Kevin Michael Richardson reprising his role.
- A brief glimpse of a Detective Chimp movie poster appears in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. He also appears at both movie premieres of Batman Again and Robin: The Movie.
- Detective Chimp appears as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
- Detective Chimp was originally set to appear as a playable character in Injustice 2, but was cut from the game for unknown reasons.
- Detective Chimp appears as a playable character in Lego DC Super-Villains.
Detective Chimp was the 69th issue in the DC Comics Super Hero Collection.
Detective Chimp appears in Justice League Unlimited #39, working alongside fellow detectives Batman and Elongated Man. In the DC Animated Universe continuity, Detective Chimp is portrayed as a citizen of Gorilla City, but does not actually appear until the end of the story, as he had been impersonated by Gorilla Grodd for much of the issue.
- Jimenez, Phil (2008), "Detective Chimp", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 100, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- Rovin, Jeff (1991). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Cartoon Animals. Prentice Hall Press. p. 31. ISBN 0-13-275561-0. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
- Markstein, Don. "Detective Chimp". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
- Wells, John (May 2013). "Flashback: Whatever Happened to...?". Back Issue!. TwoMorrows Publishing (#64): 51–61.
- Green Lantern vol. 3 #30
- Martian Manhunter Annual #2
- Day of Vengeance #4. DC Comics.
- Shadowpact #7. DC Comics.
- Day of Vengeance: Infinite Crisis Special #1. DC Comics.
- Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1. DC Comics.
- Detective Comics #845
- Justice League United #16 DC Comics
- DC Comics Rebirth Christmas Special 2016. DC Comics
- Dark Nights: Metal #3 (October 2017)
- Justice League Dark #1 (2018)
- Morrison, Grant (w), Abell, Dusty (p), Royal, Jim (i). "Crisis One Million" DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000 (August 1999)