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||Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs|
|Team affiliations||Bureau of Amplified Animals
|Notable aliases||Bobo T. Chimpanzee, Detective B.T. Chimp|
|Abilities||Ability to speak to all animals
Genius human level intellect
Chimpanzees are naturally several times stronger than even athletic humans.
In the DC Universe, Detective Chimp (alias Bobo T. Chimpanzee) is a deerstalker-wearing (à la Sherlock Holmes) common chimpanzee with human-level intelligence who 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, through the latter's last issue, #25. The character still appears as a guest-star in DC Comics titles.
Fictional character biography
When first introduced, the 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 (v2) #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, the 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 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 couldn't 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.
When the Spectre attempted to destroy all magic and began killing wizards, Detective Chimp, while still mostly drunk, coerced a group of mystical characters gathered from the Oblivion Bar into battling the Spectre. This led to the formation of the group Shadowpact.
Although lacking superhuman powers, Detective Chimp exhibited 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 devised a plan to use the powers of Black Alice and Nightshade to confront the combined menace of Eclipso and the Spectre.
Bobo also helped clean up the demonic damage left when the Rock of Eternity exploded over Gotham City. He captured the sin of "Sloth," which had possessed his long-time friend Rex the Wonder Dog. After the Rock was reformed, the sins re-imprisoned, and all magical influence cleaned out of Gotham, the dying Doctor Fate gave Detective Chimp the powerful Helmet of Fate. After finding it did not fit him, Detective Chimp convinced Captain Marvel to throw it to Earth, to let fate choose its next bearer.
When the helmet of Doctor Fate returned to Earth, Detective Chimp for a brief time bonded with it, granting him additional powers that he used to assist the Gotham City police in apprehending the villain Trickster. After struggling against the temptation of the helmet, Bobo sent 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 The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Detective Chimp has been mentioned by Ambush Bug in the Channel 52 feature sections. He later appears in aiding the Justice League United team rescue Adam Strange from the Zeta Beam.
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 or 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.
"Bobo" is not his real name, which he won't share. It is revealed by the Phantom Stranger (via narration) to be "mostly an unpronounceable screech and three grunts," which translates as "Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs."
Tangent: Superman's Reign
DC One Million
Injustice Gods Amongst 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 incarnation of Superman.
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 form 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 as a playable character in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
- 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'd been impersonated by Gorilla Grodd for much of the issue.
- Jimenez, Phil (2008), "Detective Chimp", in Dougall, Alastair, The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 100, ISBN 0-7566-4119-5, OCLC 213309017
- 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: Infinite Crisis Special #1
- Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp #1
- Detective Comics #845
- Justice League United #16
- Day of Vengeance #4
- Shadowpact #7
- Morrison, Grant (w), Abell, Dusty (p), Royal, Jim (i). "Crisis One Million" DC One Million 80-Page Giant 1,000,000 (August 1999)