Type Comic
Date 1937-02-25
Tags yellow peril, fiction

Detective Comics #1

Detective Comics #1 (1937-03)

Comic books, and the stories they tell, have become very popular, in the last few years. Many popular films have been based on comic book franchises, such as Spiderman and Batman. So, let's take a trip into the history of comic books, with the first issue of Detective Comics.

I wouldn't ordinarily suggest judging a book by its cover, but it's clear just from the cover image that the first issue of Detective Comics falls squarely into the Yellow Peril genre. Two of the stories, "The Claws of the Red Dragon" and "Slam Bradley", feature the stereotypical Chinese villains being defeated by heroic Americans. For a change of pace, "Speed Saunders and the River Patrol" has Chinese immigrants as the victims of a crime, rather than the perpetrators.

The first issue of Detective Comics isn't likely to be satisfying to a modern reader--nor is the racist content likely to impress. That said, it's worthwhile to see the two early stories by Siegel and Shuster, if you're interested in a bit of literary history. Too, the book is a time capsule of the thirties. The advertisements are especially interesting--in this issue are ads for a crystal radio, a hi-powered (so they say) air pistol, a whoopee cushion, a pistol cigarette case, and various other items.

A reprint edition was published in 2001, called "Millennium Edition: Detective Comics 1". This edition is likely to be cheaper than the original, so aspiring comic fans should look into it, before seeking a first edition.


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