Detective Comics, published monthly by DC Comics, first hit newsstands in March 1937. As of June 2010, the series has had 866 issues published, which makes it the longest-running comic book in America. Originally, the comic was published as an anthology that featured stories in-line with the “hard-boiled detective” genre, which was already popular at newsstands at the time in the form of pulps. The first issue of Detective Comics introduced the character Slam Bradley, a private eye who battled villains with his bare hands.
Slam Bradley was a popular character, and he was a regular from issue #1 until issue #152, when he disappeared from the panels of Detective Comics. Though he made several appearances throughout the eighties and nineties, he was not a regular again until he returned in 2001 as a recurring character in DC’s Catwoman comics.
However, it was in issue #27, released in May 1939, in which DC’s most famous hero made his first appearance: Batman (originally called “The Bat-Man”). Though initially just another character, Batman came to dominate Detective Comics, and his run as a character is the longest in the history of Detective Comics (with Slam Bradley coming in second) with all issues of Detective Comics being devoted exclusively to Batman, though other characters appear in side-stories.
The 500th issue of Detective Comics, published in 1981, featured the return of many of DC’s non-costumed detectives such as Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, and Steve Malone. Of course, Batman was right along side them.
Detective Comics is the longest-running comic book in American history, and it shows no signs of letting up. Who knows what we will see in the future. Perhaps another character will be introduced in the pages of Detective Comics that will push Batman off his throne. But that is highly unlikely.