Impossible Crime and Weird Menace

Classic Comic Books Home Page (with many articles on comics)

A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection Home Page (with many articles on prose mystery fiction))

The following is an index to some comic book stories with different kinds of mystery plots.

The links are to the articles, where these characters and tales are usually discussed in depth, along with many other aspects of the tales.

The writer is given, if known.

Impossible Crime and Weird Menace tales

In "Impossible Crime" tales, a crime which looks impossible to have taken place, is ultimately given a rational explanation by a detective. This is a huge and popular sub-genre of prose mystery fiction. But such tales are much rarer in the comic books. The solution in comic book impossible crime tales also tend to be much wilder and less realistic than in prose mysteries.

"Weird Menace" is a kind of impossible crime tale, that used to be popular in 1930's pulp magazines. In Weird Menace, a series of supernatural or science fictional looking events is eventually explained rationally. Quite a few comic book impossible crimes seem to draw on the weird menace tradition of the pulps. This is not too surprising - pulp fiction and comic books have strong links, with the pulps contributing many of the writers and editors to the American comic book industry that arose in the later 1930's.

Cosmo, Phantom of Disguise

The Disappearing Diamonds (Detective Comics #6, August 1937)

Anchors Aweigh!

El Diablo, Part 2 (Adventure Comics #29, August 1938) Writer: Fred Guardineer

Steve Malone, District Attorney

The Lavalle Case (Detective Comics #18, August 1938) Writer: Gardner Fox

Speed Saunders

The Grogan Case (Detective Comics #19, September 1938) Writer: Gardner Fox

Radio Squad

The Bank Robbery (More Fun Comics #52, February 1940) Writer: Jerry Siegel

The Chameleon

Architect of Madness (Target Comics #7 (Vol. 1 #7), August 1940) Writer: Doug Allen?

Starman

The Strange Case of the Luckless Liars (Adventure Comics #75, June 1942) Writer: Gardner Fox

Simon Savant, Doctor of Criminology

The Whirling Death (Super-Magician #8, November 1942)

The Web

The Men Who Went Nowhere (Zip Comics #38, July 1943)

Steel Sterling

Murder Out of This World (Zip Comics #39, August 1943)

Balbo, the Boy Magician

The Wrestling Cheese (Master Comics #43, October 1943)

Inspector Dayton

The coin box jingled as the passengers paid (Jumbo Comics #58, December 1943)

Green Lantern

On the Air (Green Lantern #20, June-July 1946) Writer: Alfred Bester

Aquaman

The Flying Dutchman (Adventure #117, June 1947)

The Flash

Stone Age Menace (Flash Comics #86, August-September 1947) Writer: Robert Kanigher (probably)

Johnny Thunder

Johnny Becomes a G-Man (Flash Comics #5, May 1940)

Produce the Crime (Flash Comics #89, November 1947) Writer: Robert Kanigher

Triple Exposure (Flash Comics #90, December 1947) Writer: Robert Kanigher

The Tumbling Trees (Flash Comics #91, January 1948) Writer: Robert Kanigher

Big Town

The Strange Invasion of Big Town (Big Town #21, May-June 1953) Writer: John Broome

The Amazing Crime Camera (Big Town #22, July-August 1953) Writer: John Broome

The Prophet of Doom (Big Town #32, March-April 1955) Writer: John Broome

The Amazing Mr. Presto (Big Town #33, May-June 1955) Writer: John Broome

The Dreams That Baffled Big Town (Big Town #44, March-April 1957) Writer: John Broome

Pow-Wow Smith

The Return of the Fadeaway Outlaw (Western Comics #73, January-February 1959) Writer: Gardner Fox

Lois Lane

Lois Lane's Kiss of Death (Lois Lane #7, February 1959) Writer: Robert Bernstein

The Incredible Delusion (Lois Lane #47, February 1964)

Lois Lane's Great Houdini Trick (Lois Lane #58, July 1965) Writer: Otto Binder

Jimmy Olsen

MC of the Midnight Scare Theater (Jimmy Olsen #38, July 1959) Writer: Robert Bernstein

The Flash

The Mystery of Elongated Man (Flash #112, April-May 1960) Writer: John Broome

The Atom

The Dooms from Beyond (Showcase #35, November-December 1961) Writer: Gardner Fox

The Specter of 3000-Moons Lake (Atom #5, February-March 1963) Writer: Gardner Fox

The Mysterious Swan-Maiden (Atom #10, December 1963 - January 1964) Writer: Gardner Fox

Trouble at the Ten-Year Club (Atom #11, February-March 1964) Writer: Gardner Fox

The Gold Hunters of 49 (Atom #12, April-May 1964) Writer: Gardner Fox

Hawkman

The Magic Mirror Mystery (Hawkman #10, October-November 1965) Writer: Gardner Fox