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Detective Chimp, DC Comics’ Chimpanzee investigator in the occult

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All of DC Comics’s heroes don’t wear a cape, some are not even qualifiable as heroes, but they still fight crimes in their way, especially when there are occult elements involved. That is the case of Bobo T. Chimpanzee, the world’s greatest simian detective–his real name is unpronounceable, but can be translated as “Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs.”

Better known as Detective Chimp, Bobo first appeared in 1952 on the pages of Adventures of Rex the Wonder Dog #4. Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Bobo started as an abnormally intelligent chimpanzee. When his trainer, Fred Thorpe, was killed, Bobo helped Sheriff Edward Chase to catch the murderer. Maybe he could not speak, but he always knew how to make himself understand–and how to outsmart criminals. After that, he became the lawman’s unofficial partner.

This became the career of a lifetime. You may not be too familiar with this Detective Chimp as it was the 1950s version of the characters. Decades later, Bobo’s story was retcon.

The Detective Chimp Casebook collects the 1950s adventures of Bobo

Bobo the Intelligent Detective Chimp

Detective Chimp’s origin story was reworked multiple times. The version that stuck was introduced during the 2005 Day of Vengeance six-part limited series. His story starts with Fred Thorpe again. It is 1953 in Gorilla City and the trainer captured Bobo for his carnival act. The idea was to train the chimpanzee to solve mysteries in front of an audience. The show led an aging Bobo to Florida where he met the famous Rex the Wonder Dog, and the two drank from the Fountain of Youth.

Now, Bobo not only was granted eternal youth but also the ability to speak to all living creatures and a genius-level intelligence. After Fred Thorpe’s death, he left the carnival act behind and started to chase Florida’s criminals. He even worked at one point for the Bureau of Amplified Animals. As a chimp detective, Bobo found success. But it turned out that not being a human was a problem when it came to legal issues. This led him to close his shop.

This turned out to hit him hard and he began drinking heavily at the Oblivion Bar, a bar for members of the occult community run by former rock star Jim Rook (aka Nightmaster).

During the Day of Vengeance series, The Spectre had decided to banish magic, Bobo recruited Enchantress and Ragman to fight back. They were joined by Blue Devil, Nightshade, and Nightmaster and formed the superhero team Shadowpact. After thwarting numerous catastrophes, the team—with Bobo as a notional leader—split up. Doctor Fate’s Helmet then chose Bobo as its new host, but he found its power overwhelming and rapidly rejected it.

Bobo and the Justice League Dark

If during the New 52 era, Detective Chimp was mostly absent, he made a comeback during the Dark Nights: Metal event. As his friend Nightmaster was killed, Bobo took over the Oblivion Bar and Nightmaster’s mystical duties. With the relaunch of the Justice League Dark during the Rebirth era that followed, the simian detective joined the team led by Wonder Woman.

This is not his last team-up as he started working with the Justice Society of America of ‘The New Golden Age.” There always are mysteries to solve for the world’s greatest simian detective.

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