The Phantom Detective was the second pulp adventure hero character published after The Shadow. The first issue was dated February 1933, a month before Doc Savage - March 1933. The title continued till 1953, 170 issues.
The Phantom (as he was called in the pulp stories) was wealthy Richard Curtis Van Loan. In the first few issues of publisher Ned Pines Thrilling Magazine, The Phantom was introduced as a recognized world-wide detective, whose identity only one man knew, Frank Havens - the publisher of the Clarion newspaper. Richard Curtis Van Loan had become an orphan at an early age, but inherited wealth. Before the Great War, he had been an idle playboy. During the war he was a pilot who downed many German planes.
After the war Richard had a difficult time returning to his idle playboy life. At the suggestion of his father's friend, Havens, Richard set out to solve a crime the police couldn't. After solving it, Richard decided he'd found his calling, where he could have a life of adventure and danger.
He trained himself in all facets of detection and forensics, became a master of disguise and escape, and then he made a name for himself as the Phantom, whom all police agencies around the world knew of and respected.
Having become addicted to the rush of his new life, Richard Van Loan became a master of detection and disguise. He also developed a mastery of the psychology of criminals, becoming what would eventually be known as a profiler or behavioural psychologist.
Eventually he started solving crimes the police couldn't and was eventually called upon by the police to help them. Often, the police would approach Havens about contacting The Phantom. Eventually Havens put a crimson colored beacon on the roof of the paper and turned it on whenever The Phantom was needed (just like the Bat Signal. And DC sued Fawcett for plagiarism. Pot... meet kettle.)
The Phantom Detective also appeared in Thrilling Comics #53-63 & #65-70.
His last appearance was in the original America's Best Comics #26.
Hi last appearance was in the original America's Best Comics #26.
Powers & Abilities
The Phantom Detective was an above average hand-to-hand combatant, but was mainly known for his excellent crime-solving/sleuth skills.