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The Crime Doctor

Personal information

Character History

Real Name: Dr. Matthew Thorne


Residence: Mobile 
Occupation: Physician, criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Detective #77 (July 1943)
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): None

The details of the early life of Matthew Thorne are shrouded in mystery, other that he completed medical school and became an accomplished surgeon.  In the mid 1940's, Thorne was late middle-aged and bored in his profession.  He decides to open a "Crime Clinic", analyzing plans for burglaries and offer strategic advice for a cut of the take. In June of 1943, his operation was widely successful and he began to enter the field himself.  When he did, he adopted a surgeon's attire and drove an ambulance, presuming the police would never stop a medical emergency.  One night when he was assisting with a case, the ambulance was spotted by Batman and Robin, who presumed that it meant someone in need.  Arriving quickly the found the thieves and the Crime Doctor looting a safe in a rubber warehouse.  Confused, the two heroes engaged the crooks but caught off guard, they were eluded but not before Batman slipped a tracer on the escaping crooks.

Following it, the find that the Crime Clinic is the home of the prominent Thorne, as they interrogate him, a patient with a ruptured appendix bursts in, needing immediate medical aid.  Enjoining Batman's help, he performs emergency surgery and stabilize the patient.  He explains to Batman that he loves the doctor's work but that thrill of crime was impossible to resist. He flings ether on Robin and threatens to light if unless they let him escape, bragging on finding a new philosopher's stone.  His ploy successful, he vanishes into the night but Batman and Robin seize on his final clue.

Aware of a recent discovery that altered atomic structure, Batman realizes that Thorne is after the formula to manufacture metallic gold.  When he arrives, he finds that the Crime Doctor has indeed already been there and taken the formula to the newly-built
Eastington Atom-Smasher.  Racing to intercept them, Batman and Robin arrive at the top of the 50-foot structure just as the Crime Doctor and his men had defeated the guards.  Quickly engaging them, the Dynamic Duo gain the upper hand, causing Thorne and Batman melee down an external ladder, until a blow to Thorne's jaw sends him over the railing into the river below.  Batman quickly dives in after him, saving the drowning criminal and hauling him ashore til the police arrive (Detective Comics #77).

The Crime Doctor was incarcerated at a local penitentiary as prisoner #5649 for the next several months until a jail break mortally injured the prison warden.  When the house staff at the prison infirmary realized they lacked the skill to save him, the recruited Thorne to assist, ultimate saving the Warden's life.  Under the guise of managing his patient's recovery, Thorne managed to douse the guards with ether and escape over the prison wall.

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Too well-known in Gotham, Thorne takes his Crime Clinic on the road.  Over the intervening weeks, crime epidemics break out in a straight line heading west and with Thorne escaped, it does not take long for Batman to connect the dots.   Projecting the Doctor's path, the intercept him as he staging a robbery at a bank by blasting it open with dynamite.  The explosions at the bank are being covered by parallel explosions at a nearby construction side to disguise the sounds.  The arrival of Batman and Robin throw his plans into disarray and the Crime Doctor beats a hasty retreat before the heroes can lay hands on him.

A few days later, in a new city, Batman disguises himself to gain an audience with the Crime Doctor.   Robin is found lurking nearby, however, blowing his cover.  In the ensuring struggle, Robin is shot and the Crime Doctor insists they operate again with Batman's assistance.  With Robin stable, the Crime Doctor instructs a henchman to take Batman safely to a hospital to further Robin's care.  A truce of source is declared but Batman warns Thorne the ultimately he must face him again.

The following evening, Thorne targets a gold mine but his prime henchman's Mocco's wife has fallen into a coma.  Assuring Mocco he will help his wife, Thorne is later torn between completing his crime and saving his henchman's wife.  He decided to finish the robbery but is interrupted by Batman, who quickly  thrashes his men.  As he confronts Thorne, a greiving Mocco arrives and reports his wife his dead.  Blaming Thorne, he shoots  the Crime Doctor in the back, fatally wounding him.  As he fades, he tells Batman he deserves it because while crime is fun, life is what's important and saving Mocco's wife should have taken precedence.  As he dies, he tells Batman he is sorry for Robin's injury and slips away (Batman #18).

Whether the Crime Clinic continued with other actors is unknown.

Powers and Abilities

Matthew Thorne was a well-regarded physician and surgeon with considerable medical skill.  In addition to being a sought-after clinician among Gotham City's elite,  he had enormous skill is field medicine, able to perform life-saving surgery under highly limiting conditions.  He had an extensive knowledge of medical chemistry and pharmacology and the considerable resources his career in medicine afforded him to fund his efforts.  His clinical acumen was matched only by his strategic intelligence that he turned to crime.

Weaknesses and Limitations

Without access to weapons or henchmen, the Crime Doctor was older male who posed little physical threat.

Multiversity Villains



The Crime Doctor of Earth-One is Bradford Thorne, though its not clear if he is a counterpart of Matthew Thorne using a different name, the counterpart of Matthew Thorne's relative or a different character altogether.  His origins and career are largely parallel to the Earth-Two version in terms of motives and operations.  He inadvertently discovers Batman's identity when he examines Bruce Wayne in his private legitimate clinic but when he is badly injured and render comatose following a battle with the hero, the knowledge is lost (Detective Comics #494-495).  He was seen in the Villain War with his mind restored (Crosis on Infinite Earths #9) but his final fate in this timeline is unknown.

Prior Earth-0

The Crime Doctor of the post-Crisis timeline is alsi Bradford Thorne and his origins parallel to the versions of other Earths where he is known. In this timeline, he has a much larger, national criminal operation and reputation.  He works with other villains such as Two-Face (Detective #579) and the Secret Society (Villains United #2-3) and battles other heroes than Batman including Dr. Mid-Nite (JSA #59) and The Birds of Prey (Birds of Prey #92-95).  His later activities in this timeline are unrevealed.




Reprinted in

Detective Comics #77

First appearance, vs. Batman and Robin

Batman Archives #3,  The Batman Chronicles #9,  Batman: The War Years 1939-1945, Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus #3,  Batman: The Golden Age #5

Batman #18

Vs. Batman, dies in the story

The Dark Knight Archives #5,  The Batman Chronicles #10,  Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus #3,  Batman: The Golden Age #5