Timothy Trench

Created by Denny O’Neil
1939-2020

“Don’t move an eyelash! Me an’ Lulu are gonna smoke out some skunks!”
— Tim warns Diana Prince to back off, while he does the heavy lifting, in Wonder Woman #180

Middle-aged tough guy private eye TIMOTHY TRENCH (sheesh!) was a pet project of legendary comics creator/writer Dennis O’Neil. Trench first showed up in the November/December 1968 issue of Wonder Woman–just in time to witness the murder of Steve Trevor, her long-time, long-suffering boyfriend (think of Trevor as the “male Lois Lane”). Trench and his favourite gun, Lulu (sheesh again!), hung around for a few issues, becoming an ally of Wonder Woman, but it wasn’t a great fit.

O’Neil, by then the Batman editor, tried to establish Trench as a back-up feature in Detective Comics in 1976. Looking considerably younger and hipper (and Wonder Woman-free), the private eye was now living in St. Louis, working out of an office above the Rialto, a repertory theatre that showed old Bogie and Marx Bros. flicks (“the kind of movies Hollywood doesn’t make anymore…the good kind”).  Lulu  had been replaced by twin .357 Magnums that Trench carried in matching left and right shoulder holsters–and he wasn’t shy about using either of them. But don’t let the sly nods to Marlowe and Spade or the vaguely mod clothing fool ya. This dude was more like Mike Hammer… or maybe Race Williams.

That’s because Trench let his guns do the talking, and what he was saying was mostly Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!

Still, there is an intriguing mystery element in these short, punchy back-up tales–namely, how come nobody, not even the cops, ever seems to mind Trench’s seemingly obligatory two or three shootouts a day?

The fan boys weren’t buying it, however, and after two solo outings, DC pulled the plug. Granted, Timothy Trench did not represent O’Neil’s best work, not by a long shot, but I liked those two stories. Sure, they were kinda corny and predictable, bordering on parody, but that may have been the point.

They were good pulpy fun, and it would have been interesting to see where O’Neil, given a bit more time, would have taken the character. It also served as a reminder of O’Neil’s enduring soft spot for detective fiction–with or without capes. A few years earlier, after all, he had championed Frank Robbins and Gil Kane’s private eye Jason Bard as a back-up feature in the same comic.

Trench then pretty much disappeared from the DC Universe for twenty years, eventually showing up in a pointless cameo in a 1996 issue of Swamp Thing, but O’Neil had zilch to do with that one. By then, the character was apparently some sort of half-ass superhero, part of the team of Hero Hotline, but he’s only featured in a few panels–seems he got caught in traffic and missed all the action. He never even gets out of the car.

As far as I know, he hasn’t been seen since. Maybe he got back together with Lulu.

THE EVIDENCE

  • “Tim Trench? Jesus, what kind of name is that?”
    — a bystander asks the obvious, in Swamp Thing #162

COMICS

  • WONDER WOMAN
    (Summer 1942-86, DC Comics)
    329 issues

    • “Wonder Woman’s Last Battle” (November-December 1968, #179; 1st appearance — uncredited)
    • “A Death for Diana” (January-February 1969, #180; first formal appearance)
    • “The Wrath of Dr. Cyber” (March-April 1969, #181)
    • “A Time to Love, a Time to Die” (May-June 1969, #182)
  • DETECTIVE COMICS
    (1937-2011, DC Comics)
    881 issues

    • “The Cold-Fire Caper” (June 1976, Detective Comics #460)
      Written by Denny O’Neil.
      Art by Pablo Marcos, Al Milgrom
    • “The Moneybag Caper” (July 1976, Detective Comics #461)
  • SWAMP THING
    (1985-96, DC Comics/Vertigo)
    171 issues

    • “Telephone Calls From the Dead” (January 1996, Swamp Thing #162)

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

One thought on “Timothy Trench

  1. Tim Trench (sorta) appeared at least one more time, in issue 18 of the weekly event “52”. He was apparently killed off-panel. Not sure if that was his swan song or not.

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