Middle-aged physician Matthew Thorne professed to "love surgery ... yet crime excites me! It's like a drug inside my body! I can't help it ... but I ENJOY acting criminally!" And so he concocted the alias of the Crime Doctor, starting out his criminal career as a rogue physician in Gotham City, setting up an illegal clinic and treating criminals for money. The Crime Doctor also began dispensing prescriptions on how to commit better crimes, while posing as a regular, respected surgeon,offering a "diagnosis" for crooks preparing a robbery or making a "house call" to those whose crime threatened to go awry. After Batman captures Thorne by tracking him to his home after a crime, he escaped, but is captured again soon after, reappearing in Batman #18, Aug/Sept 1943. He escapes, setting up mobile "crime clinic", traveling from city to city. Batman tracks him down, posing as a criminal, and traps him.
Thorne reappears in Detective Comics #494-495, 1980. Now pretending to be reformed as a legitimate doctor, Thorne treated Bruce Wayne for a shoulder injury. During a subsequent clash with Batman that tore the Dark Knight's costume, Thorne recognized his bandage -- and said so out loud, easily deducing Batman's true identity.
Word of the discovery was relayed to smuggler Sterling T. Silversmith, who abducted Thorne and administered a potentially lethal dose of quicksilver, offering an antidote in exchange for Batman's real name. Before Thorne could reveal the secret, an unwitting Dark Knight crashed the scene, learning of the Crime Doctor's plight in time to rush him to a hospital but too late to prevent him from being rendered a mental vegetable.
For a while, it seemed that Thorne's mind had been destroyed due to the incident, but still, doctors held out a slim hope for recovery and a the Crime Doctor later resurfaced during a crisis of the multiverse. Thorne had returned to his criminal career, his mind seemingly intact, though Thorne's continued knowledge of Batman's true identity was in doubt. The Crime Doctor usually never took part in physical battles against superheroes, but he was recruited by Lex Luthor and Brainiac into their supervillain army during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Following the Aftermath of the Crisis, the Crime Doctor began running an underworld hospital for criminals seeking low-profile treatment. His hands were crushed by a fire extinguisher wielded by an unwilling guinea pig. Batman captured the Crime Doctor once more but he later returned, thanks to his transformation of actor Paul Sloane into a double for Two-Face.
Initially, the Crime Doctor took his career as a doctor very seriously, and would not commit crimes that conflicted with his Hippocratic Oath. In later appearances however, he seemed to abandon this principle.
The Crime Doctor's recent appearances have all depicted him wearing star-shaped glasses, evocative of Elton John's eyewear. It was later revealed that those glasses were a trophy taken from his first victim, a young nurse named Katherine Wheyhall, who had suspected his sadistic inclination to murder and torture while witnessing him deliberately botching a surgery.
Later, the Crime Doctor paid a visit to the nurse and killed her, thus setting the basis of his newfound criminal career.
The Crime Doctor appears in Villains United (2006) as a torturer for the Secret Sociey of Super Villains. He and a nurse torture the Secret Six for hours and prevents their escape by hooking a collar to their necks that will inject a poison into the Six and kill them should they try to escape. Catman manages to break free by goading the Crime Doctor into tazing him, which hits and destroys the collar. Catman then stabs the nurse in the shoulder with a scalpel before beating the Crime Doctor with the metal tray the Doctor held his tools on. No one from the Society tries to interfere with Catman's attack, believing the Doctor's screams to belong to Catman. Lex Luthor later mentions that Catman put the Crime Doctor into a coma.
In the "Progeny" arc of Birds of Prey, the Crime Doctor tries to 'defect' from the Secret Society of Super Villains. The Society sends Prometheus to repay the Crime Doctor by torturing and killing his daughter as he had done to his victims. After a gruesome battle, the Birds of Prey almost manage to subdue Prometheus, but the Crime Doctor decides to kill himself, thus ensuring his own punishment, and sparing his daughter, who, alone and outcast by the other children, subsequently falls prey to the ambition of Lady Shiva to have a young apprentice to mold in her image.
Powers and Abilities
Bradford Thorne had no super human powers, however he was a skilled physician and an expert torturer. He sometimes carried an injector gun which could gas opponents to sleep. He also sometimes used a scalpel to assault his opponents.
In other media
- The Crime Doctor appears in episode #53 ("Paging The Crime Doctor") of Batman: The Animated Series voiced by Joseph Campanella. He is made into a sympathetic character. In this portrayal, Matthew Thorne's brother Rupert pushed him into the role. He attended medical school with Thomas Wayne and Leslie Thompkins, the three becoming close friends, but he lost his medical license after failing to report his brother's gunshot wound. His license gone, he now worked as "The Crime Doctor" for Rupert and his men in hopes that Rupert would one day use his influence in Gotham City to get Matthew his license back. In the episode Rupert needed surgery and since he was paranoid that his enemies were going to attack him during his moment of "weakness", he asked Matthew to perform the surgery. Needing an assistant, Rupert abducted Matthew's old friend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Rupert Thorne wanted to have Thompkins killed after the surgery to prevent her from telling anything to the police, but Matthew ultimately went against his brother's orders and helped Leslie to escape from Rupert, and both were aided by Batman. Afterwards, Matthew turned himself in to the police. He was visited by Bruce Wayne. Although Matthew thought Bruce would try to exploit him like Rupert had, Matthew found that Bruce only wanted Matthew to tell him about his father.
- In Batman: Arkham Knight, Bradford Thorne's lab coat is found at Elliot Memorial Hospital while investigating activity by the League of Assassins.