Sunday, December 22, 2013


Art: Jim Aparo
"In the world of mortal men he is Jim Corrigan, had-boiled police detective -- but to the vermin of the underworld he is the Spectre, awesome avenger of evil, an earthbound ghost who punishes evil with a fearsome vengeance from beyond the grave."

A couple years ago, I watched the DC SHOWCASE DVD, which highlighted three short films from the Warner Bros. animation department. Among those cartoons was WRATH OF THE SPECTRE, and I instantly fell in love with it. The short starred Gary Cole as Jim Corrigan/the Spectre, and the story was crafted to resemble a hard-boiled seventies exploitation film -- a genre I happen to love, even if don't go out of my way to seek such movies out. There was a great funky score, and the plot featured the Spectre tracking down a group of criminals one by one, and killing them in gruesome fashion.

I immediately sought out further information on the Spectre. I knew of him vaguely, but I had always thought he was some kind of mystical "guardian of the afterlife" character or something. I'm not exactly certain where I got that impression from, though I'm sure it could be accurate to some iteration of the character. But the Spectre I had just seen in the SHOWCASE film, I learned, drew strong inspiration from the seventies ADVENTURE COMICS stories by Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo. And, wonder of wonders, the usually woefully inadequate DC collected editions department had actually collected all the stories in a trade paperback in 2005! I put it on my shopping list and eventually picked it up on sale about two years later.

Of course, as it goes, I had other things in my reading queue at the time, and only got around to WRATH OF THE SPECTRE recently. The book itself is quite well done, and much more comprehensive than
TPB, 2005
I normally expect from a DC collection. All the seventies Spectre stories are included, along with every cover to the ADVENTURE COMICS issues in which they appeared. The covers of the eighties reprint series, WRATH OF THE SPECTRE, are present as well, as is the Spectre's profile from WHO'S WHO, DC's answer to Marvel's Official Handbooks*.

But were the adventures of the Spectre worth the wait? We'll soon find out, as I spend the next two Fridays covering the stories contained in the volume.

* I believe that technically, even though the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE series debuted first, it was actually Marvel's answer to WHO'S WHO, which was conceptualized before OHOTMU, but published after. At least, I know I've read that story someplace.

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