Thursday, April 18, 2019


Gotta say that when DC first got into the superhero biz they had a lotta good characters fillin' up their roster. Of course by the time The Big One ended and the comic book industry began pumping out crazy teenage boy and fatgal love comics it wasn't like the superheroes were what they once usedta be. Oh yeah, I kinda like those Justice Society of Ameriga 'uns drawn by the guy who later did DONDI, but many of those comic characters who seemed so dark and promising back in 1940 just weren't cuttin' the mustard in '47 like they usedta. Cuttin' the cheese may be more like it which is probably the only reason why the whole superhero idiom kinda limped along between the end of #2 and before the grand start of the Silver Age back when a good portion of DC's old superhero roster was gettin' the remake/remodel treatment.

But then again ya gotta wonder if the big guns at National were aware that many of these boys were probably way more interested in looking at Betty and Veronica in bikinis than they were some guy flyin' around. I mean, once yer a he-man kinda kid and hit fourteen who wouldn't?

Enough of that adolescent pubesprout horniness and back to the action heroes that populated DC at the time. The time being very early 1940 when guys like Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Hourman and today's creep in case the Spectre were appearing for the first time in titles like ALL AMERICAN and (in the Spectre's case) MORE FUN comics. Gotta say that when I picked this collection up way back inna double-ohs these sagas really didn't do the big whoopee for me, but x-teen some years later reading these early Spectre sagas really does flash be me back to those early days of comic wonderment, a time when after comic strips and tinkertoys and before rock music and movies-as-a-way-of-life I had something new to become OBSESSIVE and/or COMPULSIVE about! And in my life-cycle obsessive/compulsiveness has been the NAME OF THE GAME and why should it be any different now than it was when I was but a mere suburban slob???

I'm not that well versed in Dr. Fate, Hourman, Johnny Thunder or most of the other "All American" DC heroes of the day (even the original Green Lantern that came outta the closet in one of those sappy attempts to be "up to date" and "with it"), but the Spectre really has struck a certain gut twang in me that shook me from my usually tepid appreciation of the whole Golden Age DC line. In may ways the Spectre has to be the best of the GA batch if only for his mere existence. Y'see, for all practical purposes the guy's DEAD, a ghost, and in perhaps one of the grimmer origin stories of the era (or so the experts at XERO and ALTER EGO said) he hadda be murdered in order to gain his powers.

And talk about powers, the Spectre's got the kind that actually make Superman look kinda Dagwood Bumsteady...even when Superman was flying to distant planets and busting up meteors  it wasn't like he could read people's minds, grow or shrink, become invisible, split from his secret identity and adapt the laws of nature to suit his own purpose. The mishandling of these powers does kinda stymie me in sagas where I would think the Spectre could save a victim from deadly force but because he just isn't using his powers properly just lets the poor slob die. Oh well, if he did that these stories would probably only last two pages and they hadda get the plot up and goin', y'know.

But when the Spectre does get on a rampage boy do things get cookin'. As detective Jim Corrigan he's the toughest guy on the force (the rest are as clueless as any seen in a contemporary B-flick---even the chief wants Corrigan to bring in the Spectre even though the hero has never done a thing even remotely evil!), and not only that but they're so stoopid that they don't notice that he, being dead and all, doesn't even breathe!

When he becomes the Spectre it's like watch out world, because this guy deals out that ultimate justice that makes Mr. A. look more like Mr. Rogers in comparison. Many of you casual readers who grew up under the tutelage of Comics Code Authority titles might be surprised to see scenes where a giant-sized Spectre picks up an automobile filled with gangsters and crushes it with his mitts, or kills some evildoers with a mere stare that frightens the miscreants to an early grave, or in one episode wills an entire planet filled with bad guys to explode. Yeah, over the years I've come across a few moralists who might say that such dealings of justice are anything but that and we gotta consider the rights of the accused 'n all blahblahblub...and they are right. Only the Spectre, being an otherworldly being who was given his powers by GOD (or someone doing his understudy work) knows who is good and bad more'n Santa ever will, and ya gotta admit that the guy has about as much mercy for gangsters, evil aliens and inter-dimensional zealots as Sherman had for Georgia!

Like Bill Shute, I immensely enjoy old crime films, low budget fifties/sixties tee-vee and comic books that deliver(ed) on the same kind of crank out yet pleasing entertainment custom made for some boy's post lawn mowing afternoon time off. And these Spectre sagas fulfill that penchant for old pre-enlightenment entertainment at its BEST. That's one thing which I've held to heart ever since I was a mere turdler watching Bugs Bunny selling grenade-filled ice cream bars to Japanese soldiers on Saturday morning tee-vee. My enjoyment of these Spectre sagas proves that I still am that arrested development ranch house kiddie who really lived in a world of fun and jamz at least until I hadda be dragged to kindergarten so I could "assimilate" with a buncha kids who I wouldn't pay to shovel my bowel movements outta the sandbox. I mean, it's so satisfying to read a comic story with irredeemable villains who get their just desserts from a superpowered entity who isn't mentally ill or so squeaky clean that you just GOTTA root for the Japanese and Germans who at least have a certain swerve to 'em!

For real THE GOLDEN AGE SPECTRE collection next to the garbage cans on a nice hot summer's day. Y'see, this hero, albeit draped in a green hood, cloak, gloves and jogging shorts, is NOT covered in white body paint with contact lenses covering his pupils...he's DEAD and you are looking at his rotted yet animated corpse which I'm sure even the most trusted deodorant could not tame! For a double-senses treat (of sorts), maybe a good whiff of the offal of your choice will add even more dimension to these pretty exciting sagas. (Though Corrigan's one-time galpal nor the rest of the cops seem to notice...perhaps he only reeks when he's in his Spectre identity. Whatever the case....phew!!!!!!)

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

Thank goodness for BTC----probably the only place I'll see something/someone described as "Dagwood Bumsteady" in 2019...