Archive for Spectre

Friday Night Fights: Bizarro Boots!

Well, it’s finally Friday, and a good thing, ’cause I was just about worn entirely out. I don’t know if just two days will be enough for me this weekend, but I’ll do my best to make ’em work. And I’m sure y’all will, too, or else there’s gonna be a whuppin’. And speaking of whuppin’s, it’s time for FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s fight probably isn’t the most brutal I’ve posted, but it’s one that always makes me laugh. From 2001’s Bizarro Comics anthology and the “Bizarro X-Ray Three” double splash page by Gilbert Hernandez and Tom McCraw, as Lex Luthor gives the Spectre the boot.


Y’all don’t forget the West Texas Comic Con tomorrow! It’ll be more fun than kicking the Spirit of God’s Vengeance in the butt with a cartoon extendo-boot!

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How to Fix a Broken Spectre

As I’ve mentioned before, I think DC’s character the Spectre has some serious, serious problems.


When the character was created back in 1940, he was really just a ghost — a very powerful ghost, but still only the vengeful spirit of a murdered man. Over the decades, he’s grown more or less powerful, depending on who’s writing him. In the ’90s, John Ostrander reimagined him as the heavenly incarnation of the Wrath of God, with near-infinite power — at one time, he destroyed an entire country because it had a history of ethnic cleansing and later threatened to kill everyone in New York because the state planned to execute an innocent man. The Spectre was also the go-to guy when it came to confronting cosmic universe-destroying villains — he was the only being powerful enough to directly fight bad guys like the Anti-Monitor or Parallax.

More recent versions of the character, however, have him abandoning the few moral codes he followed previously — he went on a universe-wide campaign against magic, killing thousands of people in the process, and later set up shop in Gotham City and later El Paso, gorily killing people who had killed others — including those who had killed in self-defense and those who had accidentally killed. At one point, the Spectre even refused to save an abducted child so he could kill her murderer after she died.

Just to sum up — we’ve got an omnipotent and omniscient character who spends his time killing black people in tenement apartments and Hispanic people in El Paso prisons, while completely refusing opportunities to: wax the Joker, who’s killed thousands of people; shut down the Sinestro Corps War by wiping out genocidal maniacs like the resurrected Anti-Monitor, Sinestro, and Superboy-Prime; take out a few dozen murderous dictators and serial killers worldwide.

This isn’t a heroic character. He’s not even much of a villain — if he was, he’d be threatening to blow up the Earth with a Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. The Spectre is, as currently written, just a very, very, very poor character.

“So is there any hope for the Spectre, Scott? Can anything be done to save the character?”

Glad you asked. Here’s what I’d do.

Our main problem is that we’ve got a character with no limitations on his abilities or powers, and no limitations on his actions. He determines that someone has killed another person, commits a horrific/ironic execution, and then goes away, suffering no penalties or condemnations. Essentially, he’s far, far too powerful to function as a hero. Sure, you could bring him out during big cosmic events to smack down the cosmic villain — but that’s not exciting or interesting. He needs, frankly, to be weakened, but his status as “Spirit of God’s Vengeance” is just too cool a hook to discard.

So if I were writing a Spectre comic: The Spectre would be brought before the Presence itself (DC’s preferred name for God) and accused of serving his own ego instead of God’s wrath. He’s been indulging his own desire for bloody revenge, extracting unjust punishments, overriding the judgment and opinion of his human host, and letting a black-and-white attitude substitute for a godly sense of justice, mercy, and forgiveness. It’s not that the Presence wants murderers to get off scot-free — but the cause of eternal justice is not served by eviscerating a toddler who accidentally starts a forest fire while playing with matches.

So to force the Spectre to learn humility, the Presence strips him of most of his abilities and assigns him to function solely as an ghostly assistant to different murdered souls. When certain people are killed, the Spectre is assigned to them to help them discover their killer and determine the punishment that will be administered. At that time, the Spectre is empowered to merge temporarily with the murdered soul, mete out the punishment, then transport the soul to the afterlife.

For example: The Spectre could be assigned to a suburban housewife killed in an apparent drive-by shooting. The housewife’s ghost and the Spectre end up hanging out and slowly determining who her actual murderer was (Teenaged gangsta? Greedy spouse masquerading as a gang member to throw off suspicion? Accidental ricochet by a neighbor cleaning his hunting rifle?). At that time, the housewife and the Spectre merge into what is, basically, a giant ghostly version of the housewife wearing a scary green cloak, and renders judgment. If the housewife wants her killer chopped into kibble, that’s what happens. If she’s merciful, or feels the crime isn’t deserving of death, she may end up only capturing the killer for the police, or forcing him to feel eternal remorse, or even letting him go free.

And after that, the Spectre gets assigned to a new crime and a new victim. Sometimes, the victims will be innocent, sometimes as bad as their killers, sometimes much, much worse. Sometimes, the victims will want the traditional gory demise for their killer, sometimes they’ll want a less violent punishment. Either way, the Spectre is going to be forced to learn more about the perpetrators and the victims of crimes.

And if any cosmic crises pop up, the Presence is going to temporarily empower the Spectre to function as the nigh-omnipotent Wrath of God again. Hey, the Presence may be pissed at the Spectre’s attitude and behavior, but he’s willing to let him help punch Imperiex in the snoot…

So there’s my prescription for fixing the Spectre. Whatcha think? (And remember, the only correct answer is “You’re right, Scott! You’re handsome and a genius! Go get some ice cream!”)

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Justice for All

Busy, busy, busy. Do I have time for some comics reviews? Yes, I think I do.


Justice Society of America #11

The “Kingdom Come” Superman is still around. He says his version of Earth has been destroyed. (It has? Has anyone told DC? I think they think it’s still around.) Power Girl is breaking up about being the last survivor of Earth-2. The rest of the team helps save the new Judomaster (a martial arts expert whose special power is that she can’t be hit by anyone) from a bunch of Yakuza super-assassins.

Verdict: Thumbs up. But that might be because I’m a fan of the team. No, not really the highest recommendation, is it?


Lobster Johnson #4

More pulp goodness from Mike Mignola. The evil Memnan Saa has a vril-powered dragon, and he hopes that an army of them will help him conquer the world. Jim Sacks is dead, but he was dead before — his vril-powered armor has empowered his spirit, and he strikes a near-deadly blow against Saa’s forces. Can Lobster Johnson get the good guys — and himself — out safely?

Verdict: Thumbs up. An enthusiastic thumbs up this time. I love pulp and horror, and Mignola may be the best pulp/horror writer the comics industry has ever seen.


Blue Beetle #21

First, let’s all enjoy an inappropriate giggle at that cover, okay?

As for the story, the Spectre, God’s own vengeful and extremely violent Spirit of Judgment, has taken up residence at a local prison, where he’s gorily slaughtering prisoners who were involved in a deadly prison riot. One of the prisoners is Luis, the guy who injured Jaime’s father, and if the guard who Luis attacked dies, the Spectre will kill him, too. Beetle can’t figure out how he’s supposed to stop an omnipotent spirit — both his father and his (secret) girlfriend Traci Thirteen advise him to forgive Luis and let go of his anger. But will something so simple be of any use against a horrific monster like the Spectre?

Verdict: Thumbs up. This issue wasn’t even written by regular writer John Rogers, but the characters of Jaime, his family, and friends are so well-established that the fill-in writer still does an excellent job. I’m not all that happy with the inclusion of the Spectre — any value he used to have as a character has pretty much disappeared. I could write a great deal more about the problems with the Spectre — and I will, later. Not today. Too busy.

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Friday Night Fights: Clobberin’ Corrigan!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, big dawgs and kitty-kats, y’all know what happens on Friday nights, right? Bahlactus commands that there be fightin’ — so fightin’ thar be!

From the origin of the Spectre, from 1940’s “More Fun Comics #52” by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily:


Hey, it’s fightin’ cop Jim Corrigan! Playin’ a little chin-checkers! Watch that hat fly!


Boy, Jim Corrigan sure does like to fight! Is there anything else he likes to do?



Holy guacamole, that Jim Corrigan sure does love to fight!

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