THE SPECTRE: CRIMES AND JUDGMENTS BY KATE (AND DAN)

::Kate and Dan are looking a bit yellow. Dan is wearing a red shirt with blue shorts. Kate’s hair looks like a spikey starfish::

K: It’s October. This is the time of year when we tell SCARY TALES OF HORROR IN OUR TREEHOUSE!

D: Sounds kinda like the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror”. Let’s not do this bit. I don’t want to get sued, and I’m worried that this jaundice could lead to hepatitis.

K: ::changes out of red dress:: But it’s the spookiest time of year! How else can we celebrate the season without tapping into annual pop culture tropes?

D: This is the Internet age; anything can be a clever reference. Any reference can be a callback to a bygone era. Why do you think we talk about so many comics from the 1990’s?

K: ::Imitates Dan’s voice:: ::badly:: “Back when I started reading comics…”

D: KNOCK IT OFF.

K: “Let me tell you about the time Superman had a mullet and then was split into electric versions of himself one was Red and one was Blue and…”

D: God.

K: “And then there was this dead police guy who came back wearing only green trunks and green elf booties and a cape and and and…”

D: THE SPECTRE! Yes, I’m a genius!

K: Wha’? But I said the part with the green booties?

D: But you where imitating me, so I’m the genius. We shall kick off our Halloween celebration that is not in a tree house by flashing back to 1992.

K: See?! “In the ‘90’s comic books were stuff and stuff and comics.”

D: Whatever, funny lady.

K: Ok, so we won’t be in a Treehouse of Fright, but can we at least sign our names all Halloween-style at the end like they do?

D: Sure thing!

K: SWEET…!

::shines flashlight into face, blinds herself for days::

D: Hang on. Let me go grab THE SPECTRE VOLUME 1: CRIMES AND JUDGEMENTS from the vault.

K: Dan? Hello? I…I can’t see anything. I can’t read comics today.

D: ::rooting through steamer trunk with Playboy magazines hiding stash of comic books:: Here it is! Let’s do this!

K: ::looks in the opposite direction of Dan:: Do what? All I can see is a bright light…

K: ::rubs eyes:: Glad I got my eyesight back in time to read THE SPECTRE!

D: “Back in time”? This book came out in 1992. You’re actually late to the party, Red.

K: What else is new? This Spectre guy is kinda angry and vengeful. I would feel the same way if I had to wear a green cape, green booty shorts, and green booties as my superhero costume. He’s like an annoyed Chippendale dancer that lost his bow tie.

D: Ya’ know he is the Wrath of God, right? That’s why he’s all “angry and vengeful”. It comes with the job.

K: He’s the one that rained down sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah? I hear that’s just as exhausting as playing soccer!

D: Issue number one opens with Jim Corrigan, The Spectre’s alter ego, going to the hospital to call on a former associate.

K: Mr. Corrigan is not the man he appears to be. He was murdered 50 years ago and now is ::shines flashlight into face:: A GHOST!

::goes blind again:: Damn it!

D: Duh, that’s why they call him The Spectre! Jeez. Keep up, will ya’? Corrigan thinks that this guy at the hospital, who happens to be on his deathbed, may have something to do with Corrigan’s own death. He enters the dying man’s memories – by flowing into the man’s eyes – as The Spectre and starts issuing some of that Almighty Justice.

K: This isn’t the first time that The Spectre has entered someone’s memories in this issue. The first time we see this, he’s exacting vengeance on some punk kids that shot at a crowd on the street in front of the hospital. These scenes where The Spectre is in another person’s subconscious are crazy. One time he’s got the punk kids stuck to his hand like they’re fingers. Another time he’s a giant and is smashing the people that killed him. It’s unclear how much of these metaphysical acts are happening HERE here, or are happening in the minds of the criminals themselves. This just adds to the horror element of the storytelling.

D: That’s how he doles out God’s vengeance. The Spectre gives the dying man a nudge towards death once he determines that the man did play a role in Corrigan’s own death. Corrigan thought bringing this man to justice would give him peace, but it doesn’t. God has more work for him to do.

K: Some of this stuff really is heavy-duty. I mean, count it down with me: the graphic nature of the vengeance, the religious nature of Corrigan’s mission on Earth, and add to that, Corrigan’s love interest Amy Beitermann has AIDS. This is one meaty read. But I don’t see a VERTIGO tag on it?

D: Nope. When he debuted in 1940, THE SPECTRE, created by Jerry Siegel, has always been in the mainstream DC Universe. Proof enough that you don’t need a “mature readers” label to have thoughtful, intelligent comics. With this run, it was up to the veteran team of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake to guide Jim Corrigan through this era of his adventures. Ostrander crafted deep, thought provoking stories that probed The Spectre’s relationships with the mortal world around him, as well as the past history of The Spectre himself.

K: ::eyes grow wide as she watches The Spectre battle the angel Michael in front of the gates of Heaven::

D: Yeah, that Tom Mandrake was born to pencil The Spectre. His moody, atmospheric style was tailor-made for this book. From Corrigan standing on a dark street corner to The Spectre battling demons in Hell, it all looks magnificent.

K: ::frowns::

D: Why so sad, Kate?

K: I wanted to read more Spectre comics. But the batteries in my flashlight burned out.

-Kate MAULS MEN and DEAD Malmon