THE SPECTRE: WRATH OF THE SPECTRE(DC, 2005; Softcover)
Collects The Spectre stories from Adventure Comics Nos. 431-440 (cover dates February, 1974- August, 1975) and Wrath of the Spectre No. 4 (cover date August, 1988)
Writer: Michael Fleisher
Artist: Jim Aparo
In the world of mortal men, he is Jim Corrigan, hard-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. So reads the caption in the upper left hand corner on the splash page in each issue of Adventure Comics.
Prior to reading this book, I had only known of the Spectre from his appearances in other titles. I had always been intrigued but didn't know where to go from there, as there were no Showcase phonebooks or anything. (This has finally been rectified. Showcase Presents The Spectre, collecting all of the issues in this book and many more in a 592 page, black and white monster, has just been solicited for a January 2012 release.) I fell in love with Jim Aparo's artwork in Showcase Presents The Phantom Stranger phone books. I routinely haunt the Marvel Masterworks Message Board, and I curse that board and it's denizens for turning me on to more and more stuff. Take their Spectre thread, where I not only discovered that Jim Aparo did the Spectre, but that a full color trade paperback collecting his entire run already existed! It was, of course, out of print, but I've never let something like a book being unavailable stop me from procuring a copy. Godzilla bless eBay.
This is f**king awesome, being way more violent than many comics of the day. I love the implied violence and gore, the otherworldly evil, and the fact that he tortures and eventually murders criminals. It might not make sense that a ghost roams the Earth as a cop and then changes into the Spectre instead of just hunting down criminals 24/7, but hey, whatever. I love the flawed logic in old comic books, and how they go to great effort to explain why that flawed logic makes sense. Simply put, the Spectre is as good as it gets.
The OCD zone- While softcovers don't usually rate for rants and raves, I make special exception for DC and their often substandard presentation. The paper that they use in many of their classic trades is only slightly thicker pulp paper than what was used on the original floppies. Proponents of this grade of paper claim that “it's closer to the original reading experience”. While true, if I wanted that experience I would go out and buy old floppies of this material. I prefer nicer paper grades in my collected editions. DC's recent Neal Adams Deadman trade paperback has much better paper, so perhaps they have rectified this situation going forward.