Thursday, 16 August 2012

Adventure Comics #431 - the Wrath of the Spectre!

Adventure Comics #431, the Spectre melts a criminal, cover by Jim Aparo

Like any reasonable man, I've always wanted the power to melt people's arms.

Sadly, such are the vicissitudes of life, that I've yet to be granted that ability by whatever higher power it is that controls my destiny.

That being the case, I'll just have to get my pleasure by watching other people do it. 

But who to watch?

If he wanted to, Superman could melt people, with his heat vision - but, like a great big sap, he never does. And I've only ever seen Supergirl melt lions from outer space.

That means it's going to have to be the Spectre.

Adventure Comics #431 was my first introduction to the character - and I loved it; so much so that, from that point on, whenever I saw an issue of Adventure Comics with him in it, I had to buy it. I even had to buy issues he wasn't in.


Adventure Comics #431, the Spectre splash page, Jim Aparo, plane

What was its appeal?

That was simple enough.

It was that it was simple enough.


Adventure Comics #431, the Spectre, phone booth, Jim Aparo

There were no twists and turns for the Spectre. Nor were there attempts to heroically preserve the lives of those he was fighting. Some bad guys showed up, the Spectre showed up and the bad guys checked out. It was the perfect strip for anyone who's ever wanted revenge on a bus driver for speeding off when he sees you running for his bus.

In Adventure Comics #431, a gang's robbed a security van, their leader gratuitously killing the guards in the process.

It's not long before the Spectre's on their trail and killing them in outrĂ© ways. The first one he sends plummeting off a cliff, the second he melts and the third he reduces to a skeleton.


Adventure Comics #431, the Spectre melts the gun of a killer, Jim Aparo

Looking at it now, it's obvious the tale lacks a certain... ...drama. No obstacles get in our hero's way and his alter-ego of Jim Corrigan is left so totally undeveloped as a character that he might as well have stayed in his grave.

Clearly that didn't bother me as a child. All I cared about was the Spectre was cool - and he was cool because Jim Aparo made him look cool. If ever there was a strip Aparo was born to draw it was the Spectre, a character who was like Batman with the dial turned up to 11.

And if ever there was a strip Michael Fleisher was born to write it was the Spectre, the perfect vehicle for his love of inflicting death on everyone he encountered.

In all honesty, his writing's no more sophisticated or ambitious here than it was on all those terrible Atlas titles he inflicted on us but, being given a character who was perfect for his weird misanthropy, and an artist who knew exactly what to do with it, somehow meant it didn't seem to matter.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree - in fact, apart from a couple of short horror stories, I'd say this was the best work Fleischer ever did....and it was virtually the first! It's extremely simple - no meddling subplots - but that works very well for it.

And with you 100% on the Aparo art.


B Smith

Anonymous said...

I loved this comic as a kid especially the art by Mr Aparo - Fleischer was pretty much hyped up around that time by the fan press as I recall (and I seem to recall some sort of court case involving someone calling him an "insane" writer??) but as you say the stories (even to an 11- 12 year old at the time)were not great (but they were fun ), I loved it for the cool ways the Spectre killed the baddies - saying that I did like Fleischer's Jonah Hex strips - Adventure was a great comic at that time (again due to Aparo on Spectre ad Aquaman )- McScotty

Comicsfan said...

That title page to #431 is just awesome.

Steve W. said...

It is indeed a magnificent beast.

Gey Blabby said...

I'd probably still choose Adams over Aparo on Batman, but on The Spectre, Aparo is untouchable - just first class.

I've always wondered about the listing of Art Continuity - Russell Carley on the splash page here: What does that mean exactly? Was he an inker brought in to help Aparo finish on time? I know that Aparo usually inked his own work in those days, and I remember that a couple of the later Spectre issues didn't seem to have his usual polish. Anyone know?

Steve W. said...

Gey, if I remember rightly, because Michael Fleisher lacked experience at writing comic strips, he got a friend - Russell Carley - to help him.

For some reason that I can't recall, this led to Carley being credited with, "Art Continuity."

I can only assume from that title that he must have helped Fleisher break the script down into its separate pages and panels before it was handed over to Aparo to draw.

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