Monday 13 May 2013

The Spectre - Secret Origins #5.

Secret Origins #5, the Spectre
There's only one concept in this world that's almost as exciting as that of Secret Oranges - and that's the idea of Secret Origins.

Sadly, DC Comics have never had the sense to employ me, and so the former will probably never exist. However, they did, in the 1970s, have the sense to give us the latter.

In Secret Origins #5, we get to meet the Spectre - or at least the man who'll become the Spectre.

Shortly after announcing his engagement to his squeeze, hard-nosed, tough-fisted cop Jim Corrigan and she are kidnapped by gangsters seeking revenge for his earlier interference in their schemes, and he's killed by being flung in the nearest river.

Sadly, instead of going to Heaven, he's sent back to Earth to fight evil, as a ghost, until crime is gone forever from the world.

Secret Origins #5, the Spectre, Jim Corrigan has no shadow
It's hard to know quite what the appeal of the Secret Origins comics was. For a start, the tales were from the Golden Age, which wasn't always home to the finest quality story-telling. Secondly, I didn't even know who some of the characters were whose origins we were being treated to. I'd never heard of Wildcat and Blackhawk till I read their debut tales - and to be honest, I'd never exactly yearned to know how Aquaman or Robin's careers had got started.

And yet there was something oddly irresistible about them.

Secret Origins #5, the Spectre, Jim Corrigan can heal the dyingAnd this issue was arguably my favourite.

This was probably because, unlike the other tales I'd read in the series, it was a full-length story and also because it was a version of the Spectre I could recognise at once from the Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo revival.

The tale starts off feeling oddly sophisticated, almost as though we're watching a movie.

It doesn't take long before it starts to feel more like a Golden Age comic but it never gets silly and it's taut and no-nonsense all the way through.

Secret Origins #5, the Spectre walks this world alone
It's good to see Corrigan dishing out some Wrath of God to the criminals of this world and beginning his career as he means to go on, by reducing a gangster to a skeleton - although it is incongruous to see him sewing his own costume at the tale's finale. Somehow I'd assumed the Spectre would have enough power to magic-up a costume from thin air.

But there is a potency in seeing him first discovering his powers and then cutting his ties with his friends and loved ones before vowing to strike out alone against the forces of evil. You're left in no doubt this is a character who makes Batman look like Bouncing Boy.

Obviously, the reason he never caught on like Bruce Wayne's alter-ego is there for all to see. Right from the start, there's the question of how you can weave tales of drama and tension around a character who can do anything he wants to. But, still, the tale makes it clear that the idea of the Spectre is a haunting concept in more ways than one.


Kid said...

I've checked out this post and found it to be mighty fine.

The In-Spectre.

(Couldn't resist.)

Boston Bill said...

I only had one issue, the Robin/Aquaman one (the two hanger-ons of the the Super-Friends)

I loved them both. Yes, I found Golden Age stories wooden compared to the 70's flashier style. But I had a fascination with the roots of comics. Marvel was covered quite easily with Stan Lee's Origins series - But DC's heroes seemed buried in antiquity, and this revealed their humble but fascinating beginnings.

My favourite part? Batman driving an ordinary car!

Steve W. said...

I had the Robin and Aquaman one too. I remember the Robin tale quite well but can recall nothing of the Aquaman origin.