Secret Origins #15: Deadman and The Spectre

All Ghosts, All the Time! Ryan Daly and guest Doug Zawisza review the origin of Deadman from Secret Origins #15. Then, Gene Hendricks joins Ryan to cover the story of The Spectre.

Listen to Episode 15!

Subscribe to Secret Origins Podcast on iTunes!

Sample pages from Secret Origins #15, written Andrew Helfer with art by Kevin Maguire and Dick Giordano (Deadman), and Roy Thomas with art by Michael T. Gilbert (The Spectre), and a cover by Ed Hannigan and Giordano.

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#15page12 #15page15 #15Bpage1 #15Bpage4 #15Bpage16 #15Bpage21

Plus, sample pages from Strange Adventures #205 by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, #207 by Jack Miller and Neal Adams, More Fun Comics #73 by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, Adventure Comics #433 and #440 by Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo, and The Spectre #1 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.

StrAdv205 StrAdv207 MoreFun73 Adv433 Adv440 Spectre1

Check out Doug Zawisza’s Doom Patrol blog, My Greatest Adventure 80 at: http://mygreatestadventure80.blogspot.com

And his new blog, Tales of My Greatest Strange Adventures at: http://talesofmygreateststrangeadventures.blogspot.com

Visit Gene Hendricks’ blog, The Hammer Strikes at: http://www.thehammerstrikes.com

And listen to The Hammer Podcasts at: http://twotruefreaks.com/shows.php?show=35

“Premonition” (Theme for Secret Origins Podcast) written and performed by Neil Daly.

Additional music this episode: “I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC and the Sunshine Band; “You Can’t Keep a Good Dog Down” by Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise; “Supernaturally” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

Leave a comment, Secret Admirers!

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27 thoughts on “Secret Origins #15: Deadman and The Spectre

  1. Loved this issue! It has a really nice mix of two great stories, with outstanding art. You can’t beat a comic with Kevin Maguire and Michael T. Gilbert!

    Deadman was always a great visual character, aided greatly by a host of outstanding artists. I still recall the first time I saw the character, in a DC house ad, in the 70s. It was the cover of issue 33 of Phantom Stranger, where the characters crossed over. Nothing could beat that image of Deadman emerging from a wall! I didn’t actually read a Deadman story until Adventure Comics, during the Dollar Comic days. I was hooked, greatly assisted by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN) art. I was teased for years, with snippets of the Neal Adams art, then, finally found the Baxter reprints. He’s such a great character and has been extremely well used, throughout the years, even in animation, on Justice League and Batman, The Brave and the Bold.

    Maguire’s art is its usual great; but, his Deadman isn’t quite as spectacular as he usually was. Maguire makes him look a little too much like a generic superhero. Granted, he’s still human, at this point; but, Deadman always seemed something more. Its a tough job to follow in the footsteps of Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Jim Aparo, and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN). Maguire came into comics with some serious chops; but he wasn’t quite there, yet. Give him a year or two and I suspect that his Deadman would have had that “pop” I expected.

    The story is pretty good; but, it seems to end abruptly, though it should lead you into the original Deadman story (via the Baxter reprints, no doubt). Andy Helfer, as a writer, was someone who was hit and miss, for me; but, he was a hit, here.

    On a side note, in regards to Ryan’s comments about Justice League. Looking at it in context of the period, Justice League was a pretty darn good adventure comic, as it began. After the first year, the comedy and character elements took over the main story , though not always. However, Justice League had been in sad shape for quite a while, prior to the relaunch. With most of the big guns undergoing major revamps, this was a chance to create a real team; and, in that, it succeeded quite well. At the time, it was a major breath of fresh air. In retrospect, it looks like an odd divergence, as we have seen many subsequent years of the big guns.

    I’m gonna have to depart greatly from you guys, on this one. The Spectre, to me, has always been more of a great visual than a great character, except for the Michael Fleischer and Jim Aparo Wrath of the Spectre. Those were so wonderfully inventive and gonzo that they overwhelmed my indifference to supernatural characters. The other book that regularly accomplished that was Michael T Gilbert’s Mr Monster. Gilbert has a nice pulpy feel and ironic cartoony touch to his art that makes the horror more palatable to me. I like this story.

    Roy was a decent hand at the supernatural, both in Dr Strange and Conan; and, he and Gilbert had a nice history in Elric, another pulpy adventure. I’ve read a couple of GA Spectre stories (including the one in Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes). Maybe he is too faithful to Jerry Siegel; but, I found it very entertaining and felt it was one of the best ones he has done so far, in the series. He has a feel for the period and makes it sound like a GA comic, mixed with a Warner Bros gangster movie, with a touch of Universal monsters. Then, he adds a bit of Weird Tales and he does it well.

    Michael Gilbert is an artist I love. His cartoony style allows him to really offer up all kinds of weirdness, with liberal doses of irony. His Mr Monster is one of my favorite comic book series. I’m not a horror fan; but, I find the pulpier stuff more interesting, rather than the Stephen King end of the spectrum. Gilbert does pulp in spades and this is pure pulp. I liken it to the great Charlton horror stories that Joe Staton drew. The cartoony nature allows the story to be bent and twisted in all kinds of directions that elevate it from the norm. If Gilbert had been doing the relaunched Spectre comic, I might have stayed on board for more than the first half dozen issues.

    Part of the problem is that i think you have to separate this era of the Spectre from the Wrath of the Spectre, or the Ostrander/Mandrake run. Roy is trying to give us a feel for those early, pulpy Golden Age stories. Given the rarity of the material, at the time (before digital copies of just about everything), it was a welcome visit to another era.

    I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me add, I get what you guys are saying about Roy essentially just copying the original stories, without fully making them his own, and I can agree with that and that he could have expanded things. However, I didn’t feel that it affected this particular story, compared to some of the previous ones.

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      1. We recorded that session back in July. I was feeling a lot more… punchy toward Roy Thomas at the time. Now, I’m kind of done talking about that aspect of the series. We all know how Roy Thomas approached these stories, and we know why, but there’s nothing to be done about it now.

        In the case of the Spectre story, though? Yeah, we’re going to disagree, Jeff. I think Thomas should have made some changes because I don’t get Corrigan’s motivation in several key parts of the story. I think a rewrite could have made this a more compelling story, and the character better.

        As for the art, I didn’t bring it up but my only real problem with Gilbert’s style is I don’t think it was the most appropriate for the tone of the story. I haven’t read Mr. Monster, but I’ve heard good things. I think this style could be really great on the right material. I just don’t think THIS was the right material. In fact… I’m halfway convinced the issue would’ve been better with Maguire drawing Spectre and Gilbert on Deadman…

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  2. ps Ryan, you should be ashamed of having to struggle to come up with an Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge! How many other hanging stories immediately leap to mind, apart from Hang ‘Em High? As an ex-bookseller, I have to shake my head. So sad…….

    😉

    First Kelly Clarkson, then Lady Gaga; now Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise? How long before we get Leonard Nimoy’s “Mr Tambourine Man” or William Shatner’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?”

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    1. I actually had another brain fart moment in this episode. When Gene referenced ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN, I cursed Billy Joel, because I confused ADGTH with another animated animal feature, OLIVER & COMPANY, which had music by Joel.

      I edited that part out. I can only sound like a fool so many times per episode. 🙂

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  3. You asked about the Spectre’s place in the current DCYouMeMyselfAndI. Well, he appears occasionally in Gotham by Midnight, which is up to issue #8 currently. Detective Jim Corrigan is the star of the book, as he leads a band of other misfit cops take on the weirder, more supernatural cases that the regular GCPD can’t quite handle. In this iteration, Corrigan can’t totally control the Spectre, and when he comes out, he destroys all sin (and thus sinners) is a particular geographic radius. So far, they have kept Spectre mostly as a threatening, looming presence in the shadows. They have also done a good job following up on the damage to Corrigan and others that occurs when he “Spectres out.”
    I am using the supernatural nature of the character as an excuse to write reviews of the Gotham by Midnight comics at our new Dorkness to Light blog, at dorknesstolight.blogspot.com. He is also on our list of topics to discuss in the soon-to-be upcoming Dorkness to Light podcast.

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  4. I remember LOVING this issue when it came out, because they got Michael T. Gilbert–whose MR. MONSTER I loved–to do the Spectre story. Even at the time I knew what an unconventional choice that was, and I admired Roy (or whoever pushed for it) for going with Gilbert. Sure, maybe the story doesn’t hold up as well as it should, but it’s just so fun to look at I forgive it its sins.

    I agree, Deadman would probably make a great TV series! As you stated, the premise is all right there. As to Doug’s suggestion that the unidentified president is Gil Kane, I can only imagine all those campaign posters are shot from under the candidate’s nose.

    Another great episode, but of course you know that.

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  5. I’d love to find this issue in the back issue bins. Kevin Maguire is an all-time favorite artist, so I might just spring for the Deadman collection that includes his segment in it, at some point. Deadman, like many peripheral characters in the DC Universe, has long been a favorite of mine, but I’ve rarely read many of his solo adventures.

    I want to second what Jeff says in his comment up above about the Bwa-ha-ha Justice League era. I was reading that book as it came out and it did feel like a major breath of fresh air at the time. And a big part of that was Maguire’s art was so new, so fresh, that it really set the book apart at that time also. I think that within the context of the day, the book was a revelation. The fact that it now seems like a junior varsity version of the team is really only due to what’s come since, in my estimation. Because this was coming after the Detroit era, which really was (and still is) the most junior varsity version of the League you can get. And I say that as a big fan of Zatanna, Vixen, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman. I have no issue with the occasional JLA roster that contains heroes other than the Big 7 – I think it adds variety over the years and can provide nice balance over time. That said, I do prefer that they return to the traditional team most of all after periods of more offbeat versions of the team. But variety is the spice of life, after all. Plus, the Maguire era Justice League book is now only remembered as a humor book, but there was a ton of action and drama, especially over the first few years.

    The Wrath of the Spectre stories are stone-cold classics. They deserve to be in print at all times and I’m not sure that’s always the case. Aparo’s art is at its peak then, and the stories by Fleisher are classic horror morality tales at their best. By coincidence, I just started reading Volume 1 of the Ostrander-Mandrake run last week. It collects the first 12 issue arc of that series, which I’d never read. So far I’m loving it; I’m on issue 7 as of today. I see very similar threads to those explored in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing and the Mandrake art even reminds me of the art from Saga of… as well. Beautiful, eerie, creepy stuff. I see online that a second volume of this series was released but no word whatsoever on a a continuation of the entire series being collected…so it’s possible this one’s not continuing in collections now.

    I agree Ryan and Doug about Deadman being ripe for the TV show pickings. However, I’ve been thinking that Zatanna would also make for an easy transition from page to television screen. Both she and Deadman could be simply adapted into a series that might closely mimic the feel of the CW’s Supernatural. For Zatanna, all they need to do is adapt the year or so long series from Paul Dini from a few years ago for season one, then build on that for successive seasons. It’s a no brainer! Same with Deadman, as you say. But…with the recent failure of Constantine (which bored me so much I bailed after the pilot), I fear that networks will be scared off from adapting any of the other DC/WB supernatural/magical characters. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling I’m not.

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  6. And on a personal note…we’re inching closer to the first issue I own of this series, #18. I checked my long boxes and it appears I only ever bought 18 (Golden Age GL, Creeper), 20 (Batgirl, Doctor Mid-Nite), 26 (Black Lightning, Miss America), 32 (The Justice League), and Special #1 featuring a trio of Bat villains: Penguin, Riddler (a fantastic Neil Gaiman story), and Two-Face. So, I’ve set those aside at home to reread once you get to them. I’ve been looking at back issue bins at my LCS lately but haven’t stumbled across any of the Secret Origins issues yet, unfortunately.

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  7. I hadn’t finished listening when commenting so I just got to the part where Ryan discusses the Ostrander Spectre series. Nice to hear that you enjoyed that first arc as much as I have so far! I’m loving the push and pull between the Spectre and Corrigan, as well as the role Amy Bietermann plays in the story.

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  8. I’ve never owned a copy of this issue, so it was a long time before I saw this cover. It was after the coming of Tim Sale, and you could have easily convinced me Sale drew this. It looks just like his style to me.

    I’m a big fan of Kevin Maguire, so I may have to track this one down. I like Deadman well enough, and I’m always glad to see him show up in a supporting role, but I’ll admit to never following much of his solo runs, so I appreciate the history rundown. I’d forgotten a few of those! I will add his appearance in Kingdom Come which did Kelly Jones one better. Alex Ross depicted him as a skeleton in a tattered costume.

    I’ve got more experience with the Spectre, but I will admit Michael T. Gilbert is an acquired taste. I’m aware of his Mr. Monster stuff, and he did an issue of Legends of the Dark Knight where he riffs on several Batman artists like early Bob Kane, Dick Sprang and Neal Adams. It’s not bad by any means. From what I’m seeing here, I see what you two are saying. Had he reigned his style in a bit, the grotesque aspects of the stories would have played much better.

    It’s odd that Thomas seemed to experiment and actually create more aspects of Batman’s SO story than any other actual Golden Age adaptation. Maybe because Batman’s origin (even then) was so familiar, and adapted so often?

    Oh, and the Spectre begs one more time in Secret Origins. Just sayin’.

    Always nice to hear from Doug and Gene. Great show!

    Chris

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  9. Michael, try Constantine after the pilot, it gets loads better. And Ryan, Constantine has already been confirmed for an Arrow guest appearance.

    Ta for another fun episode, I’m a big fan of Deadman, going back to some pretty atrocious Bob Haney stories, such as the infamous World’s Finest Comics #227, the Thomas Wayne Jr story. I hated the Kellley Jones visual.

    As for a Deadman catchline, how about Better Read Than Dead?

    I can see what they were going for with that cover but yes indeed, it just doesn’t work. No surprise, though, that it’s an Ed Hannigan design, given the splendid Eighties work on the likes of Spectacular Spider-Man (I’m convinced Cloak and Dagger’s fanbase was almost entirely due to his SS-M covers).

    No need for a Rama-lama-ding-dong, Rama was always swapping genders. And give that 2011 DC Universe Presents five-parter a look, it was pretty good. And I loved the Challs run guest starring Boston and Swampy.

    I’ve little to say on Deadman, apart from that Ostrander/Mandrake run, he’s never interested me greatly. The WEIRD Adventure Comics run was memorable, but not compelling.

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  10. In regards Mr Monster, it’s a different type of horror comic. Gilbert mixes in some humor and satire, as well as some pulpy adventure. There’s a lot of dark corners, cobwebs, oozing muck, and monsters; but, not every monster is the bad guy. It’s got some elements of EC, especially guys like Jack Davis and Graham Ingells; and, it has some darn good writing. Like I say, his cartoonier style lets Gilbert go from funny to scarry and creepy in a panel, which adds a new dimension to the horror. Joe Staton had a lot of similar qualities in the horror stuff he did for Charlton, which is why I always wondered why he didn’t get to do more of that kind of thing at DC. I wonder if he preferred the hero stuff or no one ever offered him any horror material (or he never pitched any).

    Gilbert’s art on Elric was a bit different, a little tighter than his Mr Monster stuff.

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    1. WOW!!! My daughter has a subscription (yes Virginia, DC still does subscriptions) to Scooby-Doo Team-Up! I’m going to have to be read that one when it comes in (after her, of course).

      Chris

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  11. I am a bit late to the game because of a grueling week of night shifts upset my own circadian rhythms.

    I am somewhat surprised at the overall review of this issue as I thought it was the first one where I thoroughly enjoyed both halves of the book.

    It is perhaps that I came in with a prior knowledge of Deadman that made this ‘zero issue’ story enjoyable to me. It is true that we never see Boston use his powers or serve his mission at all here. People reading Deadman for the first time might not now just where this story is going. Most of my early knowledge of the character came in the dollar Adventure books, crossovers in B&B and DCCP, and reprints. So I knew all about his ability to possess people, serve Rama, etc.

    Of course, for me, the best Deadman story is one not mentioned at all here. Here is my review: http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2010/12/back-issue-box-christmas-with-super.html

    As for this issue, I wouldn’t have pegged Maguire as a Deadman but he shines here. In particular, that is the hottest Rama Kushna I have seen (page 3). I do find it sorta weird that Rama changes history so that Boston is killed. She basically is responsible for his murder. I don’t know if that specific detail was ever built upon in the post-Crisis world.

    As for the Spectre, I didn’t mind the Gilbert art mostly because I think the Spectre is a weird character so having weird art makes visual sense for me. While my first comics were read in the late 70s, they were published in the early 70s and picked up at flea markets and yard sales. So my first interaction with the Spectre is the Fleisher/Aparo stories. I love the Twilight Zone, ‘punishment fits the crime’ vengeance at the ends of those books. So seeing in this issue Ratso made into a rat, the swami being turned into a mirror and shattered, it all worked for me. I don’t know if I needed the mob to have been hired by the Swami. And again I don’t know if I needed Thomas to be slavishly devoted to the original stuff. But overall, I enjoyed this.

    Outside of the Fleisher/Aparo books, my favorite Spectre stuff is his appearances in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. There he is scarily conceited and somewhat disconnected from humanity. He is frightening. And he should be.

    My issue with the Spectre now is that he has become a yardstick character. He is the tough guy that loses so that readers know that another character is tough. How tough is Atrocitus? He defeated the Spectre. I hate when powerful or interesting characters devolve into yardsticks. I think in the original Books of Magic Prestige series, Constantine tells Tim that the Spectre is either (and I paraphrase) ‘the most powerful being in the universe or just some ponce in green knickers’. So true … so true.

    My least favorite de-evolution to yardstick? Prometheus. How tough is Lady Shiva? She beat Prometheus. How tough is Black Canary? She beat Prometheus. How tough is anyone? They beat up Prometheus.

    Thanks again for a great show and the great guests!

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  12. Highly enjoyable episode. We got some great insights into the origins of both characters.

    For those interested in the Sprectre, the Showcase presents volume has the bulk of his Silver Age appearances, and also includes the Fleisher/Aparo run from Adventure Comics, although it is jarring to move from the rather quaint stories from his 60s run to the Fleisher/Aparo horror stories.

    In the New 52, it was the Phantom Stranger who set the ball rolling on the creation of Corrigan as the Spectre. Corrigan’s fiance was kidnapped and the Phantom Stranger guided Corrigan to an abandoned warehouse but this was a trap and both Corrigan and his fiance are killed. On his death, Corrigan is transformed into the Spectre who blamed the Stranger for betraying him. This led to the Spectre being an adversary of the Stranger in the Phantom Stranger’s book – check out the beautiful Jae Lee art on this cover http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Phantom_Stranger_Vol_4_5

    Corrigan was then involved with Batman in the Batman Eternal maxi-series and it is that characterisation which led into the Gotham by Midnight series noted above.

    Re the Origin, I think Ostrander and Mandrake did a great job in updating it in the first 4 issues which I read in the TPB Crime and Punishment – the change to Corrigan’s character that you were asking for in the Secrets Origin issue was made by Ostrander and improved the origin immensely.

    Another great depection of both Deadman and Spectre can be found in the Gaiman mini-series “Books of Magic” – Deadman was particularly used well in issuing warnings to Timothy Hunter, who is being hunted by evil magic wielders as Constantine guides him along the present users of magic, popping into bodies to issue warnings.

    Great episode again and am looking forward to next’s week issue.

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  13. Yay! I’ve been looking forward to your coverage of this issue, as Deadman and the Spectre are two of my all-time favorites. Love the ghost detective aspect that both of these characters can bring to the table.

    My first introduction to Deadman in the comics outside of Who’s Who was probably in the Action Comics Weekly Anthology series, which had a gorgeous Deadman ongoing feature drawn by a young Dan Jurgens and written by Mike Baron. He starred in the first 12 issues of Action Comics Weekly (#601-612) and then came back as a regular feature in 618-621 & 623-626, still written by Baron, this time drawn by Kelley Jones. That stuff has never been reprinted, by Action Comics Weekly issues goes cheap, I recommend tracking that down and giving it a read.

    I also have to endorse the DC Comics Presents #1-5 that featured Deadman, I really enjoyed that run by Paul Jenkins, I thought that 5 issue series was great, and represent some of my favorite New 52 issues! Of all the things DC did wrong with that launch, they nailed the Supernatural characters like Deadman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Resurrection Man.

    Onto the Spectre, I absolutely love his Golden Age appearances, he shows up and all hell breaks loose. The Old Testament real Wrath of God Vengeance comes out as he decimates slum lords and scum bags. Siegel used the character as a take no prisoners social crusader, much like he did with Superman, but amped up to a whole nother level.

    Now please don’t take this as me being preachy, not my intent, just trying to redirect the focus of the religious context behind the creation of the character. One thing I would like to point out, and I think it’s muddled a bit by Roy’s take on the story here, the Spectre was written and co-created by Jerry Siegel, a man of Jewish faith, that presents the character as an extension of God as seen in the Old Testament. Plagues, floods, decimating sinful towns with fire from the sky. As such, with this Old Testament and Judaism take on God, there is not a Christian Portrayal of Heaven. As a Christian I’m not one hundred percent on this, but I’m pretty sure Judaism acknowledges that the spirit lives on (obvilious we see it here with the Spectre) but they don’t have much dogma about it. I think they view it more as a world to come that isn’t necessarily defined, and that reincarnation may be a possibility. There are some Gospel passages that allude to this pre-Christ Jewish take on life after death and how Christ will change it, sorry can’t point to a specific verse or verses but the gist of the idea is that the dead are resting or sleeping, and the righteous will be awaken and taken to this new concept of Heaven. Where I’m going with that, is that for Jim there was no happily ever after in Heaven, it was an unknown,was he going to essentially just be resting in eternity, was in going to be reincarnated into a butterfly? Instead here he is blessed with a true gift, immortality and consciousness in the world he already knows. He has been deemed righteous and given an incredible power and set loose on the earth. It isn’t a punishment at all, it’s the ultimate reward looking at it through a Judaism lense. There isn’t a Heaven that he’s been kept out of, so it’s not like he’s serving down here instead of celebrating upstairs. He gets the chance to return to earth, the place he knows, and essentially go through life with no strings attached as an immortal. He doesn’t need to sleep, to eat, nor worry about getting sick. He walks amongst humanity as a member, without any of the concerns of the material world, all while wielding this fantastic power. To me that’s what makes him such a unique and cool character, and also one of the reasons why those character explorations like in Kingdom Come, where he walks the earth as a man but loses touch with his humanity, such great stories. He isn’t doomed, he’s rewarded with this sacred mission and eternal life instead of taking a dirt nap or some other less-fulfilling afterlife.

    Likewise I don’t think they believe in a Hell and eternal damnation, though it is possible to serve a period of punishment before you can achieve your final resting peace. The concept of Hell in Christianity takes its genesis from the Old Testament term of Tartus, which is deep bottomless pit, and then has had the book of Revelation and Dante’s Inferno painted on top of that. So with that in mind, that is why the Spectre is needed with this religious view. These scum bags aren’t going to burn in Hell for eternity, so they must suffer a pain-filled, agonizing death here and now to pay for their earthly sins. In the world of the Spectre, karma is paid in full force in the material world, so get ready for the Wrath of God to kick you square in the nuts.

    I really have to recommend the Golden Age stories, Bernard Bailey’s stuff is raw and awesome. It really has that awesome pulpy horror feel.

    Love the Jim Aparo take on the character, those Spectre stories from Adventure Comics are some of my all-time favorites. I really wish they could have had Aparo draw this story here, that would have been fantastic. My second choice would have been Sienkiewicz.

    I also want to give a shout-out to the Spectre series where Hal Jordan was the host, that series features some gorgeous Norm Breyfogle art.

    As Professor Alan pointed out, it has just been recently that the Spectre started to show up in the post-Flashpoint Universe, I think before that he popped up in a few issues of New 52 Phantom Stranger title.

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    1. Tartarus is from Greek mythology. Most modern concepts of “Hell,” come from the Greek myths (which influenced the Romans, though they had their own twists); plus both Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost (and some other sources), especially the characterization of Lucifer (who was also given attributes of Pan). By the same token, many characterizations of “Heaven,” were greatly influenced by Elysium, the region of the Underworld reserved for the righteous and distinguished. The whole Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern region was a melting pot of various cultural influences, with myths and religions meeting and melding, changing beliefs, adopting new ones, abandoning or modifying old. That process continued as the Roman church spread into Europe, where it encountered pagan beliefs and practices, which morphed into church-sanctioned religious observances, often with the basic pagan premise still intact.

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  14. More than a month late – how dare you publish more episodes before I had the time to catch up, Ryan?! Listened to this one in a few sittings (or standings), so I’ll try to collect thoughts accumulated over several weeks…

    It took me a long time to get used to Deadman. He’s such a strange characters. The look is mysterioso, but he opens his mouth, and it’s like Ben Grimm died on that fateful day and became a ghost. I suppose it makes sense to give Boston Brand a recognizable vernacular, so you can spot him when he possesses someone.

    Not sure when I first encountered the character, but I feel like it’s probably Who’s Who. The Strange Adventures reprints from the era were comics store exclusives and didn’t come to my home town.

    As for the Spectre, I spent a lot of time screaming about Mr. Monster at my ipod, but knew, deep down, that other commenters would have gone to bat for Michael Gilbert before I ever got here. Good job, Jeff. I, too, like the gonzo art on this story. It’s a good thing you and Gene had a light touch with it. Somehow, you escaped another Shazamgate just with your tone. Again, my history with the character isn’t clear. Likely All-Star Squadron and/or Crisis. The only series I read consistently was the Ostrander/Mandrake one. Today it just feels like Corrigan goes through as many permutations as the Hulk, and you can never get a grasp of the character for long. Shame.

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  15. I was introduced to Deadman through his original Who’s Who entry in the only issue of any incarnation of that series I bought new off the stands. I believe the art was by JLGLPBHN and was fantastic. He had a strong visual, an impressively concise evocative name, neat m.o., and his initial stories sounded cool as hell. I was primed to be a fan, until a childhood friend brought a grocery sack full of comic books to my place in the summer of 1988 that included a copy of Deadman #1, or at least one issue of the ’80s mini-series. It started at some point in an ongoing story where Boston Brand was upset on a snowy mountain top with a bunch of other people and I think there was talk of the twin brother Cleveland Steamer and the mystical city of Nanna Parfait and the transgendered eastern spiritual entity Rama and there was all this angst and SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!!! I also collected Action Comics Weakly for a while that included a drab Deadman strip and I’ve encountered him in plenty of other places over the years and it all sucks in my estimation. I don’t care for Boston’s characterization as an average joe and I hate his convoluted narrative as well as his occasional radical revisions. I firmly believe that more characters should have planned obsolescence built into their story, and that after Boston Brand had his season doing a supernatural swipe of The Fugitive, some other creators should have revised the Deadman concept for other incarnations. Instead, this dopey none-starter keeps turning up like a bad penny, and I can’t stand him. Do make a CW show with a new Deadman who’s played by an underwear model named something like Jackson Duke and it’ll hit big.

    Ed Hannigan’s cover is, in the immortal words of Rob Kelly, all hat and no steer. It looks like something high concept, but the execution is a mess of fail. It looks like the Spectre has post genital drip with Boston’s crotch running down the cleft of his nose. The “D” breaking the boundary of Spectre’s eye is irritating, and Deadman’s collar + v-neck should serve as the point of Spectre’s cowl instead of opposing it. Too much green negative space, too. I like Kevin Maguire’s interiors a lot better, though his storytelling isn’t quite there yet. Not digging the whitewashing of Sensei as an oriental meat puppet worn by a very occidental evil spirit, while Rama looks like a pretty white girl from an upper middle class suburb of Anytown, U.S.A. Helfer’s script is obtuse, offering nothing to compel the uninitiated to seek out back issues of the recently deactivated agent from beyond, plus the supporting cast is beat-for-beat Kirby’s Etrigan (which was more successfully continued by Grant/Semeiks.)

    I have to confess that the Spectre segment was the single most annoying of this show to date, seeing as it was an unrelenting slag on one of if not the most enjoyable “Thomas” origins of the run so far in my personal estimation. I think the term “co-adapter” is very telling given Thomas’ tendency toward overreaching on credit. My strong suspicion is that Michael T. Gilbert (who was perfectly capable of writing this on his own) either took strong liberties with Thomas’ script or did it entirely on his own with Thomas forcing a rewrite over it to make it more in line with the original stories. The most Thomas moment was the horrid opening captions that desperately needed to force this story into a pre-World War II context. Gilbert’s Jim Corrigan is a grinning, hard-lovin’, two-fisted man mountain, and Gilbert’s art is erratic and idiosyncratic and so very much more alive than Thomas’ usual Golden Age sterilizations via Silver Age sensibilities. I think we’d have all been happier if Jerry Bingham had drawn this origin and Gilbert had done Captain Marvel, because this tale was the flavor of fun I’d expect from one that seems to repel you boys on the other.

    I’m not sure when I was first exposed to the Spectre; probably Crisis; and aside from a good look (love the color scheme) and impressive power levels I’ve never cared much for the character. He’s a glum sadist in slow sordid stories where I don’t care about the protagonist, antagonists, or the victims caught in between. On the other hand, this Spectre is a devil may care delight with an oversexed gal and hot-blooded gunmen on his tail. Not to get too gross, but this hombre is clearly swollen everywhere and swinging it to and fro. The stoolie doesn’t sweat so much as froth at the brow and kisses come in heart-shaped panels and of course we’ve got to devote two full pages to Corrigan in a barrel in a cutaway as it’s slowly drowned in cement and his lungs progressively fill with construction material before being dumped in the bay because you’re damned right that’s how we roll in F-Yeah Town. Compare this to the issues of the Moench series I’ve read where Corrigan was just a schmucky Bruce Banner/Peter Parker private eye everydud working a sort of Hulk scenario wary of unleashing the Spectre in times of stress and I’m not even getting the time I spent writing this sentence out back much less that spent reading the crap. Even the Ostrander/Mandrake series, which I think bested Preacher in the audacious ending department, was still largely a joyless, dull affair with mere moments here and there of transcendence. That’s peachy if it’s your bag, but my life’s too short and I’d rather read more Michael T. Gilbert thanks (though I do have a run of Wrath of the Spectre in the long boxes to sample.)

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  16. Only just remembered that there’s an explanation for the appearance change from regular Deadman to the skeletal Kelly Jones version. James Robinson included it in his 1997 Batman/Deadman Death & Glory GN. Turns out it’s all Batman’s fault.

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  17. Deadman is one of my top-five favorite super-heroes. I picked up the Baxter reprints at a convention in Columbus, GA years ago and was instantly in love with the guy. YES! He would make an awesome TV series! Someone get Donald P. Bellisario on the phone!

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