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365 Reasons to Love Comics #47

Let’s talk about a cop. On the EDGE. Or is he? The edge of lameness, maybe. Let’s rescue him!


47. Crispus Allen

Crispus Allen 1.jpg

This was the only decent cover shot of him out there. And he was one of the main characters of the book! Crazy.

Crispus was a Gotham City detective who first appeared in Greg Rucka’s Detective Comics run, and later starred in Gotham Central. He was the partner of fellow cool-cop-who-is-now-not-a-cop-anymore-and-might-become-lame-in-the-near-future, Renee Montoya.

He was a strong character. Noble and dedicated, which helped in his roles as a family man and a great cop. Then he got shot by Jim Corrigan (not that one). Then he became the Goateed Spectre in Infinite Crisis. Then he got lame and started appearing in bad stories.

Crispus Spectre.jpg

I wonder why DC can never leave well enough alone. Gotham Central was a terrific series, because it was about regular people doing their job in a world gone mad. A fantastic premise, yeah? Now Crispus is the Spectre and Montoya’s on her way to becoming the Question and I just don’t care anymore. We got Bullock back, sure, but I miss Detective Crispus Allen.

Whoa, man. I’m getting too negative.

Crispus and Renee had a great friendship built over their time as partners, and that time together was all too short. Shame. He needs the gift of life again!

I thought he was cool. Did you think he was cool? Do you still think he’s cool?

Sorry for the short and probably nonsensical rant-y column today.


I totally love the character as The Spectre. I’m apparently the only person in the world who does, but I think it works. I even don’t mind the goatee. Actually, my goatee-mindedness is such a non-issue that I don’t even notice it.

I really dug the mini-series, and I think that Lapham’s doing a great story with good art by Eric Battle.

I consider Gotham Central far more of a victim of Infinite Crisis than the original crisis, the multiverse, or Pantha. I put it on par with Ted Kord’s loss, if only because people had been so brutal and negligent about Kord for so long before the latest problem.

Am I one of only two people in the comicverse (after Rob S., above) who cannot for the life of me understand what cranky imp crawled up everybody else’s asses and made them go ape-shit over a goatee? Wanting Crispus and Renee to remain mortal, non-mask-wearing, civilian heroes, THAT I totally understand. But complaining endlessly about the goatee? I just don’t get it.

I don’t really care about the goatee. It looks a little silly, but then, so does a big shirtless albino in a green cowl.

He’ll forever be the Spectre With a Goatee, I bet.

I don’t care about the goatee, but I do wish Crispus Allen had stayed a cop, and I don’t think he works terribly well as the Spectre. I liked the idea — which might have been introduced with the Hal Jordan Spectre, but I’m not sure — that the Spectre is bonded to somebody who screwed up in their mortal life. It makes sense — why curse a good soul with such a fate?

But Crispus Allen wasn’t all that flawed. He was a good, noble, honorable man, hard-working and brave, a great partner to Montoya who refused to judge her after she was “outed”, and seemed to be a loving husband and father. Forcing him into the Spectre role feels… well, cruel. I wish the Spectre’s new host would have been a new character, who could have been built from the groundup for the role, instead of forcing it quite arbitrarily on Allen.

It really is a shame we’re losing both him and Montoya, though, because today’s Bat-writers seem to have all but given up on the police characters, outside of Gordon. Even Bullock hasn’t shown up all that much, let alone Stacy, Maggie Sawyer, Josie Mac, Marcus Driver, Romy Chandler, or Jackson Davies.

I think Crispus Allen is such a strong character, he works as both a cop and the Spectre. And I don’t have a problem with the goatee either.

However, I will say that I haven’t been enjoying Tales of the Unexpected. I really really liked the miniseries by Will Pfeifer and Cliff Chaing and found it strong and emotional and harsh, just like the best Spectre stories always are. But Dave Lapham isn’t doing it for me. As a comparison, I also didn’t enjoy his overly-long Batman run either, which I gave up on before it was done. I’d much rather have Will Pfeifer drive the Spectre car right now.

I’d also like to add that Gotham Central was just too good of a book to have kept on going. It suffered from qualityitis, an incurable disease that nothing in entertainment can overcome.

Chances are, they kept the goatee because they didn’t think people would recognize him without it.

You know, since most comic artists have trouble drawing distinct and unique faces, without copying them from movie posters.

And that’s what makes the goatee lame, by the way.

That and the fact that goatees don’t look good.

Apodaca hit the nail on the head. Once you combine that with the fact that his other distinguishing characteristics are glasses, (which make less sense for him to have) bald head (which the cowl would cover up) and the fact that he is black (which the white skin takes away).
Add to all of this the fact that very, very few artists can draw black characters that look distinct from one another, and there you have a goateed Spectre.

As for whining about Crispus and Montoya turning into super-heroes. Me thinks someone has forgotten that DC is primarily, and always will be, a super-hero company. I don’t think its illogical for them to turn good characters that they have lying around into super-heroes.

My only complaint about turning Crispus Allen into the Spectre is that it was after he died by being shot…by Jim Corrigan.

Yes, I know it wasn’t _that_ Jim Corrigan–that’s what I’m complaining about. It’s confusing and unnecessary to involve a second Jim Corrigan in the history of the Spectre when they have no connection to each other, and one only has a tangential connection to the Spectre. Change the name of Allen’s shooter to “Bob Smith”, and it’s still the exact same story, and casual Spectre readers won’t be going, “Wait, did Corrigan kill Allen so he could stop being the Spectre? That doesn’t seem like him…”

Wish I had read this before flying off the handle in the Declarative Rabbit post. Thanks, Bill. That’s a much more reasonable way to critique Allen and the Spectre.

I classify Allen-as-the-Spectre as an idea that’s good in theory, but poor in execution. The ideological clash between a guy with no faith and God’s spirit of vengeance is an interesting hook for a character.

Unfortunately, TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED is one of the most piss-poor stories I’ve ever read (the only reason why I’m still reading it is that the backup serial with Dr. 13, is easily the best superhero story being produced by either of the Big Two).

My main problem with the current status quo is that Allen is invisible to the living, which doesn’t give him much room to grow as a character. Make him corporeal again and let him interact with his old cop buddies and see how interesting things get.

Oh, and it’s been established for a decade now that the Spectre takes on some of the features of its host. Compare the Eric Battle splash page above (Spectre + Allen) with his recently solicited cover of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED (the Spectre without Allen) and you’ll see that Spec looks different in both situations, in ways beyond the missing goatee. Same with Cliff Chiang’s mini.

And that’s what makes the goatee lame, by the way.

That and the fact that goatees don’t look good.

Grrrrrrr…. I happen to have a goatee! And, for the record, I think it looks good. So there. Nyah nyah nyah!

Yeah, I’m quite skilled when it comes to writing eloquent, introspective, well-reasoned responses to posts I disagree with :)

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 2:21 pm

Another case of a formally white superhero identity handed down to a black character instead of creating his own… (continuing my point from the Monica Rambeau/Captain Marvel entry)

Anyway, the point is not this, it’s that GOTHAM CENTRAL was one of the best crime/detective comic book of all time and Detective Crispus was one of the most interesting character. He didn’t need super-powers to be interesting. He reminded me of the best characters from the ‘good’ detective tv shows like Hill Street Blues, Homicide, and others.

The Crispus Specter brings nothing new to the DC universe.
A good character has been wasted here.

I don’t really know if Montoya will change much just cause she might become the question(though I don’t think so). I actually… I know how this sounds but… do to a bias… I didn’t like that they made her… gay… well my bias isn’t “that” bias… In the series I thought she might be good for batman. So its more of a “ship” thing, not that i’m into that scene(cause I’m totally not). That, and cause … i’m sure there are lady cops that are homosexual, just as there are in any other industry. But it seemed kinda tacked on, and cliche. She’s a cop, and a lady!, let’s “out” her! cause that would really cause alot of trouble, and would force her to resign(?)… but whatever not that this keeps me up at night or anything

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