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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 286

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the comics posted so far!

Today we look at Michael Fleisher, Jim Aparo and Ernie Chan’s Spectre series from Adventure Comics #431-440!


The series was almost entirely done by Fleisher and Aparo (with Aparo inking himself and even doing the lettering), but Chan helped out a bit towards the end of the 10-issue run.

The basic gist of the Fleisher/Aparo Spectre was simple – Jim Corrigan investigates a crime, then he gets vengeance as the Spectre, and his vengeance would often be spectacularly gruesome.

Here’s an example from Adventure Comics #432.

Three criminals rig a rich guy’s pool to explode…

After his death, the Spectre manipulates the man who hired them to get him to lead Corrigan to the killers, and then things get freaky…

Here’s the Spectre’s vengeance in another issue, Adventure Comics #438 (where a professor is performing taxidermy on HUMANS!)…

There certainly is a little bit of sketchiness about watching these acts of cruelty as entertainment, but Fleisher does not completely tell us that what the Spectre is doing is the “right” thing. Heck, Corrigan seems more haunted by his actions than he is pleased with them.

But boy, could Aparo draw the hell out of those poetic justices!!!

DC later collected the stories into a extra-sized mini-series, including brand-new (at the time) stories that had been written by Fleisher at the time but never published (because the series was canceled abruptly – the world of the 1970s was perhaps not yet ready for a comic like this).


Wow…those are gonna give me nightmares… but at least I can’t blame Johns for his version of the Jordan Spectre in JSA for being morbid. Some of these deaths are ruthless! And I like the human host being torn as to if the deaths are right…

Aparo, man…


The pencils on #438 were by Frank Thorne, by the way…

Oh crap, never mind, I was thinking of another issue. As you were!

has this ever been collected in a trade?

yep, trade is called Wrath of the Spectre, has all the stories inc. the ones published in the 80s. love it.

It’s worth mentioning that the Fleischer/Aparo Spectre series led to an odd corner of comics history — the Fleischer vs Harlan Ellison & Gary Groth lawsuit. In an extended interview in the Comics Journal (circa 1980), Ellison referred to Fleischer (in particular his Spectre work) as “bugf**k crazy,” and Fleischer sued Ellison and Groth for libel. The long-running Ellison/Groth vendetta arose (in part, I guess) from their being co-respondents in the lawsuit.

Death by gorilla! LOL. Was Carmine Infantino still in charge of editorial during this time? I believe he was.

If you’re looking for consistently great art in 70’s DC titles, Jim Aparo is your man. Michael Fleisher’s stories remain the definitive version of The Spectre for me.

Joe Orlando was the inspiration behind these. Joe mentions his contributions in the first issue of Comic Book Artist. They were a reflection of his anger over having once been mugged alongside his pregnant wife. Michael wrote the stories and Joe viewed them as a catharsis of sorts. Highly understandable.


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