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CSBG Archive

Almost Hidden – The Haunting of Jim Corrigan

Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So every day this month I will spotlight a different cool comic book that is only available as a back issue. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.

I want you folks to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com with your suggestions for comics that I should feature this month. I’d like to see what you all would like to see get more attention.

A few of you asked for John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake Spectre, and I believe one of you even asked for this specific storyline, “The Haunting of Jim Corrigan,” from Spectre #52-56, written by Ostrander and drawn by Mandrake.

As the story begins, the Spectre has been changed by recent events in his title, and he has begun to take a more aggressive stance on his vengeance, returning to the style of the Fleisher/Aparo issues, as we see here where the Spectre visits a prison (Tom Mandrake gets to rock out, Jim Aparo-style)…

While the Spectre acts tough, he can’t help but be swayed by the prisoner’s plea, leading to a brilliant sequence later in the issue…

Meanwhile, though, the Spectre has been residing in the soul of Jim Corrigan’s human partner, Nate Kane, to heal himself. While there, though, Kane catches a glimpse of Corrigan’s memories, and what appears to be Corrigan murdering someone. So Kane begins to investigate Corrigan’s own memories!

His investigation is the foundation of the plot of the story.

The Spectre and Corrigan, meanwhile, are continually haunted by the plight of the innocent prisoner and begin to try to clear his name. However, the Spectre’s need for vengeance has left them with only one living witness who can clear the prisoner’s name, leading to this, well, haunting scene…

In the middle of the story, we take a break to meet a brand-new character, a character very familiar to a lot of you out there…

After a story of the original Mister Terrific (including a “behind the scenes” look at the Golden Age Mr. Terrific’s death), we get the first appearance of the new (and current) Mister Terrific, who would go on to become one of the best new superheroes of the 1990s and is one of the characters to get his own series for DC’s new 52 relaunch.

So, what happens to Nate’s investigations? WAS Corrigan a murderer? How does the Spectre react to that? What other mysteries are hidden in Corrigan’s sub-conscious? Find out by picking up Spectre #52-56, which paved the way for the classic conclusion to Ostrander and Mandrake’s acclaimed run!


Ooh, damn that’s cool. Hopefully the new Mr Terrific series will do well and AT LEAST this storyline gets collected. But DC, collect this entire Spectre run!

I actually met John Ostrander at an Ithacon sometime in the 90s. He had pages from the Blaze of Glory Marvel mini (with Western Heroes), so whenever that came out, but I was a dumb kid and didn’t realize who he was, exactly. D’oh! Wish I could meet him again. He’s had some health issues in the last few years, hasn’t he? If so, I wish him all the best.

The last thing I know of that either of these guys have done was the Batman 4 parter that filled in right near the start of Morrison’s run. I think Ostrander’s been doing Star Wars stuff, but I don’t know what Mandrake’s been doing (oh, wait, the Superman/Batman/Vampires/Werewolves stuff, right?). This is a team that should reunite for something else!

What’s great about the bit with the condemned prisoner is that, when the warden says they’re just doing the will of the people of the state of New York, the Spectre replies, “Then it is upon the people of the state of New York that I will exact my vengeance.”

“Um, I think we’d better call the governor…”

It kills me that DC never collected the entire Ostrander/Mandrake SPECTRE run, with the exception of the first 4 issues of the run. Along with Sandman, it was one of DC’s best books in the 90s. The range of subjects that Ostrander tackled was on written with a conscientious objector view of the subjects of the day…. AIDS, the Bosnian/Serb conflict, racism, and others. From the Rise of the Spectre to the Haunting of America, the Spectre was 64 issues (62 plus the Annual and Zero Hour issue) of definite must read.

This is a great story, actually it’s a great series. One I enjoy reading in it’s entirety. However, the first appearance of Mr. Terrific is nearly impossible to find. It took me years to find it at a reasonable price.

I think the Ostrander-Mandrake Spectre beats out even Starman to be the best non-Vertigo DC title of the 90s.

best DC title of the 90’s

Ostrander is definitely one of the best writers in the business. I HATE the whole “sadistic killer” take on The Spectre, but not only he made it make sense, the stories were interesting enough they had me following the whole series! They indeed need to reprint this stuff so all these hotshot writers can see how it’s REALLY done.

I can’t remember if this Spectre series was among the listed nominees for best single run of a super-hero comic a while back, but it should have been. There was absolutely no misstep in the entire run. Definitely the best mystical super-hero book in the past 30 years, and probably the best run since the Spectre run in Adventure in the 70s.

Off the top of my head, Wesley, I think it did pretty well.

It’s simply criminal that this hasn’t been collected at all. Really, almost any of the stories from this entire run could be used for this feature, since only the first — what? half-dozen? — were collected…and all of them are awesome.

Ostrander, a former theology student, has always been good at this. Richard Craemer, who turns up here, got some nicely philosophical material in the Suicide Squad series, too. He really turned the conventional wisdom of Joe Quesada on its head by having a virtually omnipotent and essentially unbeatable protagonist (or was he?) do interesting things for interesting reasons.

fact, I’d say that the reason this is such a good “mystical” book is that a good mystical book has to have some kind of a metaphysical outlook — here, theodicy, in others, a Lovecraftian nihilism or a vaguely Buddhist spirituality. The mystical books that become arbitrary and dumb, with overpowered heroes and zero tension, become such trainwrecks because don’t have a guiding perspective from the writer. Limiting the characters’ powers is much less important than having an idea or a theme in mind, and remembering that magic is metaphor rather than plot.

been hoping to see this run show up here for its a pity dc still has not collected this run of the spectre espically how he winds up in his own way inspiring terry to become the current mr. terrific plus love the warning he gives the warden exicute this innocent man and you and new york will feel my vengence. not to mention the spectre kind of comes off as a little snobbish.

Ricardo Amaral

August 8, 2011 at 9:52 am

I like this series as a whole, as well as J.M. de Matteis take on him, even though they gave him Hal Jordan. But Ostrander and deMatteis are the best at this kind of book.

It really is a shame that so much of Ostrander’s work at DC hasn’t been collected. I haven’t read this series (although it’s been on my list for years), but Firestorm, Martian Manhunter, and Suicide Squad are all top-notch. During DC’s all-time greatest period as a publisher, he was responsible for so many of the highlights. SS is finally being collected now, so maybe some of these others will follow eventually.

I gotta ask . . . when did Michael Holt decide that it was a great idea to cover his face with a big “T”? I see that as the biggest problem with such a good character.

As a black comic fan who generally wears shades everywhere, let me just say THANK JEBAS Mr. Terrific’s look changed when he joined The JSA…. It’s a lil gaudy…

That being said, there is no better scene to better exude what I hope his new series will symbolize than those last 2 pages… (maybe the StarGirl / JJ Thunder argument scene over in JSA shortly after JJ joined the team proper comes close…) This scene however just represents everything I like about Michael Holt.

I was hoping to see this. Ostrander’s Spectre is my favourite comic book of all time.

I think Mr. Terrific shows up with the T-mask in JSA #1. I don’t recall him having many appearances between his beginning in The Spectre and the start of JSA…

He showed up at Corrigan’s funeral, but that’s about it.

Never read this series — how did the media react to all this carnage at Attica? Torchings, crucifixions, the random head flying out between the bars — hard to believe it just passed unnoticed, even in the kind of media you find in comics….

This series was absolute magic at a time when comics hit it’s lowest point for me. This series ran at a time when the only comics I was collecting was The Spectre, Starman and Vertigo’s Books of Magic. I had litterally dumped dozens of books and almost gave up collecting altogether (as many other readers did at the time). I think by the time this story arc hit, I was starting a comeback with Preacher, The Invisibles, JLA, etc.

I knew very little of Ostrander and Mandrake before this series, and I remember the first 12 issues being a great opening story arc as well that hooked me for the whole run. This was the definitive Spectre for me (having not read the character before that). They did such a great job retiring Corrigan from the role of Spectre host by the end of this series that I’m glad DC resisted the urge to bring him back (even if future Spectre series suffered for it and the character hasn’t really did find it’s footing since, despite some interesting attempts).

With the DCnU soon to be up and running, I think that I could finally get behind a Corrigan-as-Spectre reboot so they can return the character to it’s roots without harming the perfect ending that Ostrander and Mandrake gave to the character in this series. Yes, I think this would be the perfect time for DC to do just that…especially as a series or mini-series under DC’s new “dark” or “edge” banner, perhaps even bringing the Ostrander/Mandrake band back together to do it.

Now DC…go collect this wonderful series!

Kind of funny, that Spectre scene.

The very first time we see Superman in Action Comics #1, he’s using his power to insist on a stay of execution for an innocent woman. Step one: lay siege to the governor’s mansion.

Morrison has a lot of fun in ‘Supergods’ with how morally ambiguous the scene is until Superman states his intentions: with that iconic cover that doesn’t answer whether Superman is a hero or a hurricane, and then we see the loon leaping in with a bound woman on his shoulder to intimidate a state official.

The Golden Age was an interesting time.

I_Captain Blanco

August 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating: it is a CRIME AGAINST ART that Ostrander’s SPECTRE has never been collected. I’d settle for trade paperbacks, but I want hardcovers, ideally in the same format as the Starman Omnibuses.

never liked Tom Mandrake’s art. It always looks rushed to me & unfinished. i think he’s got a Colan similarity, but much less polished & it has always turned me off any book he’s been on.

It’s a common last name, of course, but I wonder if Corrigan’s partner Nate Kane will be revealed to be related to Batwoman Kate Kane?

I’ve only read bits and pieces of this run but have heard wonderful things about it.

Had no idea this was Mr Terrific’s first appearance.

DC would be wise to collect this. The Spectre is one of DC’s best characters IMO.

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