Monday, June 27, 2011
Jim Aparo is my favorite comic artist and while I love his work on Brave and the Bold, Aquaman, Batman and the Outsiders and Phantom Stranger, the place where he made the strongest and most lasting impression on me was his Spectre run with Michael Fleischer in Adventure Comics. I loved these morality plays where the ghostly guardian meted out horrific and ironic punishments to evildoers. Aparo's moody art with superb use of shadow and panel composition made these stories unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was very happy with The Spectre animated short that DC released as a bonus feature on their direct to DVD films a while back. The fact that they decided to give it a 70's vibe with the setting really put it over the top for me. It's one of my favorite things to come out of DC Animation, and that's saying a lot.
A lot of people cite the 90's as an era of shoddy work and excesses in comics, but there were some definite bright spots. One is the Spectre series by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, truly a sensational comic. The first twelve issues are among the best comics I have ever read and they were able to maintain the quality throughout the rest of the run.
I have mixed opinions on the Crispus Allen version of the Spectre. While I thought he was a good selection as a new host, I have to say that none of the stories featuring him really hit the mark with me and the Spectre with a goatee just looked wrong, no matter which artist illustrated it.
Here are a couple of Spectre pieces in my collection, by Tom Mandrake and Steve Rude: