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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Spectre 10 - the Spectre climbs the stairs, watches the car, rips open the bag, senses no evil, and ends

Another Cardy cover graces Spectre 10 (May/June 1969), the final issue of the series.

There are four stories in this issue, as well as a splash page, by Grandenetti, showing the Spectre and the Journal of Judgement, making this feel even more like House of Mystery.

Grandenetti and George Roussos also do the art on the first story, which follows a bad kid turned criminal, as throughout his life he has been terrified listening to people climb the stairs towards him, from his father, to the police.

In this story, after leaving prison, he tries to create a new life, but winds up murdering his business partner. When he hears someone climbing the stairs he gets so scared he has a heart attack and dies.

It turns out the Spectre was the one coming up the stairs, kind of taking on the role of the angel of death.

The second story has art by Jack Sparling, and deals with a two bit thief who keeps having a nightmare in which he runs down a little kid while fleeing the scene of a crime. Both the thief and the Spectre think this dream is a premonition. It distresses the thief, and keeps the Spectre following him.

At the end, when the chain of events bring this about, the thief crashes his car rather than hit the child, dying in the process.

Sparling also provides the art on the third story, about a shoeshine guy being tormented by a old friend who has done much better for himself, who keeps waving a black bag in his face and bragging.

I pretty much expected the bag to be empty, but that's not where the story goes. Instead, the shoeshine guy goes to kill his former friend and steal the bag, but the Spectre intervenes. The ghost reveals that the bag's lining has stolen gold, for which there is a big reward.

Sparling also closes out the story with a circus murder story. A ventriloquist gets fired, and vows vengeance.

The Spectre keeps tabs on the man, and can sense no evil in his mind, and yet the circus people keep getting killed off.

It turns out he has been trading places with his dummy. The Spectre had been trying to read the doll's mind. D'oh! Really not a great story to go out on.

Curiously, the issue ends with a Fact File on the Spectre. This was a text feature series that appeared in a number of the books printed each month. This one looks at how the Spectre's series in the 1940s started with the character being all powerful, then how his powers got decreased, and how Percival Popp took over the strip, before it wound up getting cancelled. Then it goes on to discuss the Showcase revival and this book, commenting on how the Spectre's powers got dropped and he became basically a narrator, and then how the book was cancelled! This is the one and only place in the entire issue that reveals that this is the final issue! Not only that, it even comments on it, in a mildly disparaging way, as if it were looking back at a bad decision made years earlier. Very strange.

The Spectre is next seen the following year in Justice League of America for a JLA/JSA crossover. No sign of the Journal of Judgement. The Spectre would never carry that again. But I am fairly certain that the visual of the cloaked figure carrying the book would serve as the basis/inspiration for Destiny when that character got introduced a few years down the road.

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