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This issue reprints four stories which originally appeared in four different issues of Adventure Comics. The main character in the series is New York Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan.  He is actually a ghost called the Spectre. Murdered by gangsters, Corrigan has returned from beyond the grave to hunt down criminals. And when he locates people involved in murders, their death is nearly guaranteed.

The first story originally appeared in Adventure Comics issue 431 (February 1974). The title, “Wrath of the Spectre,” is also the title of the mini-series. The story opens on a secluded stretch of a highway. An armored truck with $1,000,000 is hit by fire grenades. The armored truck driver stops the burning truck, and the four guards are forced to vacate the vehicle. One of the guards calls out a plea, “Don’t shoot!” But Fritz, one of the armed robbers, unleashes a hail of gunfire from a submachine gun. Bullets riddle the four guards. One of the masked robbers complains to Fritz afterward about killing the guards, but Fritz is unphased. As the gunmen collect the money, they hear a police siren. They rush for their getaway car. One of the robbers, Pete, is wounded by an arriving police officer before he can make it to the door of the getaway car. Rather than aid his partner in crime, Fritz shoots down Pete, and the car speeds away.

New York Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan is one of the investigators at the scene of the armored truck robbery. On the body of Pete, the dead robber, Corrigan finds a business card from an antique store, which is operated by one of the surviving armoed truck robbers, Charlie.

At the antique store, Hank and Charlie, the other two armored truck robbers, again confront Fritz about shooting the guards and their own man, Pete. Fritz flippantly replies that now each person gets a greater share of the money stolen.

After Fritz and Hank have left the antique store, Corrigan arrives and confronts Charlie about the armored car holdup. Charlie reaches for a gun in his desk and fires four shots at Corrigan, and the bullets go right through him. Instead of toppling over, Corrigan says, “Those are all the questions I have...for now!” Then, he fades away like a true ghost. Charlie is spooked by the incident. He takes his money and starts to flee in a car. He calls Hank at a telephone booth and warns him of his encounter with the ghostly Corrigan. Hank laughs it off, but Charlie is still afraid. Charlie drives away from the phone booth. He sees the Spectre in the road, and veers to avoid him, causing his car to drive off a cliff.

The next day, the Spectre visits Hank who is reading a newspaper article about the death of his partner, Charlie. Hank aims a machine gun at the Spectre and warns the Spectre to stay away. But the Spectre shows no fear, even telling Hank that Hank can’t kill him, for he is already dead. When Hank asks why he is there, the Spectre replies, “I want to sleep in a nice warm grave...I want the ever-lasting peace that is rightfully mine.” Suddenly, Hank’s machine gun barrel melts, then Hank’s arms melt, and then the rest of his body.

Aboard a jet bound for South America, the Spectre emerges from Fritz’s smoking pipe. He confronts Fritz about his crime and tells Fritz to look into the Spectre’s eyes of death. Fritz talks loudly exclaiming that he will do nothing the Spectre wants. Fritz calls for a stewardess. The stewardess and other passengers can not see or hear the Spectre, so they presume Fritz is hallucinating. Fritz draws a gun and tries to take the stewardess as a hostage. The Spectre says, “Farewell, murderer.” The lights go out for a few seconds in the jet. When the lights blink back on, Fritz’s skeleton, still holding the handgun, sits on floor in the aisle.

The following morning, the New York Police Chief grumbles that Corrigan has no leads on the armored car robbers. The story ends with Corrigan’s reply: “Those mugs don’t have a ghost of a chance.”

The second story originally appeared in Adventure Comics 432 (April 1974). The title is “The Aguish of the Spectre.”

The opening scene is the walled estate of wealthy businessman Adrian Sterling, and it is dark. Three masked criminals dressed in black scale a wall. To silence two growling patrol dogs, one of the criminals draws a handgun with a silencer and kills them. They screw together a pole, then vault over an electric eye fence. One of the criminals plunges into a swimming pool and leaves behind a time bomb which is set to explode at 8:30 the next morning. After fleeing from the estate, Vera, Eric, and Peter unmask themselves and agree to go back to their regular jobs and act as if nothing has happened.

At 8:30 the next morning, Adrian Sterling is swimming in his pool. The bomb explodes and kills him. His beautiful daughter, Gwen, is a witness to the explosion. Lieutenant Jim Corrigan arrives to investigate. He learns that Sterling was upset about something at his business. Gwen believes that Maxwell Flood, Sterling’s business partner, was the reason why Sterling was upset, but Sterling would not admit it openly. Gwen asks if Corrigan has a girlfriend. Corrigan replies that he is not free to get involved with a woman, but she stills demonstrates a strong interest in him.

Knowing that Flood tends to work late, Corrigan arrives after hours when most people are gone. Corrigan phases through Flood’s office door and appears to Flood as the ghost of Adrian Sterling. He accuses Flood of killing him. Just as quickly, the ghost vanishes. Flood is frightened by the encounter and telephones Eric, one of the crooks who set the bomb in the Sterlings’ swimming pool. Flood warns Eric that Sterling’s ghost somehow knows who is involved in the murder plot.

Flood drives his car to the hair salon where Eric and Peter work. The Spectre follows. Eric kills Flood with the cord from a hair drier, then is aghast when spotting the Spectre who is in the mirror. The Spectre decides to use one of Eric’s own tools of his trade, a pair of scissors, to kill Eric. A few seconds later after hearing Eric’s cry, Peter observes how Eric has died, and flees to tell Vera. Vera is a fashion model and is getting ready for a fashion show right then, so she orders him away to await her at her residence. As Peter leaves, Corrigan approaches Peter. Corrigan announces that he is a police officer and orders Peter to stop. Peter pulls a gun from his jacket. Just at that moment Gwen Sterling drives up in her convertible auto and stops. She has been following Corrigan. Peter grasps her by her hair and is about to throw her from her car. Gwen looks up and recognizes that Jim Corrigan has transformed himself into the Spectre. The Spectre admits that he was once Jim Corrigan, but is now the Spectre. The Spectre stares down Peter and turns him into a pile of sand.

Gwen can hardly believe that the pile of sand was Peter just a few seconds before. Then, she spots Jim Corrigan in his civilian clothes again. She asks if he is the Spectre. He admits that he is the Spectre and wishes that he could become involved with Gwen. He asks her to forget him. Then, he vanishes.

A few seconds later, the Spectre reappears at the fashion show. As Vera models a breathtaking blue dress, the Spectre transformed her into what every model fears, into a rapidly aging old woman. Vera rapidly ages and then collapses onto the stage and dies.

The third story first appeared in Adventure Comics issue 432 (June 1974). “The Swami and the Spectre” opens in a seance room where a fraudulent criminal using the name Swami Seelal ends a seance. One of the women present, Mrs. Vandergilt bemoans before the swami that her husband believes the swami is a fake and refuses to pay for any more money for seances. The swami calms her by stating that he will have the spirit world intercede.

A few minutes later, the swami removes his turban and tells his henchman in the scheme that they need to do something about Mr. Vandergilt. Smiley agrees to do something. The next day, Smiley is present at a construction site. Smiley released an emergency brake on a dump truck, and it careens off a platform, killing Mr. Vandergilt. Lieutenant Jim Corrigan arrives and investigates what seems like an ordinary construction accident. Then, a grieving Mrs. Vandergilt told Corrigan about how Mr. Vanderbilt had offended Swami Seelal’s spirits. Corrigan knows that Seelal has a police record as a fake, so he drives to the swami’s business. The swami denies any involvement in the death of Mr. Vandergilt, but Corrigan rattles the swami with a claim that he will watch the swami very carefully from now on.

That afternoon, Gwen Sterling visits the swami’s business. She tells how she wants to be involved with a man named Jim Corrigan, but he is actually a ghost. She asks the swami for help to restore Corrigan’s humanity. The swami thinks that Gwen is a fruitcake, but agrees to help. Thinking that he can take Gwen’s money, then kill Corrigan and Gwen simultaneously, he tells her to ask Corrigan to join her at an abandoned cemetery that following night. The swami warns her not to explain why she wants to meet Corrigan there.

Smiley and Gwen are at the cemetery after dark. Smiley waits to ambush Corrigan as he drives into the cemetery. Smiley hurls a grenade at the car, and it explodes but does not affect the Spectre. As Smiley returns to the spot where Gwen is still kneeling, the Spectre intervenes before Smiley can slit Gwen’s throat with a large knife. Smiley flees, but two ghoulish ghosts capture and subdue Smiley, then drag him into the earth with them.

Jim Corrigan reappears and talks to Gwen. She admits that she had hoped the swami could help Jim so that Jim and Gwen could share a normal life together. Jim understands, but tells her he is not alive and can not have a normal life as long as he is charged with this unearthly mission to avenge other people’s deaths. Gwen watches as Jim fades away.

Mere seconds later at the swami’s seance, the Spectre appears in the crystal ball. Only the swami can hear the Spectre’s words. The swami stammers out a few incoherent words. The other people in the room can not see or hear the reason why the swami is talking, but believe he is talking to spirits. Suddenly, the swami stands and then turns into glass. Then, the glass swami topplies to the floor and shatters.

The story ends with Jim Corrigan walking through the gates of the swami’s sanctuary. He concludes that Gwen sought out the swami as a result of her love for Jim, so he will not penalize her for what had happened at the cemetery.

The fourth story originally appeared in Adventure Comics issue 426 (March 1973). “The Adventurer’s Club” begins in the a club meeting lounge. Nelson Strong is interviewing a gangster named Cross about a Thompson sub-machine gun owned by a hit man named “Scortch” Jordon. During the his last drive by hit in 1952, Scortch also shot down an innocent passerby, a young woman named Finch. When Cross grumbled about the way the hit went down, Scortch turned callous about Finch’s death, claiming that she just had crummy luck.

The police questioned Scortch about his role, then allowed Harvey Finch, the father of the deceased woman, to talk to Scortch at the police station. No confession came from the questioning, so the police released Scortch. But a day later, Scortch claimed to see the ghost of Ms. Finch at a restaurant. And later that same day after seeing her ghost again at a traffic light, Scortch got out of Cross’ car with his machine gun, chased her, cornered her, and fired a burst of bullets at her. As the driver of the car Cross could not see the woman Scortch was pursuing. All he saw was Scortch firing at a steel beam. Ricocheting bullets cut down the hitman, and Scortch lie dying where he fell. With his dying words, Scortch confessed to the police about his last hit and fingered Cross as the driver. Cross spent twenty years behind bars for that crime.

Twenty years later the woman’s father, Harvey Finch, visited Cross in prison just a week before Cross was paroled. Cross stopped his recounting of the tale at that point to note that Finch must be a hypnotist, for Cross was now seeing the ghost of that woman with her accusing eyes haunting him wherever he went.

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The Spectre Done Right 0

Before I get into my review of this comic, a little history lesson is in order.  In the early days of comics, the 30s and 40s, the period now known as the 'Golden Age', comics were simple, but a lot edgier than people think. Take Batman for example, in the early Bob Kane stories, it was not unusual for Batman to use firearms, or even kill if he thought it was appropriate. Then in the 1950s and 1960s, with the publication of the exposé Seduction of the Innocen...

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