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This issue presents three reprinted stories which originally appeared in three different issues of Adventure Comics.

The first story originally appeared in Adventure Comics issue 434 (“The Nightmare Dummies and the Spectre” August, 1974). The story opens on an open stretch of a New York highway. Pete and Frank, two delivery men who are hauling a load of the Monarch Mannikin Company’s mannequins in a truck, hear a noise in the back. Pete, the truck driver, stops the truck, and Frank gets out to see what has happened inside the van. He opens the doors and climbs into the back of the truck, and the door slams shut. Hearing the second noise, Pete the truck driver grabs a lug wrench and climbs out of the truck to investigate. When Pete swings open the doors, the mannequins in the van attack him. Although Pete knocks some of the arms and legs off a few of the mannequins, there are too many, and they overwhelm and kill Pete.

When the first responding police car arrives, the two policemen ponder what has happened. One of the policemen claims the crime scene looks like the mannequins, now lying sprawled on the ground around the dead truck driver, were involved in the killing. The other laughs it off. They agree that Lieutenant Jim Corrigan would like this type of case since it is so strange.

New York Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan has just returned to New York. While riding in a cab from the airport, he hears a police radio in the police car next door announce that multiple homicides just occurred at Hunt’s Department Store. Corrigan vanishes from the cab and flies as the Spectre to the department store. In the department store, the Spectre appears and burns up one mannequin, and the killing stops in the store. After transforming back into Jim Corrigan, he checks each mannequin; they each have Monarch markings, so Corrigan decides to continue the investigation at the Monarch Mannikin factory.

At the Monarch Mannikin Co., Mr. Monarch shows Corrigan the modern manufacturing techniques and then mentioned that Zeke Borosovitch, an old man, is still designing mannequins the old fashioned way. In reverence to his father‘s employment of Zeke, Mr. Monarch is unwilling to discharge the old man. Corrigan observes how Zeke treats his mannequins as if each one is real and has feelings.

Outside the Monarch factory, as Corrigan ponders the strange circumstances of the suddenly animated mannequins and the related killings, Gwen Sterling stops her convertible sports car beside Jim. She tells him that she called the precinct and knew where to find him. She tells him that it has been weeks since she has seen him and wants to be with him, even if he is the Spectre. Jim is disturbed by his own feelings for Gwen, but insists that she leave him alone. The scene causes a tear from Gwen, who refuses to give up her romantic interests in Jim Corrigan.

As Jim walks away, Zeke, the mannequin maker, calls out to Gwen. He tells Gwen that he can solve her problem with Jim, so Gwen follows him into the Monarch Mannikin Co. He offers Gwen a cup of tea, which is filled with a sedative.

That same night, Corrigan reviews how harsh had been with Gwen. The doorbell buzzes. He opens the door and admits he is glad to see her. She says nothing. He invites her inside. Jim apologizes for his behavior that afternoon and is recounting how he is nothing more than a dead man, when Gwen pulls a butcher’s cleaver from her purse and chops through the middle of Jim’s back. The cleaver does Jim no harm, but sticks in the wall. Thinking that Gwen is committing a murder of passion, Corrigan transforms into the Spectre. He uses the same cleaver to hack apart Gwen. Jim quickly realizes that the killer is not Gwen at all. The sliced body parts are those of a mannequin, which looks just like Gwen and even has Gwen’s clothes.

Back in Zeke’s design room, Zeke laughs as Gwen, now tied to a chair wearing only her bra and panties. She struggles to free herself. Zeke tells her that his Gwen Sterling mannequin should have killed Jim Corrigan by now. Then, the Spectre appears in Zeke’s design room. Zeke calls upon all mannequins in the room to attack the Spectre. The Spectre melts the plaster mannequins and then turns on Zeke. Zeke grabs a knife and puts it to the throat of Gwen with the intent to kill if the Spectre approaches. The Spectre transforms Zeke into a mannequin before he can do any harm.

The next day, Monarch Mannikin Co. workers are hauling all of their mannequins to a dump and burning every one. One of the workers laughs as he hauls out the Zeke Borosovitch mannequin, commenting that the look on the dummy’s face appeared as though he’d seen a ghost. The story closes with Jim and Gwen nearby who are onlookers while the Zeke mannequin burns in the bonfire.

The second story originally appeared in Adventure Comics, issue 435 (“The Man Who Stalked the Spectre” October, 1974). The scene opens with the Grandenetti gang in a gunfight with the police. One of the gang, Jerry, fires a machine gun into the windshield of a police car. Then, the three gang members make their escape in a car. The three gang members split up. Jerry breaks into the Fleisher Refrigeration Plant and decides to hide out there. The Spectre appears in the refrigeration plant. After Jerry aims his machine gun and fires multiple shots through him, the Spectre surrounds Jerry with a chilling ice block death.

In his New York home, freelance magazine writer Earl Crawford reviews the occult deaths recently reported in the newspapers. Crawford concludes that this occult being is after the Grandenetti gang. He approaches the publisher of Newsbeat magazine and pitches the occult story. The publisher, Bob, decides to let Crawford investigate the story and calls to ask the police to let Crawford trail them while they work to solve the Grandenetti gang. Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan is working the case, so he is assigned to let Crawford shadow him. Corrigan contemptuously calls Crawford, “Clark Kent,” and directs Crawford to stay out of the way and keep quiet while Corrigan does his work.

Corrigan hears that Mitch Grandenetti has taken hostages in the Conklin Toy Store. Leaving Crawford with another police officer in front of the toy store, Corrigan slips around to the rear entrance and attracts the villain who moves out of sight from his hostages. The Spectre shrinks the gunman and animates a Viking toy which attacks and lodges his battleaxe in a deathblow right in the middle of Mitch’s forehead.

Corrigan emerges from the building and calls the other police inside. Corrigan claims that Mitch Grandenetti must have gotten away. But Crawford, who had followed the police inside, discovered the tiny Mitch frozen like a toy with a battleaxe lodged in his forehead. Crawford knows that “The Force” he is investigating has been there and already ended the life of the gang member.

Later that night the police precinct desk sergeant recognizes Crawford and tells him to hand a note to Lieutenant Corrigan. Crawford reads the note, and learns that another Grandenetti gang member is hiding out at a sawmill near Peakskill. Crawford decides it is more important for him to find the villain and convince the man to surrender to the police before this killer occult force ends the villain‘s life. Not telling Corrigan about the note, Crawford drives alone to the sawmill. The Grandenetti gang member easily captures Crawford in the darkness, escorts Crawford into the mill, and jokes about how he will practice his marksmanship skills while killing the writer.

Then, the Spectre appears from out of the lamp flame inside the mill. In a very important moment for the reader‘s understanding of character, the Spectre briefly reviews his origin as the Spectre.

Evil men had locked him in a cement barrel and dropped him in the river where he died.

Then, the Spectre transformed the Grandenetti gang member into a block of wood. Since they are in a sawmill, the Spectre turns on the saw and cuts the wooden body into at least twenty pieces. Crawford shakes his fist at the Spectre for the horrific way he ended the Grandenetti gang member’s life. Crawford leaves the mill, shaken by what he has seen and by his own near encounter with death.

The third story first was published in Adventure Comics issue 436 (“The Gasmen and the Spectre” December, 1974).

At the New York Coliseum’s annual auto show, three men, wearing gas masks and hazardous materials suits, walk into the show and unleash deadly gas, killing about sixty people. The mass murderers did not take anything from the show--not a car, nor even the money from the gate receipts.

At Newsbeat magazine, Bob, the publisher, argues with Earl Crawford over the story he had written about the death of the Grandenetti gang member at that sawmill. Bob orders Earl to write a story about the auto show massacre.

New York Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan is at the scene investigating the murders. The evidence indicates that the gas may have been Phosgene, a nerve gas used by the Germans during the First World War.

At an abandoned observatory on a cliff overlooking a waterway, the gas commandos explain the implementation of “Operation Green Cloud” to a man dressed in a World War I era German field marshall‘s uniform. The bald man insists on being addressed as sir, or Field Marshall Offal. Offal is pleased at the debriefing.

At the New York City Mayor’s office, the mayor discusses Field Marshall Offal’s billion dollar ransom note in exchange for the safety of the city’s citizens. Corrigan is part of the team involved in the discussions. He asks to be the person who delivers the money to the Field Marshall. The Mayor agrees.

In a remote wooded area, Corrigan stands with the briefcase full of $1000 bills as requested. A helicopter arrives and one of the commandos orders Corrigan into the helicopter. The writer, Earl Crawford, has secretly shadowed Corrigan’s movements to this wooded area, and amazingly trails the helicopter for thirty minutes as it flies to the Field Marshall’s hideout.

At the hideout, a commando sprays more of the nerve gas at Corrigan after Corrigan has handed over the money. When the gas dissipates, however, the Spectre stands where Corrigan had been standing. The Spectre transformed the would be gas murderer into a stone statue. The Spectre’s torso emerges through the dome of the observatory and is spotted by one of the field marshall‘s commandos. The Field Marshall orders his two commandos to fire on the Spectre. Their bullets pass through the Spectre. Then, the Spectre enlarges a giant compass and impales the two commandos with its points. The Field Marshall flees to a boat, but the Spectre followed him. The Field Marshall surrenders, and announces that he considers himself a prisoner of war. Offal insists upon treatment by the standards of the Geneva Convention. But the Spectre ignores the demand and causes the Field Marshall’s boat to transform into a giant squid. The squid wraps its tentacles around the Field Marshall and consumes him as fodder.

The tenacious Crawford arrives at the hideout and spots the helicopter. He sees the stone statue of the man who had tried to gas Corrigan earlier and follows the trail to the dock where Jim Corrigan is standing. Crawford asks what happens. Corrigan ends the story, explaining that he will divulge the details when all local news reporters are present.

These three stories have a continuity to them with either Gwen Sterling or Earl Crawford appearing as regular characters.

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Fleischer and Aparo Were on a Roll! 0

The second issue of Wrath of the Spectre! reprints more of the 70s Spectre stories by Michael Fleischer & Jim Aparo from the pages of Weird Adventure Comics, and this issue is even better than the first!  To begin with, all 48 pages are dedicated to The Spectre this time (issue one had a 'filler' story). Secondly, perhaps emboldened by their success, the creative team pushes the envelope even further. We see Gwen Sterling captured, and tied up in just her bra and panties. We also see Gwen ...

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