This was the final issue which published for the first time three unused Spectre stories from Adventure Comics from 1975.
The first story in this issue appears for the first time in print (“The Arson Fiend and...the Spectre”).
The story opens with New York City Police Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan talking to a New York Fire Chief as fire department crews battle a tenement building fire. Corrigan wonders if Freddy “The Torch” Fisher set this fire.
They spot a woman and baby on the seventh floor of the building. Corrigan moves to rescue her when the fire chief explains he doesn’t think the fire crews can rescue her. The Spectre provides a magic gang plank for the woman and baby to descend to safety. News magazine writer Earl Crawford witnesses the woman and baby’s descent to safety and believes it is the “force” of the ghost he has been researching.
The Spectre follows a chain of souls who are rising skyward. He speaks with one of the souls who died in the tenement fire. The soul is sure that Freddy “The Torch” Fisher is the person who set the fire and caused his murder. The Spectre assures the soul he will avenge his death.
Conducting his own investigation at New York City’s Hall of Records, Earl Crawford learns from deeds that slumlord Harrison Demarko owned each of several buildings recently destroyed by fire. Crawford is certain that each incident is a case of arson. Crawford guesses that Demarko wants to retire on the insurance money and speculates on the next building to burn.
While staking out one of Demarko's buildings, Crawford spies a man in a trenchcoat who starts a small fire but is confronted by the Spectre. Spectre identifies the man as Freddy Fisher. Fisher draws a handgun and fires shots, but the bullets circle around and instead strike Fisher in the chest. Crawford records the photos of the Spectre and Fisher’s death.
But the Newsbeat publisher believes that Crawford’s photos are doctored by double exposures to allow for a ghostly image to be planted into the scenes. The publisher also believes that Crawford killed Fisher and informs the police. Crawford is arrested for Fisher's murder.
Crawford goes through his trial. He is unable to convince anyone of the Spectre’s real presence. The jury decides that Crawford is insane. The judge commits Crawford to the New York State Asylum for the Criminally Insane for confinement and treatment.
The story closes with Crawford in a straight jacket, thinking that the result of his investigation and stories--his commital to the asylum--is like his own personal nightmare.
The second story is published for the first time (“The Maniac and...the Spectre”). The story opens with a gray haired woman visiting Earl Crawford at the asylum. She tells him that his innocence will be proven eventually. Earl asks for her help. She gives him a penknife to help him pry loose the bars on the window outside his cell.
At the next scene, Jim Corrigan is again meeting with Gwen Sterling. Gwen is removing her gray wig and makeup and tells Jim about the bad conditions Crawford is enduring at the asylum. She also mentions the penknife she gave him. Jim knows that Crawford will escape, so he decides to transform himself into a replica of Freddy Fisher. Impersonating Fisher, he enters a police station and tells the desk duty sergeant he is tehe arsonist Freddy Fisher. He informs the policeman that Earl Crawford didn’t murder anyone and adds that Fisher was doing arson work for slumlord Harrison Demarko. Then, the Fisher replica walks out of the police station and vanishes before the police sergeant can reach the front steps to arrest him for arson.
Later, at Harrison Demarko’s office, the Spectre appears. Demarko aims a handgun at the Spectre and fires three shots. The bullets are transformed into flowers in mid-air at the will of the Spectre. Perhaps thinking how prickly the situation is at that moment, the Spectre transformed Demarko into a suaro cactus.
Shortly thereafter, the police find the asylum escapee, Earl Crawford. They tackle him, then tell him that Freddy Fisher turned himself in, so Crawford would have his judge’s decision set aside.
Crawford ponders how the arsonist Freddy Fisher could be alive? He also wonders about the identity of the woman who helped him escape from the asylum. He is driven to find the answers as the story closes.
The third story is published for the first time in this issue (“The Voodoo Hag of Doom!”). The story opens weeks later with news writer Earl Crawford again writing for Newsbeat magazine, but still pondering the identity of the woman who helped him escape from the asylum. He also wonders if she is connected to the Spectre.
At Sterling Textiles, Inc., Gwen sits in a board room with corporate executives. One executive named Dawson contemptuously describes her as nothing more than a girl who knows nothing about business. Dawson asks to buy out her inherited shares in the corporation’s stock. Another executive named Henderson tells Gwen that Dawson has been trying to buy out the shares of the other stockholders for years and advises Gwen to ignore Dawson’s offer.
A woman with a voodoo doll bursts into the board room and threatens Henderson unless the executives change the women’s short dresses which they manufacture. Soon, Henderson slumps onto the table dead. At the crime scene, New York Detective Lieutenant Jim Corrigan and a medical examiner speculate on how a superstitious man might die of a heart attack over fear of voodoo.
But at the crime lab, the medical examiner discovers that Henderson died with water in his lungs as if he had drowned, much like the voodoo doll, which the old hag had tossed into the fish tank. News writer Crawford gets the tip about Henderson's unusual death and wonders if the Sterling Textile Corporation executive's death was caused by some supernatural force?
That night, Fred Thompson, another Sterling Textile Corporation board member is confronted at his hime by the voodoo witch and is murdered by a falling scimitar. Jim Corrigan arrives at the Thompson home to interview Thompson just as the voodoo witch is leaving. He spots Thompson dead in his office, then turns into the Spectre so that he can track the voodoo witch to her hideout.
A disguised man pays the voodoo witch for the second murder (Thompson), then leaves. The Spectre then appears and transforms the voodoo woman’s payoff into flies. When she protests the loss of her money, the Spectre transforms the voodoo witch into a spider so that she can survlive off killing the flies.
Earl Crawford that night breaks into the Sterling Mansion, hoping to capture the voodoo murderer before she can do any more damage. He enters a dark room and discovers Gwen’s gray wig, dress, and coat from her visit with him at the asylum. Crawford is nearly certain that Gwen is the woman who helped him escape from the asylum.
Meanwhile, in another part of the mansion, Gwen entertains another corporation board member named Slater. Slater draws a gun with a silencer from his coat. Just as he is about to aim his gun at Gwen's back, the Spectre emerges from a coffee cup. Rather than fire his gun, Slater suddenly starts acting like a child. Crawford secretly watches the interplay, and decides to sneak out now that he is sure Gwen is safe. As the story closes, the fleeing Crawford is determined to learn why Gwen helped him at the asylum.
The fourth story originally appeared in House of Mystery issue 201 (“The Demon Within,” 1976). This story is unrelated to the Spectre series and seems out of place. A boy named Gary Winters discovered that by some form of magic, he can transform himself into a red monster and return to his normal self. He is not viscious as the monster but frightens his parents and sister, then his schoolmates and teachers with this ability. They don’t understand the boy's ability and insist that he stop transforming himself into this red monster. His parents take him to a hospital for tests. The doctor asks for a week to study the child and determine if anything is possible to prevent the child from transforming himself into a monster. The doctor determines that the boy can transform himself by thinking, so the doctor performs a lobotomy on the boy. Following the operation, the boy becomes a blankly staring and unthinking child. The community feels safe again, but horrific damage was done to the child forever.
Also in the fourth issue are valuable interviews with the Spectre series' writer, artist, and editors. Artist Jim Aparo noted that the Spectre's vengeance concept was outside mainstream comics of the 1970s and were loaded with horrific fates for those who were hunted by the Spectre. Writer Michael Fleisher was realistic about the series' demise. Fleisher believed that sales of the early Spectre stories were strong, but sales declined rapidly in later issues. With poor sales dogging the Spectre stories, the series’ cancellation was guaranteed. Although he never pinned down the following rumor, DC editor Joe Orlando heard that writers at comic conventions were overtly bad-mouthing the series as destroying the good guy image of the superhero. When the Spectre run in Adventure Comics was cancelled in 1975, it was the end for a unique but highly controversial portrayal of a superhero.