Peer into the Eyes of The Spectre - Golden Age Reviews Mar 29, 2020 15:33:16 GMT -5 Prince Hal and tarkintino like this
Post by chadwilliam on Mar 29, 2020 15:33:16 GMT -5
All-Star Comics #6 (August-Sept 1941)
““Ho-Ho-Ho! Johnny thinks he’s on a tough assignment! It’s such a beautiful joke on him! Ha-Ha-ha!”
Synopsis: The Flash is standing down as a member of the team though he’ll continue to serve in an honorary capacity a la Superman and Batman. No reason is given in-story, but as was explained in an ad found within the previous issue, it’s due to the fact that having been granted his own title (All-Flash), he’ll have to make room for someone without that distinction. In this case, Johnny Thunder applies for the vacancy. The team decides to give Thunder a chance… of sorts. Go after “Killer” McPanzee. Who? Just take a look at some of these newspaper headlines. “Desperate Killer McPanzee slays ten men!”, “McPanzee Still at Large Kills Six More!”, “Killer McPanzee is the Public Enemy A-1 Plus!”. So a pretty frightening fellow – or just a harmless old man “who thinks he’s tough and prints this stuff on his own printing press!” remarks The Flash. “Ho-Ho-Ho! Johnny thinks he’s on a tough assignment! It’s such a beautiful joke on him! Ha-Ha-ha!” chortles The Spectre. Um… ok?
So Johnny goes off and gets himself into trouble. The team begins to worry and head out to look for him. When it comes time for The Spectre to join the search party…
“Frankly, I’m worried about Johnny Thunder! No trace of him, but I’ll find him!” These thoughts are interrupted when The Spectre sights two men in a valley below struggling. The fact that one of them has no head, startles even he. Short work is made of the headless man when The Spectre zaps him with a D-Ray “blasting it to total destruction”. Explanations are in order of course, and Bob Randall provides what he can.
“All that I can tell you is that while Jean Matthews, my fiancé, and I were out strolling, two of these monsters attacked us! While I struggled with one, the other carried off Jean!”.
The Spectre and Bob head out in pursuit of his fiancé and find her being driven by one of the headless men (yeah, I know – no head and he’s driving a car) down the street. The Spectre snatches the woman from the vehicle and the headless man crashes into a wall destroying himself.
Returning the couple to Jean’s home, The Spectre asks Jean if she has any enemies. Sure enough, a strange little man has been harassing her in the park. The Spectre tells Bob to stay in the house and asks Jean to return to the park where he’ll be watching. The strange man once again approaches Jean, gets fresh with her, and asks for “some token of your affection”. If a slap across the face is what he meant, then he should be happy. The man leaves vowing that “next time I see you, you will come to see me!” Though Jean doesn’t know what this means, we do. Having followed Jean to the park, Bob has gotten himself captured by another headless man. Thankfully, in following the odious little man who accosted Jean, The Spectre has learned that Bob has disobeyed his order and is ready to rescue him as the strange little man prepares to turn him into a headless slave.
For whatever reason, The Spectre chooses to wait until the villain calls Jean and tells her to come to his home if he wants to see her fiancée alive again. She complies, but when offered the chance to marry him instead, refuses. Now, The Spectre leaps into action.
Freeing Bob, he destroys the last of the monsters and makes his way to the fiend who created them. Bob however, has beaten him to the punch by tackling him on a balcony. When the balcony gives way, The Spectre rescues Bob, and the source of their troubles falls to his death. With the case attended to, The Spectre continues his search for Johnny.
Incidentally, Johnny is found by issue’s end and becomes a member of the team.
Thoughts: Man, The Spectre is one mirthful guy around the team. The story actually begins with him placing a hand on The Flash’s shoulder while declaring “Just heard you can’t be with us anymore, Flash! That’s mighty tough! We’ll miss you!”. Coupled with his “Ho-Ho-Ho! What a joke!” on the following page, it’s certainly a side of the fellow we haven’t seen before. A common feature of The Golden Age where the good guys rarely displayed unique personalities. So unless you’re willing to give Flash and Green Lantern and The Atom a somber tone, then you’d better give The Spectre and Doctor Fate a lighter one.
As for the tale itself which, though untitled like the rest of them, I call “The Pervert in the Park!”, it’s kind of odd, I suppose, that in a story involving decapitated men running loose, it’s the rather non-descript fellow controlling them which stands out at me. There’s an ugly, depraved, seediness to the character that makes you not want to think too hard about what his intentions for Jean are. So bizarre, fantastical headless men on one side; an all-too believable creep on the other. Depending upon which part of the narrative you’ve come to, you’re either reading a far-out adventure or something which could easily happen in our world. You’re never quite on sure footing with Spectre tales such as these.
A pretty straight forward adventure all in all – The Spectre spots a menace, learns the story behind it, tracks down the villain, villain dies – there’s no time for a supporting cast or even a regular cast beyond The Spectre, of course. Jim Corrigan doesn’t appear and isn’t even mentioned meaning if this were your first exposure to The Spectre, you might not even know that the guy has another identity. It’s a sampler tale – a good indication of what to expect in More Fun Comics, but, like the relationship it has with the missing Johnny Thunder, feels oddly disconnected from the main story.