Story: Doug Moench
Art: Gene Colan, Steve Mitchell
Colors: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
What They Say:
Under the guidance of Madame Xanadu, office girl Kim Liang is sent to retrieve a large urn from a locker in Grand Central Station. Inside is the body of Jim Corrigan, earthly host of the Spectre.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Coming after the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1987 saw the debut of the new Spectre series. I’ve long enjoyed the character over the years and his role in Crisis was an interesting one, but one that became incredibly overpowered even while tied to a very human element. Doug Moench was one of my favorite writers from this period and onward as he did a lot of great Batman and Moon Knight works and some really good standalone works. He was ideal to take on this character because of the pairing and the need to retool him a bit. And what can we say about Gene Colan? His style may not run well with a lot of modern audiences but there’s a great quality to what he does and I love the look of this as it’s very much of the day but at the same time it shines through with the right pieces of his own particular style.
The two-track approach is actually a three-track one here as we get a subplot involving a copy buddy of Jim Corrigan who is getting into trouble, setting up for the opening storyline. Corrigan, a private investigator, has been missing for weeks after going undercover and the cops are thinking of opening their own investigation into it. While this unfolds, we’re introduced to Kim Liang, an office worker who has gotten suddenly frustrated at the job she’s good at and has just walked out the door and is going through New York City in a kind of zombie-like state. What she’s actually doing is moving under the influence of Madame Xanadu and larger forces that bring her to Xanadu’s in order to accomplish her own side quest of bringing back a needed large vase. Liang has a larger role ahead of her in being a keeper for Corrigan but right now she’s just being manipulated around to be in the right places.
While not exactly happening at the same time until the very end due to the scale of things, we see the Spectre, the spirit of vengeance, drifting through the universe. At the start, his eyes are twenty-seven light-years apart in order to set the scale. With him being a key player in Crisis, part of that event was designed to de-power a lot of characters and this was the big step to do so. It’s a kind of languid and wordy approach that feels overdone today, but over the course of the book we see as he’s being reshaped a bit and bound more tightly to Corrigan, whose dead body back on Earth is about to be re-infused with his own spirt and reconnected more formally to the Spectre. The dynamic between the two has always been antagonistic on some level and that’s put into play here, though it seems like Corrigan has a chance at being more involved in defining things based on what Xanadu hints at.
I’ve always loved the character of the Spectre and having enjoyed this series when it first came out I’m enjoying the chance to slowly re-read it again as it’s being added to the DC Universe service as part of my subscription. I don’t believe it’s seen a trade release before or at least not for decades and it’s only now being added digitally to other services as well, so it’s pretty “Fresh and New” on some level. It does feel like you’re reading a book from a very different time and there’s a lot that I like about that as it gets me to re-figure how I’m processing it as it’s very narration heavy, dialogue heavy, and goes for a smaller and tighter approach. I’ve got a love for those involved in this so nostalgia is definitely there but I’m always just aware of the different pacing style involved from this period and grew up on it. That familiarity is useful as it makes it easier to adjust to. I definitely like what we get here even if the back of my mind is “hurry up!” as it gets me to relax and take in more of the details.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: DC Comics via DC Universe
Release Date: February 4th, 1987
MSRP: Subscription Service