Next month marks the 70th anniversary of “More Fun Comics” No. 52, which brought a strange and enduring apparition into the page of DC Comics: The Spectre, that scowling avenging force from beyond the grave.
The supernatural being scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid; when I 5 or 6, I got a hold of a Spectre story in which the spooky hero turned some bad guys into wood and then ran them through a sawmill. Wow, if Superman had that kind of finish-the-job attitude, Lex Luthor wouldn’t keep breaking out of prison, would he?
The core premise of the Spectre has changed through the years, but the most recurring concept is that Jim Corrigan, a hard-bitten cop, was murdered but then came back to the living world with a connection to a powerful undead spirit.
That classic story foundation is back next month as the Spectre flies into a plane of pop-culture existence — animation.
The image above is a still from the animated short starring the Spectre that will be among the extras on Warner Premiere’s new “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths,” which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 23, just in time to celebrate the Spectre’s anniversary in style.
I have high hopes for the short: The story is written by Steve Niles, who has established himself as the best horror writer in comics with “Criminal Macabre,” ”30 Days of Night” and “Dead, She Said,“ and the executive producer is Bruce Timm, perhaps the most prestigious name in contemporary superhero animation.
The short is directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (“G.I Joe: Resolute“), and the cast is led by Gary Cole (“Entourage“) and Alyssa Milano (“Charmed“). The Spectre seems like he might be worthy of a feature film (I could see something that looks for a way to borrow from the gruesome revenge fantasy of ”The Crow” and the period-piece textures of ”L.A. Confidential“), and maybe we’ll see that before his diamond anniversary in 2015. Of course, if some hack producer delivers a clunker film, one night a gray-and-green ghost may visit him in his bedroom, turn him into a gem and slice him up with a jewel cutter.
– Geoff Boucher
Upper image: The Spectre. Credit: Warner Premiere
Lower image: The Hunter. Credit: Darwyn Cooke and IDW Publishing