Review: Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre is true to its name, in that this trade is fairly consistent with classic Spectre material; unfortunately, it's just not my cup of tea. Despite the crime drama potential brought by Gotham Central's Crispus Allen, or the superhero elements inherit in JSA-member Spectre, this new Spectre trade--especially the Tales of the Unexpected chapters written by David Lapham--is devoutly a horror comic.

There's little, if any, overarching plot here (a consequence, perhaps, of being volume one of two); instead, see the final chapters of The Spectre as a kind of EC Comics-style shorts, where a gruesome crime is committed and then the Spectre arrives to mete out even gruesomer-style vengeance. Blood is not in short supply here.

Granted, this type of Spectre story has precedent, and if you're a fan of the Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo Spectre stories where the ghost delivers ironic revenge against the criminals, this is for you. Honestly, the tone of this Spectre series seems almost more appropriate for Vertigo than DC--resembling, perhaps, some of the initial Sandman issues--and might have found a better audience there.

Story and art-wise, I far better enjoyed the more character-driven and superhero-y initial chapters written by Will Pfeifer with gorgeous art by Cliff Chang. Yet, the tour of vengeance that the Spectre takes Allen on serves to remind the reader just how powerful the Spectre is--he knows every crime before it happens and how it's going to turn out, making any sort of story potential seem desperately difficult. Somehow John Ostrander did it, and did it well, but both Pfeifer and Lapham seem stymied by the Spectre's powers, and so offer us all of the gore and none of the mystery.

To be honest, I'm probably just going to put the second volume of this trade on my wish list to get as a gift for the holidays, rather than purchase it myself. I'm highly in favor of Crispus Allen continuing as the Spectre, but this series just didn't do it for me. (Chris's Invincible Super-Blog felt much the same.)

[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: As if you even have to ask, The Spectre does not triumph over the third volume of Gotham Central. Unresolved Targets beats the Spirit of Vengeance!]

More supernatural tales with Captain Marvel and the Shadowpact coming up. Thanks for reading!
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