Think about it: Casper the Friendly Ghost is really creepy. Not for the whole “wanting to be friends with people” thing, or even how the guys on Cheers observed that Casper must somehow lose all his friends between cartoons, or that one really warped episode where Casper befriends a fox pup that gets killed, only to have the fox’s ghost show up to immediately pick up where it left off with Casper (that’s some demented stuff right there). No, the fact is Casper is a kid, always will be a kid, and he’s a ghost hanging around for some reason. That’s some prime potential horror right there.
That sort of thing was realized a bit better with Secret.
I have to admit, I’m shocked that a 2nd or 3rd tier hero like The Spectre even has a major motion picture, let alone one that would make the top of the box office. Tom would be a better one to talk all things Spectre since I’ve really never read much about him, but Tom is on double secret probation for his Russian box office report last week.
[Editor’s note: JIMMY!!!!]
What? That Russian report was…you’re not talking about that are you…why are you looking at me like that…I didn’t…wait…Spectre…not The Spectre. Whoops! Anyway, let’s see how the new Bond film, not the second film in the new DC Cinematic Universe did after the break.
Now, I don’t know how Jenny defines “iconic”. I would define it as a character that is so recognizable that even people outside the fan group recognize the character. Superman is an iconic hero. So is Batman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman. Iron Man probably is thanks to Robert Downey Jr. Other characters may be recognizable to people who are fans of comics in general, but not necessarily of the character itself. Aquaman, the Flash, and Captain America probably all fit that group.
But Madame Xanadu? Well, Jenny had offered to fill in a Misplaced Hero file during my vacation for this character, so Jenny believed that Madame Xanadu is somehow both misplaced and iconic…
The growth of the direct market, where comics publishers could send their wares to specialty comic book stores as opposed to newsstands, meant that new publishers could have a shot at becoming something. One such publisher was First Comics, which originally published comics from 1983-1991. First revived Classics Illustrated and reprinted some Japanese manga comics in English, but they also did some original work with creator-owned characters that were free of the Comics Code, and as a result, were free to offer more mature content to their readers.
One of those was original, creator-owned characters was John Ostrander and Tim Truman’s John Gaunt, also known as the mercenary Grimjack.
I am approaching this particular case file with a bit of trepidation. Every other character I’ve used for this ongoing column has been owned by DC or Marvel. Some were misguided, some were inconsistent, some of them sucked, and some of them were used really well at some point and then just forgotten about.
Today’s entry is about a character that I only know about secondhand, but I’m feeling philosophical about the whole thing, so here we are. Today’s character is creator owned by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko and has appeared only a handful of times over the years. His name is Mr. A.
This ongoing series of mine has focused largely on forgotten or little-used heroes. Today’s entry is nothing like that, since the Spectre has been a DC staple since his creation in 1940.
He’s just been a markedly different sort of character any time he appears anywhere. At least with someone like Superman, you know what the guy is and where he stands. With the Spectre, he’s more or less what the story needs. He really is a deus ex machina, sometimes rather literally.