Posts tagged ‘Mike Fleisher’

Detective 496 – the original Clayface returns, and Dr. Voodoo debuts


Mike Fleisher and Don Newton bring back a villain not seen in over thirty years as Basil Karlo makes a comeback in Detective 496 (Nov. 80).


The story deals with a horror exposition about a yacht, hosted by John Carlinger, clearly intended to be John Carpenter.


Basil Karlo reads of the exposition in his hospital room, and, furious at not being included, kills his nurse and breaks out.


Some of Karlo’s scenes certainly do feel like a Carpenter horror film.


Karlo makes it aboard the yacht.  Carlinger has a duplicate of his dressing room as one of the exhibits, and they confront each other there.


Clayface begins a reign of terror on the boat, killing some of the actors, as Batman fights to save them.

But Batman figures out that Clayface is not Karlo, and reveals him to be Car;inger.  He had murdered Karlo, then adopted the Clayface guise to kill the actors who wanted his finances audited.

The death of Basil Karlo was undone by Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the character returns in the Mudpack storyline.  Perhaps because of this,  no one ever seems to recall this story, or number Carlinger among the Clayfaces.


Batgirl gets an original costumed villain of her very own in this Burkett and Delbo story.  Dr. Voodoo.  And he looks about as corny as his name.


Barbara is getting hot and heavy with the dad of the hostage girl.  I really ought to start using their names.  Henceforth, hostage girl is Tracy, and her dad is Jim.


Dr. Voodoo and his men confront Batgirl as they try to rob a diamond exchange.  He appears to be able to put people into a zombie like trance, but Batgirl figures out it’s sonics.


She gets garage guy Jeff to blast some Beethoven, which messes up Voodoo’s sonics, and she rounds up the Loa wannabes.

Adventure 440 – The Spectre ends, and the Crimson Avenger chapter of Seven Soldiers of Victory


Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo bring their run on the Spectre to a suitably unhappy ending with Adventure 440 (Aug 75).


As with the 1940’s origin story from More Fun Comics, Jim Corrigan gets set up by a stool pigeon named Louie, and murdered by the mob.  His corpse is dropped off with Gwen Sterling, in a grisly sequence.


The voice that give him his powers restores him to his undead life, and turns him back into the Spectre.


He exacts his vengeance on his killers in horrific fashion, as is his wont.


And though Gwen gets to find out that he is back, he leaves her.  Downer, but great.

This series would remain popular over the years, and would be collected in the 80s in a mini-series called Wrath of the Spectre.  The final issue of that would include three new stories by Fleisher and Aparo, which would also bring Earl Crawford back.

The Spectre would continue to make guest appearances across the DC Universe.  His next solo series would be a brief run in the early 80s in the comic Ghosts.


Mike Grell takes the art for the Crimson Avenger chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory serial, as he and Wing wind up at a royal banquet.


It’s a story mildly reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, with fluids that make the Crimson Avenger and Wing grow and shrink.

Adventure 439 – The Spectre gets engaged, and the Green Arrow chapter of SSoV


Adventure 438 (June 1975) begins a 2-part story that concludes the Spectre’s run.  It is based, oddly enough, on the 2-part origin story of the Spectre in More Fun Comics, but Mike Fleisher puts a different spin on the tale, with art by Jim Aparo.


After rescuing Gwen Sterling yet again, Jim bemoans his fate, to be a living dead man, and the voice that empowered the Spectre (God?) decides to fulfill his wishes, and brings him back to life, although Jim does not realize this.


The following day, he pursues a gunman with no thought to his own safety, but gets shot and wounded in the process, to his great surprise, and delight.


Realizing that he has gained his life back, he proposes to Gwen.  But the story ends with a note of danger, as the mobster “Ducky” plans vengeance.

The story concludes next issue.


Lee Elias returns to draw the Green Arrow chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory tale. A great choice, as he has no problem duplicating the look he gave the character back in the day.


The story is a fairly silly one, enlivened by the art.  Two crescent moons, the waxing and the waning, get into a fight at Father Time’s Inn, due to an eclipse that prevented one from being seen, and the fight threatens to draw in other heavenly bodies, until Green Arrow proposes that the two crescents merge and substitute for a full moon.

Adventure 438 – The Spectre and a human museum, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory begin


Adventure 438 (April 1975) has the shortest Spectre story of the run, a mere 10 pages, because of the extended length of the back-up feature.  As a result, the story by Mike Fleisher is very simple, but the art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo makes it rewarding anyway.


The tale deals with another madman, who is having people kidnapped and killed to be put in his personal museum.


Corrigan is put on the case, tracks him down, and as the Spectre frees some gorillas from their exhibit to kill him.


The Seven Soldiers of Victory begin a serialized story in this issue.  The story itself was written in the 1940s for their run in Leading Comics, but never published, or even drawn.  It follows the standard format of SSoV tales, with the entire team together for the first and last chapter, and five middle chapters featuring the team members in Individual action.

As this is the first time I am writing about the team, I will point out the curious fact that there are not seven members in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger and Star-Spangled Kid are the heroes.  Sidekicks Speedy and Stripsey are counted to make up seven, but Wing is not.  Only white people count, maybe?


The first chapter, with art by Dick Dillin, introduces the villain, who is really more of a trickster than a bad guy, Willie the Wisher, whose wishes become reality, hence his name.  He wishes the team off to the Land of Magic.


The Shining Knight’s chapter follows immediately, with art by Howard Chaykin, which really manages to capture the look of Frank Frazetta’s work on the Knight.

He is menaced by a duplicate of himself, which emerges from a mirror.  He defeats his double, but winds up captured by a wizard and bound, back in the room he began in.


This time, knowing the mirror will produce a duplicate, he uses the other knight’s sword to undo his bonds before he emerges, giving him the upper hand.


Adventure 437 – The Spectre faces suicide bombers and Aquaman ends, again


Adventure 437 (Feb 75) is the final issue to feature the word “Weird” on the cover, and leads off with a Spectre story by Mike Fleisher, with art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo.


The villain is a mad scientist who has a mind control device, and goons who kidnap people that he programs to act as human bombs, getting them to steal for him.


The goons make the fatal mistake of kidnapping Gwen Sterling, which of course gets the Spectre on his case.  This is the only story in the run where there isn’t a really well shown horrific death for the villain, though the Spectre does force him into a tank of man-eating fish.


The final Aquaman back-up story, by Paul Levitz and Mike Grell, has him attempting to day a day off  from kinging, but winding up dealing with Black Manta, an undersea monster and a child in peril anyway.


Throughout these three stories, Mera has been around, but mostly standing silently.  She speaks more words in the panel above than in the rest of the three stories combined.

Nevertheless, this back-up feature was popular enough that Aquaman would return to headline Adventure in another few issues.

Adventure 436 – The Spectre takes on terrorists and Aquaman deals with robots


Earl Crawford returns, once again following Corrigan to try to find the connection between him and the Spectre, in Adventure 436 (Dec 74), by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo.


A militaristic terrorist group, who use poison gas, are the bad guys in this story.


And again, Crawford winds up on the scene in time to see the Spectre’s horrific murders of the group.  There is an unfortunate sameness to the tales, the originality pretty much confined to the methods of death.  The one thing that makes it stand out is that it is the hero who performs the frightening deeds, rather than the villain.


Aqualad returns to the pages of Adventure for this story, written by Steve Skeates with Mike Grell art, as Aquaman deals with a robot duplicate.


The robot was commissioned by Aquaman to relieve him of the kingly duties he finds “boring.”  Although not intended at the time, this can be seen as the start of his dissatisfaction with being king, and alienation from his people, that would grow throughout the 1970s Aquaman stories.

The Bugala, an undersea monster that Aqualad dealt with in the old Aquaman comic, returns in this story, although it turns out to be a robot as well.


The Aquaman robot was drawing the Bugala robot to the city, and the final panels show that Black Manta was behind this attack as well.

Aqualad next appears in Aquaman’s next run in Adventure Comics.

Adventure 435 – The Spectre meets Earl Crawford, and Aquaman begins, again


The Spectre series gains a second supporting character, Earl Crawford, in Adventure 435 (Oct 74), although many of his appearances would not come until years later.


The story, by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo, has reporter Crawford notice the connection between Jim Corrigan’s cases and the unusual deaths of the criminals, and he decides to interview Corrigan, and then follow him when he fails to get satisfactory answers.


Crawford winds up in the hands of a gangster who intends to kill Corrigan, and puts him right in the centre of things as the Spectre takes his deadly vengeance on the man, turning him into wood and slicing him up.


Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure Comics, three years after the cancellation of his own comic.  Mera, Vulko, and Black Manta also appear in this story, their first appearances in Adventure, all not seen since Aquaman’s book.


Black Manta has been drugging the water around the farming areas around Atlantis, and stealing the crops.  Aquaman defeats Black Manta and his men, but Manta escapes.

It’s a simple little tale, written by Steve Skeates, notable largely for the Mike Grell art.





Adventure 434 – The Spectre battles living mannequins


Frank Thorne joins Jim Aparo on the art for Adventure 434 (Aug 74),as the Spectre gets a full-length story by Mike Fleisher.


Jim Corrigan is put onto the case when mannequins start going on murder sprees.


He determines that all the killer mannequins had been made by a craftsman called Zeke Borosovitch, who makes his mannequins by hand, despite the company he works for wanting to phase him out and automate the process.


After witnessing a spat between love-struck Gwen Sterling and eternally remote Corrigan, Zeke makes the terrible error of kidnapping Gwen, and sending out a lookalike mannequin to kill Jim.


In typical vengeful fashion, the Spectre then turns Zeke into a mannequin.

Dark and vicious, as a Spectre story should be.


Adventure 433 – The Spectre vs the Swami, and Captain Fear ends


Adventure Comics becomes, on the cover only, Weird Adventure Comics, for issue 443 (June 1974) and the following four issues.  “Weird” was clearly a popular word in the early 70s, as DC also had at this time Weird Western Tales, Weird War Tales, Weird Mystery Tales and Weird Worlds.

The Spectre story by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo in this issue is highly reminiscent of a story from the character’s 1940s run in More Fun Comics, both of which feature a phony swami taking advantage of bereaved women, and in both cases the Spectre’s romantic interest winds up getting involved in the scam.


The Spectre’s attempts to make Gwen forget that she saw him transform into Jim Corrigan clearly failed, as Gwen seeks out the Swami in this story to help her deal with the situation.  Coincidentally, Jim is investigating Swami Seelal after the murder of the husband of one of his followers, when he decided to stop contributing to him.


The Swami uses Gwen to try to set up Corrigan to be killed, but his plan backfires terribly.  The Swami never believed Gwen about the Spectre, and so seriously underestimated Corrigan.




Captain Fear gets a really great logo for the final instalment of his serial, by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.


Fero is rescued from the pit by escaped African slaves, and reunited with his friend Mupo.  Together, they plot revenge against the plantation owners, but Fero has seen too many revolts fail to want to stay on the island afterwards.


They attack the plantation, and force Senora Hernandez to accompany them to the docks, where they commandeer a ship.


The story ends with a great shot of Captain Fear as a pirate king.  Essentially, this entire serial has dealt with the events that lead Fero to become Captain Fear.

The character would return 7 years down the road, in a back-up feature in Unknown Soldier.  But in my eyes, none of the later Captain Fear stories can really hold a candle, art wise, to Nino’s work on this run.



Adventure 432 – The Spectre meets Gwen Sterling, and Captain Fear becomes a plantation slave


The Spectre hunts down hired killers, and gets a romantic interest in the Mike Felisher/Jim Aparo tale in Adventure 432.


Gwen Sterling’s millionaire partner is killed, and Jim Corrigan is put on the case.  Gwen mourns for almost an entire page before she starts flirting with Jim. But being dead and all, Jim has no interest in love.

He takes on the ghostly form of her dead father to confront his business partner, who promptly phones the hired killers.  When not murdering for money, the duo work as a hairstylist and model, as I’m sure many professional hitmen do.


The Spectre gives the pair hideous demises, snipping the stylist in half with huge scissors, and aging the model to death.  Gwen sees Jim transform into the Spectre, but he makes her forget what she has seen.



Back on his home island of Haiti, Captain Fear is sold into slavery on a plantation in this story by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.  The plantation is run by a woman, Senora Hernandez, who faces her own troubles trying to maintain her freedom in a male-dominated society.


She tries to make Fero her personal bodyguard, and perhaps more, but he refuses to accept anything from the whites who massacred his people.


He fights his way to freedom, but in escaping falls into a pit.  Poor guy just can’t catch a break.

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