Thursday, October 14, 2010


I've been reading Golden Age comics quite a bit lately.  There is something I enjoy about the pre-code insanity of those old Golden Agers.  Perhaps it is the sheer mind-blowing lack of explanation that would simply not fly in a modern comic.

Standard scenario:  I have just gotten my law degree and become a junior public defender.  Too much crime; too many criminals walk the streets.  I put on a 3 color costume and use the skills I picked up in college when I got my P.E. credit for curling.  I am the Sweeper, keeping the streets of Nova Scotia safe from the criminal element.

And that's actually a bit more detailed than the average.

Now back in 1940 Jerry Siegel (nobody important, you might remember him as one of the guys who created some 3rd string guy called Superman) created The Spectre.  It was brilliant.  A ghost already has superpowers so using one as a hero just seems natural.  It's far more convenient than having to manufacture some pseudo-scientific blarney like, "Drank a serum and jumped into a vat of creosote, giving you all the waterproofing powers of a railroad tie" as the source of the hero's powers and concept.

Ghosts are pretty super anyway, yeah?

The Spectre..."borrowed" from Wikipedia

The Spectre is cool, but he's gone through so many changes.  While messing about with Spectre research I came across this guy:

Mr. Justice!  Seriously, what is going on in this picture?  Those are, what, Alien Spider Monkeys?  And that one is holding a tommy gun maybe?  None of this happened in the issue, I assure you.
Mr. Justice!  Everything about him is just wonderfully wrong.  He's the ghost of a dead English prince but he lives in America due to the castle in which he was bound being moved from Scotland.  I know, you are thinking well you should.  The Royal Wraith took the name Mr. Justice due to his inability to understand the function of the comma and went about fighting crime, Nazis, vampires, other ghosts and THE DEVIL who was conveniently disguised as THE DICTATOR but we all know it was Hitler.  Mr. Justice is the superpower lottery winner of the LUNCHBOX OF POWERS!  Much like Silver Age Superman, who seemed to have a new power whenever he needed it, only to forget about it as the plot demanded, Mr. Justice seems able to punch a crook as a spirit, then in the next issue have to assume his mortal form (also known as Mr. Justice) to do the same.  Then a few issues later he remembers he can pull a person's soul from his body and administers a spiritual arse-kicking extraordinaire.  I love this guy.

He was in the bulk of Blue Ribbon Comics from MLJ comics and was in every issue of MLJ's Jackpot comics.  If you can find these issues I highly recommend them both as great examples of Golden Age comics that are not DC or Charlton and for Mr. Justice.

All hail the ghost as superhero.

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