I’ll come right out and say it, I’m not a huge fan of The Spectre. Probably because I haven’t read very many of his appearances. Batman however, is a different story! In this penultimate issue of the series, we see the Spectre separated from Jim Corrigan (the two were sort of bonded together for most of the character’s existence). Two magic users (Kalindra and Stephos) kidnap Jim Corrigan, and The Spectre (isn’t he supposed to have cosmic awareness?) needs to locate his host (Corrigan), so he enlists the help of the greatest living detective, Batman! It isn’t long before the heroic duo find where Corrigan is being kept, and then the two begin to clean house.
The highlight of the issue is the cover, but that’s not a slam against the interiors (Ross Andru and Rick Hoberg). It’s just that Jim Aparo (cover) is so good, he overshadows the other two gentleman. There is a two page splash, where The Spectre is fighting a demon that is fantastic. The script is fine but the story (Mike Barr) is very bare bones. A nice little action issue with solid art, but nothing Earth shattering.
The Spectre can be a very tricky character to write. He is supposed to be the literal creation of God (with a capital “G”) and is insanely powerful. In some stories he’s shown tossing around planets like they were beach balls. I think quite a few writers understandably struggled with how to depict a character who in theory ought to be unbeatable. A lot of the time he gets depowered, which while it makes him easier to fit into an ongoing series also diminishes his unique appeal. John Ostrander was one of the few writers who really knew what to do with the Spectre.
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Sometimes I feel these characters that are/have ultimate power are too much of a trap to even write. The readers already know that somehow they’ll be defeated, but most of the creators from the Bronze Age (and late Silver Age knew how to still tell an interesting story even with those characters in a story.