Thursday, October 22, 2015


If you're a fledgling metal band and this isn't your debut album cover, you're missing out. 

His origin sounds familiar enough. A police officer killed in the line of duty is returned to Earth as a spectral avenger of the dead. Bare-chested and clean-limbed, he gads about in his cape-and-boxer briefs combo using his supernatural powers to fight crime and evil on the mortal plane. It sounds like DC's long-running The Spectre, but this guy's swimsuit-and-boots combo is BLUE! Makes you think, don't it?

This is the Duke of Darkness, formerly patrolman Danny "Paddy" Sullivan, killed by who-knows-what over who-knows-why. Danny's debut as the Duke of Darkness begins with the formerly-shield-wearing spectre overseeing his own funeral, like a ghostly Huckleberry Finn. If it was a crook's bullet which laid poor Paddy in the dirt, the Duke of Darkness makes no particular mention of it, commenting only on the convenience of being a shade among men. "I'm free to fight crime," he muses, making us wonder what he was doing when he was a cop.

This is the kind of note serial killers leave for the police.
Paddy's purview is, generally speaking, other more devious dead folks, spirits returned to the waking world with vengeance on their mind. This is fortunate for the Duke, since his first face-off behaves like an unliving tutorial on how to use his powers. Facing the insidious and recently deceased Dr.Live - Now having changed his name to Dr.Evil by some sort of post-mortem deed poll, one imagines - Duke learns the basic rules of cadaverous crimefighting; he can shrink, grow, turn immaterial or invisible, he can slug crooks with his tremendous strength but UH OH he can also get knocked unconscious with a blow to the back of the head.

That's only so much of a limitation, as previously-Paddy acknowledges - after all, he "can't be killed again!" he notes.

This gives him the arsenal of abilities he needs to tackle such additional enemies as Mister Morpheus ("Please, Mister Morpheus was my father, call me Ken"), a grinning carnival-like figure who torments the dreams of the waking, and the very mortal Prince of Paupers, who is an evil bum.

He forgot that crooks can't pass through solid walls
like he can and this legitimately made me laugh out loud.
Duke's real opponent is his former chief, seemingly incapable of recognizing his former beat cop pal despite the fact that the Duke wears no mask, hood or cowl. Of course, we've never seen Paddy before his untimely demise, so possibly the Duke is missing Paddy's trademark harelip and shock of bright red curly hair.

Having earned the ire of his former boss, the Duke comfortably sits out a sixty-day sentence in the precinct jail. This is only to humor the chief,  mind you, since Paddy can wander out any time he likes to go fight evil and crime, and walk back in through the solid bars just to be a good citizen. He even does this a few times in front of the Chief, just to give him an aneurysm or something.

The Duke's sixty-day sentence isn't up by the end of his Golden Age run, although he presumably continued his war on evil after the period of incarceration was up. Or he got the chair, I dunno, it's up to your imagination I suppose.

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