Thursday, August 31, 2017


I genuinely have no idea who created Spirit Man (sometimes spelled "Spiritman") despite the fact that the dense, definitive artwork seems tremendously familiar as a classic golden age style. It's a tough call, so I'll end up just complimenting the book for having one of the most clever logos of any golden age hero I'd ever seen before. Look, the letters are sort-of transparent-y! Spirit letters! Nicely played!

The interesting thing about Spiritman -- a backup in Lev "A" Gleason's Silver Streak No.1, if you happen to find the name familiar -- is that he goes out of his way to not be noticed by any of the crooks and villains he fights. He'll slug the living tar out of them, but he does it while invisible. This is pretty much on par with any number of now-dead supernatural heroes (such as Sgt.Spook, Deadman, Kid Eternity and so on)  and their assorted modus operandi. But Spiritman, despite his name, doesn't appear to be a dead hero. Or is he? Is this some sort of Jacob's Ladder scenario? Is there a Culkin somewhere in the conclusion? I couldn't say.

Just five minutes a day can give you a beautiful tan.

Spirit Man/Spiritman -- a.k.a. Spirit Malcolm, which I think is kind of a weird thing for someone to name their kid -- and his best pal Ray Williams monitor the Futurscope, a device which allows them to commit sneaky peeks all around the world at will. They probably sell crazy amounts of bootlegs video recordings.

Spiritman also boasts "Mistodine,"  a powerful ray device which turns him into "an unseen shadow" (i.e. a shadow in a dark room, I guess) and allows him to fly, pass through solid matter, and arrange for all sorts of interesting murders. Also aiding him in his quest for death is a ray gun which can bore through solid matter. So, you recap: An invisible flying man with a death ray can watch you at any time no matter where you are. All on the same page? Okay.

When Spiritman and ... Ray ... see what appear to be coal miners on their Futurscope, they have to come to grips with exactly how far over the line their voyeurism has gone. They also realize that there's some sort of bootleg coal operation going on, and also a gold robbery. If you have a low bar for what deserves murder, then you and Spiritman are about to have an adventure!

This literally made me laugh out loud.

He traps a bunch of crooks in a cave and then finds an excuse to electrocute them seconds later. He hops into the cab of the crooks' truck and yanks the wheel violently, and then repeats the same trick on a nearby plane which MAYBE was also involved in the gold heist. MAYBE. He also guides the crooks' ship towards the Coast Guard but can't let them off that easy, so he blows up one of their cannons and pilots the ghost ship full of gold right to the authorities.

For all of his unilateral assassination of evildoers, the one travail faced by Spiritman and Ray is that they have a real hard time convincing the cops to do anything based on their instruction. Ray even complains in the last two panels "I ... notified the Coast Guard -- they didn't seem to believe me and I wasn't sure they would follow my orders." That seems like a good thing. Let's not suggest that the Coast Guard should follow orders from any invisible guy over the radio.

They really shouldn't.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Maybe they should try sending the Coast Guard a letter saying, "STOP THEM BEFORE WE KILL AGAIN." That might get their attention.

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