Seventy-two ain’t bad, but there’s no such thing as a happy ending–and I’m gonna miss Jim Aparo too. This is a guy who (in the pages of The Brave and The Bold, along with the remarkable, and already much-missed, Bob Haney) made Batman palatable to me–a die-hard Bat-hater… I also had a weakness for The Outsiders (which Aparo co-created with Mike W. Barr), back in the mid-eighties. However, I would argue that Aparo did his finest work (in collaboration with Michael Fleisher) on The Spectre serial in Adventure Comics #431-440… What bizarre tales! They can best be described as supernatural Dirty Harry stories (just imagine if ol’ Clint had been capable of tossing sea monsters at the riff raff he so enjoyed being mean to on the streets!), which sounds like a recipe for disaster, from my bleeding heart perspective, but, somehow, the hyperbolic assasination methods always managed to make vengeance look like the petty thing that it is, rather than the glamorous “who-needs-a-girlfriend-when-you-can-rip-someone’s-balls-off?” emotion that Frank Miller and friends have so often portrayed it as… I mean–the Spectre definitely inhabits a black and white universe–his victims are undeniably “bad people”…but who among us would use our powers to do something like this–even to a crime boss known as “Ducky”?
The other cool thing about the series is that, oddly enough, it featured a lot of “romance comic” type interludes between Gwen Sterling and her intended corpse groom, which gave Aparo a chance to show off his skill at conveying intense states of mind through the faces and postures of his attractive uncostumed characters (I think Aparo’s women are almost up there with Colan’s, Infantino’s, Heck’s, and Wood’s):
Isn’t that final panel great? (sob!)
Good Afternoon Friends!