Spectre #3 (1968)

This is another comic drawn by that master of comics art, Neal Adams. This time it’s a color book from DC, starring perhaps their greatest cosmic hero, the Spectre. Well, it sort of stars the Spectre. He has his name and face in the title (cool ’60s logo, huh?), but the comic actually features Wildcat more than ol’ Spec. He’s in a more prominent position on the cover, and the first 13 pages of the 24-page story focus on him. Even the title page looks like a Wildcat solo comic. The title is "Hang ‘Em Up Wildcat — You’re Finished" and that page has a very large logo for Wildcat.

Just what in the world happened here? Were DC’s writers already bored with this near-omnipotent lead character? Was this a lost Wildcat solo story that ended up getting slotted in an issue of Spectre? It’s just so odd to see something like this. I’m not sure where this particular comic falls in the career of writer Mike Friedrich. Is it possible this was one of his first scripts for DC? The story doesn’t read any less polished than any other comics of the time – it has some awkward moments and a weird vibe – but for a naïve DC comic of its era, this is a perfectly reasonable comic book. And Adams’s art is just wonderful. Here he’s doing classic pen-and-ink work, and Adams’s art has a certain spark that very few cartoonists have ever had. There is so much energy in Adams’s action scenes. It’s easy to see why he was such a star back in the day.

But Wildcat? I just don’t get that at all.

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