Posted by Pete Albano - July 12, 2013 | Updated : August 15, 2015
Day of Vengeance
I suppose Day of Vengeance is a better title than The Spectre Gone Wild although the latter is more accurate.
I love comparing the Marvel Universe to the DC Universe and I am asking myself who is the Spectre equivalent in the Marvel U, if any. And you know who I think it is? It's Galactus.
Both the Spectre and Galactus are so powerful that they are never included in the 'who's the strongest' questions because their power levels skew up the comparisons.
The second thing about them is that they're amoral. Neither good or bad. They're just, you know, the Spectre and Galactus.
So let's begin our tale.
We begin with Jean Loring.
The estranged wife of the Atom and villainess of the Identity Crisis series has been confined to an insane asylum and is now talking to one of the more dangerous power objects in the DCU.
The Eclipso Crystal.
As expected, the Crystal consumes her and turns her to the latest incarnation of Eclipso.
Dangerous enough, but things get more dangerous still as Loring-Eclipso seeks out a hostless Spectre.
Let me explain that term: hostless. In order to be complete or to behave in a more or less rational manner the Spectre needs a human host. Without a host, the Spectre, a being of nearly unfathomable power, is as gullible as a child. And this is what Eclipso takes advantage of, convincing the Spectre that he should destroy all magic, because magic is the source of all evil.
Now a word about both the Spectre and Eclipso : Both of them where intially created by 'the Universe' for the same purpose : to fight evil. Eclipso was the first creation but he/she/it was flawed and therefore set aside. The Spectre was then created to replace Eclipso and for a long time, while he had a host, the Spectre accomplished his purpose. Today though, is the day the Spectre train begins to derail.
As Day of Vengeance begins, the Spectre has already begun his mad rampage against all magic.
Ragman is an agent of retribution. He hunts down criminals, not legal criminals - although they can be that too - moral criminals. Evil people. These people that Ragman hunts down are mystically transformed to patches of cloth that make up his costume. During the course of his adventures Ragman can tap into the strength, intelligence or other abilities of the people making up his suit. He gets power and they get a chance at salvation. Visually and in uniqueness of power, Ragman is definitely a favorite of mine.
Here is Ragman demonstrating his unique form of power sharing by lifting a large toppled tree trunk.
Underneath this trunk is the Enchantress. She explains to Ragman that she is a survivor of a massacre. A killing of sorcerers instigated by the Spectre. It is still ongoing, the last sorcerer is yet to fall. She points to the skies and we have this amazing panel.
Spectre is in a pitch battle with the formidable Blackbriar Thorn. The conclusion is foregone because no one can beat the Spectre. With that, both Ragman and the Enchantress make their exit. . .
. . . and reappear in the Oblivion Bar.
The Oblivion Bar is located in the crossroads of realities and is a favorite meeting place for all beings magic. Isn't that fantastic? As you can imagine, the hottest, indeed the only, topic in the bar is the crisis caused by the Spectre.
Enchantress proposes forming a team to handle the crisis but as you can see . . .
. . it's really very hard to convince people to go up against the Spectre.
While Enchantress struggles to form her team, in another part of the universe, a magical champion is being dispatched to stop the Spectre.
Granted the Spectre is the bad guy here but I actually like what he does to this sadistic mass murderer
The Spectre summons birds to eat him alive. Look at the remaining parts of this guy as the birds fly off.
There are other 'vengeance missions', some of them way out of line. like when the Spectre punishes a young boy for stealing a few dollars from his mother's purse. It all brings home that the Spectre is very much out of wack.
Next we are shown the Spectre going up against the magical 'big guns' of the DC Universe.
Phantom Stranger, whom the Spectre cannot kill but changes into a mouse.
Dr. Fate, a former JSA teammate no less, whom the Spectre traps in a pocket dimension.
And Madame Xanadu, the former Nimue, whom the Spectre blinds.
Then the Spectre visits places of magic to destroy them.
The Bewitched Club in San Francisco.
The waters of the Fountains of Youth.
The Forests of Mists.
By this time, Enchantress has formed her team of heroic/suicidal magical types. Things start off on a high note as Ragman gives Enchantress a surprise kiss.
The team goes to Budapest to see Captain Marvel and the Spectre fighting.
Captain Marvel is getting the worst of it. Unsurprisingly, he may be 'the World's Mightiest Mortal' but with the Spectre he's purportedly fighting an emissary of God.
Here is wonderful landscape of Budapest by Ron Wagner while this cataclysmic fight is going on.
Meanwhile, our erstwhile team of magical heroes, soon to be known as the Shadowpact, take on Eclipso. No matter what they do they cannot get the advantage of her. It is intense fighting that exacts an emotional toll, prompting Blue Devil to give Ragman some words of advice.
This fight is a great read partly because, Bill Willingham, of Fables fame, lets each member of the Shadowpact do part of the narrative part of the time. That's a nice touch.
While the rest of the team fight it out to within an inch of their lives. Two members, Detective Chimp and Nightshade, go to plan B. Plan B being the recruitment of a mysterious teenager known as Black Alice. Here they are talking to Black Alice's father in the living room.
Back to Budapest, the Enchantress is shown here making the most important move of the battle.
She is tapping the magical energy of nearly every mystical hero and creature in the DCU and feeding this energy to Captain Marvel in the hope that this will make Marvel strong enough to do the impossible - defeat the Spectre. Here is the 'powered up' Captain Marvel.
Blue Devil, for his part, manages to spear Eclipso.
Things are looking up for the Shadowpact.
Justiniano gives us an excellent double page spread of the epic fight between Spectre and Captain Marvel.
In the meantime, Black Alice arrives home to find a catatonic Detective Chimp and Nightshade on her fathers couch.
I love the hooker statement.
Captain Marvel is still looking good while fighting the Spectre.
But behind the scene, things are slowly falling apart. For one thing, Enchantress has gone bonkers and is now going up against her own team, cutting the power flow to Captain Marvel.
Spectre was almost defeated but it just wasn't enough. A weakened Spectre even manages to free Eclipso.
Down below, Blue Devil resolves the 'Enchantress problem'.
With Plan A a shambles its time to go to Plan B: Black Alice.
Although things are far from resolved I love this meeting at the Oblivion Bar.
In particular, look at Ragman's expression. He is so jazzed that they have taken the fight as far as it went. And he has every right to be happy - they just survived a confrontation with the Spectre and they almost defeated him.
Captain Marvel takes his leave of the team and goes back to the Rock of Eternity where he meets an empowered Shazam
The old wizard has given himself as much power as possible to prepare for a confrontation with the Spectre.
Back at the Oblivion Bar its breakfast time.
I like these kinds of panels, I'm always curious what the artist has taken the time to draw on the dining table - bacon, eggs, coffee; looks like a nice breakfast. It is revealed that Black Alice has the ability to steal the magical ability of others. Here's a nice panel showing that ability.
The next setting is a magical island in Indonesia that is wrapped in eternal twilight. It used to be a sorcerer base up until the Spectre destroyed the school that was in it. Now its being used by Shadowpact as a place to trap the Spectre and Eclipso. Here's what the ruins look like with Nightshade and Black Alice in the foreground.
Ok, here it comes, Spectre and Eclipso arrive on the scene.
Here's a great panel of Nightshade in action. She's very eager for this since she missed the big fight in Budapest. Wow, she's amazing!
Here's Black Alice stealing the Spectre's power - just fantastic!
Unfortunately, drained of his power, the Spectre becomes a ghost that the Shadowpact can't harm.
Unable to use the Spectre's power against the Spectre, Black Alice does the next best thing. She uses it against Eclipso.
Just as Black Alice is about to lose the power of the Spectre, Nightshade banishes Eclipso to a place that can hold her/it.
And that place is in permanent orbit around the sun.
Eclipso's weakness is sunlight.
It's a major win for the Shadowpact.
What happens next makes me sad. It is the duel between the Spectre and Shazam.
For a brief moment I thought Shazam was going to win - after all, he is in his place of power.
But alas, the Spectre, curse him, is the Galactus of the DC Universe.
With the fall of Shazam the Rock of Eternity begins to desintegrate. I feel that the whole Captain Marvel milieu has just been sundered. A sad day.
And that's it. Yup. The collection ends abruptly because it is one of may prequels to the Infinite Crisis event. The final fate of the Spectre can be found in the pages of Infinite Crisis.