Thursday, June 8, 2017


Wait for it ...

I've written many times before about the heroes with the toughest origin stories of all -- the ones who had to die before they gain their powers and their mission against crime/evil/injustice/parking violations and so on. For the most part, they fall into two categories*: cops and kiddies, with some outliers like Deadman making a decent stand for assassinated circus performers.

* And "historical medieval-type guys," I know, don't @ me, it's just the two (Gay Ghost and Mr.Justice) and the latter of them was an English prince murdered by Scotsmen, so I'm on their side.

"Ho-hum, I'm dead, better crash on the couch here..."
Among the kiddies, there's Kid Eternity (murdered by a Nazi U-Boat and drowned) and Maureen Marine (murdered by a Nazi U-Boat and drowned, maybe by the same Nazi U-Boat, as they had a reputation to uphold). As far as goes the cops, there's famously the Spectre (murdered by crooks), The Collector (murdered by crooks), Nemesis (murdered by crooks), and Duke of Darkness (murdered by crooks). And then, to wrap it all up, there's Sgt.Spook (murdered by being stupid and careless).

Created and originally crafted by Martin Kildale** and running for an obscenely long time in Blue Bolt Comics (plus a few others), Sgt.Spook literally passes through this mortal veil because he blew himself to hell. Unwisely smoking in the Forensics Lab, Spook (real name: Sgt Spook, evidently) absent-mindedly puts his still-smoking pipe down on top of a stack of volatile chemicals. Kapow! He's dead, the end.

**Kildale was also the creator of y'boy Speed Centaur, the only superhero whose secret identity involved putting on a huge rubber horse head mask and hauling young lovers on romantic tours of the park. That I know of. 

Without any sort of explanation, Spook finds that he's become a ghost capable of interacting in a limited fashion with the real world. While he's completely invisible and cannot be heard by the living, he can also either pass through solid matter or become solid enough to interact with the material world, such as to slug a crook or hold onto a crook or hold onto a crook long enough to slug him.

See? Chicago.
Most striking about Sgt.Spook's debut -- besides the explosion that killed him, I suppose -- is his blase manner in the face of his sudden demise. "Gee," he mutters as he observes his own smoldering corpse, "That's me lying there! I'm dead -- ... why - why - I must be a ghost!" He takes it so well that you assume he might have been expecting something like this to happen. Even his fellow officers aren't too shaken by the sudden death of their young comrade.  "He was such a great guy, too" offers one cop, hands casually on hips, standing over the still-burning cadaver. There's a real lacksadaiscal attitude to death in this precinct house. Must be Chicago.

Sgt.Spook picks up a genuinely interesting gimmick later in his run, as he begins to police the actions of other ghosts -- BAD ghosts -- from history who are using their powers to continue to commit crimes in the world of the living. You almost get the feeling that it was his destiny all along, but he jumped the gun on snuffing it and had to wait around, stopping quotidian gangsters and common crooks until the real reason he's become a wispy force of justice came around...

1 comment:

Eric said...

Most striking about Sgt.Spook's debut -- besides the explosion that killed him, I suppose -- is his blase manner in the face of his sudden demise.

Hey, his name was "Sergeant Spook." Of course he's pretty blase about dying and becoming a ghost. It's like Denis Leary's awful-yet-grotesquely-kind-of-funny line about Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease: "How do you not see that coming?"

Maybe he hoped it would happen in his sleep when he was older, instead of dying in a fire, but what'cha gonna do?

One imagines his dad telling him from an early age, "Son, your name is Sargent Spook. Your mom and I aren't sending you to Juilliard. You're a helluva fine pianist, and I'll always be proud of you and I'll always be impressed by your gift. But after high school, you're going to the police academy or you're going in the Army. One or the other. Because you, son, have a destiny. You're Sargent Spook."

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