chocochuy: An Unliving Legend (Gentleman Ghost)
chocochuy ([personal profile] chocochuy) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-12-17 11:02 am

Spooky Saturdays : The Silvery Return of a Romantic Plunderer

Bonjour, Ladies and Gentlemen! Chocochuy reporting for duty!

It has been a crazy semester for me at the Master of Humanities but I managed to survive with good grades so I am back to continue documenting the story of the most Mischievous Monocled Mugger of the DC Universe, the Gentleman Ghost. Last sessions dealt with his Golden Age appearances so today I am proud to present the Silver Age adventures of our favorite Apparitional Aristocrat. It may be true that he remained in Limbo for a while but he has cleaned the dirt off his hat, taken his fancy suit out for dry cleaning and polished his prized monocle just to return to his artistic business. It's Showtime!

Before we start, I want to show you some interesting ideas from DC that might/might not be have been inspired by the spooky adventures of our favorite spectral swindler, at least on an aesthetically manner. Take a look at this animated picture of both Showcase # 23 and Superman (Volume 1) # 264.

Now back to our original subject. The stories that we shall see today have been taken from Atom and Hawkman # 43 and 44, both of them printed on the groovylicious year of 1969 as well as the first time that our romantic robber receives the name of "Gentleman Ghost", me duckies. The Silver Age had already started during this period and the Hawk-Couple from this era weren't the reincarnations of two Egyptian lovers from Earth 2 but a couple of space policemen living on Earth 1. Having mentioned that, it's safe to assume that the previous sessions dealt with the Earth 2 Gentleman Ghost while today we get to meet his version from Earth 1, even though there is also the possibility that they are the same ghostly gentleman making some dimensional trips to mess with the super-powered community after 20 years of lack of fun. The rest of the stories have been taken from Justice League of America # 128 and the DC Calendar of 1977 and 1978.

Our first story presents us with the very first time that the Gentleman Ghost gets to appear on the front cover and this one is a beautiful piece of art from the legendary Joe Kubert. It may have been 20 years since he drew the master moonlighter but Kubert remembered the threatening aura from his co-creation and that's what seems to be immortalized on this cover with the Gentleman Ghost been triumphant over his enemy.

By the way, the covers of this stories were done by Joe Kubert but the interior art was done by the great Murphy Anderson. The first two stories were written by Robert Kanigher, the other father of the Gentleman Ghost, so you can expect an exciting return for this old ghost.

Katar Hol, the Silver Age Hawkman, has been on patrol all over England when suddenly a raven starts taunting him with an eerie voice. Katar deduces that even though there are talking gorillas with ray-guns/wings or Kryptonian demi-gods there's not such thing like talking ravens so he follows the trail of the eerie voice. Katar arrives at the Big Ben and meets face to face (or lack of it) with the Gentleman Ghost, who has been waiting for a chance to duke it out with the winged wonder. Katar knows of the Gentleman Ghost's impossible crimes and plans to arrest him. Both of them fight for a while but the Gentleman Ghost has an ace under his sleeve. Well, he actually has a pair of magic flintlock guns under his sleeves but you get the point.

Having defeated his nemesis, the Gentleman Ghost remembers the way he became into an unliving legend. Yep, comrades, even though this version of old GG still used tricks that made his ghostly status ambiguous, it's a this point that he gets an origin as well as the possibility of him been a real ghost. The Gentleman Ghost remembers his rise and fall as James "Gentleman Jim" Craddock, the most famous educated thief all over England. He remembers how he died and returned on a more triumphant way.

Craddock continues remembering how his crimes got the attention of the Hawk-Couple and he always managed to elude capture at their hands. As in the old stories, they are not exactly sure if he is a real ghost or just a clever thief with a spectral motif but their quest for justice still demands the capture of the Gentleman Ghost. During one of their fights, the new Hawk-Couple is separated when the Gentleman Ghost captures Hawkgirl. The fires of anger burn in the heart of the winged wonder and proceeds to fight his undead nemesis.

Having thought with his fists instead of using his brain proved to be a fatal mistake for Katar now that the Gentleman Ghost made a clean escape with his prized prisoner. Katar uses his Hawkoscope, I mean Lustrometer, to follow the fluorescent trail of his nemesis towards the Tower of London (a neat reference to the first GG story from 1947, that's for sure). Inside the tower, the Gentleman Ghost praises the beauty of Hawkgirl and even suggests becoming her companion once he has dealt with Katar Hol. Minutes later Katar arrives to save his wife and pound GG's lackeys with the hammers of justice. The Gentleman Ghost has escaped during the confusion in order to prepare a final challenge for Katar atop the Big Ben. As we saw at the beginning, the Gentleman Ghost has humbled his nemesis as well as starting to mock him before ending the life of the Thanagarian cop. Katar uses his remaining strength to punch GG with all his might, knocking him from the minute hands of the Big Ben (ending in a similar manner like the first GG story). Craddock, as a true gentleman, praises the worthiness of having opponents like the Hawk-Couple while he falls to his "death". As we have learned from other sessions, death is something that will never stop the Gentleman Ghost as he always finds a way to cheat it and plan for another glorious heist.

Our next story has another cover from the great Joe Kubert (which, by the way, doesn't really happen on the actual story) and personally this cover is my favorite Gentleman Ghost cover of them all because it summarizes the sheer awesomeness that he represents. A beautiful piece from Kubert and I have to remember to ask for a commission of it by Andy Kubert. The aspects that I find more delicious on this cover are that effortlessly the Gentleman Ghost has defeated Hawkman and he is now closing the tomb of his nemesis with the tip of his cane. It's poetic and theatrical at the same time. Theirs is a conflict of the vast scientific advances from outer space against the mischievous tricks from beyond the realm of death.

The Gentleman Ghost, always having France and their gold at a special place of his heart, once again dukes it out with Katar Hol. This time Craddock has decided to ditch his lackeys and multiplicates himself to give his winged nemesis a more challenging duel. Katar knocks out almost the GG clones before realizing they are Craddock's henchmen disguised so he could complete his robbery. The real Gentleman Ghost challenges his enemy to follow him as he secures his escape.

(Eat your heart out, Electro. Skating on the telephone lines may look nice but the Gentleman Ghost has class by jogging over them.)

Hawkman accepts his undead enemy's challenge and follows him to an office full of clerks. Hawkman soon realizes that Craddock is nowhere to be seen and leaves. The Gentleman Ghost had fooled Hawkman thanks to his skills as a master of disguises.

As I mentioned on a previous session where Craddock tricked the guards of the Louvre Museum into thinking he was one of them, there is a possibility that French clerks were expected to wear a monocle on working hours but it seems the Gentleman Ghost decided to hide his monocle to evade suspicions. That still doesn't explain why the other clerks aren't surprised of seeing one of them lacking a face or a body. Maybe Craddock used one of his many tricks to assume a physical appearance for a while, one never knows.

The Gentleman Ghost, after a successful heist, goes to explore the most elegant stores all over Paris as well as musing about his apparent undead existence and love. Life is full of nice surprises and James Craddock is about to see some of them.

Now that's an interesting way for DC to emulate the tragic romance between Benjamin Grimm and Alicia Masters but this time using a villain. Call it simple if you want but humanizing a villain during the Silver Age was ahead of its time and was one of the main strengths of Kanigher's prose. Kudos for making the staff working in Le Figaro into ghosts like Craddock as one gets the possible idea that Le Figaro is his favorite lair.

Zita learns about the ghostly status of her boyfriend and even asks Craddock to abandon his criminal way of life. Feeling the power of love flowing all over his body and, acting as a true gentleman, offering to restore the sight of his blind beloved with the assistance of some rare jewels, the Gentleman Ghost embarks on a criminal tour to secure those items. First he steals a the Emerald Necklace of Empress Ra-Na from the Louvre Museum and confronts the Hawk-Couple along the way. Zita's sight isn't restored at all but the Gentleman Ghost is not a man who gives up easily and plans to steal the Fire Ruby from a fashion show. Needless to say, the Gentleman Ghost confronts the Hawk-Couple.

Hawkman follows Craddock into the sewers of Paris where the murky and dirty water levels start increasing, making the Gentleman Ghost to realize that he can't swim. Hawkman seems happy to know that the Gentleman Ghost appears to be a physical living thief. Want to know what makes him more happy than such fact?

It seems it's not always sugar and kisses with the Hawk-Couple, hehehe.

Hawkman grabs the Gentleman Ghost to prevent him from drowning and soon realizes that swimming is an imperative sport for all gentlemen as well as the fact that the Gentleman Ghost has made a fool out of Hawkman once more, thus escaping with the Fire Ruby.

Having taken a sip of the sweet ambrosia of victory but still wanting to become a physical being as well as exploring the world, the Gentleman Ghost makes his leave as the romantic figure of mystery that he is. Too bad Zita was never mentioned ever again.

The Gentleman Ghost would not haunt the lives of the Hawk-Couple for a while in order for him to cause more mayhem by interrupting the wedding of Superman and Lois Lane during the early 70s. This time sporting a more modern smoking suit and losing his monocle for a while.

Sorry, comrades, I was just pulling your legs on that one. The look is quite similar but that fellow wasn't our good pal James Craddock but the spirit of Jack the Ripper wanting to marry Lois Lane. Crazy, right? Regardless of it I felt it was worth posting it considering how he sports a similar look like the Gentleman Ghost as well as the fact that GG was revealed as been Jack the Ripper on the Batman : The Brave and the Bold cartoon. Funny how things work out, don't you think?

It wouldn't be until 1976 that we would get to see the Gentleman Ghost fighting Hawkman. What was the problem? It was just an hallucination produced by Nekron the Master of Fear (not the one from Blackest Night but still an old enemy of the Guardians of the Universe, so you might consider him as a Prototype of Parallax) in order to make the Justice League of America to fear losing their lives before their greatest enemies. Hawkman and Ray Palmer would see a vision of the Gentleman Ghost ending their misery.

The next appearances of our favorite Cadaverous Cavalier of Crime would not be found on comic books per se but on badass pictures taken from the DC Calendars of the late 70s. The first picture, taken from 1977, is a gorgeous homage of the final battle seen on Flash Comics # 88 and Atom and Hawkman # 43 done by a more experienced Joe Kubert. This time the Gentleman Ghost fights his foes at the same time as he defies death itself over the skies of London.

The next picture is from 1978 and has a Halloween theme well done by Al Milgrom. The Hawk-Couple and the Atom appear fighting Felix Faust, some demons and the Matter Master while the Gentleman Ghost laughs before Hawkman's futile attacks. It goes without saying that the Gentleman Ghost was the only villain here that managed to escape laughing all the way.

Well, my dear friends, this marks the end of this session but stay tuned for the next episode of the saga of the Gentleman Ghost as he matches wits against the one and only Batman. It would be the most elegant thief from the after-life against the world's greatest detective. It will be a spook-tacular episode, that's for sure.

Au revoir!

[identity profile] 2011-12-17 06:34 pm (UTC)(link)
"and pound GG's lackeys with the hammers of justice."

And his hammer is...? ;)
mrosa: (Default)

[personal profile] mrosa 2011-12-17 09:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Lois must hate him.
bradygirl_12: (Default)

[personal profile] bradygirl_12 2011-12-17 10:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm really enjoying these Gentleman Ghost entries. Thanks for posting them! :)
eyz: (Default)

[personal profile] eyz 2011-12-20 11:22 am (UTC)(link)
As a villain, I always loved the Gentleman Ghost!
So classy, and ghostly and all that~

(sidenote: why, oh, why the need to redesign him for his future new 52 appearance!!!)
mistervader: (Default)

[personal profile] mistervader 2011-12-22 06:15 am (UTC)(link)
"Like a ghost" is my new memetic statement now.

Doin' it... like a ghost!