The Spectre by Dean Trippe

Character: The Spectre
Publisher: DC Comics
Artist: Dean Trippe
Reviewer: Chris Arrant

At first glance Dean Trippe’s redesign of DC’s Spectre seem relatively unchanged from previous versions, but look further.

Since the character’s inception in 1940, it has been at odds with the superheroes it co-habituates with. Is the Spectre a superhero, or something more primal and haunting? In Trippe’s piece, the super-heroic elements of green underpants (?!) are gone, and his body is now semi-transparent. It is this transparent element that is the primary change, and I would postulate that the degree of transparency in the Spectre’s body would change depending on viewing angle, lighting and distance. Add in the piercing red pupils in the otherwise hollow eye sockets to add an additional pedigree of haunted personality. DC’s resident Spirit of Vengeance is shown here both ethereal and resilient, as befits someone with tenuous ties to humanity.

14 comments to “The Spectre by Dean Trippe”
  1. That’s exactly what I was going for, Chris, thanks. My idea for the Spectre costume is that it’s not made of cloth, but various elements of transparency, that can change througout a scene. There’s the cape and hood elements (which are the most solid) the suit in black, the white highlights on the suit, the skeleton elements, and his Spectre face, which I imagine should be able to melt into a more Cris Allen face for moments of human emotion.

  2. Yeah.. gotta agree on the transparency angle. Would we just see skeleton or guts, too? I assume just skeleton, since he should have been dead for a long time.

  3. My fave redesign so far – i was looking at the ones Dean posted during the process – like how the shadows play on the phantom skeletal structure – lots of potential

  4. EXCELLENT WORK, DEAN! The translucent “skin” is really cool. It would also work just as well without the gloves and boots to give it more of that horrific look you were after.

  5. Love it Dean! The most original take on the character we’ve seen in what, 40 years? I’m impressed! DC, are you paying attention??

  6. The review used the two words that come instantly to my mind; ‘haunting’ and ‘ethereal’. The redesign does well to distance The Spectre from the generally silly superhero fanfare, which it should, and the portrait view, seemingly done in a ‘sketchier’ style than I’m used to from Dean was excellently executed and creepy, even if I get a slight Skeletor vibe.

    The only alteration to this I’d like to see (and forgive me if it’s already been done) would be a ‘rattier’ version of the cape, something more akin to Demogoblin’s tattered cape. To me, the cape is the only place where the ‘haunting’ imagery is let up a little.

    See, Dean, I told you I’d pipe up. Excellent work overall!


  7. I actually fought with you on the shifting transparencies, saying that he looked too much like Two Face (I know he doesn’t, just saying the motif is similar). I like the cloth idea that is transparent though. It makes me wonder, if you were given an opportunity to do a Spectre monthly, if you’d do the shifting throughout the book. It’d make for interesting storytelling choices, I think.

  8. I love the transparency, and the idea that his face looks more like Crispus the more human he acts, and more like the Spectre the more inhuman he acts. However, I wish we could do away with the cape and cowl.

    In Ostrander and Mandrake’s awesome Spectre series, they established that the Spectre’s look was effected by how the Spectre saw himself. Jim Corrigan looked like a caped superhero because when he was reborn as the Spectre we saw himself as a superhero in a newly dawning age of superheroes (thus the cape and underpants). Past Spectres have looked like foreign Gods, warriors, feral beasts, and so on, all with a green & white ghostly theme. Crispus Allen should look more like a detective, with a ghostly green flowing trenchcoat, tie, white shirt, maybe a badge of green flame, and a gun (like the new Crimson Avenger). Crispus is one of the most down-to-earth, straightforward characters in the DCU, and he has little tolerance for “capes”. He should appear as such.

  9. I’m not sure if I agree with your comments on how Allen would Identify himself as Spectre. Considering that the Spectre’s appearance is dictated by the host, as a Person inhabiting the DC Universe Allen would know what the Past Spectres have looked like, and therefore probably assume that’s how he should look.

    God I sound like I’m justifying ignoring old continuity, but really, I think this is an awesome look for the spectre.

  10. The redesign is both subtle and inspired. What really speaks to me is the transparency and its relation to the nature of the character.
    I especially like how the transparency seems to be accentuated in areas of shadow, which taken further can relate to those cues from film-noir where the strong black & white contrast exists to illustrate the moral overtones of the characters.
    Nice work.

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