Sgt. Spook makes his presence felt. Artist: John Jordan.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Novelty Press
First Appeared: 1940
Creator: Malcolm Kildale
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Sgt. Spook was a variation on the genre of The Gay Ghost, Mr. Justice, Nemesis and a host of other superheroes who got killed in their first episodes, and launched their super-careers of fighting crime and/or evil only after shuffling off this mortal coil. His variation was that instead of putting on a fancy superhero outfit, he kept on wearing what he had on when he died. Thus, he'd be a plainclothes superhero …

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… along the lines of Johnny Thunder or Tiny Tim, if not for the fact that what he'd been wearing happened to be a police uniform.

Sgt. Spook is unlikely to have been directly inspired by the undead hero genre, as he made his first appearance too soon after The Spectre, of whom most of the others were imitations, for his creator, Malcolm Kildale (Speed Centaur) to have seen the more prominent character in print before starting his own. Blue Bolt Comics #1, where Sgt Spook made his first appearance, was dated June, 1940, whereas The Spectre had debuted as recently as the February, 1940 issue of More Fun Comics.

Also, an important element of the average superhero spook was missing. Usually, the reader's sense of justice is assuaged when the newly superheroized protagonist makes it his first order of business to avenge his own murder. But Sgt. Spook had nobody to blame but his own stupidly careless self. He was a police scientist, performing a chemical analysis in connection with a case, when he leaned the pipe he'd been smoking against a rack of chemicals, and Boom! If he'd been anything but a comic book character, that would have been the end of him. He was instantly killed, sure, but in funnybooks that's not always an impediment.

As a ghost, Sgt. Spook (who had no other name — his five-page origin story was too cramped, what with the necessity of bringing in a spy ring) was invisible and inaudible, but whether he was intangible as well seemed to depend on the circumstances. He could walk through walls like a proper ghost, but he could also make physical contact, as needed, with bad guys.

Kildale gave Sgt. Spook about a year and a half, after which John Jordan (comic book Don Winslow stories) took over the character. That lasted a few years. Later artists included Don Rico (Secret Stamp), Howard Larsen (Kaanga) and a few who haven't been identified.

In 1948, Sgt. Spook stopped appearing reliably, in every issue of Blue Bolt Comics. His last appearance altogether was in the 100th issue (August, 1949).


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Text ©2007 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Novelty Press.