01.jpgreviewbubble.jpgTales of the Expected

The 2006 installment of Tales of the Unexpected featuring The Spectre, and a backup with Dr. 13 kicked off with a bang that got me in all the right places. Now that I’ve had a chance to absorb issue two, are my tingly places still tingling, or is it more of the same?

02.jpgTales of the Unexpected #2
The Horrible Joy of Vengeance
David Lapham (w)
Eric Battle (p), Prentis Rollins (i), Guy Major (c)
Architecture and Mortality
Brian Azzarello (w)
Cliff Chiang (a), Patricia Mulvihill (c)

Last issue Crispus Allen (a.k.a. The Spectre) found a tenement apartment complex with a lot of problems. Even though he avenged the death of the scummy landlord, he still hasn’t moved on to a new location. There seems to be too much going on behind closed doors that need resolving.

While hanging out in a dead man’s apartment, two young lovers barge in looking for a place to hide from the girl’s father, not to mention a place to get cozy. Allen leaves so the two may have some alone time, and as he wanders the halls contemplating the problems of the complex, he is drawn to a domestic dispute.


Mark “Frosty” Whitford, a low life drug dealer, is beating the holy-heck out of his girlfriend. Amalia was moving his supply for him, but tossed the lot in the sewer when she thought she was being followed by a couple of cops. Not having a stash to sell, means Mark doesn’t have cash coming in, causing him to take it out on his girl. Even when her children rush into the room to try and fight Frosty off their mom, Crispus Allen is unable to help.

You see, he can’t unleash the power of The Spectre until someone has committed murder. Until then he is simply a ghost forced to watch. And although he can move objects, it takes a great deal of concentration, which he doesn’t have in a time of high stress and crisis.

Knowing good ol’ Frosty will slip up eventually, Allen follows him across town to a seedy bar and whore house.

Oh my god! Burn my eyes out now!!!

As Whitford sidles up to the bar, two of his friends approach him and tell him of the prank they pulled. These two geniuses pretended to be undercover cops to give Amalia a good scare.

Frosty apparently doesn’t like jokes, because instead of a slap on the back, he begins to mercilessly beat one of the men, ultimately fatally stabbing him with a broken bottle. Others in the bar join in, helping to finish off the job. This is all it takes for Crispus to go all wrath-like and do what he has agreed to do.

As gruesome as last issue’s murder was, The Spectre unleashes all sorts of pain and torment on those responsible for the murder, ultimately ripping their insides out and flinging them across the city. The Spectre flings the still living Frosty from building to building making his death be a slow painful beating, much like Frosty had previously given to his girlfriend, ultimately impaling him on the spear of a statue in the nearby park. The torment would have lasted much longer had Allen not pulled back. This is a discovery Allen needs to begin to cope with his new powers and (after)life.

This story ends where it began back in the room with the two lovers. This time when the father comes to beat the heck out of the boy messing with his daughter, Allen is able to scare the man into leaving the teenagers alone.


The message of hope at the end of the tale leaves me hoping for something more in the coming issues. If it is going to be the same old wrath of god stuff over and over again, then it will quickly lose its audience.


The backup story of Terry 13 continues as the backup in this issue. Doctor 13 was knocked out/passed out at the end of the last issue when he encountered I Vampire.

What makes Dr. 13 an interesting character is his continued refusal to believe in anything paranormal. In his mind everything can be explained scientifically. Even when daughter Traci shows Lord Andrew Bennett (I Vampire) and her father the ancient cave painting written in modern French, Terry knows something isn’t right.

This segment of the story moves along pretty quickly with Lord Bennett and Terry debating whether or not Bennett is one of the undead.

Frustrated with the go-nowhere argument, Traci goes outside for some air and is kidnapped by a bunch of fur covered monsters. Could it be the Yeti Dr. 13 originally came to investigate, or something more?


Even stranger than the things that are happening in the real word, are the dreams Dr. 13 is having. I swear this stuff ranks right up there with Twin Peaks in the weirdness. I’m not sure I understand all of it, but it is very intriguing. By the end of the run, this story is probably going to be one of the most under rated of the year.

Awakening, Terry refuses to see the footprints in front of him and as he brushes them away, he uncovers a frozen caveman (introduced last issue) frozen in the ice. As he contemplates what it means, a menacing shadow crosses the land.


The Good

  • Dr. 13 Backup story
  • Nazi Yetis
  • Architects of Fear
  • No incest remarks or references

The Bad

  • Spectre story that doesn’t really go anywhere
  • I’m totally confused with Dr. 13
  • I have to wait until next month to continue the story

As giddy as I was over the first issue, this sophomore entry left me rather flat. The Spectre story is moving slowly as Crispus Allen discovers exactly what control he has over his godly counterpart, while the Dr. 13 story is a confusing but fun ride. While I think this is an entertaining issue, with six months to go, I’m afraid readers are going to jump ship before the end of the run. Tales of the Unexpected #2 receives an approving nod, but only 2 Stars.


Parting Shot


Discuss this issue in the Major Spoilers Forum.


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. When I read the Spectre story, I wasn’t overwhelmed. Only the last panel worked for me, but it worked quite well.

    As for Doctor 13, this is right up my alley. It’s steeped in comic lore, it’s nuts, and it’s fun. Also interesting to me, is the fact that every word out of Terry’s mouth sounds like Doctor Venture from “The Venture Brothers.” In any case, I agree with you wholeheartedly on one point: if I’m having this much fun, most of the readership is going to jump ship before too long. It’s one of the rules of the cartoon universe…

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