If you haven’t heard of Doctor Spektor, it’s understandable. The occult detective first appeared in 1972 in Gold Key’s “Mystery Comics Digest” #5 before getting his very own series aptly titled “The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor.” Created by Donald Glut (who novelized “The Empire Strikes Back” and would go on to write for many beloved animated series, including “Spider-Man,” “Transformers,” “DuckTales,” “G.I. Joe” and more) and artist Dan Spiegle (who worked on many of Gold Key’s occult titles in the ’60s and ’70s, and later did work for DC Comics), Doctor Adam Spektor was an occult investigator that delved into the mystery of mummies, vampires, werewolves and more. However, after his final appearance in 1977, the character disappeared into the annals of history.
However, Doctor Spektor is headed for a modern comeback at the hands of Dynamite Entertainment’s Gold Key revival. Headed up by the creative team of Mark Waid and Neil Edwards, Dynamite’s “Doctor Spektor” is the poster child for the saying, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
“The basics are the same: a rich, fairly private man who travels the world, using magic to fight and eliminated ghouls and ghosts and supernatural menaces,” Waid told CBR News of the character. “But what’s changed is the method of delivery: his main weapon is money. What ancient ingredients for spells he can’t find (what is “eye of newt,” anyway?), he can have his scientists recreate for him in the most high-tech labs imaginable. He’ll launch an entire satellite into orbit just to beam down reflected sunlight on a village of vampires.”
In many ways, “Doctor Spektor” is the most overdue for a relaunch. Amongst the many Gold Key properties — which include Magnus, Robot Fighter, “Doctor Solar and Turok, Son of Stone — “Doctor Spektor” was one of the few original Gold Key characters that did not see a relaunch in the ’90s courtesy of Valiant Entertainment. Alan Spektor’s new appearance at the hands of Waid and Edwards certainly has the distinction of being the least well-known character as a result, but it also indicates a vast potential for growth, and the opportunity for the creative team to really put their own spin on it.
“[It’s] the chance to really re-think, from the ground up, one of the truly forgotten characters of the Bronze Age of Comics,” Waid said. “I love challenges like that.”
However, it’s not just Spektor’s money that differentiates him from his 1970s counterpart — in order to help contrast the strange and archaic nature of the occult threats and characters, Waid has something very special planned for the modern-day Alan Spektor: instead of a paragon of good right from the start, Alan Spektor is a reality television show celebrity. That, along with the magic aspect, was one of the main draws for Waid of adding this series to his already incredibly busy schedule.
“It was the magic aspect — the permission to update him from rich, effete monster-hunter to super-rich reality-TV-celebrity David Blaine/Criss Angel-performer… monster-hunter,” Waid said. “[The supernatural and reality television] define the difference between magic and illusion. Honest. For what’s more illusory than television?”
Indeed, Waid’s plate is pretty full when it comes to comics. Not only is he writing two ongoing titles for Marvel Comics — “Daredevil” and “Indestructible Hulk” — he’s also running digital comics platform Thrillbent and writing the latest chapters of “Insufferable,” another comic that utilized modern technological and entertainment advancements to great effect. Much like “Insufferable,” Waid’s “Doctor Spektor” will have a little bit to do with social media.
“It’s not quite as immediate, but Spektor and his team are very social media conscious,” he said. “And, in fact, that plays heavily into the issue three climax.”
That said, a reality show about hunting down the biggest baddies of the occult world isn’t completely ridiculous in “Doctor Spektor.” The supernatural is very real in Alan Spektor’s world, and he’s done quite a bit to establish himself using his fame and his wealth as relates to the occult.
“He’s made his name and his fortune hunting down werewolves and mummies and bogeymen all over Earth. But by the end of issue one, he’s finally confronted with the one thing that terrifies him. And in a world where werewolves and vampires are real, you can imagine it would have to be very scary.”
In his five years in comics, the original Doctor Spektor had a vast amount of adventures, including a period during which he became a werewolf. That said, Waid has done his research, and the amount to which the original run influenced his modern relaunch will be apparent by “Doctor Spektor” #4. “Keep reading,” the writer said.
However, all these changes shouldn’t make fans of the original fear that everything unique about the character has gone out the window. Not only will it feature some dynamic and expressive art from Edwards — “The man’s a whiz,” Waid said. “There’s action and emotion on every page, which is never a give. He’s very good.” — it still stays true to the core of the original character. And, for Waid — who helped reimagine “Green Hornet” for Dynamite — the good Doctor being a somewhat unknown quantity actually helped him develop some of the book’s fresh concepts.
“Less expectations always equals less second-guessing and more creativity,” he said. “But I did do my homework!”
“Doctor Spektor” #1 by Mark Waid & Neil Edwards goes on sale May 28 from Dynamite Entertainment.