|First Appearance:||More Fun Comics #52 (February, 1940)|
|Created by:|| Jerry Siegel|
|Affiliations:|| The Presence|
Formerly Justice Society of America
Black Lantern Corps
Red Lantern Corps
|Portrayed by:|| Gary Cole (Voice)|
The Spectre is an aspect of God Itself, the Divine Vengeance incarnate. The Spectre has walked among mankind since the days of the Old Testament, meeting out justice to wrong-doers. Since the death of Christ, the Spectre has been bonded to a mortal host, to serve as the Spectre's guide and anchor. (Cosmic Being)
In The Beginning
In the beginning, there was the Presence, the One Above All. Such was the Presence's nature that His aspects had names and identities of their own. At His direction, certain of these aspects were charged with certain functions and duties. Among them were His Wrath, called Eclipso, His Mercy, called the Radiant, and His Vengeance, called the Spectre. Three seconds after creation, there was a rebellion in Paradise. A rebel band of angels led by Lucifer Morningstar attempted to wrest control of Heaven from the Presence. As punishment, they were cast down into Hell, where they became the beings that mortal men knew as demons. In time, one of the demons, a creature called Aztar, came to repent his rebellion, seeking forgiveness from the Presence; legend in Hell has it that he was a prince among the damned.
Aztar came before the gates of Heaven, where he was met by the archangel Michael. He prostated himself before Michael, acknowledging his wrongdoing and his responsibility for what he had done, offering himself up to whatever punishment the Presence chose to impose. The Presence's judgment on Aztar was that he would become a vessel for an aspect of the Divine - the Divine Wrath. Aztar's memory and consciousness would be wiped from existence. Aztar accepted with regret, hoping that some fragment of what he once was would be allowed to remain. The Wrath of God entered into Aztar, burning away everything he had been, transfiguring the remnants of his form into the Spectre Force.
Perhaps Aztar's wish was heard; millennia later, Jim Corrigan, the Spectre's then-host, saw a vision of Aztar's transformation, buried deep in the Spectre's core. This Primal-Spectre was the one who punished Cain for the murder of his brother Abel, laying a mark upon Cain lest any should kill him. For that, Cain sought revenge on the Spectre, and through him, on the Presence. When Eclipso fell to evil, it was the Primal-Spectre's duty to deliver punishment. The Primal-Spectre stripped Eclipso of his rank and privileges and tore him asunder, with Eclipso's power imprisoned in the black diamond known as the Heart of Darkness. It was the Primal-Spectre, the Spectre Force, that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, that humbled the Pharaoh and killed the first-born of Egypt. The Divine Wrath was the blast that brought down the walls of Jericho and stopped the sun in its tracks. For centuries the Wrath of God punished and humbled mankind, until the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. At that instant, the Divine Wrath was cast into Limbo, for God's vengeance and forgiveness could not walk the same plane together.
When Jesus died on the cross, the Divine Wrath was released from his exile and sought vengeance on mankind for the death of Christ. He was interrupted by the archangel Michael, who informed the Divine Wrath that due to the example of Christ, all aspects of God were now to be bound to human souls, as decreed by God himself. The Wrath resisted, struggling mightily, but Michael would not be denied, and was able to force the Wrath to yield. He then sought out the soul of a person who thirsted for swift, vengeful justice. In India, a man called Chakara and his family were slain by the witch Lady Beltane. In the limbo between planes of reality, Chakara cried for justice. The archangel Michael appeared to him in the form of the goddess Kali. Michael asked Chakara if he would be willing to bargain his soul's rest for the chance to avenge his family's death. Chakara agreed, and his soul mixed with the essence of the Divine Wrath. Thus, Chakara became the first true Spectre, a killing ghost that sought justice and enlightenment. Chakara was unaware of the Spectre Force's true origin as a divine entity; he believed he was a human soul who had been granted divine power. Eventually Chakara would turn from his mission, seduced by a demon. As punishment, he was stripped of the Spectre Force and bound to the demon who had seduced him, becoming Azmodus, who swore revenge on all later Spectres. Over the centuries, there were many who joined with the Divine Wrath to become the Spectre, chosen from those who had met unjust deaths, and sought vengeance. Like Chakara before them, none of the Spectres were aware the Divine Wrath was a separate entity in its own right, believing that they had been granted the power to exact vengeance. None of these earlier Spectres operated in the public eye, and none gained world-wide recognition. That changed in the 1940s, when detective Jim Corrigan became the latest host for the Spirit of Vengeance.
Corrigan was murdered in a gangland killing, tied up and thrown in a barrel of cement, which was in turn thrown in a river. Upon his death, he found himself in Limbo, where he was bonded with the Spectre Force and tasked with its mission, to confront evil wherever he found it. Corrigan returned to the world of the living, where he exacted vengeance on the mobsters who had killed him. Taking inspiration from the 'mystery men' of the day, he created the identity of the Spectre.
During World War II, the Spectre was a prime agent in stopping a Nazi invasion of Britain, in tandem with other mystery men. With Doctor Fate vouching for him, he became one of the founding members of the Justice Society of America.
Adolph Hitler had come into possession of the legendary Spear of Destiny, the weapon that had pierced Jesus's side on the Cross. With the Spear's power, Hitler created a 'sphere of influence' around Axis-controlled Europe; any metahuman who entered the sphere would fall under Hitler's control. The Spectre could sense where the sphere's borders were, but could not enter without falling under the influence.
In the closing days of the war, Hitler attempted to use the Spear to invoke Ragnarok, but lacked the mystical energy to succeed; the spell, however, remained dormant in the Spear. Hitler's influence also laid a curse on the Spear, that any others who wielded it would be corrupted, falling prey to Hitler's madness.
With the end of the war, the sphere came down, and the Justice Society were free to enter Europe. When they discovered the concentration camps, the Spectre was driven to righteous fury, preparing to unleash his vengeance. Fearing that he might wipe out all of Germnay, the rest of the Justice Society managed to restrain him, convincing him to let the Nuremberg Trials do their work. Although the Spectre took no action, the incident darkened his view of life.
Several years after the war, Corrigan had his first encounter with Azmodus, battling him across multiple layers of reality. Azmodus laid an amnesia spell on the Spectre, who managed to grab him as the spell took hold, ensuring both fell under its influence, making them forget their true natures.
Corrigan returned to being a cop for the next twenty years. While on the trail of some crooks, Corrigan ended up at a seance, which finally broke the amnesia spell, allowing him to remember his nature as the Spectre. However, the spell's breaking also restored Azmodus's memories, and soon afterwards, he attempted to fight the Spectre again. This time, it was the Spectre who triumphed, banishing Azmodus.
Sometime after the beginning of the modern age of superheroes, the Spectre's mission on Earth was ended, and he became the guardian of Heaven and Hell. This did not last long, though; during the Crisis on Infinite Earths the Spectre and the Anti-Monitor fought at the beginning of Time, resulting in the creation of one single universe, instead of the infinity there had once been.
The Spear of Destiny eventually fell into the hands of the serpent cult Kobra, who sought to use it to control or nullify Earth's metas. The Spectre discovered this, and moved to confront them. The cult attempted to use the Spear against the Spectre, but contact with the Spectre's mystical energies triggered the latent Ragnarok spell. Seeking assistance, the Spectre went to his old friends in the Justice Society, who found themselves drawn into another dimension, seemingly condemned to fight in Ragnarok for all eternity - although, ironically, the Spectre managed to remain free. Eventually, he managed to free his friends with the assistance of Waverider.
Following the Crisis, Corrigan found that much of the Spectre's power had been stripped from him, and that the Spectre could not exist outside of him for more than 48 hours, otherwise both of them would cease to exist. Eventually, in his first encounter with the Martian Manhunter, Corrigan learned that, feeling the weight of his alienation from normal people, he had split the Spectre's power in two, using one half of that power to create a simulacrum of his living body. With this understanding, Corrigan dissolved the simulacrum and reclaimed the other half of his power.
Confronted with the conflict in the Balkan country of Vlatava, the Spectre judged everyone in it guilty, and killed them all, letting only two people survive. Heaven judged the Spectre's actions, and found he had done the necessary thing; the conflict would have eventually killed everyone in the country.
Believing the Spectre might turn his judgement on the rest of the world, the United States government gave Superman the Spear of Destiny, which had eventually fallen into American hands, and charged him to bring the Spectre under control, or stop him. However, the Spear began to slowly corrupt Superman, and the Spectre gave him a vision of what would happen if he succumbed to the Spear's influence, testing him to see whether he would renounce it, which Superman did. The Spectre then cast the Spear into the heavens.
Soon afterwards, the Spectre confronted Azmodus for the final time, the Spectre's mortal allies forcing Azmodus to face the evil he had done. With that self-knowledge, Chakara's soul repented his crimes, allowing the Spectre to sunder him from the demon, ending Azmodus's existence, and allowing Chakara to pass on to the cycle of reincarnation. The Spear of Destiny was eventually retrieved by a group called the National Interest, who sought to use the Spear to eliminate the Spectre. In the end, the Spectre prevailed, reclaiming the Spear and once more casting it into outer space. In time, Corrigan grew tired, the anger and rage that had kept him going now a burden. He relinquished his role as the Spectre and passed on into Heaven, letting the Spectre Force return whence it came.
Day of Judgment
The demon Etrigan tricked the Spectre Force into bonding with the rogue angel Asmodel. With the Spectre's power, Asmodel subdued Neron, Hell's ruler, and unleashed the forces of Hell on Earth. In search of assistance, a group of Earth's mystics went to Heaven to convince Jim Corrigan to become the Spectre once more, but Corrigan refused. The mystics then visited Limbo, where they recruited the assistance of former Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Given the choice between Asmodel, Neron and Hal, the Spectre Force chose Hal, making him its new host. Captain Marvel had retrieved the Spear of Destiny from its location in space, for use against the Spectre. Hal entrusted the Spear to the so-called 'Sentinels of Magic', and they in turn threw it into the Sun, casting a spell to make sure only they could retrieve it.
Hal refused the Spectre's mission of wrath. He attempted to redirect its power, to turn it from the Spirit of Vengeance to a Spirit of Redemption. For a time, he succeeded. But as time went on, Hal found himself conflicted and indecisive. Unable to find redemption for himself, yet unwilling to accept the Spectre's brand of vengeance, Hal found himself conflicted. He began to lose control of the Spectre's power, finding it rejecting his will; when faced with a friend in danger, Hal finally gave in, accepting the Spectre's role as the Wrath of God.
Unknown to Hal, the Spectre had alternate reasons for choosing him as his host. Hal Jordan's soul had become a host of Parallax, the living embodiment of fear, who had gained a foothold in Hal following the destruction of Coast City and caused his subsequent mental breakdown. The Spectre had hoped burn Parallax out of Hal's soul and cast judgement on the demonic parasite.
But Parallax would not be denied. He sought dominance over Hal and the Spectre, to corrupt the Spectre's power and spread fear across the universe. By the time the Spectre revealed the truth to Hal, Parallax had reached the point where he could suppress both entities. However, this was the demon's undoing. Now aware of Parallax's existence, Hal was able to fight through Parallax, and helped the Spectre separate all three from each other. That done, the Spectre answered the call of the Presence, to return and await a new host.
Day of Vengeance
When the Spectre next appeared on Earth, however, it was without the presence of a host. Lacking the judgment a host would provide, he enacted punishment on any who transgressed, no matter how minor the transgression. Confused and lacking direction, the Spectre easily fell prey to Eclipso, now possessing the body of Jean Loring, who convinced the Spectre that magic was the source of all evil, and that by destroying it, he would achieve his mission.
The Spectre went on a genocidal rampage across the mystic realms, killing thousands of sorcerors and magic-users. The ancient wizard Shazam sent his champion Captain Marvel against the Spectre, to buy Shazam time as he prepared to fight the Spectre himself. Some of the survivors of the Spectre's rampage banded together to find a way to stop him, forming a group called the Shadowpact. While their efforts proved unsuccessful, they were able to banish Eclipso into perpetual orbit around the sun, where her powers would be nullified. The Spectre and Captain Marvel fought for many days, but ultimately, the Spectre managed to break through Marvel's defences to confront Shazam in the Rock of Eternity, killing the wizard and destroying the Rock in the process.
The Spectre continued on his rampage, sending Atlantis to the depths of the ocean, before moving on to kill the Lords of Chaos and Order. Finally, only one of the Lords of Order was left to face him, Nabu the Wise, the guiding force behind Doctor Fate. Nabu goaded the Spectre into killing him - for with Nabu's death, the Ninth Age of Magic would end, and the Tenth begin. The Spectre, still focused on the destruction of magic, struck him down. In killing Nabu, the Spectre finally overstepped his bounds. The Presence took notice, and called the Spectre back from the mortal realm to answer Its judgment. The Presence bound the Spectre into a new host, murdered detective Crispus Allen, the Spectre pleading and begging for forgiveness all the way.
The Spectre showed himself to Crispus's ghost at his funeral, offering Crispus the chance to make their bond permanent, to join with the Spectre on its mission of justice. Crispus refused, the first host in a long time to do so. The Spectre gave Crispus a year to reconsider; when he returned, Crispus accepted, bonding with the Spectre to become the latest incarnation of the Spirit of Vengeance. Crispus's first task as the Spectre was to exact vengeance upon his son for killing Crispus's murderer. He ended his son's life peacefully.
The Blackest Night
During the Blackest Night, Black Hand reveals that The Spectre must be moved out of the way in order for the universe to be at peace. For that he uses the Black Lantern, Pariah, who unleashes more black rings which latch themselves onto Crispus's body, turning him into a Black Lantern and sealing the Spectre inside its host. The Spectre screams that he "will not be used." Blue Devil and Zatanna stand in shock as the gigantic form of the Black Lantern Spectre declares "I Want Hal Jordan Back!" When Hal Jordan is in Coast City with the other Lantern corps, battling the Black Lanterns, Spectre appears and ambushes Hal. Hal and other ring wielders try desperately to defeat Spectre but their powers are no match for his. Hal remembers that The Spectre fled from Parallax back when they were fighting over his body and therefore, comes up with the plan to merge with Parallax once again. He does this and now possessed by the entity of fear, attacks Spectre. The two titanic forces collide with Parallax seemingly having the advantage. He breaks into the Black Lantern's body and discovers the true Spectre and Crispus Allen, buried deep within the Black Lantern shell. Parallax breaks the connection between Spectre and the ring and frees the Spirit of Vengeance from his entrapment. Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lantern Corps, believes that Spectre is the entity of rage that he has been searching for and tries to bring him under his control. Spectre refuses, stating that he had faced the entity of rage before but that he is not it. He breaks free from Atrocitus and targets Nekron, leader of the Black Lantern Corps. He tries to judge his soul but Nekron has no soul to judge and mysteriously, sends Spectre away.
Powers and Abilities
Divine Wrath: As a spiritual entity, the Spectre cannot be slain in the conventional sense, though he can be destroyed by sufficiently powerful means.
- Flight: ability to fly at any speed
- Fear Projection: ability to project fear into the heart and souls of his adversaries.
- Inanimate Possession: inhabit and animate inanimate objects
- Illusion Casting: ability to project realistic illusions
- Impenetrable Mists
- Astral Travel
- Magic Mastery: possesses mastery over virtually all forms of magic use.
- Discern Motivation: sense the intentions of people in the place where they plan to carry those intentions out.
- Cosmic Awareness: The Spectre knows many secrets of the universe and its inhabitants, though even he is not omniscient.
- Precognition: The Spectre can sometimes get glimpses into the future, although this is not without great difficulty. The only time he was given a long, vivid glimpse into the future was when the Presence granted him one in order to warn the JLA and prevent universal destruction.
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Stamina
- Superhuman Speed
- Coming Soon
- Near-limitless; the Spectre was able to sink Atlantis simply by stepping on it.
- Sufficiently Powerful Magic: The Spectre can be injured or even slain by sufficient magic force, most notably the Spear of Destiny or a fully empowered Eclipso.
- Divine Limitations: The Presence can impose limits on what the Spectre is able to do, as it did in binding the Spectre to a mortal host.
- Divine Law: There are certain boundaries even the Spectre must not cross. If it does, it faces the punishment of the Presence. When the Spectre killed Nabu, it drew the Presence's attention, and was recalled.
- Finite Power: The Spectre's power is great, but it is not limitless. If the Spectre performs a sufficiently great act of magic, its power is lessened, and it becomes vulnerable to magic, for as long as the working is maintained. One example of this was the Spectre's creation of a living body for Jim Corrigan.
In Other Media
- Coming Soon
- The Spectre was created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, although several sources attribute creator credit solely to Siegel, limiting Baily to being merely the artist assigned to the feature.
- Each Spectre host manifests a unique Spectre form, a composite of the host and the Spectre Force. Sometimes, but not always, this Spectre form is recognisable by those who knew the host in life; Jim Corrigan's Spectre was not recognisable, but Crispus Allen's was.
- Coming Soon