The spear used to pierce the side of Jesus Christ has had many different owners throughout the years. The most pivotal role the Spear had came in World War II as it fell into the hands of Adolf Hitler. The control of the Spear by the Third Reich prevented American superheroes, particularly those with magic-based origins or powers (and in the pre-Crisis Earth-Two reality, the Golden Age Superman), from intervening in the War, creating a Sphere of Influence that would affect such heroes to fall under Hitler's sway when they enter into it. The Spear was used towards the end of the War by a cornered Captain Nazi who attacked the Spectre with it, nearly killing him and precipitating the end of the world. However, before its loss, Hitler used a magical ritual to taint the weapon, corrupting any who wielded it to his greed and powerlust.
After the War, the spear came into the hands of the Allies, and was placed in storage in the United States. It would emerge years later, during a time when the Spectre was considered out of control, having destroyed the entire nation of Vlatava. President Bill Clinton ordered the Spear retrieved and asked Superman to confront the Spectre with it, as it was widely accepted that the Spear was perhaps the only weapon on Earth that could actually harm him. Superman took the Spear and headed for Japan, where the Spectre was grappling with a water elemental sent on a rampage by Maia. The Spear was also capable of injuring or slaying the elemental itself. Unfortunately, it was not realized until after Superman was in the air how deep the taint of the Spear was. Superman beheld a vision where he used the Spear to take over the world, slaying all of his allies and close friends before being confronted at last by Batman. Superman was able to deny the vision and reject the Spear. The Spectre bound the Spear inside a rocky boulder with the ashes of Vlatava and cast it into Earth orbit.
During the Day of Judgment, the rogue angel Asmodel seized control of the vacant Spectre Force and literally froze over hell. Earth's heroes split into three groups: one group lead by Superman went into hell to reignite the fires; a second, led by Wonder Woman, attempted to retrieve Jim Corrigan from Heaven and re-bond him to the Spectre; and a third, led by Captain Marvel, ventured into space to retrieve the Spear. Captain Marvel was able to withstand the taint long enough to deal a crippling blow to the Spectre, weakening him long enough for Hal Jordan (who was retrieved from Purgatory instead of Corrigan) to become the new host for the Spectre. Once joined, this new Spectre cast the Spear back into space.
On another occasion, Felix Faust and Circe both attempted to gain control of the spear in two simultaneous separate plots, taking advantage of circumstances to seize it with their magics, only to be thwarted by the Justice League and Justice League Elite respectively.
During the events of Final Crisis, Renee Montoya (The Question) continues her personal vendetta to hunt down the members of the Religion of Crime, who have sworn to kill her for denying her role as their leader (after accidentally killing their original leader). The members are looking for the mythical rock which Cain used to kill Abel. Renee tries to fight off the members, although they actually do find the rock. Shortly afterwards, Crispus Allen shows up as the Spectre and informs her that it is her time to be judged. They are also in possession of the Spear, using it and the rock in a ceremony on Vandal Savage. Cain is then reborn in Savage's flesh. He then leads an army of followers to Gotham, where he managed to best the Spectre and plunge the weapon through him. This separates the Spectre itself from the spirit of its human host, rendering it a slave to Cain.
Cain attempts to corrupt the Radiant, God's Spirit of Mercy, tempting her by offering the deaths of the killers of her human host. When the Radiant refuses, he has the Spectre utter the Anti-Life Equation, unmaking creation itself and rebuilding it in the name of Darkseid. However, the Question and Huntress managed to reclaim the Spear, though they incur serious injuries. The Radiant heals Huntess, but cannot heal the Question until the relic is purified of its taint, something that can only be accomplished by using it to heal a soul rather than destroying it. The Question does this by using the Spear to resurrect Jake Allen, the son of the Spectre's human host. This brings hope and peace to the spirit of Crispus Allen, who manages to reclaim control of the Spectre-force. He then uses the Spear's power to change the world to what it was, dealing absolute judgment upon Cain and his followers, except for the killers of Sister Clarice, the Radiant's human host, so she could forgive them before they died.