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- There are heroes who fight crime with magic rings, or with the powers they have brought with them from distant planets. But all these pale into insignificance beside the astral awesomeness of The Spectre.
- -- The Spectre src
The Spectre is the divine Spirit of Vengeance, a powerful agent of the Presence, bound to a human host to curb his power and offer guidance. His hosts over the years have been James Corrigan, Hal Jordan and Crispus Allen.
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 prostrated himself before Michael, acknowledging his wrong-doing 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.
Adolf 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 Germany, 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. After the war, The Spectre continued his crusade until he vanished without a trace.
Return and Wrath
James Corrigan continued his activities as a detective for twenty years, often wondering where had The Spectre gone. During an investigation, Corrigan ended up at a seance, which allowed The Spectre to be released out of Corrigan's body. Spectre explained that he had been trapped inside Corrigan's body as a result of the demon Azmodus' presence on Earth. Finally back on Earth, The Spectre defeated the astral form of Azmodus and resumed his activities as The Spirit of Vengeance.
With lesser cosmical threats, Corrigan had to focus entirely on earthly crimes, which caused him to take a new approach against human evildoers, unleashing the full wrath and vengeace of The Spectre upon their rotten souls. Eventually The Presence decided to remove the powers of the Spectre from Corrigan, but this decision was short lived as Corrigan was soon killed and The Presence returned him the powers of Spectre so he could continue spreading vengeance across the land.
Sometime after the beginning of the modern age of superheroes when the Spectre's mission on Earth was ended, he became the guardian of Heaven and Hell and attempted to stop the Great Darkness, but failed. During the the Anti-Monitor's attack on reality, The Spectre fought him at the beginning of Time in an attempt to stop the ultimate collapse, but failed as well, resulting in the creation of one single universe, instead of the infinity there had once been.
As a result of his previous failures, Spectre was punished by The Voice. He was stripped away of his omnipotent powers and reduced to remain within the human host of Jim Corrigan once again, where he resumed his activities as an agent of vengeance.
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 judgment 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.
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 Jordan 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, being unable to find redemption for himself, yet unwilling to accept the Spectre's brand of vengeance. 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 to burn Parallax out of Hal's soul and cast judgment 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.
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 sorcerers 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 defenses 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, Malcolm, for killing Crispus' murderer. He ended his son's life peacefully; however, this made him extremely unhappy with his role as the Spectre. He used the Spectre's powers in only a superficial way, killing the villains Effigy and Arthur Light, turning them into oil and a candle, respectively.
He then targeted the villain responsible for the Martian Manhunter's death: Libra. However, Libra was able to stave off the entity with ease, adding to Allen's depression. However, during the events of Final Crisis, he was sent to pass judgment upon his old partner, Renee Montoya. He attacked her in Gotham City on the day the Anti-Life Equation was broadcast, and due to his interference she lost the powerful Spear of Destiny. The reborn Cain then used the Spear to enslave the Spectre and force it to rebuild reality in the name of Darkseid. Montoya, Huntress and the Radiant managed to retrieve the artifact; Montoya herself used it to resurrect Jake Allen to grant peace to Crispus' soul, and convince him to retake control of the Spectre. Allen, touched by her gift, did so, and beat back Cain and his followers, dealing absolute judgment upon all of them, save for the murderers of the Radiant's human host, so she could forgive them as they died.
- Nigh-Omnipotence/Divine Empowerment: As a servant of God, The Spectre is granted limitless power, being capable of nearly any feat within his imagination. The Spectre is said to be the most powerful, being second to only one.
- Reality Alteration: The Spectre is capable of warping and controlling reality. He can use his ability to control reality to simulate any form of superpower or ability from shapeshifting to warping time and space.
- Nigh-Omniscience: As a divine agent, the Spectre has access to virtually all of the knowledge in the universe and is even aware of events that have been altered by distortions in time.
- Occultism: The Spectre is knowledgeable of the occult, the history of various occult-related rituals and demonology.
- Intimidation: Less a skill than an application of his powers, the Spectre excels at being able to intimidate and frighten his adversaries. This is usually done through showy spectacles such as assuming a monstrous appearance, growing in size, projecting a loud, booming voice, etc.
- The Logoz: The inner aspect that is the Spectre's direct channel to God.
- Vulnerability to 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.
- Psychologically induced limitations: The Spectre is one of the most powerful magical forces in existence,  but his power is dependent on his host for guidance. In the case of when the Spectre created a human form for Jim Corrigan, Corrigan wanted to rejoin humanity and unconsciously divided his power. This led to a situation in that if the two where not rejoined within 48 hours, Corrigan's spirit would have perished and the Spectre would have been left without a host.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and no longer apply.
- 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 recognizable by those who knew the host in life; Jim Corrigan's Spectre was not recognizable, but Crispus Allen's was.
- Spectre (Volume 1)
- Spectre (Volume 2)
- Spectre (Volume 3)
- Spectre (Volume 4)
- Spectre (Volume 5)
- Day of Judgment
- Day of Vengeance
- 496 Appearances of Aztar (New Earth)
- 122 Images featuring Aztar (New Earth)
- 62 Quotations by or about Aztar (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Aztar (New Earth)
- The Spectre at dccomics.com
- Spectre (comics) at Wikipedia.org
- Spectre (comics) at Wikipedia.org
- Spectre at Comicbookdb.com
- ↑ Spectre (Volume 3) #14
- ↑ More Fun Comics #101
- ↑ Showcase #60
- ↑ Adventure Comics #431 to Adventure Comics #438
- ↑ Adventure Comics #439
- ↑ Adventure Comics #440
- ↑ Wrath of the Spectre #4
- ↑ Swamp Thing Annual (Volume 2) #2
- ↑ Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #50
- ↑ Crisis on Infinite Earths #10
- ↑ Spectre (Volume 2) #1
- ↑ Infinite Crisis #4
- ↑ Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre #3
- ↑ Final Crisis: Revelations #1
- ↑ Final Crisis: Revelations #4
- ↑ Final Crisis: Revelations #5
- ↑ Green Lantern: Rebirth #1
- ↑ Greenberger, Bob, "Of Ghostly Guardians and Resurrections," The Spectre (2nd series) #1, April 1987, DC Comics, ("letter" column).
- ↑ Thomas, Roy, "Secrets Behind the Origins Dept.," Secret Origins (2nd series) #15, June 1987, DC Comics (sidebar to letter column, second page).
- ↑ Bails, Jerry, "Foreword," The Golden Age Spectre Archives Volume 1, 2003, DC Comics, p. 6.
Justice Society of America member