Van Kaliban was an architectural draftsman. He worked for a large engineering firm that was in charge of the construction of Gotham's Maximum Security Prison. Kaliban's boss caught him altering several of the plans for the new prison and Kaliban murdered the man to keep him silent. The police soon captured Kaliban and convicted him for the murder of his boss, sentencing him to die in the electric chair.
For almost ten years, Kaliban was thought to be dead, but he returned and he became known in the underworld of Gotham City as the Spook; the mystical figure who established an "escape insurance" racket to help crooks escape from prison. Using his tricks, the Spook managed to fool both the Gotham City Police Department and the local law enforcer, the Batman until he was eventually captured.
However, with knowledge of the prison's layout, Kaliban escaped shortly after his capture and Batman chased him to his secret lair in an abandoned prison system. There, Kaliban revealed the truth behind his mysterious death in the electric chair. Kaliban managed to hypnotize an innocent look-alike to pose as him during the execution and this allowed Kaliban to roam free for years. After his confession, Kaliban tried to get rid of Batman, but he failed and was captured and returned to prison. This time, he was not able to escape because the police got hold of the blue prints of the prison, which were used to seal every possible way of escaping.
A short time later, Kaliban was released from prison and started a personal vendetta against Batman using subliminal messages, which would end with his own apparent death and Batman as the killer. However, Batman turned the plot against him and Kaliban believed he had killed Batman, which destroyed his plan of faking his own death. During this shocking moments, Batman confronted and captured Kaliban, sending him back to prison.
Breaking out of prison, Spook was eventually part of a mock crime trial in which he acted as jury along with other criminals in order to learn who had killed Batman. At the end of the charade, Spook and the others learned that the whole trial was staged by Batman to capture the Joker, but in his efforts, he allowed all other criminals to escape.
Once free, Spook was contacted by a small-time gangster and together they planned the perfect setup to kill Batman. Spook used a special drug to make Batman have hallucinations, but the Dark Knight managed to overcome the odds and captured both criminals. Once again, the Spook was hired to spring a criminal out of jail, and as usual, he ended up captured and locked in the same prison he designed.
- Escapology: The Spook was a master escape artist.
- Hypnosis: He was also trained in the art of hypnosis, and could easily manipulate the weak-minded. His aptitude in this arena was so strong that he once convinced a nameless look-alike to take his place in the electric chair.
- Gadgetry: The Spook utilized a wide array of gadgets and devices in order to simulate various supernatural effects. Some of these devices include inflatable effigies of himself that can float through the air, finger-tip and boot suction cups for scaling buildings, and smoke machines for obscuring the perceptions of others.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One 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 should be considered apocryphal.
- 22 Appearances of Val Kaliban (New Earth)
- 6 Images featuring Val Kaliban (New Earth)
- 1 Quotations by or about Val Kaliban (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Val Kaliban (New Earth)
- The Spook at dccomics.com
- The Spook at Wikipedia.org
- Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe XXI