The Spectre

Personal Data

Jim Bredan Corrigan. Son of Jebediah Corrigan. Brother of Louisa Corrigan. 

Residence: New York City (1940s-1960s and 1970s-1990s), Gateway City (1960s) 
Occupation: Spirit (Spectre), Police detective (Corrigan) 
 

First Appearance (Golden Age): More Fun Comics #52 (February 1940)
First Appearance (Silver Age): Showcase #60 (January 1966)
Joined JSA: Founding Member
Pre-Crisis Fate: Active on multiple Earths until Crisis
Post-Crisis Fate: Corrigan has resigned the Spectre force and gone on to everlasting peace

History

The Spectre is a fusion of two beings, the Spectre force and police detective Jim Corrigan. The Spectre force was formed in the distant beginning of human civilization, when humanity began to recognize and seek interaction with God. To communicate His occasional displeasure with humanity, God created a being imbued with a small portion of Himself to wreak His vengeance as required. This entity, literally the Wrath of God, became the Spectre. Early recorded acts of the Spectre include the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, the humbling of the Egyptian pharaoh to allow the flight of Moses, and the destruction of the walls at Jericho. When Christ was born, the Spectre was cast into limbo, as God offered His forgiveness to humanity with the offering of His Son.

With the death of Christ on Cavalry, The Spectre was freed from limbo, but God had determined that linking Himself to human elements vastly improved humanity's desire and ability to worship Him in the paternal manner He preferred. As with His Love, His Wrath also was to be bound to a mortal form. Though the Spectre initially resisted this bonding (God's preference is to allow free will to his creations), he was subdued by the Archangel Michael. It was decided that the Spectre's power would be focused through an individual who had been slain unjustly. In India, a man named Caraka watched as first his family and then he himself was murdered by the capriciously evil Lady Beltane. While he raged against the Gods for allowing such murder, Caraka's soul was visited by Michael in the form of Kali, an Indian goddess. Kali/Michael offered Caraka the mantle of otherworldly vengeance, though it meant denial of Heaven. Caraka accepted, and became the first fusion of God and human known as the Spectre (The Spectre vol. 3 #0). The Spectre became the bane of Hell. Shaitan, thief of shadows, sent a succubus to try to confuse the ghost's loyalties. Caraka allowed himself to be deceived by the succubus and fell from grace with God. His essence was stripped of the Spectre force and, as punishment, merged with the succubus instead. Caraka took the name Azmodus and swore to be a thorn in the side of every Spectre that succeeded him (The Spectre vol. 3 #25). The Spectre force began a series of successive hosts, finally ending up in James Corrigan.

James Corrigan was born in 1900, the son of"fire-and-brimstone" Christian evangelist Jebediah Corrigan. His childhood was not a happy one; his father was a stern and unforgiving parent, frequently beating the disobedient youth. The conflict between himself and his father would eventually become the central conflict in Corrigan's life. When Jim Corrigan was a teenager, he ran away from home and ended up in large metropolitan city in the 1910s. In time, he found himself a member of the New York City police department, working his way up to the rank of Detective. Corrigan made a gutsy rock-hard officer, but he also found love in the person of Clarice Winston, a wealthy heiress. The two were engaged to be married in late 1939.

In the late 1930s, one of New York City's most notorious gangsters was a man named Gats Benson. Early in 1940, Corrigan had developed a personal vendetta against Benson, vowing his capture. In early spring, Louis Snipes, a common police informant, gave Corrigan an inside lead on a Benson hit at a local warehouse. When Corrigan arrived, he was clubbed unconscious and taken to a hideaway near the Hudson River. Benson confronted Corrigan there, swearing vengeance for Corrigan's past interference. Under his orders, Benson's men bound Corrigan in a 55-gallon barrel and filled it with a quick-drying cement. They then sealed the drum and threw it into the river. Corrigan choked to death on the cement before the barrel had reached the river's bottom.

As he died, Corrigan's soul journeyed to judgment. Confronted with the reality of his demise, Corrigan was enraged and cursed both his fate and those who had allowed it. When he was judged, Corrigan was deemed unfit for Heaven and undeserving of Hell. It was decided that he would be the recipient of the Spectre force. The Spectre force's purpose at the time was to avenge innocent blood, but it required a mortal host to maintain a "human" perspective. Corrigan became the latest host.

Upon returning to the mortal plane, Corrigan found himself among Benson's men again. Bolstered by Corrigan's death, the gangsters were torturing Clarice Winston when Corrigan returned to the scene. Infuriated that his men had seemingly failed, Benson demanded Corrigan's immediate execution. Inflamed by the innocent blood on the hands of the gunmen, the Spectre force lashed out, inflicting each with an agonizing death. In the firefight that followed, a stray bullet struck Clarice Winston, mortally wounding her. As her soul left her body, the Spectre force pursued it and wrestled it back to the material plane. Clarice was restored to life but at a terrible cost. Though it was not known at the time, she was immortal but bore the curse of Tithonus: immortality without eternal youth. (More Fun Comics #52-53, The Spectre vol. 3 #0, 2-3). Corrigan ended his engagement with Winston and returned to life as a New York City Police Detective.

Over the initial weeks after his death, Corrigan became acquainted with the Spectre force. In the beginning, Corrigan grew more detached from his former life, ending his partnerships in the force and spending nights wandering the streets of New York. When Corrigan moved near an area where blood was shed, the Spectre force consumed him and tracked the "e;scent"e; of blood to its source. Invariably, the murderer was subjected to the withering wrath of the Spectre force, resulting in a brutal death and subsequent damnation. Still, the potential of the Spectre force would not reach a maximum until later, when Corrigan became more familiar with it.

In the department, Corrigan became acquainted with a beat cop named Percival Poplaski (More Fun Comics #74). Simple but sincere, Poplaski provided a compassionate perspective to the hard-nosed Corrigan. Inspired by the mystery men of the day, Poplaski encouraged Corrigan to adopt a heroic identity, the Spectre, in order to preserve his human identity from the media attention generated by the Spectre force's pursuit of justice. As the Spectre, Corrigan occasionally rescued Poplaski from seemingly impossible cases. Quietly, Corrigan allowed the humble man an undue share of the credit, giving him the nickname "Percival Popp, the Super-Cop" (The Spectre vol. 3 #24). Within a year of his death, Corrigan (as the Spectre) encountered Nabu, a Lord of Order in the body of Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate). Together the two vanquished a demonic plot to unleash netherworldly forces at the Pentagon (Spectre Annual vol. 3 #1). Though the Spectre was not familiar with Nelson, he had encountered Nabu before when he, as the embodiment of the Wrath of God, purged Egypt in the days of Moses. In those days, Nabu served as an advisor to the Pharaohs (The Spectre vol. 3 #14).

In late 1940, Adolph Hitler acquired the Spear of Destiny, an ancient artifact supposedly used to pierce the side of Christ on Calvary. Emboldened by the possession of such a powerful object, Hitler planned a full-scale invasion of the British Isles. Several costumed mystery-men intervened at the request of the American government, and the Spectre was summoned by Doctor Fate to provide assistance on the English shore near Dover. In a scene which is the stuff of legend, the Spectre expanded to enormous proportions and waded through the English Channel, capsizing the invading vessels. His capture and execution of Wilhelm von Krupp, leader of the invasion fleet, ended the assault. When Hitler sent Valkyries to assassinate President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Spectre joined the assembled heroes in defeating the Valkyries. When Roosevelt suggested the formation of the Justice Society of America, the Spectre became a charter member (DC Special #29). The Spectre also affiliated himself with the loose organization of heroes known as the All-Star Squadron, formed in late 1941.

Throughout World War II, the Spectre was an active member of the Justice Society pursuing justice on the home front. Hitler and his Japanese counterparts had erected a "Sphere of Influence" that prevented the Spectre and other heroes from venturing into Axis territory to combat the Nazis. The power of the Sphere of Influence originated from spells cast using the Spear of Destiny and the Holy Grail (All-Star Squadron #4). In 1943, God granted Corrigan a form that was human enough to pass an army physical and allowed Corrigan to go to officer training school. The Spectre force was allowed to remain relatively independent for long periods of time, albeit invisibly, and looked after the hapless Poplaski (More Fun Comics #90).

Near the end of the war, the Sphere of Influence fell and the heroes confronted Hitler. Hitler engaged the heroes by attempting to initiate Ragnarok, the Germanic end of the world, using the Spear. He was ultimately defeated when the Spectre pulled the Justice Society from the future to stall Ragnarok, thereby trapping them in their own past (Last Days of the Justice Society #1). After the war, the Justice Society led the Allied forces in their inspection of liberated Europe. For the first time, the Spectre fully witnessed the consequences of the Nazi Holocaust. He was enraged, claiming vengeance for the millions slaughtered by the Nazis, but was quelled by his JSA comrades. The ultimate response of the Spectre to the Holocaust has never been revealed (The Spectre vol. 3 #21).

Shortly afterward, the Spectre first encountered his most ferocious adversary, Azmodus. The two battled across Limbo and Reality to a stalemate, when a spell of psychic amnesia cast by Azmodus engulfed them both, capturing Azmodus in the form of a man and the Spectre in the form of Jim Corrigan. Both forgot their supernatural natures (The Spectre vol. 3 #26) and Corrigan used his officer training to advance his career in the police force. At some point Corrigan moved from New York to Gateway City, where he eventually reappeared. (Such a move explains why Percival Poplaski lost track of Corrigan, and why no one noticed that Corrigan should have been nearly 60 years old by this time.) Poplaski died sometime in the 1960s (The Spectre vol. 3 #24). Azmodus was trapped in a separate body, and had also forgotten his true nature. The host body entrapping Azmodus died, and he returned to his true state. Rueful of his previous defeat, Azmodus fled to the astral plane to gather his power.

By 1964, Jim Corrigan was a detective with the rank of captain the Gateway City Police Force. He was following the case of Millicent Olcott, an heiress whose eccentric benefactor had hidden his wealth, when Olcott used a psychic medium to help find the money. Contact with the medium reawakened the Spectre, dormant inside Corrigan. After a brief effort to assist Olcott, the Spectre determined to find the source of his 20-year imprisonment. The Spectre's search led him to a man named Paul Nevers, the new host body for Azmodus. Corrigan fought Nevers on the earthly plane while the Spectre battled Azmodus on the otherworldly plane. The Spectre defeated Azmodus and locked the demon in a plane of limbo from which he could presumably never escape. Azmodus warned the Spectre that the plan he had set in motion would continue without him (Showcase #60, The Spectre vol. 3 #26). In a deal he created with Shaitan, Azmodus's battle with the Spectre had weakened the barrier between the astral plane of Dis and the world of the living. By securing shadows from various humans, Shaitan completed the rupture and moved on the material plane. The Spectre thwarted Shaitan, too, and banished him back to Dis (Showcase #61).

Over time, the relationships between Corrigan, the Spectre, and God have changed. During the 1960s, Corrigan was the dominant force; the Spectre's thirst for vengeance was lessened. The Spectre had limited contact with the JSA, participating in only one joint case with the Justice League of Earth-1 (Justice League of America #46-47). He dealt primarily with material crimes and confronted costumed criminals like the Psycho-Pirate (The Spectre vol. 1 #8). Sometime in the late 1960s, the Spectre became a separate entity from Jim Corrigan and was entrapped in a tomb. When the alien Creators threatened to destroy Earth-2, the Spectre was summoned from the crypt and presumably destroyed, preventing the collision of Earth-1 and Earth-2 (Justice League of America #83). Jim Corrigan was presumably allowed to live out the rest of his life in peace, and appeared much older when he resurfaced in the mid-1970s (All-Star Comics #70).

The Spectre, however, had not been destroyed. He had been transported to Earth-1, where he was bound to the Jim Corrigan of that world. The Spectre returned to his "truer" form, a spirit of vengeance. His pursuit of criminals almost invariably resulted in their particularly gruesome demise (Adventure Comics #431-440). By the 1980s, the mission of the Spectre had changed again, leaving him functioning at the level of minor god, acting to preserve the cosmic balance of good and evil rather than addressing the cries of individual spilled blood (Swamp Thing vol. 2 #50, Swamp Thing Annual #2, DC Comic Presents #29). The Spectre still retained some relation to Jim Corrigan, however, since this form was attacked by the renegade Thunderbolt in the early 1980s (Justice League of America #219-220). His ultimate challenge in this form came in his struggle to defeat the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Spectre ultimately prevailed in his part of the struggle but was left in a comatose state (Crisis on Infinite Earths #10).

Post-Crisis, the Spectre's history has endured some minor revision, primarily due to the compression of his life to one Earth. After the Crisis, he was revived but weakened considerably. He became acquainted with the sorceress Madame Xanadu and pursued much more mundane spiritual threats (The Spectre vol. 2 #1-31). Later still, The Spectre returned to full power (The Spectre vol. 3 #1). The Spectre returned to his original mission, the vengeance of innocent blood. His relationship with Corrigan had changed somewhat, since one would disappear when the other appeared (as opposed to the previous host/spirit relationship). Corrigan began a relationship with Amy Beiterman, an HIV-positive woman. Beiterman became the first woman to reach the emotions of Jim Corrigan since Clarice Winston, but she was ultimately slain by a serial murderer picking his victims based on their HIV status (The Spectre vol. 3 #12). The Spectre has since destroyed the nation of Vlatava for its endless war (The Spectre vol. 3 #13) and overseen the ultimate demise of former fiancŽe Clarice Winston (The Spectre vol. 3 #30). He has dealt once more with Azmodus, apparently defeating his long-time foe by purging him of his demonic element and sending Caraka back into the cycle of life (The Spectre vol. 3 #30). Whether another agent will assume Azmodus's demonic other half remains to be seen.

Eventually, Corrigan had carried the Spectre for nearly 60 years in the post-Crisis timeline. Temptation by the demon Neron and the strain of his long mission wore on Corrigan's resolve. In his own way, Corrigan quested for the purpose of his existence in a somewhat literal search for God. God eluded Corrigan, but Corrigan's own will carried him through a series of projections, leading him to confront what he thought was God. In the final confrontation, God appeared to Corrigan as his own abusive father. Working through this conflict resolved Corrigan's own anger at his father, bringing a sense of justice and closure to his own life. This brought Corrigan the peace he craved, and ended the rage and sense of injustice that drove him as the Spectre for over half a century. Thus fulfilled, Corrigan's friend, the priest Father Cramer, provided Corrigan a funeral, finally closing Corrigan's life and sending him to his just reward (The Spectre vol 3  #62).

James Corrigan was not the first to carry the mantle of the Spectre and he will certainly not be the last.  During the Day of Judgement, an eruption of the forces of Hell onto the earthy plane, Corrigan declined the oppurtunity to again take up the role of the Spectre. The role passed to fallen hero Hal Jordan, former Green Lantern of Earth (Day of Judgement #1-4). What interpretation this will bring to the Wrath of God remains to be seen.

Powers/Skills

The Spectre's power level varied wildly over the years, but his powers are considerable in any case. As a spiritual entity, the Spectre cannot be slain in the conventional sense, though he can be destroyed. After World War II the Spectre became more and more distant from humanity, functioning on the level of cosmic entity. In more recent times, he renewed his existence as the human Corrigan, restoring his human perspective.

Weaknesses/Limitations

The Spectre can be injured or even slain by sufficient magic, or by magical instruments such as the Spear of Destiny.

Principal Adversaries

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