Superhero Origins: The Spectre

The ghostly guardian was originally Jim Corrigan, a hardboiled police detective recently engaged to socialite Clarice Winston. Unfortunately, Corrigan's life ended due to a a tip about a warehouse robbery ordered by crime kingpin Gat Benson. While the policeman foiled Benson's scheme. Benson and his boys retaliated by abducting Corrigan and Clarice, then encased the detective in a barrel filled with cement and sent him to swim with the fishes. Corrigan's spirit soared heavenward but was denied entrance to the afterlife; a disembodied voice gave him supernatural powers and sent back to wipe out all crime on Earth. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origin of the Spectre. Special thanks to our user dragonson04 for submitting the idea on our WatchMojo.comsuggest page!
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The ghostly guardian, as The Spectre was often called, first materialized in the DC Universe in 1940 as the cover story in More Fun Comics #52. He was originally Jim Corrigan, a hardboiled, he-man police detective who, as the story opens, was about to announce his engagement to socialite Clarice Winston. Unfortunately, Corrigan got a tip from stool pigeon Louis Snipe about a warehouse robbery ordered by crime kingpin Gat Benson. The policeman stepped in and foiled Benson's scheme.

In retaliation, Benson and his boys abducted Corrigan and Clarice, then encased the detective in a barrel filled with cement and sent him to swim with the fishes. Corrigan's spirit soared heavenward but was denied entrance to the afterlife; a disembodied voice gave him supernatural powers and sent back to wipe out all crime on Earth.

Discovering that he can fly, turn invisible, and walk through walls, Corrigan located the gangsters and killed most of them – but not before a stray bullet hit the woman he loved. Miraculously, though, Corrigan found he could heal her wounds instantly.

But Corrigan also realized that he was no longer a creature of this Earth and must break off his ties with Clarice. He vowed to root out evil in the guise of the Spectre and created an appropriate costume for this purpose.

Later, the mysterious voice offered Corrigan one last choice: he can be granted eternal peace or he must commit to forever after walking the world as a spirit of dire vengeance. Although he craves peace, if the Spectre accepts the offer, he would be unable to save Clarice from certain death – and so gives up his last chance for eternal rest to save the woman he can no longer hope to love.

The almost omnipotent Spectre disappeared in the 1940s but was revived in the 1960s and has been a steady presence in the DC Universe ever since. His origin story has undergone several revisions, some of the minor, some of them rather major.

For example, in 1992, The Spectre's origin was retold and it was discovered that Corrigan's death was set in motion by Louis Snipe, the stool pigeon who told the detective about Benson's warehouse robbery. The Spectre exacted an appropriate revenge.

Two years later, a more significant revision occurred. Confronting his demonic archenemy Beltane, The Spectre discovered that he had been in existence for many years before Corrigan's death; the Wrath of God had been incarnated as the Spectre in many different forms going back thousands of years. That later paved the way for Hal Jordan, the former Green Lantern, to assume the mantle of The Spectre for a few years.

More recently, the reboot of the Phantom Stranger changed things a bit more. In this retelling, Corrigan's girlfriend, now named Gwen Sterling, was kidnapped by a mobster named McLauren. Corrigan wanted to hunt him down, but was intercepted by the Phantom Stranger who had been instructed by a mysterious voice to lead Corrigan to a certain location. This turns out to be a warehouse where McLauren and his men lie in wait, trapping and gunning down Corrigan – and releasing the wrath of The Spectre, who was none too happy with the Phantom Stranger.

The Spectre has made rare appearances outside of the comic books. He was featured prominently in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold" and starred in an animated short called DC Showcase: The Spectre, that was included on a DVD release. The Spectre may be a bit scary for many younger fans, but those with a taste for a little horror have a special place in their hearts for the vengeful ghost.

Are you a fan of the wrathful Spectre? For more comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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