Originally from Metropolis, Detective Crispus "Cris" Allen was a forty-something police veteran transferred to Gotham City, where he was partnered with detective Renee Montoya on the Gotham City Police Department's Major Crimes Unit. Cris had a loving wife and two teenaged sons, whom he put above his job and the safety of others when Gotham was in crisis. Cris saw Batman as a necessary evil, not wanting to deal with him but tolerating his presence. He was an agnostic who doubted the existence of God in spite of his family's strong faith. Allen has a strong moral compass and was partly responsible for revealing a large number of corrupt cops in the GCPD.
One night, Cris and Renee spotted gang members apparently preparing for some sort of violent action. Cris requested backup, but the two opted not to wait for it. Following the gang into a deserted building, the detectives found several murdered men as well as two large gang members. Cris tailed the suspects while Renee scouted the rest of the building. The Black Spider suddenly appeared at the crime scene, firing upon Renee. The first few shots hit her, but she was protected by her bulletproof vest. Black Spider then aimed at her head, but Cris shot and killed the villain before he could pull the trigger.
The Internal Affairs department later took the story from Cris, as well as his gun, and put him on temporary leave until his story could be corroborated. The course of the investigation should have been straightforward. Complications arose, however, when a new crime scene technician named Jim Corrigan stole important evidence — the bullet that killed Black Spider — from the scene.
The Internal Affairs investigator in charge of Cris's case told Renee about the missing bullet and suggested Corrigan's connection to its disappearance. Renee found Corrigan and forced him to reveal the location of the bullet. After it was recovered, Cris was allowed to return to active duty. However, Renee's actions destroyed an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation into Corrigan's misconduct. This also left Cris angry and disappointed in her because he had secretly started his own investigation of Corrigan, which Renee's actions also compromised. Cris continued his investigation into Corrigan as the Infinite Crisis unfolded, but Corrigan was tipped off. He found Cris's informant and beat him to death. Corrigan then let Cris find the informant's body before shooting Cris in the back, killing him. By tampering with the evidence at the crime scene, Corrigan managed to "get off clean". Cris's unavenged death pushed Renee into an emotional breakdown, and she subsequently decided to quit the force in disgust at the system.
While Cris's body was in the morgue, the Presence bound the Spectre to Cris, making him the latest host for the Spirit of Vengeance. Some while later, the magic users of Earth assembled at Stonehenge to call forth the Spectre to help defend the realms of magic during the Infinite Crisis. Cris materialized in a ghostly version of his own form, before making his first official transformation into the Spectre, killing Star Sapphire for her past crimes. He then vanished, leaving the assembled magic users confused and fearful.
Later, at Cris's funeral, the Spectre appeared before Cris's ghost. The Spectre informed Cris of his role and purpose, and told Cris he had come to realize that he needed a host to humanize him, in order to know what his mission really meant. He asked Cris to be his host, to join with him. Cris refused, the first in a long time to do so.
The Spectre left Cris for a year, to reconsider his offer. Cris discovered that no-one could see or hear him, and that he was unable to touch anything around him. He was unable to help or communicate with his family, still shattered because Corrigan would not be called to account for Cris's murder.
Cris was still able to watch and observe the world around him, which he put to use solving crimes and uncovering the culprits, even discovering Batman's secret identity as Bruce Wayne. He was frustrated, however, at being unable to bring the criminals to justice.
After a year of being unseen and powerless, Cris received another visit from the Spectre. This time he finally accepted the Spectre's offer, becoming his human host. However, their bond was not permanent - Cris was concerned what full acceptance would do to him, what he would become. In their missions together, the Spectre attempted to help Cris understand what they did and why they did it. Over time, Cris came to accept the necessity of what the Spectre did, involving himself more and more in the Spectre's punishments.
Before the bond between Cris and the Spectre could be permanent, however, Cris found he had to face his greatest trial. Cris's son Mal, frustrated, angry, and grieving over his father's death, shot and killed Jim Corrigan - and Cris had to punish Mal for his crime.
Cris ended Mal's life peacefully.
Afterwards, Cris asked the Spectre if Mal had just been damned to Hell. The Spectre, taken aback, explained a point established during Hal Jordan's tenure as its host - the Spectre does not *judge* sinners, does not decide who is saved or damned. The Spectre *sends* sinners to judgment. With this knowledge, Cris took on his role as the Spectre's mortal anchor.
In Countdown To Mystery, Allen and the Spectre, accompanied by the spirit of a criminal they killed, set out to foil Eclipso's plans to corrupt superheroes. During the climactic battle between Spectre and Eclipso, Allen realizes that, if the Spectre kills his opponent, it will result in him going down a path of destruction. Allen appeals to Bruce Gordon, who is able to take control of Eclipso.
During the Final Crisis, Spectre/Allen take vengeance upon Dr. Light for all of his crimes against humanity, they are then sent (apparently by God) to enact vengeance on Libra for the death of the Martian Manhunter. Libra is apparently more powerful then the Spectre and threatens to destroy them, but the Spectre uses its powers to escape. Although Allen swears that he will no longer do as God says and attempts to revoke his status as the Spectre, he finds himself called by God to enact vengeance on his former partner Renee Montoya for her sins.
Renee was in a fight with one of the Order of the Stone, for possession of the Spear of Destiny. Cris totally ignored the fight and proceeded to teleport Renee to the rooftop of the Gotham Police Station. Renee tries to appeal to his humanity as a former friend, and she even pleads her innocence as the so called leader of the Order of Stone, which is the reason for his calling to exact vengeance on her.
Just as Cris is about to end her life Radiant, The Spirit of Mercy appears and saves her, she proceeds to tell Cris that God has chosen to spare Renee and grants her mercy. Cris goes into a rage and attacks Radiant, and she responds by turning the other cheek. Cris is so upset at the thought that God has mercy that he transforms back into his normal self and breaks down, questioning where was God's mercy when he was forced to kill his own son.
Meanwhile the minion Sister Wrack calls forth the entire Order of Stone and proceeds to the hideaway of Vandal Savage, they then plunge the Spear of Destiny into his body and Cain the first murderer is reborn in his body and vows to make the Spectre pay for branding him so long ago for his ancient crime.
Radiant recites scripture to Cris and Renee to explain that it may have not been God who decided the death of Cris's son but his own hand thought the answer begged more questions then the original. Then, the followers of Darkseid being controlled by the Anti-life Equation came to attack the three. Cris transforms into the Spectre to hold them off, but realizes they cannot be stopped by him. It is then that Radiant says the same force protecting them is the same force that saved Libra.
- The Jim Corrigan who killed Cris is not the same person as the Jim Corrigan who served as an earlier host for the Spectre. The only known connection between the two is their name.
- Crispus Allen firsts appears as the Spectre in Infinite Crisis #4.
- In Crispus's human form, he still retains the scars from his autopsy.
- Detective Comics
- Gotham Central
- Spectre (Volume 5)
- Tales of the Unexpected (Volume 2)
- Countdown to Mystery
- Final Crisis: Revelations
- 135 Appearances of Crispus Allen (New Earth)
- 42 Images featuring Crispus Allen (New Earth)
- 6 Quotations by or about Crispus Allen (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Crispus Allen (New Earth)
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