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""The Guilty"": In an American city, a mysterious man is telling his life story. Long ago, he made a vow to protect the virtuous from the wicked, and swore that "No evil shall escape my sight". However, to keep his vow, he became a wicked man, and his universe slipped out from under him. Trying

Quote1.png I don't carry guilt around like a cross. Life is hard. Terrible things happen. We do our best and we keep doing it -- and we don't cross the line. Quote2.png

JLA #35 is an issue of the series JLA (Volume 1) with a cover date of November, 1999.

Synopsis for "The Guilty"

In an American city, a mysterious man is telling his life story. Long ago, he made a vow to protect the virtuous from the wicked, and swore that "No evil shall escape my sight". However, to keep his vow, he became a wicked man, and his universe slipped out from under him. Trying to make amends, he still tries to protect the virtuous from the wicked, but now his vow has been altered to "No evil can escape my sight" - for he is Hal Jordan, alias The Spectre.

Depressed at the evil in hearts of humanity, Jordan lets out a psychic roar which attracts the attention of Zauriel. With a new target, Jordan condemns Zauriel for turning his back on Heaven. Zauriel fights back, but Jordan prepares for another assault - before being stopped by the JLA. After the events of the Day of Judgment, they are angry that they should have to fight another rogue Spectre. Spectre prepares to attack them again, but suddenly faints. As the JLA move to save him, they are puzzled - the man who emerges from the Spectre does not appear to be Hal Jordan.

Some time later, Hal Jordan wakes up in the The JLA Watchtower on the Moon. The JLA are demanding his real name, but he begins to understand, and Zauriel confirms it - the magic of the Spectre is affecting their senses. Everyone sees a man in front of them, but none recognize him as Hal Jordan, because this is contrary to God's plan for the Spectre's mission. Zauriel s able to lift the effect, but it is temporary - as soon as Jordan leaves the Watchtower, they will only remember the Spectre.

Superman tries to inspire Jordan, but as far as Batman is concerned, Hal is not worthy anymore; he claims that "redemption's a pretty selfish pursuit when it comes down to it." At this, Jordan takes over he persona of the Spectre, summoning demonic representations of jealousy and rage. When the JLA tries to get him to cheer up, he shows their origin - the demons are from the souls of the Justice League. The Spectre believes that, since all souls are potentially evil, anyone is a potential target for the Spectre. When Superman objects, the Spectre shows him his darkest shame - the deaths of General Zod and his Pocket Universe Kryptonians. As he looks down over Superman, suicidal after the murder of the three Kryptonians, he wonders whether he should grant the earlier Superman's wish. Batman cites necessity, and the Spectre turns on him - he has dealt with the guilt of surviving where his parents died by becoming a rage-fueled vigilante. And while he has never taken a life, those around have died... and the Spectre knows how dire the temptation is for Batman to kill men like Two-Face and The Joker.

At this, Green Lantern objects to such treatment. The Spectre responds that vigilantism is inherently criminal - placing one's whims above the law - and the headquarters they have built speaks to him of striving to outdo God. The Spectre believes this - but Hal Jordan does not, and there is Hal Jodan's current predicament. Zauriel believes that the Presence will guide Jordan, causing both Jordan and the Spectre to go berserk - how can Zauriel make such a claim when he turned his back on his creator to stand on imperfect Earth that will corrupt his immortal soul even further?

Plastic Man tries to help Hal see the mission of the Spectre as a fresh start, but the Spectre has accusations for him - his criminal past as "Eel" O'Brian makes him the biggest target of the group. Plastic Man doesn't deny his past, but he doesn't see why he should be a grim and joyless man to make others feel better... and he will bet that God will approve of his course of action. In a rage, the Spectre shows him what he feels all the time - the toxic mire of humanity's collective guilt and sorrow.

Martian Manhunter steps while. He admits that Jordan has salient points, but there is another side to his argument. Using his powers and the Spectre's he brings the whole League to a strange city, where they are suddenly attacked by shadowy fiends. The Spectre defeats them, and they continue their journey deep under the city. There, in the heart of the madness, they find a kind couple living a simple life in a burrow. At this, Batman reacts violently, demanding they leave. The Spectre thinks J'onn has tricked him, but it is true - the center of chaos is this couple, representative of a human soul—the soul of The Joker.

Returning from this mental journey, they snap back to the Watchtower. J'onn points out that, if evil is in every heart, then some amount of good must be also. Furthermore, he thinks Hal is projecting his own guilt onto the world. Hal admits that the confidence of his friends in his abilities is all the help he needs, and he leaves the Watchtower—taking with him any memory the JLA had of his identity. As he looks down on the Earth, he prays that he will equal to the task ahead.

Appearing in "The Guilty"

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See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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Day of Judgment Crossover
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This comic issue is a part of the "Day of Judgment" crossover event that took place in 1999. Day of Judgment involved the rogue Angel Asmodel being bonded to the Spectre Force, and using his powers to wreak havoc on the world, attempting to take vengeance against the Presence. Hell was frozen over, and both Demons and the Damned were released upon Earth. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the "Day of Judgment Crossover" category.