- "Confront Evil." That's what they told me. For fifty years, that's what I've done. And the world is no better. The world has become more perverse on its choice of evils. And I don't even know why.
- — Jim Corrigan src
The embodiment of God's wrath, the Spectre is a disembodied spirit charged with punishing evil-doers on behalf of the Almighty. The Spectre was anchored to a human host in the form of deceased NYPD detective Jim Corrigan.
During the American Civil War, the Spectre punished a band of drunken soldiers that had butchered a band of Cherokees. Of the soldiers, he left only one man alive, who had only stolen from Cherokees, and had not participated in the slaughter. The Spectre told him, "If you escape little man, do not doubt it is because I have let you go. You did not kill them -- no. You merely stole from them! Live -- and wonder what I will steal from you!" That man had a son, Jebediah, who had the fear of god beaten into him by his mother. He would grow up to be the Reverend Jebediah Corrigan.
Origin and Spectre
Jim Corrigan was the son of Reverend Corrigan, a fire and brimstone preacher that traveled all over the country. During childhood, Jim's best friend was Rafe, the son of their housekeeper, Rose. Jebediah was secretly having an affair with Rose, and when Jim's mother discovered this, Rafe and Rose were forced to leave. Rafe blamed Jim for her finding out. Shortly afterward, Rafe was killed in a storm and Jim reacted against his father's harsh teachings and beatings by rejecting the figure that his father held most high, God. In a way Jim had had the fear of God beaten out of him.
Jim Corrigan grew up and became a police detective in New York City and was later engaged to socialite Clarice Winston. Times were hard, and Corrigan responded by being even harder. He rarely showed mercy or compassion to anyone breaking the law. But one night, in 1939, Corrigan and Winston were captured by the criminal "Gat" Benson and two of his men. Corrigan was placed in a barrel that was filled with cement, and then dumped off a wharf into the river. The deceased Corrigan's spirit, now in a void, was filled with anger and a lust for vengeance. He was confronted by a mysterious Voice that offered him a chance to seek justice. Corrigan agreed and was immediately bonded with the Divine Wrath. The Voice told Corrigan that he was to return to Earth to fight evil with the supernatural powers he now possessed. The Spectre took his vengeance on Benson and rescued Winston. Later, the Spectre killed a criminal named Rhami, who had hired Benson to murder Corrigan in the first place due to the detective's investigations into his affairs.
As a ghost, Corrigan settled back into his role as a police detective. He dropped his partner Waylon for J. Percival Poplaski (alias Percival Popp Super Cop). Popp had accidentally stumbled onto Corrigan's alter ego of the Spectre, and it was Popp who designed the costume of the Golden Age Spectre. With his new mission as an agent of God, the Spectre became one of the most famous mystery-men of the Golden Age. The following year, the Spectre helped other heroes stop Hitler's attack on England and the United States. Then, with Dr. Fate vouching for him, the Spectre helped found the legendary Justice Society of America.
The Spectre also joined the war-time only All-Star Squadron. After the disbanding of the JSA in 1951, the Spectre disappeared without a trace.
Return and Wrath
James Corrigan continued his activities as a detective for twenty years, often wondering where had The Spectre gone. During an investigation, Corrigan ended up at a seance, which allowed The Spectre to be released out of Corrigan's body. Spectre explained that he had been trapped inside Corrigan's body as a result of the demon Azmodus' presence on Earth. Finally back on Earth, The Spectre defeated the astral form of Azmodus and resumed his activities as The Spirit of Vengeance.
Corrigan continued his activities as a Police Detective at the NYPD. With lesser cosmical threats, Corrigan had to focus entirely on earthly crimes, which caused him to take a new approach against human evildoers, unleashing his full wrath and vengeace upon their rotten souls. While investigating a crime scene, Corrigan met a young woman by the name of Gwendolyn Sterling and although he knew the impossibility of being on a normal relationship, Corrigan and Gwen started seeing more of each other as they had a mutual attraction.
Corrigan reached a breaking point when his feelings for Gwen were much stronger than his desire to continue his crusade as The Spectre and he pled to be ridden of the curse. The Presence heeded Corrigan's pleas and removed the powers of the Spectre from him. With his humanity regained, Corrigan engaged with Gwen, but shortly prior to their marriage, Corrigan was killed and The Presence returned to him the powers of the Spectre. Corrigan finally came to the realization that he couldn't avoid his destiny and after making his peace with Gwen, he continued his crusade as an agent of vengeance.
Eventually, the Voice turned Aztar into an omnipotent being which no longer needed to remain restrained on Earth and as a result, Jim Corrigan was freed from Spectre. Working as police detective, Corrigan came across a couple of strange cases during the Crisis on Infinite Earths and he was killed as a result. Without The Spectre, Corrigan's death seemed to be permanent.
Jim Corrigan's body was preserved thanks to Madame Xanadu, who knew Spectre would eventually return to his human host. After the Crisis, the Voice reduced the Spectre's powers once again and returned the avatar to Jim Corrigan's corpse, bringing him back to life. Corrigan started a new life as a private detective, thanks to Madame Xanadu, who provided guidance for both him and Spectre. Corrigan also met the lovely woman Kim Liang, who became his new assistant.
Due to the new reduced state of The Spectre, Corrigan could no longer transform into the Spectre at will and instead, the avatar of the Spectre was a separate being, which inhabited his body and became the equivalent of his living soul, but they were both dependent from each other's existence. In his new work at Xanadu's place, Corrigan became involved with the Cult of the Blood Red Moon, who were seeking to eliminate the Spectre. The threat was dealt with by Spectre and Corrigan soon started dating his new assistant, Kim Liang. With help from Kim and Xanadu, Corrigan eventually found a way to made Spectre realize his methods were not always appropriate. Eventually, Corrigan found the responsible for killing him during the Crisis and he stopped the creature with help from Spectre.
After this, Corrigan was tasked with helping Zatanna solve the mystery of her missing limbs, to which he recruited help from fellow Detective Peter Quarral. During their investigations, they were attacked by the demons Ghast and Rath, but survived the attack and their experience allowed Spectre to stop Wotan, the mastermind behind the attack. After these events, Corrigan developed his relationship with Kim further and also attempted to stop Spectre from killing criminals by remaining separate longer than allowed, but Corrigan finally came to terms with the fact that Spectre's mission was justified.
After dealing with the Manhunter invasion, Corrigan assisted Spectre against the Cult of the Blood Red Moon, who unleashed a dark magic attack against Madame Xanadu, endangering Kim's life in the process. The ordeal allowed Corrigan to switch places with Spectre for a brief moment as he became Spectre's "soul" in order to stop the Cult and save Kim. Afterwards, Corrigan confessed his love for Kim, just as Spectre did the same with Xanadu.
Later, Corrigan revealed his secret to NYPD officer Peter Quarral in order to form an alliance and they worked together to eliminate the Cult of the Blood Red Moon's faction in New York. Corrigan was then attacked and almost killed as part of Satan's plan to eliminate Spectre. He was saved thanks to the assistance of Kim Liang, Xanadu and Deadman. Unfortunately, Corrigan met death once again at the hands of a police officer after solving a case involving Quarral, Spectre and several corrupt cops. Corrigan was allowed to return to life thanks to Spectre's sacrifice, but they now had to share body and soul as they did in the past.
With their bodies merged once again, Corrigan and Spectre went on to stop several supernatural threats, but Corrigan also started a new "supernatural agency" called 'Cryptica Crimes Limited'. The agency proved useful for a while, allowing Corrigan to make a "living" by solving supernatural cases of all kinds while Spectre dealt with the powerful threats.
Unfortunately for Corrigan, Spectre was much needed elsewhere to join forces with Earth's protectors and the spirit of vengeance took much of Corrigan's existence, forcing him to abandon all his earthly duties.
Xanadu and Azmodus
After a while, Corrigan went looking for one of the criminals responsible for his murder back in the 1930s and using Spectre's powers, he punished the criminal. Corrigan expected that eliminating the man would bring him peace, but he was mistaken. As Spectre continued to punish evildoers, Corrigan assisted him as best as he could as a private detective. Of course, Corrigan had embraced Spectre's powers and the whole "detective" routine was merely a diversion. Eventually, Corrigan met Amy Beitermann, a social worker who became infatuated with Corrigan. Jim shared his origin with her and learned about her past, falling in love with Amy.
Unknown to Jim, Amy had contacted Madame Xanadu to learn about his past and this allowed Xanadu to locate Corrigan and confront him for leaving her side. Xanadu revealed that Kim Liang and all other members of Corrigan's agency were gestalt beings created by her to use the powers of Spectre. Upon this revelation, Xanadu attacked Corrigan and took the power of Spectre from him, transforming into "Madame Spectre". The spirit of Corrigan managed to convince Xanadu of letting go the Spectre and a grateful Xanadu warned him about Amy's death by murder. With Spectre's powers back, Corrigan learned the way in which Amy would be killed and sworn to prevent the tragedy.
Unfortunately, Corrigan couldn't keep the promise due to the unexpected return of his old foe, Azmodus. A gigantic battle of cosmic proportions took place between Spectre and Azmodus in the astral plane, while on Earth, Amy was attacked and killed by the serial killer known as The Reaver. Corrigan abandoned the fight with Azmodus, with help from Xanadu, and hurried to save Amy, to no avail. Amy passed away and Azmodus, though weakened, remained free. In the midst of this tragedy, Spectre decided to take harsh measures against all humankind.
The Terrible Swift Sword
Corrigan despaired again with the loss of Amy. Wandering aimlessly, he ended up at the church where the Reaver had murdered one of his victims. A new priest, Father Craemer, had recently been installed. Jim entered the confessional, admitting he was not Catholic but just looking for some guidance. He spoke about evil and vengeance. Not understanding with whom he was speaking, Craemer stated that vengeance rarely clear. Rhetorically, he mentions the civil war in Vlatava, a small European country, that had all but devastated the population. This accidentally aroused the Divine Wrath, and the Spectre ventured to that country. He found that the ground itself had become satiated with the evil and horror of war and murder. Nearly all the innocents were slaughtered. The Spectre's response was to destroy the entire country--the whole nation was scoured of everything in cleansing fire. All save the leaders of the two sides, who would be left in the ashes.
Father Craemer was then approached by an African mystic whom the Spectre had encountered before and learned the whole history of the Spectre (that is, the origins of the Spectre Force). He was then recruited to join with the Phantom Stranger, the Demon Etrigan, Madame Xanadu, and Doctor Fate, all of whom had encountered the Spectre at various times, to try and help Corrigan regain more control over the Divine Wrath. In his despair, the Spectre was contemplating destroying all of creation. During the course of their efforts, the terror Eclipso was freed from his prison and briefly took control of the Spectre Force. Through all of their efforts, they were able to help Jim find the strength of will to reclaim the mantle of Spectre and defeat Eclipso. The Spectre presented himself before the Gates of Heaven to be judged for his actions, but Michael told him he had not strayed from his mission, and that he would not have been permitted to destroy the Earth had he tried. The Spectre's actions regarding Vlatava, while acknowledged as extreme, were not held to be unjust. Corrigan found a new friend and adviser in Father Craemer. On some occasions, Corrigan took the advice of Father Cramer too literally, such as when Craemer wished that no one would be murdered on Christmas Eve. The Spectre made it so that New York was safe that night, and even managed to give some criminals a new lease on life (with a much greater understanding and appreciation of life).
The U.S. government, alarmed by what they perceived was the growing instability of the Spectre (in light of what occurred in Vlatava), summoned Superman to intervene. President Bill Clinton asked Superman to confront the Spectre, known to be in Japan at the time, with the Spear of Destiny, one of the few weapons known to be harmful to the Spectre. Superman accepted the assignment--but unknown to the parties at the time, the Spear carried with it the taint of Adolf Hitler, and would corrupt anyone who wields it. The Spectre, meanwhile, had gone to Japan in response to Naiad attacking downtown Tokyo. During the battle, the Spectre encountered Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, for the first time--and felt her rage at what was being done to her. She accused the Spectre of poisoning her further when he used fire to destroy Vlatava. Superman arrived, and the Spear granted him a vision where he used it to destroy not only the Spectre but all the world's heroes and villains, making himself the new ruler. Superman's sheer will managed to reject the Spear. The Spectre summoned the ash and debris caused by his destruction of Vlatava and encased the Spear within it. He then sent the entombed spear into orbit around the Earth.
During the crisis known as Zero Hour, the Spectre initially would not intervene. Despite great power, he was confined by his mission to punish evil and this did not include preventing disasters. Later, when the Spectre found out that the onslaught had been caused by Parallax, he intervened and aided the heroes in defeating the misguided villain. Indeed, his power turned the tide in the final battle against the former Green Lantern, and was instrumental in "jump starting" the timeline again.
Immediately after Zero Hour, the Spectre was approached by the reincarnation of a woman named Lady Beltane. In each of her lives, Beltane had been hunted by the Spectre but her spirit had never been captured. She revealed to the Spectre his origins as a divine spirit of vengeance and asked for his help in purging humanity of its free will, thus ensuring the eradication of evil. The Spectre refused her and damned Beltane's spirit for her crimes once and for all.
The Revenge of Azmodus
Zero Hour did cause some subtle changes in the timeline, however. One change involved Clarice Winston, Jim's fiancee whom he had saved from death. Unknown to the Spectre at the time, but when he brought her back from the brink of death, a "thread" had remained between the two of them. This thread prevented Clarice from dying, despite more than one suicide attempt and accident that should have killed her. When Jim found her, she was an old woman, in a coma after her granddaughter tried to murder her. Corrigan's response was to swap the souls of Clarice and her granddaughter into each other's bodies, punishing the latter while giving the former a new direction in life.
The Spectre played a minor rule in The Final Night saga. Although there would be a fantastic loss of life, the Spectre could not act in preventing the sun from being extinguished. The Phantom Stranger confronted the Spectre about his refusal to help, but the Spectre responded by saying that if it was God's will that this be Earth's end, he could not interfere. He was, however, persuaded to used his power to help warm Maia, the spirit of the Earth, conceding he would do his part to ensure the spirit did not die until he was certain it was indeed "Earth's The Final Night."
Fortunately, the efforts of the heroes (including, ironically, Parallax) were enough.
The Haunting of America
The only time the Spectre acted to prevent a danger was when the new Justice League of America risked being overcome by a race of parasitic aliens, a defeat that would have endangered the entire world. Superman believed that this was due to the Spectre's concern for his fellow heroes but the spirit of vengeance merely justified his actions by saying that he was merely concerned about the universe's future safety.
The Search for Peace
The dichotomy between Corrigan and the Spectre began to grow greater and greater. He found that he could use his abilities in different ways. This only further exacerbated the division between Corrigan and Spectre as they began to both manifest at the same time. Together they set off for Heaven to seek out answers from God, but found the holy realm empty. In a quest that led from the Pantheons of Earth, to the Source, to the depths of Hell, the Spectre looked for his God.
Eventually Corrigan confronted God, or at least his conception of the being, and at last found the capacity to forgive his father.
With that act the balance shifted, with the forgiveness he had given his father he found peace. Tired of the crusade, Corrigan was convinced by Father Creamer that he needed a funeral, something that he never had because he was too busy trying to convince people that he was still alive. In a service attended by the surviving members of the Justice Society, the Justice League, various mystical beings, heroes that he had helped create, Superman, Batman and the Swamp Thing, Jim Corrigan's mortal remains were finally laid to rest. The Spectre Force split from its host and returned to the where-after as Corrigan's spirit finally departed this realm in peace. His head-stone, hastily raised before the service, was blank. However, after everyone had left, a burning light etched the following epitaph: James Corrigan, Servant of God.
The Corrigan/Spectre was gone, however Hal Jordan, the former Green Lantern, became the next host of the Spectre-force.
Powers and Abilities
- Divine Empowerment: As the Spectre, Corrigan had nearly unlimited magical potential given to him by the powers that be.
- Flight 
- Invisibility 
- Intangibility 
- Molecular Reconstruction
- He could can heal wounds with a touch.
- Size Alteration
- Law: Before becoming the Spectre and still afterwards, James was and will always be a police officer and a detective.
- Investigation: James was first a run of the mill police officer and then for a long time he was a detective. He preferred not to use his Spectre abilities when on the job for as long as possible but when vengeance called no man could withstand the Spectre.
- Interrogation: Once again, Jim preferred not to use his ability when interrogating suspects but when they prove too steadfast the Spectre appeared.
- Charisma: Jim Corrigan was sometimes known as a rogue cop with his wanton disregard for legal standings and his way of always wooing the female victims of crimes. Often times he ended up on the wrong side of the rules, and had to resort to the Spectre to finish his emotional mishaps.
- Vulnerability to High Order Magic: The Spectre can be injured or even slain by sufficient magic force, most notably the Spear of Destiny.
- Loss of Host: Also, if the human host dies, the current Spectre will be no more and the human spirit and the Divine Wrath will separate, each going to his respective destination in the realms beyond life.
- During DC's pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths period, the Spectre originated on Earth-Two but later migrated to Earth-One. The Earth-Two version of James Corrigan, apparently somehow restored to life, continued to exist as an independent entity during this period. Following the Crisis rewriting of history, there was only one James Corrigan.
- This Jim Corrigan has no connection to the Jim Corrigan of Earth-One. That Corrigan was never a host of the Spectre, but rather an African American New York City police officer who frequently assisted Black Lightning on several cases.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two 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 no longer apply.
- The Spectre is also known as the Spirit of Redemption, the Avenging Wrath of God, the Man of Darkness, Raguel, the Divine Wrath, and the Dark Knight.
- Jim Corrigan (Earth-One) is said to have been born in 1940.
- 284 Appearances of James Corrigan (New Earth)
- 38 Images featuring James Corrigan (New Earth)
- 21 Quotations by or about James Corrigan (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: James Corrigan (New Earth)
- Spectre (Volume 3) #60
- Spectre (Volume 3) #4
- Spectre Annual (Volume 3) #1
- More Fun Comics #101
- Showcase #60
- Adventure Comics #431
- Adventure Comics #435
- Adventure Comics #436
- Adventure Comics #438
- Adventure Comics #432
- Adventure Comics #433
- Adventure Comics #434
- Adventure Comics #437
- Adventure Comics #440
- Wrath of the Spectre #4
- Spectre (Volume 2) #5
- Spectre (Volume 2) #1
- Spectre (Volume 2) #2
- Spectre (Volume 2) #3
- Spectre (Volume 2) #4
- Spectre (Volume 2) #6
- Spectre (Volume 2) #7
- Spectre (Volume 2) #8
- Spectre (Volume 2) #9
- Spectre (Volume 2) #10
- Spectre (Volume 2) #12–15
- Spectre (Volume 2) #16
- Spectre Annual (Volume 2) #1
- Spectre (Volume 2) #17
- Spectre (Volume 2) #18
- Spectre (Volume 2) #19
- Spectre (Volume 2) #22
- Spectre (Volume 2) #20
- Spectre (Volume 2) #21–31
- Spectre (Volume 3) #1
- Spectre (Volume 3) #2
- Spectre (Volume 3) #3
- Spectre (Volume 3) #5–7
- Spectre (Volume 3) #8
- Spectre (Volume 3) #9–13
- Spectre (Volume 3) #13
- Spectre (Volume 3) #14-15
- Spectre (Volume 3) #15-18
- Spectre (Volume 3) #26
- Spectre (Volume 3) #21-22
- Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #0
- Spectre (Volume 3) #0
- Spectre (Volume 3) #23
- The Final Night #3
- Spectre (Volume 3) #47
- Spectre (Volume 3) #62
- More Fun Comics #52
- More Fun Comics #53
- Wrath of the Spectre (Volume 1)
Justice Society of America member
|All-Star Squadron member|
This character is or was a member of the All-Star Squadron in any of its various incarnations. This template will categorize articles that include it into the "All-Star Squadron members" category.