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This is an in-universe article with out-of-universe material.

This article covers information about something that exists within the DC Universe, and should not contain out-of-universe material. Please remove all out-of-universe material, or include it in a separate section at the bottom of the article. And take off that silly costume.

The Spook was an enemy of Batman. He was a criminal mastermind, mostly operating from the shadows.

Valentin Kalibanicz (also known as Val Kaliban) was an architectural draftsman of Russian descent,[1] who worked for a large engineering firm charged with the construction of Gotham's newest maximum security prison. His boss caught him altering several of the plans for the new prison and Kaliban murdered the man to keep him silent. Police soon captured Kaliban, and he was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair for his crime.[2] For almost ten years, Kaliban was thought to be dead, but he returned and became known in the underworld of Gotham City as the Spook: a mystical figure who established an "escape insurance" racket to help crooks escape from prison. Using his tricks, the Spook managed to fool both the GCPD and the local law enforcer, the Batman,[3] until he was captured by the latter.[4] However, with knowledge of the prison's layout, Kaliban escaped shortly thereafter, and Batman chased him to his secret lair in an abandoned prison system. There, Kaliban revealed the truth behind his mysterious death in the electric chair. He had hypnotized an innocent look-alike to pose as him during the execution, and this allowed him to roam free for years. After his confession, Kaliban tried to get rid of Batman, but he failed and was captured and returned to prison. This time, he was not able to escape because the police got hold of the blue prints of the prison, which were used to seal every possible way of escaping.[2]

A short time later, the Spook was released from prison and started a personal vendetta against Batman using subliminal messages, which would end with his own apparent death and Batman as the killer. However, Batman turned the plot against him, and Kaliban believed he had killed Batman, which destroyed his plan of faking his own death. During this shocking moments, Batman confronted and captured Kaliban, sending him back to prison.[5] Breaking out again, the Spook was eventually part of a mock crime trial in which he acted as jury along with other criminals in order to learn who had killed Batman. At the end of the charade, Spook and the others learned that the whole trial was staged by Batman himself to capture the Joker. However, in his efforts, the masked hero unwittigly allowed all the other criminals to escape.[6] Later, the Spook was contacted by a small-time gangster and together they planned a setup to kill Batman. Kaliban used a special drug to make Batman have hallucinations, but the Dark Knight managed to overcome the odds and captured both criminals.[7] Once again, the Spook was hired to spring a criminal out of jail, and, as usual, he ended up captured and locked up.[8]


The Spook in his 1998 iteration.

Post-Crisis, the Spook was first seen amongst other Arkham Asylum patients who attacked Batman during the Last Arkham storyline.[9][10] Later, the Spook's origins were drastically rebooted in a 1998 eponymous storyline. Here, he was presented as a former government operative who was once tasked with eliminating the dictator of Santa Terre, a small South American country. This was part of a joint agreement between the U.S., rebels who opposed the dictatorship, and American corporate head Morris Baron, concerning oil drilling rights. However, at the last minute the dictator made a better proposal to Baron, who switched sides and betrayed the Spook and his squad. Members of the group who did not die immediately were tortured, and all ended up killed, with the exception (apparently) of the man who would become the Spook.[11] The latter, wanting revenge but not knowing Baron's name, arranged to attack a meeting between Bruce Wayne, Morris Baron, and other businessmen who had financial involvement with Santa Terre and its oil.[12] The Spook managed to kill three, inlcuding his intended target Baron,[11] but was eventually stopped by Batman, and apparently fell to his death from a helicopter.[13] This Spook's identity was never revealed, though he was almost certainly intended to be an all-new version of the original one, not a separate character. Also, it was left ambiguous whether he survived his ordeal and derived his abilities from technology, or died and resurrected as a ghost, gaining supernatural powers.

Eventually, the Spook was restored to his original iteration, still imprisoned in Blackgate Prison, and still retaining his original background as a prison architect and escape artist. Due to the fact that he didn't broke out following the events of No Man's Land, as well as his good behavior while imprisoned, Kaliban was released on parole after eight years. Despite his attempts at resuming his criminal career, he was stopped once by Robin and Nightwing, and once by Batwoman. Realizing he would be constantly surveilled by crime fighters, he preferred to turn himself in.[1] The Spook broke out once more and learned that the prison he once designed was going to be torn down. Angry at the mayor, he kidnapped the latter, along with other city officials, and held them for ransom in the Gotham subway system. Commissioner Gordon and Batman quickly attempted to track down the Spook and save the mayor, but Damian Wayne tracked him down first and confronted him. Not understanding the concept of mercy, Damian fought and killed Spook. He took Kaliban's head as a prize and left the hostages for Batman. Damian then put a grenade in the severed head and used it to attack Robin, who he viewed unworthy of being Batman's partner.[14]


  • Escapology: The Spook was a master escape artist.
  • Hypnosis: He was also trained in the art of hypnosis, and could easily manipulate the weak-minded. His aptitude in this arena was so strong that he once convinced a nameless look-alike to take his place in the electric chair.[2]
  • Gadgetry
  • Disguise


  • The Spook used a wide array of gadgets and devices in order to simulate various supernatural effects. Some of these devices include inflatable effigies of himself that can float through the air, finger-tip and boot suction cups for scaling buildings, and smoke machines for obscuring the perceptions of others.

  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One 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 should be considered apocryphal.


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Batman Villain(s)
This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."