This is a very different story on an unknown but very powerful hero from DC. The Spectre. Originally a part of the JSA (Justice Society of America). The Spectre is a supernatural being of near-unlimited might whose mission is to unleash the Wrath of God upon evil men. He is always bound to the soul of a deceased human. Three humans have been bound to the Spectre during the modern age, with Jim Corrigan being its current host.
In 1940, police detective Jim Corrigan was murdered. Upon reaching the gates of Paradise, he was turned away, a voice telling him that his task upon the Earth was not yet complete. He became the host for an angel, a spirit of vengeance. This is their story.
So God said to Noah, “I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.” Genesis 6:17.
Earth: 4990 BC
The being that had become known as Eclipso, due to the half-moon marking he had formed upon his face, looked down upon the Earth from his seat in Heaven. Soon God would have need of him, and the task that he had been created for. Eclipso had been formed from God’s very essence, as the living manifestation of his wrath. And soon that wrath was going to be visited upon the Earth. God had seen all that had occurred since the fall of man, and the rebellion of the former angel known as Lucifer.
In what had been a short amount of time to God and his angels, mankind’s wickedness from the first sin had consumed all, and lust, violence and debauchery ran rampant across the Earth. God was both saddened and angry by what had transpired.
Yet there was one man, and his family that still followed the ways of the Almighty. His name was Noah, a man of advanced age. God spoke to him, and told him to build a great boat, an ark, in which he would take his family, and their families, along with two of every kind of animal that lived on the Earth. God’s plan was for Noah and his family, and the animals, to repopulate the Earth.
After completing the ark and loading it with animals, food and his family, Noah closed the great doors. And Eclipso looked down from Heaven and smiled, his task was at hand. Using all the powers that the Almighty had granted him, he caused the waters of the Earth to rise, and swell. All was swept away in the flood, all except Noah and his ark.
But Eclipso wanted more. He had tasted true power, and he too was now tainted with sin. But God knew that because this being was made of him, that condemning him to Hell was simply not enough.
So he forged from the nothingness of the cosmos’s a black diamond, perfect in every way. Banishing Eclipso into it, he bound it with power both ancient and strong, what the human beings would eventually call magic or sorcery.
Before the seals were complete, Eclipso swore an oath of revenge, upon God, Heaven and all mankind. He would return and none would be safe from his wrath.
Earth: 1441 BC
So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. Exodus 11:4-5
After a time, God’s chosen people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were slaves in Egypt, forced to build great temples and monuments to the Pharaoh and the false gods of the Egyptians.
God then chose a man, a child of the Hebrews who had been spared Pharaoh’s wrath against all the newborns by being placed in a basket, and set adrift in the Nile. That basket was found by the daughter of Pharaoh, who took the infant and raised him as her son, naming him Moses. In time, Moses learned of his true origins, and feeling shame and fear, fled into the desert to die.
But God had other plans in mind. He led Moses to a camp of Midianite’s, who took him in, and taught him about God’s love and teachings. When the time came, God appeared to him in the form of a burning bush, and commanded him to go to Egypt, and free his people.
But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and stubborn and he would not listen. God then visited 9 plagues upon the land, each one making Pharaoh more and more angry. Finally, God knew that the final plague must something so extreme and severe, that Pharaoh would have no choice but to let the Hebrews go. So God once again formed from his essence, a being not of rage and wrath, but of vengeance.
And so it came to pass, that God sent for his spirit of vengeance, to kill all the firstborn of the Egyptians. This was the last straw for Pharaoh. Summoning Moses, he told to take the Hebrews and leave Egypt at once.
Instead of taking the vengeance being back into his form, the Almighty let it remain, knowing that when the time would come, a human, worthy of being bonded to it would be found.
Jim Corrigan sat in the upper gallery of the House of Representatives, staring down as members of the Justice Society of America, his friends and comrades, were being grilled by Senator McCarthy and other members of the House Un-American Activities. Leaning down in his seat, he employed his advanced hearing in order to discern the voices of his friends over the din of the crowd.
“Senators, this is utterly ridiculous. How can you accuse us of being spies”, Hawkman stood up, anger clear on his passive face.
“Hawkman, you and the other representatives of the JSA, have presented your evidence that this man before us is in fact a Communist spy”, Senator McCarthy gestured towards the witness stand where a small, mustached man was sitting.
“That is correct sir”, the Green Lantern stood as well, his ring sparking green flashes as he too try to remain calm.
“But how can we be certain that you yourselves are in fact not spies as well, and were simply trying to cover up your own activities by bringing in this man?”
That was the last straw for Jim. Leaving the gallery, he stepped out into the hall, and making sure no one was about, quickly felt serene calm as the power of the Spectre washed over him. Within seconds, he was no longer Jim Corrigan, but the white faced angel of vengeance known as the Spectre. Floating through the walls, and remaining unseen by the average human eye, he heard the words of the Almighty whispering in his ears.
Alighting on the floor, he turned visible again, causing the Senators, security officers, reporters and average citizens to begin clamoring and yelling. The Senators began demanding what was the meaning of this, what kind of outrage was this. The Spectre frowned, and spoke in a loud voice, projecting for the entire room to hear.
“Enough! Enough of this political farce! You men, you who have been duly elected in order to serve the people of this nation, sit here, and dare to accuse those who have given so much in its service, of being Communist spies. Have you no ears to hear, or eyes to see all that they have done is proof enough of their loyalty?”
Green Lantern began to move from behind the table to join his friend, but Hawkman held him back. One look was enough to know that this fight was in good hands.
The Spectre stood in front of the judge’s dais, staring at these arrogant men, his eyes blazing with holy fire.
“This is all well and good Spectre”, Senator McCarthy spoke, “But what about you? You yourself have remained an enigma, despite your teaming up with the JSA on many occasions to fight ‘super-crime’. Who is to say you do not serve masters in Moscow as well?”
“I serve no master but God Almighty! My mission is just, as is the cause I fight for. I fight for justice, the same as these people before you.”
Spectre turned back towards the table, and looked sadly at his friends. No words were spoken, but they all knew, this situation was hopeless. The Spectre floated up towards the ceiling and turning intangible passed through the roof into the sky.
Hours later, the Justice Society of America, once the nation’s greatest team of mystery-men, were gathered in their brownstone headquarters in New York, all sitting around the table they had sat at scant years ago to meet and plan their next moves in the fight for justice.
Hawkman, chairman after Green Lantern had stepped down, looked around the table at his friends, and then looked to his wife, who squeezed his hand. He took a deep breath, knowing that the next words would be life changing.
“My friends, as you know, myself, Green Lantern, Doctor Mid-Nite and Wonder Woman, went before Senator McCarthy and his committee today, to protest the demands made that we unmask and reveal our identities to the FBI. Despite all our efforts, and even the Spectre appearing and providing testimony, it was in vain. They refuse to accept that we are what we are, loyal, honest Americans. They are afraid of us, and unless we comply, they will come after us, hard. No one will be safe. That is why, effective immediately; I am disbanding the Justice Society of America.
The tension in the room was thick, and everyone was looking at their chairman and leader as if he had just lost his marbles. Finally, the Atom stood up, fists clenched.
“Carter, you can’t do this. We can’t, and shouldn’t let them get to us like this.”
“Al, sit down, please. The decision has been made. The Society is no longer actively a deputized law enforcement agency. Our charter allowing us to work alongside the police and various government agencies was revoked some time ago, so to continue our work would have been a violation of the law itself.”
Hippolyta, Queen of Paradise Island and the heroine known as Wonder Woman, looked around the table at her brothers and sisters in arms with disgust. She left the meeting room, slamming the door behind her. Ted ‘Wildcat’ Grant followed after her. No one else left the room.
Jim Corrigan stood, his eyes sad and his face thick with emotion. In a flash, the Spectre was standing before the assembled members of the Justice Society of America.
“It grieves me that this is the course of action we must take, to give up the fight simply because we are afraid. But, I understand that fear can sometimes lead to a road of divergent events. Who knows what will transpire because of our decision?”
Doctor Fate, master of the mystic arts and mankind’s defense against the dark realms of magic, spoke. But it was not the voice of Kent Nelson; it was the voice of Nabu, the ancient Egyptian sorcerer whose spirit inhabited the golden helmet that Kent wore.
“Fear not my friends. I have peered through time itself, and my visions have shown me a future, a future where heroes still exist, and the ideals we so treasure are still fought for.”
With that, Doctor Fate stood, shook Hawkman’s hand, then left the brownstone for the last time. One by one, the other members left, until Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Spectre and Green Lantern were all that remained. Lantern removed his domino mask, shook Carter’s hand, and gave Shiera a kiss on the cheek, then left as well.
Carter sighed, then turned to the control panel on the wall. Ever since time traveling master Rip Hunter had visited the team to assist with the threat of Per Degaton, the brownstone’s security system had been upgraded with the best tech the future had to offer. The brownstone would remain locked to all intruders, save those who carried a JSA id card and knew the passcode.
As the three heroes left their headquarters, Carter locked the door, then turned as the Spectre’s form melted away and was replaced by Corrigan’s. The two men embraced, brothers in bond if not blood. Corrigan then embraced Shiera, and left, hailing a cab who took him to his hotel. The Justice Society of America was over; it seemed the world no longer needed heroes.
The Spectre stared down at the Earth from the Rock of Eternity, home to the wizard Shazam. The wizard was a being both ancient and powerful, steeped in the knowledge of magic, and utterly devoted to the cause of justice. For centuries, he had been silently watching, waiting, for the one to whom he would give power, power to fight against the forces of darkness and evil.
Spectre turned from the endless void to face the old wizard, who sat upon his great rock throne.
“I have located the one you spoke of Shazam. Are you certain he is the one?”
“I am Spectre. Billy Batson is only a child it is true, but his heart is pure as is his mind. There is no taint of corruption or smudge of wickedness within him. Soon I will summon him here, and my task will be complete.”
As he said this, a great rumble shook the Rock of Eternity, causing the Spectre to gaze about. A second rumble gave him pause, and then as a third shake happened, the wall opposite the wizard’s throne burst open, and with a mighty rush of air, a being clad in black and purple was before them. His face was marked with a half-moon tattoo, and the grin upon his face was one of pure evil. Shazam rose from his throne, his face a mixture of anger and disbelief.
“Eclipso! How is it that you are here? You should be locked away within the Heart of Darkness!”
“Wrong old fool! At long last I am free! The protective spells the ‘Almighty’ set upon that accursed gem have weakened, allowing me to slip through, with my powers intact. I have come, oh mighty wizard, to seek my revenge upon him.” He pointed towards the Spectre, whose passive face bristled with rage.
Before the Spirit of Vengeance could make a move, Shazam leapt from his throne with the speed and grace of Mercury. He stood between his friend and this monster, hands crackling with the power of Zeus’s thunderbolts. With a loud thunderclap, Eclipso was flung far away from the Rock, but the wizard gave chase, followed by the Spectre.
A battle the likes of which had never been seen upon Heaven or Earth soon followed, with both beings of magic throwing their collective might against this monster of evil. But a battle of magic’s is won by skill, not just raw power. Eclipso had been locked away far too long, he was out of practice. But the Spectre, the Spectre had been using his powers since the early years of mankind, and now, with Jim Corrigan’s soul tethered to him, he had a guide to direct his abilities.
At length, Eclipso grew weary, using too much power, not conserving it. Shazam and the Spectre took advantage of this weakness, and knocking him senseless, bound him with chains of iron (for iron is the one thing that can hurt beings of pure magic) and fastened the chains to a wall inside the Rock. Eclipso awoke, and seeing his predicament, smirked.
“You think this can hold me Wizard? You think these chains will keep me from seeking revenge against the Spectre and God?”
“No Eclipso, I do not. That is why I am taking the ultimate precaution. You will subjected to your former punishment, and even more shall be heaped upon you for you wickedness and evil.”
As he spoke, the Spectre stepped forward, pulling from the folds of his cloak the Heart of Darkness. He glared at Eclipso, and then placed the diamond on the floor in front of the monster. The Wizard sat before the Diamond, and weaving his hands back and forth, began to chant. A swirling vortex opened up from inside the diamond, and Eclipso screamed as he began to be pulled towards to portal.
Within seconds, Eclipso was once more locked away inside the diamond. Shazam had placed new spells of protection over the diamond, and picking it up, motioned for his friend to follow. Walking through the halls of the Rock of Eternity, they stopped before a small niche in wall, which contained a strange looking device in the shape of a pistol.
Taking the pistol in hand, Shazam placed the diamond in the niche, and aiming the pistol, fired it at the Heart. The Heart quivered, shook, then was folded into many parts until it winked out of sight. Placing the pistol back into the niche, Shazam walked back towards his throne room with the Spectre. Sitting once more upon the throne, he closed in eyes in deep thought, then spoke.
“It is time my friend. My fight upon this plane of existence is done. Now, it will be Billy Batson’s turn. Farewell.”
And with that, the Spectre found himself in the middle of New York City. Ducking into an alley, he transformed in Corrigan. Glancing at the watch on his wrist, he walked to a pay phone. Maybe he would call up Ted or Carter, and see if they wanted to rehash the good old days.
In the wake of the chaos of the Battle of Kansas, the surviving superhumans had banded together with the rest of humanity, working together, as they once did long ago. And amidst all this, Norman McCay had returned to his congregation, and filled once more with hope, despite all that had transpired, did not despair for humanity and the future, but was filled with peace. A few weeks later, as he finished that morning’s sermon, he looked out over the crowd that filled the sanctuary, and saw a familiar face. Jim Corrigan smiled and nodded his head. Afterwards, when everyone had gone, they sat in Norman’s office, and talked. Norman still could not believe that his otherworldly guide was here.
“Spectre, I still do not understand. I thought, well that is, I assumed that now everything was over, you would go back. Is there still more you have to show me?”
Jim Corrigan smiled, lay back in his chair and stretched his arms. There was a slight pop as his joints ached from stiffness. How he had missed feeling human, it was good to feel once more. After a long silence, he spoke.
“No Norman, there is nothing for me to show you. As I told you before, you walked with the titans and bore witness to all that transpired while keeping stride.”
“Then why are you here? What brings you to, well my church of all places?”
Jim stood up and smiled. “Because Norman, when I was bound to you, I saw all you have seen, and I started to realize, I had been gone from the world for far too long. I started to miss being, well human. And the Lord agreed with me.”
“What do you mean, he agreed with you?”
“The task, the mission he had given me all those years ago, to fight evil in his name, well it’s not done. But I had become so wrapped up in the fight, like Superman I lost sight of what was truly important, being human. He reminded me of that. So here I am. I was hoping that I could become a member of your church?”
Norman smiled and also stood, and taking Jim’s hand in his, shook it. It was warm, tough and strong, and had none of the cold, ghostly feel of the Spectre’s grasp. Together they left the office, and locking up the church, went outside. Jim smiled as the warmth of the sun hit his face, as birds flew and chirped in the bright blue sky. It was good to be back, to be home. Jim felt something that he hadn’t for a very long time. He felt happy.