Spectre (DC Comics)

Jim Corrigan was a Police Detective murdered by gangsters. Instead of his soul passing through to heaven, he became the latest person to be bonded with The Spectre, God's powerful spirit of vengeance. Though they are bonded, they remain separate entities and often come into conflict with each other.

Publication information

Publisher: DC Comics
First appearance: More Fun Comics #52 (January 02, 1940)
Appearance of Death: Day of Judgment #5 (November, 1999)
Appears in: 365 issues
Created by: Jerry Siegel, Bernard Baily

In-story information

Alter ego: James Brendan 'Jim' Corrigan
Notable aliases: Jim Corrigan, The Spectre, Lieutenant Jim Corrigan, James Corrigan, James Brendan Corrigan, Spirit of Vengeance, Spirit of Redemption, the Avenging Wrath of God, the Man of Darkness, Raguel, the Divine Wrath, and the Dark Knight

Relatives: Jebediah Corrigan (father, deceased), Louisa Corrigan (sister, deceased)
Affiliations: Amy Beitermann, Betty Bumphus, Bug McGrew, Charles M McNider, Clarice Winston, Cynner, Earl Crawford, Father Richard Craemer, Gina Sayles, Gwen Sterling, Hal Jordan, Hassan Al Armani, J. Percival Poplaski, Jimmy Olsen, Kim Liang, Lieutenant Weaver, Lisa Drake, Madame Xanadu, Nate Kane, Pete Miller, Peter Quarral, Ramban, Sergeant Rook, Sister Justine, Spectre, Szandor Tarr, Wayne Grant, Wesley Dodds

Team affiliations: Formerly Justice Society of America, All-Star Squadron, Gotham City Police Department, Midnight Shift, New York Police Department
Enemies: American Scream, Father Arthur Keller, Fred Anderson, Gat Benson, Ikkondrid, Mister Bygone, Oom, Phantom Stranger, Sister Clara, Sofia Casimiro, Walker Albright
Divine Powers, Illusion Casting, Immortal, Intellect, Invulnerability, Magic, Marksmanship, Stamina, Stealth, Tracking, Unarmed Combat, Weapon Master
Base Of Operations: New York City, New York


Alignment: Good
Identity Secret: Secret Identity
Race: Human
Citizenship: American
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Detective, Police Officer


Gender: Male
Height: 185.4 cm
Weight: 83 kg
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red
Unusual Features:


Origin: Jim Corrigan is said to have been born in 1940
Universe: Earth-Two, New Earth



The embodiment of God's wrath, 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 New York detective Jim Corrigan.

During the US 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.[1] 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 Winstson 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 altough 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.[14] With his humanity regained, Corrigan engaged with Gwen, but shortly prior to their marriage, Corrigan was killed and The Presence returned 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 vengeace.

Eventually, the Voice turned Aztar into an omnipotent being which no longer needed to remain restrained in Earth and as a result, Jim Corrigan died for good. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Voice reduced the Spectre's powers once again and returned the avatar to Jim Corrigan's corpse, bringing him back to life. In his newfound life, Corrigan was approached by Madame Xanadu, who offered her place as Corrigan's new office for his private detective agency, with assisance from the lovely woman Kim Liang[17]

A Brief New Light

Corrigan eventually met up with the last member of the gang that had been responsible for his own murder decades ago. After avenging himself and bringing vengeance upon a street gang that had viciously gunned down some innocents, Corrigan was brought to the attention of a woman named Amy Beitermann.[18] Amy approached whom she thought was merely a strange investigator, and at first he rebuffed her. She sought to track him down, and in doing so met Madam Xanadu, who was also looking for Jim.[19] However, about that time the police dredged up the original remains of Corrigan upon the discovery of the barrel which he had been sealed in. Confronted with his physical remains, Amy was forced to accept he was in fact a ghost. When she encountered him again, at first she fled from him, but he then saved her from a gang. Refusing to let him strike them dead, she demanded to know his story, which he told to her. Amy accused him of hubris, so the Spectre looked into her soul to find any evil that may lie there. He saw her life story: she had become despondent after her husband started cheating on her, so she cheated back, sleeping around with maybe dozens of men. Tragically, her husband got AIDS from one of his partners, and passed it to her. She realized just before he died from it that she had passed it on to others--a death sentence for them. Doubt entered into Corrigan, as he began to wonder how often he had confused guilt with evil.

Corrigan was attracted to Amy, and she was comforted by him (they both felt very isolated and alone by their respective conditions). Jim helped Amy assist her friend, a police detective named Nate Kane, track down a kidnapped child, in the course of which the Spectre had to venture into Hell (and engage Shaitan briefly). Lt. Kane and Amy were both attempting to track a serial killer known only as the "Reaver" who had brutally murdered several women in New York City.

Madam Xanadu, embittered by what she perceives as the Spectre wasting his power when he could be using it to heal the world, manages to steal the mantle from Corrigan by assailing Amy. During the course of this event, she reveals to Amy that her fate is to die alone, stabbed to death by a killer in an alley. Xanadu, as the Spectre, cannot divert the Divine Wrath's mission. Realizing this, she surrenders it back to Corrigan. Amy is terrified about what has been revealed, but Corrigan vows he will not let anything happen to her. At this time, Corrigan forces Nate Kane to admit that all of the Reaver's victims had HIV/AIDS.

Unfortunately, Azmodus managed to slip out of Hell (unknown to the Spectre) when Spectre made his journey there, though he was weak and without a physical form. He began to draw strength by acquiring the "shadows" of criminals who gave them up to him, allowing him to briefly inhabit their bodies. Playing off the Spectre's rage, Azmodus managed to briefly trap Corrigan within the body of one of his vessels. The Spectre managed to free himself, but Azmodus evaded him.

Not satisfied with waiting for the Reaver to turn up, Corrigan decides to go on the offense. The latest victim was a young woman murdered in a church. The Reaver had stabbed the priest and had posed as him to get close to the girl. The Spectre first tries to follow the soul of the recently departed priest in Heaven, but is denied entry by Michael the Archangel. Cast back to earth, he manages to learn the Reaver's identity--a man named Daniel Geller, who has been looking for Amy all along--and knows where to find her. The Spectre confronts Geller outside Amy's apartment, but before he can exact vengeance, Geller gives his shadow to Azmodus, allowing enough power for Azmodus to adopt a physical form. He draws the Spectre to the astral plane to fight "as gods."

Geller knocks down Nate Kane and attacks Amy. She fights back and attempts to flee, but Geller corners her in an alley. The Spectre, distracted by thoughts of her, begins losing the battle against Azmodus. Madam Xanadu uses what power she has left to draw Azmodus to her, distracting him enough for the Spectre to defeat him and return to Earth. He draws down upon Geller, confronting him within his very soul and revealing the depth of the depravity and evil. Just as Geller begins to realize his evil, Kane shoots him dead. Corrigan and Kane go to the hospital. Xanadu had gone to Amy even as she lay dying, so at least she would not be alone as she had feared. Corrigan goes after her soul, but instead of forcing her back, he merely says good-bye and allows her to go on into Heaven. While Amy is at peace, Corrigan is in turmoil over her loss.

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.[28] 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 Maia, 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 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.
    • Magic
    • Molecular Reconstruction
    • Flight
    • Teleportation
    • Size Alteration


  • Law: Before becoming the Spectre and still afterwards, James was and will always be a police officer and a detective in the highest degree.
  • 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 prefers not to use his ability when interrogating suspects but when they prove too steadfast the Spectre appears.
  • 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 ends up on the wrong side of the law and must resort to the Spectre to finish his emotional mishaps.

Strength level


  • 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.