Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.


The Spectre – Some insight into the spirituality of comics?

Seems like the DC Comics character of the Spectre is on the minds of several people at the moment. Personally I never really knew about him until his path intersected that of Hal Jordan (the Silver Age Green Lantern). In the issues from around that time that I’ve read the character shifts from one who seeks to punish/exact vengeance to one who seeks redemption for others. At some point I’d like to get hold of a huge set of back issues and have a look at how he functions (theologically) in the DC universe (where the Spectre exists as the embodiment of the Wrath of God).

See Suspension of Disbelief: And the new Spectre is… and According To Me: Hal and Jesus.

More information on the character at Spectre (comics) – Wikipedia

Much of the Spectre’s modern character was defined by the theologically trained John Ostrander and he developed the distinction between the pursuit of vengeance and that of of revenge using the character. A distinction that resonates with how we encounter the concept of vengeance (naqam) (esp. God’s) in the Psalms.


  1. I was a big Jim Aparo fan, and followed Jim Corrigan’s antics in the early 70s, also knew of him through EarthTwo JLA cross-overs. But I never really cared for the character. I got out of comics before Ostrander got in, so I didn’t know his stuff. Although I always preferred DC to Marvel, Dr Strange always seemed to me a better take on the mystical and spiritual than the Spectre’s. (Dr Fate was my favourite of the EarthTwo strangers — cool colours, that peacock blue and gold.)

    Thanks for the link to the “Hal and Jesus” article — great!

    Did you see I managed to get Green Lantern, Ben Grimm and Mr Mxyzptlk into the text (and index) of _Mealtime Habits_? Spectre is mentioned in connection with Hal, but didn’t make it to the index — plus the folks at Zondervan ‘corrected’ my British spelling and renamed him the Specter — yuch.

  2. Glad to meet another theologian who’s interested in comics. Around here I my friends seem to think it’s just another of my idiosyncracies. I’ve only looked at the sample chapter of your book – but now I know it’s got some comic book references in it I’ll bump it up towards the top of my wish list.

    The Marvel/DC split is interesting – that the Marvel character would be the most interesting in a universe that the writers deliberately expunged God from. As opposed to the DC universe where God (or at least an ultimate power with agents) and a well-defined metaphysical side exist.

    At some point I’d love to write a paper on the eschatology of mainsteam comics – when I’ve put the thesis to bed and get paid to do such things 🙂



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