Flash Comics #88|
Robert Kanigher (writer)|
Joe Kubert (artist)
|Alter ego||James Craddock|
Secret Society of Super Villains
|Notable aliases||The Ghost, "Gentleman Jim", Jim Craddock|
Spectral ability to turn invisible and incorporeal.|
Renders any body part who touches him deathly cold.
Adequate marksman with antique flintlock pistols.
Spectral energy projection.
Gentleman Ghost is a fictional character, a supervillain published by DC Comics publications. He first appeared in Flash Comics #88 (October 1947), and was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert.
Fictional character biography
"Gentleman Ghost" Jim Craddock is the son of an English gentleman who abandoned both Jim and his mother, forcing them into poverty. Craddock grew up to become a notorious highwayman and robber who terrorized England in the 1800s after a prophecy from a gypsy said he would be a highwayman. He encountered the ghosts of other highwaymen and Dick Turpin left him a horse. He journeys to the United States and encounters the gunslingers Nighthawk and Cinnamon. The hot-headed Nighthawk lynches Craddock after wrongly assuming that he sexually assaulted Cinnamon, but Craddock somehow eludes death to rise again as a phantom.
The Gentleman Ghost learns he must wander the earth until the spirit of his killer moves on to the next plane of existence. Unfortunately, Nighthawk and Cinnamon turn out to be the reincarnations of Ancient Egyptian royalty Prince Khufu and Chay-Ara: their souls (due to their exposure to the Thanagarian Nth metal) can never truly pass on. Both are eventually resurrected as Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and the Gentleman Ghost becomes their recurring nemesis during the 1940s. Craddock has over the decades menaced other heroes, including Batman, The Atom, The Flash, The New Teen Titans, Max Mercury and Stargirl, but the vengeful ghost always returns to his main foes, the Hawks, sometimes as a foe and sometimes as a friend.
Gentleman Ghost has clashed with Batman and Superman on different occasions. In JSA Classified, issues 5-7, the Gentleman Ghost is a member of the Injustice Society. In Villains United #1, he joins the Secret Society of Super Villains.
His origin is explored and altered in the pages of JSA #82-87 (2006). The natural son of an abusive father and a poor mother, young Jim Craddock soon slips into a life of crime, making contacts with the supernatural. After a gypsy prophesizes that he will be able to transcend death and return to life fighting and killing his enemies on English soil, his villainous career is put to an end when he is captured and sentenced to death by hanging after he is tricked by a woman he is trying to seduce who summons Redcoats. Returning as a ghost, he battles the JSA, hoping for the prophecy to come true.
The Ghost is briefly seen in the Infinite Crisis, during the Secret Society of Supervillains' attack on Metropolis and its dozens of superpowered and human defenders. Afterwards, the Ghost becomes involved in a fight with Alan Scott. This ends badly for Scott, leaving him in a coma.
When the rightful time arrives, the Ghost gains the additional power of summoning vengeful ghosts from his enemies' (the JSA) past, like someone Scott accidentally killed with an electrical accident, although this is a fake, and other highwaymen. His plan is foiled by Stargirl, who, as a virgin girl, is impervious to ghostly attacks, an army of ghostly nobles who attack his army, and Wildcat, surprisingly a descendant of the Royal House of England, who decapitates him. Vanquished, he disappears.
Gentleman Ghost is seen as one of the villains sent to retrieve the Get Out of Hell Free card from the Secret Six.
The New 52
In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Gentleman Ghost is still a thief and steals the Mortis Orb, which has the power to resurrect the dead. Hawkman deduces that Gentleman Ghost is Jim Craddock and Gentleman Ghost confirms it. Gentleman Ghost tells Hawkman he invited him here because the Nth metal drew him to the Mortis Orb. Then, he tells Hawkman he will take him to the orb, but Hawkman refuses, so Gentleman Ghost sends more apparitions after him, Hawkman escapes the building. Then, Gentleman Ghost appears again, saying that the warlock's spell rendered the orb inert years ago, but the Nth Metal broke the spell causing the orb to regain its power. Gentleman Ghost takes the orb, saying that he will use it to transcend death and resurrect himself through the life-force of every man, woman, and child nearby. Then, he disappears and the Zombies attacking Hawkman fall apart. Gentleman Ghost begins fully harnessing the orb’s power, creating a portal from which Julius Gates comes out. Gates (demanding the orb) grabs Craddock, while Hawkman takes the orb from him. The portal vanishes with Craddock and Gates inside causing them both to disappear along with the apparitions and zombies. Hawkman drops the Mortis Orb somewhere in Antarctica to keep it from falling into the wrong hands again.
Powers and abilities
Originally, the Gentleman Ghost seemed to rely on devices to simulate a ghostly existence; the original 1940s stories left the question of his nature open to speculation. Later, however, he is retconned into a true ghost and his abilities altered to follow suit. As a ghost, Craddock has several abilities. He can become intangible and pass effortlessly through solid material. He can become completely invisible. In fact, the appearance of his head as a floating hat and monocle is actually him rendering his decayed face invisible. He has been shown as being able to teleport as short a distance as a few rooms or as far as across states. Gentleman Ghost can also summon spectral weapons including a cane that shoots spectral fire and flintlock pistols. When passing through Craddock's ghostly form, people will sometimes experience an intense feeling of cold. Since this does not happen every time, it would seem that he can control this effect. Craddock can apparently track psionic energy and travel across dimensions as he did when he followed an astral tether from the Wizard to Johnny Sorrow. On certain occasions most of the manifestations of his abilities like teleportation and phasing are accompanied by a purple glow of spectral energy or transparent mist (possibly courtesy of different pencilers). Around the time of his prophesied return to life, he gains the power to summon and control the spirits of the dead due to his mother's spirit spending centuries recruiting them to help her son. It is unknown if he can still call upon them.
The Gentleman Ghost is apparently unable to touch or be touched by virgins. This is confirmed by his inability to do harm to both Stargirl and Jakeem Thunder. However, he can pick up a real weapon and be able to hurt them, as when he brandished the Cosmic Rod.
As a supernatural being, Gentleman Ghost cannot be killed and is very hard to hurt. However, those with royal blood can physically harm him and, when unaware, energy hitting him causes pain.
In other media
- Gentleman Ghost appears in The All-New Super Friends Hour, voiced by Richard Paul. This version is referred to only as 'Gentleman Jim Craddock' instead of 'Gentleman Ghost'. In the episode "Ghost", a man casts a spell to bring Gentleman Ghost to the living so that he can take revenge on Superman and Wonder Woman for imprisoning his spirit. He uses his powers to turn U.N. representatives into ghosts and later turns Superman and Wonder Woman into ghosts. The curse is eventually broken, after which the Superfriends used the mystical Rods of Merlin to send Gentleman Ghost back to his grave, never to return.
- Gentleman Ghost appears in Justice League Unlimited, voiced by Robin Atkin Downes. In "I Am Legion", he is seen as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society. In "Ancient History", he is shown trying to outrun the Green Lantern until Hawkman catches him with a net made from Nth metal.
- Gentleman Ghost appears in several episodes of the animated series Batman: The Brave and The Bold, voiced by Greg Ellis. He first appears in the pre-credits teaser of "Terror on Dinosaur Island!", where he is defeated by Batman, Plastic Man and Fire. He is the featured villain in "Dawn of the Deadman!" in which he has Batman buried alive. Gentleman Ghost is subsequently defeated by Batman, Deadman and Green Arrow. A heroic version of the character appears in "Deep Cover for Batman!", among the Red Hood's makeshift collection of heroes in an alternate universe. The Gentleman Ghost appears in "Trials of the Demon!" where his origins are revealed in late 19th century London. Originally known as Gentleman Jim Craddock, he made a pact with the demon Astaroth to become immortal in return for stealing ten souls that Astaroth needed to enter the mortal realm (probably based on Jack the Ripper's murders). Craddock steals the tenth soul from Sherlock Holmes and is granted what seems to be his wish in spite of Batman's warning of what will come to pass. Etrigan and Batman defeat Craddock and Astaroth in battle, although Jim tried to frame Jason Blood. Holmes and the other nine victims have their lives restored as Craddock is sentenced to death, emerging from his grave later in his well-known ghostly form, the real meaning of Astaroth's promise that Craddock's spirit would never leave the earthly realm. Now blaming Batman for his condition, he vows to wait through the centuries to gain revenge on the Dark Knight. Gentleman Ghost appears again in "Death Race to Oblivion!"; he is kidnapped by Mongul with other superheroes and supervillains and forced to drive in a death race. He teamed-up with Black Manta in order to take Batman's Batmobile out of the game, but Batman managed to survive and Black Manta betrayed him, destroying his old black car, which resembles a hearse, and disqualifying Gentleman Ghost. He was also seen in the opening for "Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth" as part of the audience that attended the Joker's celebrity roast. In one of the scenes, he laughed so hard that his disfigured ghostly face was shown.
- Gentleman Ghost also appears as a villain in Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame voiced by Greg Ellis. Gentleman Ghost hires the Clock King to lure Batman to London, England, and later lures him and Hawkman into the underworld, in order to offer them to Astaroth as a sacrifice in exchange for his life back. When that fails, a vengeful Craddock attempts to bury them under, and later fights them in a graveyard. After being humiliated, Hawkman teaches Batman to have respect even for his enemies, and picks up the villain respectfully to take him to jail.