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Supervillain Origins: Gentleman Ghost

Supervillain Origins: Gentleman Ghost
VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script written by Craig Butler

Dapper, polite and sinister, he's been haunting DC superheroes for decades. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Gentleman Ghost. The Gentleman Ghost is a thief with a special interest in jewels and gives the impression of being nothing more than a spectral presence.


Special thanks to our users Joshua Van Deren, Donathan Rogers, Leo Lazar Jakšić, theenlightenedone, Jeff Ratheal and mkpro18 for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest

Script written by Craig Butler


Supervillain Origins: Gentleman Ghost



Dapper, polite and sinister, he's been haunting DC superheroes for decades. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of the Gentleman Ghost.

As with most comic book characters, there are often reimaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen primarily to follow the storyline which unfolded in 1947's Flash Comics #88 and 1969's The Atom and Hawkman #43 and was expanded upon in 2006's JSA #83-86 and 2015's Gotham by Midnight Annual #1.

The Gentleman Ghost is a thief with a special interest in jewels and gives the impression of being nothing more than a spectral presence. While there is no denying he has supernatural abilities, does he really from beyond the grave?

The Gentleman Ghost first appeared as a foe of the Golden Age Hawkman in a 1947 story. This original version of the villain simply went by the name ‘Ghost’ and no origin story was presented. Instead, Hawkman and Hawkgirl hunted down a villain who was busy committing robberies across Europe. Hawkman refused to believe in ghosts and felt there must be a logical explanation for his seemingly mystical tricks. Indeed, he did find plenty of evidence that the crook was a mere human, such as the use of radio receivers, microphones and projected camera images. But it was left up to the reader to decide if the villain was ectoplasmic or flesh and blood.

When the Ghost fought the Silver Age Hawkman in 1969, it was in a re-telling of this same Golden Age story. But while this encounter also left open the question of whether the villain was a real ghost, it did include an origin story that pointed toward a supernatural explanation. Duh duh duhhhh!

What we do learn is that that a notorious highwayman named Gentleman Jim Craddock terrorized England in the early 19th century. When he was hanged, he swore he would return to Earth and exact revenge. Return he did, but rather than through ghostly resurrection, apparently Craddock fell through a rift in time to the present day and resumed his career in crime. Hawkman, believed Craddock's use of technology proved he was no spook – but the question was still left open ended.

When Gentlemen Ghost’s story was again retold in 2006, there was no doubt that this ruthless criminal was indeed a spectral presence. In a detailed explanation of his origin, readers learned that Craddock was the illegitimate son of a nobleman who abandoned him and his mother to a life of poverty and want. While the boy had quite a temper that caused trouble for him and his mother, the lad did have a sincere desire to give his mother the riches he felt she deserved. Unfortunately, she died and Jim resented his poverty and disgrace even more. He soon became an accomplished pickpocket and a friend to a gyspy fortune teller. The gypsy read his palm and warned him he would die by hanging but that he would cheat death and continue his thieving ways from beyond the grave.

In time, Craddock learned of a history of distinguished, gentleman crooks who had worked the roadways for centuries. And soon after that, he met the ghosts of these crooks, who trained him in their ways. And so the infamous Gentleman Jim Craddock began his career in earnest.

Eventually, Craddock was caught and, as in his early origin, hanged for his crimes. He again swore that he would one day return. As he died, the words of the gypsy returned to him, and his spirit was transported to the present day – where he again took up his nefarious doings.

In 2015, Craddock's origin was revised again as part of DC's New 52 revamp. In this new version, Craddock was NOT actually a ghost – BUT he was also NO mere mortal, in case things weren’t confusing enough already. Many years ago, he had been a man who played fast and loose with women's hearts – until he made the mistake of doing so with a witch. She cursed him, rather then killing him. The curse came with newfound powers however, that allowed him to pass as a ghost. When the witch died, he continued to live – although appearing only during the fuller phases of the moon.

While a more obscure character, The Gentleman Ghosts' refined speech and dapper appearance make him an unusual and highly entertaining villain. Whether presented as an actual ghost or a mere trickster, he has always managed to lead the heroes he encounters on a merry chase.

Are you a fan of the dandy phantom known as the Gentleman Ghost? For more comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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