The Gentleman Ghost

The Gentleman Ghost

Personal Data

Real Name: James Craddock

Residence: Mobile
Occupation: Undead Criminal and Agitator
First Appearance (Golden Age): Flash Comics #88 (October 1947) 
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): The Atom and Hawkman  #43 (October 1969)   

History

   The criminal known as the Ghost or later, the Gentleman Ghost, started his criminal career in the early 1800's as the highwayman known as "Gentleman Jim" Craddock. Craddock was a notorious thief and earn his moniker "The Gentleman" but his predilection for being courtly to ladies as he robbed them. His taste in women ultimately betrayed when a local maid turned informant to the British military tracking Craddock and he was captured at a local watering hole by a group of soldiers.  Promptly sentenced to death, Craddick hanged threatening vengeance through thievery of all the world (revealed in Atom and Hawkman #43).

    The first recorded episode of Craddock's activity on Earth-2 was in late 1947 when a series of brazen crimes were pulled off simultaneously in London, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Belgrade and Lisbon, seemingly by a criminal known as "the Ghost".  Alerted to the case, Hawkman and Hawkgirl fly to London and staked out the Avon Bank where the Ghost had broadcast as his next target.  When the Ghost's henchmen arrived, the Hawks were disguised as statuary and quickly assailed them.  Initially successful, there were ambushed by an unseen henchmen who absconded with his comrades and a kidnapped Hawkgirl as the unseen Ghost laughed maniacally.  Conducting an investigation, Hawkman found that the "invisible tire tracks" were easily visualized with UV light and that the Ghost's laughter was a wireless microphone.  Tracking the gang, Hawkman found them holed up in the Tower of London and burst in.  He made short work of the henchmen and free Shiera and the two discovered the headless "Ghost" to be a hat, costume and wire microphone.  Spotting him the Bell Tower, the Hawks gave hot pursuit and denounce the Ghost as a fraud.  He laughs at them and says the theatrical set-ups are simply self amusements. When the Ghost seemingly falls to his death when a plank he is on gives way,  the Hawks race to the ground to find no body, only a film projector showing a falling Ghost.  As the ponder what happened, the eerie voice of the Ghost promises to see them again (Flash Comics #88)

    Two months later, the Ghost appeared in America, tracking the Hawks to their home town. Murdering a teller who oversaw a jewel collection, he absconded with a large amount of gems leaving an empty satchel with no clues.  He later robbed an Egyptian exhibit at the Central Museum, making off with the "Pharaoh's Rubies", all to taunt the Hawks.  The two heroes decided to lay a trap for the Ghost, tricking him into stealing a fake diamond and triggering a hidden flash camera, proving that he is really not a Ghost.  The Ghost and his gang take the bait, arriving and shooting out the lights.  In the darkness, the Hawks make their move and snag a flash-photograph of the Ghost, who promptly vanishes in a puff of blinding light and smoke.  When the film is developed, the Ghost is seen but has not head, not even a shadow of one.  The Hawks are left perplexed - was he wearing a chemical to confound the film or he is really ....a ghost? (Flash Comics #90).

    Again two months later, the Ghost reappears, this time staging a string of robberies in Paris.  The Hawks wing their way there and meeting with local police, stage a trap for the Ghost at the Louvre, where he has targeted a series of expensive paintings. Once more hiding as statuary, the Hawks burst onto the scene as the Ghost and his thugs.  While Hawkgirl protected the Louvre's treasures, Hawkman pursued the Ghost.  Once again, the wily criminal tricks Hawkman into chasing an empty costume while he and his henchmen abscond with priceless paintings and the kidnapped Hawkgirl.   A note left at the scene betrays the Ghost's next move, murdering scores of patrons and Hawkgirl at the local opera.    Racing to the scene, Hawkman arrives just in time to seize a giant chandelier with Hawkgirl bound to it while the Ghost again makes his getaway.  Finally cornered, the Ghost sets off an explosion of light, apparently emolliating himself but in reality, escaping yet again (Flash Comics #92).

    Nearly a year later, Hawkman and Hawkgirl agree to appear as guests of honor on a new cruise ship line launched by a friend of the Halls.  Advertisement of their appearance drew the attention of the Ghost, spoiling for a re-match. When he reveals himself on the ship, Hawkman exclaims that he figured that ghost would not have drowned (suggesting an unrecorded case as no recorded version has him falling into water).  Once again, the Ghost tricks Hawkman with a decoy and captures Hawkgirl but this time, when Hawkman comes to the rescue, he captures them both. He ties the heroes to an anchor and drops them overboard so he can rob the ship undisturbed.  While his crew ruins the lifeboats, he fleeces the guests and prepares to sink the ship, removing all witnesses to his crimes.  Beneath the sea, the Hawks effect and escape and quickly return to battle the Ghost and his gang.  As the Ghost attempts to escape, he appears to get caught in the anchor chains and pulled overboard in the same trap he intended for the Hawks.  The heroes round up his gang and assume their foe has met his fate at last (Flash Comics #103). https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9f/10/34/9f1034b6220b392f142ffac38b4071ad.jpg

    The activities of the Ghost in the waning days of the "Golden Age" of heroes are unrevealed.   In the late 1960's, either by choice or by accident, the Ghost ended up on Earth-1 (revealed in Hawkman Special #1) .  Seeing another Hawkman, he recreated the crime wave across Europe as he in the 1940's, this time gaining the appellation "The Gentleman Ghost".  Again he is pursued by the Hawks, this time Thanagarian law officers Katar and Shayer Hol who arrive in London and intercept the Ghost at Trafalgar Square.  Like his Earth-2 counterpart before him, Hawkman is deceived by the Ghost and Hawkgirl is taken hostage, again to the Tower of London and this time on to Big Ben. With capture impending, the Ghost again falls to a supposed death but as before, a projector displaying a falling figure is found projecting on the giant clock. The Hawks are left convinced that the Ghost is no supernatural, but rather just a sneaky criminal (Atom and Hawkman #43).   

    Shortly thereafter, Craddock began another crime spree in Paris and in so doing, came across a blind fortune teller, Zita,  who becomes infatuated with the courtley criminal.  An odd romance ensues and Craddock begins a crime spree to try to find a combination of jewels which, combined with magic, will restore the fortune teller's sight.  Rampaging across Paris, the Ghost attracts the attention of Hawkman but eludes him at each step ultimately getting the right combination and Zita can again see.  She professes her love and gratitude for Craddock but the Ghost knows that an invisible criminal will never truly make her and he dejectedly walks away (Atom and the Hawkman #44). Further interactions between Hawkman and the Gentleman Ghost are poorly documented but the two were known to tangled as late as 1976 (Justice League of America #128).

    At some point in the late 1970's, the Gentleman Ghost made his way to Gotham City.  There, in the process of robbing the Riverside Museum of gems and antiquities, he encounters Batman.  The Caped Crusader makes short work of the Ghost's henchmen but the villain himself blinds the hero with a flare and he and crew escape to gales of laughter.  Later than evening in a local British pub, Craddock overhears Alfred Pennyworth, manservant to Bruce Wayne describing the merits of Wayne Manor and Craddock, homesick for London, sets his sights on owning it.  He promptly hypnotizes Alfred and then proceeds to rob the Wayne Penthouse in downtown Gotham for desired decor for the Manor.  He is intercepted by Batman but the hero gains the upper hand, he knocked unconscious by his hypnotized butler, allowing the Ghost and crew to escape. Once more conscious, Batman rapidly speed to the Manor to intercept the Ghost, who instructs Alfred to shoot the Dark Knight Detective.  Alfred snaps to his senses rather than pull the trigger, leaving Batman to chase the Ghost in his carriage.  When the carriage goes over a cliff, Batman finds only a hat in the wreckage and the echoes of ghostly laughter (Batman #310).

    A few months later, the Gentleman Ghost intercepts some grave robbers and forms a new gang, this time robbing industrial diamonds from a factory for unrevealed purposes.  The Ghost escapes but returns to the factory once more and capture Batman, who leaves to die in a vat of acid.  The Gotham Guardian escapes and intercepts the Ghost and his gang at a costume ball and makes short work of them.  He catches up to the fleeing Ghost but the villain passes right through his hands.  Batman finds a holographic projector nearby and convinces himself that the Ghost had tricked him but the villain appears again, taunting and laughing until he fades into the either (Batman #318-319).  These cases lead the Gentleman Ghost to develop a reputation as an adversary of Batman and he is included at gatherings of Batman's Rogues (Detective Comics #526).

    Eventually, the Ghost's attention turned back to Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  Infatuated with the beauty of Shayera Hol, the Ghost became a ally of sort of the Hawks during the "Shadow War" launched by fascist Thanagarian agents, warning Hawkman about otherworldly effects of recent Thanagarian deaths at Hawkman's hands and guiding he and Shayera in the netherworld as they resolved lingering effects of the actions of Fel Andar, prime agent on Earth for Thanagar (Hawkman Special #1). He also warned them against the impending arrival of Kasta, a Thanagarian Warrior (DC Comics Presents #95).  The impact of the Crisis on Infinite Earths on the Jim Craddock of Earth-2 are unknown.  

Multiversity

Prior Earth-1  = The Gentleman Ghost of Earth-1 was revealed to be the same character from Earth-2 (Hawkman Special #1).

Prior Earth-0  = This history of the Gentleman Ghost is somewhat fractured following the events of Crisis and several timeline altering events (such as Hawkworld histories, Zero Hour and Crisis itself) altered the history of Hawkman.  In one version, Craddock was a English highwayman in America, wrongly hanged for the rape of Cinnamon, an 18th century gunslinger.  In a more recent version, his history was largely restored to a version similar to his Earth-2 counterpart.  As in all his known incarnations, he has an entangled infatuation with Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman.  A key difference on this earth is that otherworldly nature of the Gentleman Ghost is largely accepted, whereas in other incarnations he went to some effort to distract his foes with  theatrics. 

  During the extended Shadow War on this Earth, Craddock continued to be an uneasy ally of the Hawks (Hawkman Vol. 2 #6,-10,#14-17), thought as history convulsed and Hawkman's back-story altered, he returned to his more criminal pursuits (Hawkman Vol. 4 #2, #10, #13-14).    His activity in the super-villain network is significantly more active on this world, where he is an active member of the Injustice Society (JSA Classified Vol. 1 #5-7) and the Secret Society of Super-Villains (Villains United #1) .  The final reported incident on this Earth involved The Gentleman Ghost engaging the entire JSA to fulfill a gypsy prophecy centered on his hanging.  He was ultimately defeated, decapitated and apparently destroyed by Wildcat and Stargirl though the permanency of this effect is unknown (JSA Vol.1 #82-87).

Earth-3  = Little is known of the background of James Craddock of Earth-3, other than he died in the service of Pinkerton Security Agency and was resurrected as an ardent foe of The Sky Tyrant as The Pinkerton Ghost (Hawkman Vol. 5 #18).

Earth-21 = The Gentleman Ghost is known to exist on Earth-21 but whether this is Craddock or another variation is unknown (The New Frontier LS).

Earth-22  = The history of the Gentleman Ghost of Earth-22 is thought to be largely similar to his Earth-2 counterpart and he was known to be active during the turn of  the millennium, frequently a Gotham bar known as a hangout for metahumans.  He activities on the ensuing factional structure that killed many of that world's metahumans is unknown. (Kingdom Come LS).

Powers/Skills

The Gentleman Ghost, being literally a ghost had powers one would expect of the dead - intangibility, invulnerable to mortal forms of injury, failure to fatigue and some forms of teleportation.  He has also has demonstrated abilities of conjuration and hypnosis, the limitations of which are unclear.  He has often confounded perception of his abilities by staging of various props to make pursuers question his powers, doing so as either a distraction or an amusement to himself.

Weaknesses/Limitations

Although generally immune to conventional injury, The Ghost could be harmed by magic.  He also seemed to be capable of being foiled by more physical means when taken by surprise but whether this was true or part of his theatrics is not clear.  He often went to great lengths to "die" in dramatic fashion, only to emerge laughing from the scene.  He had a weakness for women, which sometimes served him in good stead and other times, got him killed.

Appearances

Issue Comment Reprinted in
Flash #88 1st Appearance, vs Hawkman of Earth-2 Secret Origins Vol.1 #1
Flash #90 vs. Hawkman of Earth-2 Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains #7, Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Super-Villains HC
Flash #92 vs. Hawkman of Earth-2 Detective #439
Flash #103 vs. Hawkman of Earth-2
Atom & Hawkman #43-44 moves to Earth-1, vs. Hawkman of Earth-1 Showcase Presents Hawkman Vol. 2
Justice League of America #128 cameo, vs. Hawkman of Earth-1 Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 6, Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus #2
Batman #310 vs. Batman of Earth-1 Tales of the Batman: Len Wein (2014)
Batman #318-319 vs. Batman of Earth-1, (#318 is a cameo in the last panel) Tales of the Batman: Len Wein (2014)
Detective #526 vs. Batman of Earth-1 Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told (2005), Tales of the Batman:Gerry Conway Vol. 3, The Joker: The Bronze Age Omnibus
Hawkman Special #1 Allies himself with Hawkman of Earth-1 at the beginning of the Shadow War
DC Comics Presents #95 Cameo appearance Crisis on Infinite Earths Deluxe Companion Vol. 3

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