Batman is going to be the Spectre

That’s where my chips are, ladies and gentlemen.

After reading Infinite Crisis #1 in October 2005, I had the following thoughts:

The Spectre is out of control because he doesn’t have a human host. There’s one man who is who he is and means what he means because he’s only a man, and he’s a man who’s driven by vengeance and he’s a man rumored to be out of the picture at the end of Infinite Crisis.

Furthermore, I’ve been led to believe that nothing in the art of big DC moments happens on accident.

Think about that – the one-man war on criminals as the super-powered Spectre. We know (or at least I think we do) they’re working toward another human host for the Spectre, there are heavy rumors that Batman is going away, and when Tim Drake returned to our earth a year in the future, he saw Bruce Wayne’s grave. That made the Arkham theory unlikely, but if he’s the Spectre, he would have a grave.

Also, Batman’s been saying a lot lately about how he’s only a man, he doesn’t have powers, he has to be prepared for the powers going bad, etc. What a turn would that be if suddenly he had the Spectre’s role?

Obviously that didn’t happen, and Crispus Allen assumed the role.

But there was a rumor a while back about Batman dying and becoming a new New God as part of Final Crisis. Grant Morrison dismissed that rumor, but it was on the basis of intellectual property rights:

That didn’t happen because no one wanted to mess with either Jack Kirby’s or Gerry Conway’s intellectual property by saying Lightray was now inhabiting Firestorm or something like that. Quite rightly, no-one was willing to change existing DC characters into Kirby characters, because that would immediately confuse the ownership of the character and somebody would get cheated out of equity if that character was used in a movie or TV show or whatever. It’s very much a copyright issue.

It was something he wanted to do that was shut down by red tape. So obviously, one could solve the problem by simply elevating Bruce Wayne to god-like status through one of DC’s own characters.

I remembered there was a Spectre story in DC Universe #0 that I cared nothing about, since I care nothing about The Spectre. But re-reading it, the clues are clear that a new Spectre is coming. Actually, it’s clear enough that it’s probably inappropriate to call them “clues.”

As I enter into a world of immense primary energies, I witness the eternal spirit of vengeance itself … God’s wrath … The Spectre … Bound to a human soul, it will battle the forces of chaos for all eternity … but today that soul is blind … that soul believes the Spectre to be suited for petty vindication … it has been only judgment and execution … Detective Crispus Allen needs to understand there’s much more to his existence than twisted punishment … in times of crisis, he is capable of much more … no one looks up to see him in the sky — because he has yet to rise up into the sky … he has not found the good within what he’s become … so I pray that someone does … and I hope to god someone answers my prayers…

We’re going to get a new Spectre, and he’s going to be a hero.

The final clues are in what Morrison has said about what’s coming for Batman. He’s said it’s a fate worse than death, and he has also said the “RIP” is not what most people think it is and refers to the cover of Batman 677. My guess is that he’s referring to the way in which the Spectre tears through the skin of his host. Yes, it’s a a groaner, but this is also Grant Morrison.

It’s a win-win-win scenario. You get to make The Spectre interesting. You get an opportunity for fresh faces in the Batman books and stories you can’t tell with Bruce around. And, as Hal Jordan has shown, death and tenure as the Spectre absolutely leaves the door open for returning. DC isn’t going to want to keep Bruce Wayne dead forever, nor are they going to be able to keep refreshing his age. They’ve built themselves a perfect opportunity to naturally freshen up several 70 year old characters in a way that cheapens none of them.

Be sure to credit when you tell your friends.

UPDATE: Check out this post to get up to speed on where we are in January 2009.