Demon Constantine

Demon ConstantineNo new character this week in Constantine, but I’ll come back to the very first episode, Non Est Asylum, to speak about one that I missed. When John Constantine goes up a roof to try and send back to Hell the electric demon Furcifer, the latter tries to battle him on a psychological level, wanting to make him lose concentration. He changes his shape many times, even “summoning” Astra Logue‘s soul (another demon in disguise) from Hell, but at a certain point he transforms into a demonic version of Constantine himself, thus shadowing his enemy’s future as a damned soul. Believe it or not that allucination, always portrayed by Matt Ryan, is the first live action portrayal of another existing character, who maybe will appear in flesh and bones (sort of) before the end of the season, depending on the story’s evolution. Let’s see together.

Everything began when John Constantine was visiting Hell, as always trying to find a way to free Astra Logue’s soul from the eternity of suffering he himself had unwillingly damned her to. During his dimensional trip, Constantine met Buer, a monstrous demon who was trying to revive the First of the Fallen, the first being ever created by God and also the very first one ever casted to Hell (even before Lucifer): confronting Buer, Constantine managed to make a deal with him, as the demon offered freedom for each and every child prisoner of Hell, in demonconstantinecomics1exchange of Constantine’s soul. The exorcist didn’t know what to do, as he was eager to free the innocent souls, but wasn’t exactly well disposed towards self-sacrifice: the answer came from an old friend, the Phantom Stranger, a mysterious omniscient being that suggested to him to create a body double and to trick Hell with it. Despite being visited by him in dream, Constantine decided to listen to the Stranger, and teamed up with notorious sorcerer Aleister Crowley: the two together built a flesh golem, and used special incantations to infuse into him the worst part of Constantine’s soul and character, a fragment of Crowley’s soul, and even the demon blood Constantine had received from Nergal. Brought to life, the golem did what he had been created for, and convinced Buer to release all the children from Hell; after that, following “his” part of the agreement, he committed suicide, ending up in Hell because of it. Even the golem had some trick up his sleeve, however: his soul had to receive punishment for his sins, but his soul belonged to Crowley, and he was the one to take it; the golem, on the other side, was free to wander Hell, with the demons uncapable of touching him since he didn’t have a soul to torture. Paradoxically, the golem knew freedom for the first time in the only plane in the universes in which everybody was bent to slavery and imprisonment.

Because of this curious situation of his, the golem grew in ranks, and soon become a true demon himself. He found himself quite comfortable in Hell, and started spreading his influence. Unexpectedly, he was at a certain point contacted by the real John Constantine, who was missing the mean part of his soul and asked Demon Constantine to become one again, but his double kindly rejected the offer, being quite satisfied with his autonomous existence. As demonconstantinecomics2both a taunt and a suggestion, Demon Constantine (sometimes called Demon John) told his creator to have sex with Ellie (Chantinelle, a seductive succubus) to regain some of his old demonic taint. Not much time passed, however, before Demon Constantine himself renewed the fusion offer to his human self: Aleister Crowley, in fact, managed to escape from Hell, leaving his creation in a state of pain and sorrow similar to the one of an actual damned soul. This time, it was Constantine’s turn to reject the offer, leaving his double in Hell’s torture…but in the end, he felt responsible for his fate (he had created him, and he had forced him to go to Hell), so he found another solution, not wanting to fuse with what had become a rotting demon: he simply tracked Aleister Crowley down, and sent him back to Hell, so that Demon Constantine’s soul was free from the torture, while Crowley faced once again an eternity of sufferings. Demon Constantine was free to roam his favourite plane of existence again…until he got a little bit homesick, and started envying the actual Constantine for his life on Earth. He briefly allied himself with the sorcerer Ghant to try and take possession of body and soul of his human counterpart, but his plans were unexpectedly thwarted by the First of the Fallen himself. This, however, was only Demon Constantine’s first attempt to claim his place under the sun, and other would surely have followed…

At the beginning, Demon Constantine was just a golem animated by John’s worst characteristics, such as his alcoholism, his egocentricity, most of his base urges: as such, he thought and acted as John at his worst, not exactly evil, but pretty mean nevertheless. Becoming a demon, he developed his own personality and a certain autonomy from his creator: he still loves who Constantine loves and hates those he hates, but he’s capable of thinking by himself, and developed a cold determination that brings him to abandon himself to a shocking brutality anytime he believes somebody is preventing him from achieving his goal. As both a demon and Constantine’s magical clone, Demon Constantine has a vast knowledge of magic, possesses demonic physical attributes (strength, speed etc.), is able to teleport wherever he wants (even outside Hell, for a very limited period of time), to summon hellfire and, as long as he’s in Hell, to make anything he can think of appear out of thin air. Demon Constantine represents all the shadows and the evil in John’s soul: as we all know, past sins always come back knocking at your door…

Roman Sionis (Black Mask)

blackmaskfilmWaiting for the second half of Gotham‘s first season, let’s come back to an episode I didn’t fully speak about (not exactly a mistake, the character’s name was different, and I wanted to see if there was a son somewhere with the original one). In The Mask, detectives Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock investigate on the murder of an employee of Sionis Investments, an important company which also organizes fight clubs between the employees (quite a drastic career advancement when you kill your colleague). The mind behind all this is company’s boss Richard Sionis, portrayed by Todd Stashwick, who by the end of the episode personally challenges Gordon holding a katana and wearing a pretty familiar mask. In the comics, there is no Richard Sionis, but there’s a pretty famous Roman Sionis, who happens to wear a similar mask. Let’s see together who this honest businessman is.

Son of rich socialite Charles Sionis, Roman was born as a privilged child in Gotham City, even if his parents cared more about their social status than about their son (his mother refused to sue the doctor that had baby Roman fall on his head immediately after birth, claiming she didn’t want to ruin Sionis’ name with a trivial thing like a lawsuit). Roman grew up hating his status, since everyone around him donned “masks” of courtesy and respect towards people they privately despised, and forcing him to do the same. With a growing instability, Roman blackmaskcomics1eventually got employed in his father’s company, Janus Cosmetics, starting from the very bottom and achieving in a short time the position of vice president without any help; during his work at Janus, Roman fell in love with Circe, one of the company models, and the two decided to get married. Roman’s parents, however, forbade their son to marry such a low-class woman, and for the first time in his life Roman managed to don the “mask” his parents liked so much, and pretended to understand and respect their decision; a few days after, Charles Sionis and his wife died in a fire. Roman became the new president of Janus, but his obsessions with masks had become pathological: he had a room full of rare and precious masks from all over the world, and had invested all the company’s money into a new line of cosmetics, so bright-colored and heavy that it was, in fact, a line of liquid masks. The new line failed, and to make amend Roman launched on the market a new kind of water-proof make-up without testing it, eager to earn back the lost money: unfortunately, the untested cosmetics proved to be highly toxic, and it disfigured hundreds of people. Sionis lost everything: Circe left him, and the company faced bankruptcy; only the intervention of Wayne Enterprises saved Janus Cosmetics, but Roman was forced to stay just as a figurehead leader, while Wayne Enterprises formed a new board of directors. Alone and humiliated, Roman went to the cemetery, wanting to blame his parents for what had happened to him: when a lightning bolt struck exactly his parents’ crypt, Roman took it as a sign, and decided he would have been reborn from that night.

Roman Sionis disappeared for a while, and during this time he carved a piece of his father’s casket into a dreadful mask; he then stole from his company thousands of dollars in cash, his mask collections, and the remaining samples of the toxic cosmetics. When he came back on the scene, he presented himself as Gotham’s new crimelord, Black Mask, always hiding his face but finally able to truly express himself. Black Mask started hiring from the city’s underworld, and in a few time he gathered a legion of followers, a real cult intrigued by the promise to receive a new, blackmaskcomics2stronger identity: all Black Mask’s men wore masks (and suffered major personality disorders), and called themselved the False Face Society. From his headquarter (his parents’ crypt), Black Mask invaded Gotham with a new, massive wave of criminality, becoming GCPD‘s number one wanted. While building his criminal empire, Sionis also exacted revenge from the ones he considered to be responsible of his public failure: along with two trusted men, Thespis and Tupeng, he murdered three members of Janus Cosmetics’ new board, melting their face with his defected cosmetics and leaving a mask to cover them. He then disfigured Circe as well, then giving her a mannequin-like mask and offering her to come back to his side…or to face death instead; left with no choice, Circe joined him. Sionis’ next target was Bruce Wayne himself, who he wanted to kill during his masquerade ball in Wayne Manor. He crashed into the party with Circe, and managed to isolate Wayne from the others, but the billionaire unexpectedly was able to disarm him: escaping from the Manor, Black Mask was followed by Robin, and soon enough also Batman arrived to his hideout. As the Dynamic Duo fought the False Face Society, Black Mask ran to his old house, believing that it was due to Roman Sionis’ weakness that he had failed to kill Bruce Wayne: wanting to erase any trace of his former identity, Black Mask set fire to his room, and came back just to discover Batman and Robin had already defeated all his followers. Frustrated, he tried to commit suicide by coming back in the burning house, but Batman stopped him with a batarang…unfortunately, Black Mask fell all the same on a pile of burning toys, hitting them with his face. He survived the accident and was sent to Arkham Asylum, but it soon became clear that the fire had fused his mask to his face: finally, Black Mask had obtained what he wanted, and he had succesfully erased all traces of Roman Sionis’ existence.

Roman Sionis is a deeply disturbed man, whose early life in a hypocrite and false-faced family convinced him that everyone in the world wears a mask, hiding his true identity. Finally letting decades of repressed rage and violence out, Sionis has become a sadistic and brutal man, an insane criminal with no empathy nor compassion, obsessed with masks and craving power and social recognition. As Black Mask, he’s a master of disguise, an extremely proficient actor able to hide in plain sight even from Batman’s detective skills; he’s also a nearly infallible marskman and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, able to hold his own against Gotham’s defenders. His most genuine and developed talent, however, is torture, both physical and psychological: Black Mask is an artist in causing pain in every conceivable form, and he’s more than willing to employ this ability of his. Where weak Roman Sionis failed, strong Black Mask can succeed: this is a lesson Gotham City will soon learn.

Leslie Maurin Thompkins

Leslie ThompkinsGotham takes a break for the winter, but we already have a trailer for what’s coming in the second half of the first season…and we also get a glimpse at one of the future major additions to the cast. Poor Jim Gordon has been demoted and now serves as a security guard for lunatics in Arkham Asylum, and that’s where we’ll find him; luckily enough, he’s not alone to fight the good fight, and he meets a doctor who reportedly will become his new love interest, after Barbara Kean dumped him: she’s Leslie Thompkins, portrayed by Morena Baccarin. In the show, she suffers some major changes from her original appearance, as she’ll be portrayed as Hispanic instead of Caucasian, and most of all she’s going to be definitely younger than we’re used to see her (but that’s almost consistent with the story’s time setting). Waiting to see new love stories be born in Gotham, let’s see who Leslie is in the comics.

Born and raised in Gotham City, Leslie Thompkins became a doctor mostly because of career issues, without a specific “call” to answer to. Everything changed the moment she met another young doctor, Thomas Wayne, who on the opposite believed that through his profession as well he could make a difference in a city ridden by crime and corruption. Leslie’s friendship with Thomas made her change her perspective over what she was doing, and she adopted Wayne’s vision making it her own, finally understanding what being a healer meant. When Thomas and his lesliethompkinscomics1wife Martha got killed in Park Row, Leslie immediately rushed on the scene, only to find her friend’s son Bruce alone and scared: she stayed with the boy much of the night, until his butler (and later legal tutor) Alfred Pennyworth arrived to take him home; from that moment, she started paying many visits to the boy, trying to pass Thomas’ spirit to him. She also became good friends with Alfred, and the two more than once became romantically bonded. She also decided to pay Thomas’ memory the respect he truly deserved, and she opened in Park Row (known after the murders as Crime Alley) a free clinic in which she offered her services to anyone who needed them, even if they were renowned criminals, smugglers, drug-addicts or even vicious killers, believing that through compassion and empathy even a crooked city like Gotham could, with time, become something else. She however became more and more worried for Bruce Wayne, since the boy was becoming increasingly antisocial, following an evolution of grief that would have led him to travel the world to train and to come back as the city’s vigilante, Batman. Leslie learnt that the man behind Batman’s mask was Bruce when she found herself consoling, the same way she had done with little Bruce, a young girl who had lost her boyfriend, the supervillain Wraith, accidentally killed in a fight with Batman: needless to say, it was a shock to her.

Leslie Thompkins believed it was her fault if Bruce had become a violent vigilante, sure that she hadn’t been able to transmit to him his father’s true ideals of mercy and pacifism. Her doubts about Bruce’s way of “making things better” only increased when he started to train teenagers to be his sidekicks first, and heroes on their own after, putting their lives in danger and increasing the city’s level of violence. On her side, Leslie always stayed faithful to lesliethompkinscomics2her conduct, helping everybody asking for it, and never allowing violence of any form in her clinic, preventing even the police from arresting criminals as long as they stayed with her. When Gotham City was struck by a major earthquake, the US Government exploited the occasion to cut all the bridges and accesses to the city and transforming it into a No Man’s Land: Leslie’s one became the only active clinic in town, and with the major criminals of Gotham battling one another to conquer the respective territories she was almost overwhelmed by the number of patients. Her way of doing things, however, was respected also by the most vicious killers of the city, and when Mr. Zsasz was brought in to be cured from the wounds he had suffered in a battle with Killer Croc, the latter didn’t pursue his enemy, repressing his urge to kill to stick to Thompkins’ rules. Leslie crossed the line when Batman brought to her Spoiler, one of his protegees, a young girl named Stephanie Brown who had been seriously injured by Black Mask: sick and tired of all the violence caused by Batman, she decided not to cure her, letting her die, hoping that the Dark Knight would have understood what he was doing and stopped it at the death of yet another teenager (in a retcon, it seems she only faked the girl’s death, curing her nevertheless and bringing her along in her self-imposed exile). Stephanie died, and Thompkins left Gotham, going to Africa over her shame and sense of guilt. Batman, who blamed himself for Stephanie’s death believing he didn’t act soon enough, reached his former mentor and forced her to confess, blaming her for killing a girl following the necessity of making a statement. He also told her she was now just another killer for him, and that if she ever came back to the US he would have had her arrested. This was the end of Thompkins’ dream of a violence-free Gotham…maybe.

Leslie Thompkins is an idealist and a pacifist, a woman who firmly believes in the possibility of a world free from any form of violence, in which mercy and compassion are the basis of any human relation. She is a skilled doctor, truly dedicated to every one of her patients, but she’s also a healer intended in a more extensive meaning, never forgetting to take care of heart, soul and mind as well as of the body. Accepting no compromise to her “no violence” rule, Leslie managed to create the one and only free clinic in Gotham City, a place that also the worst lunatics Gotham offers respect as some kind of a sanctuary. Strong-willed and determined, Leslie Thompkins will stop in front of nothing to fight for what she believes to be a better world.

Copperhead

CopperheadAnd Gotham reached its mid-season finale, leaving quite a funny door open for the second half of the season. In LoveCraft we also meet another villainess who’s inspired by a comics’ character. A mysterious instigator, in fact, hires a professional killer to hunt down and murder Selina Kyle, the street girl who witnessed the Waynes‘ homicide who’s now hiding in Wayne Manor. As a result, both Selina and Bruce Wayne end up on the run, followed by a deadly assassin: the hitman (hitwoman) in question is Larissa Diaz, codename Copperhead, portrayed by Lesley-Ann Brandt. In the show, she proves to be quite a skilled hand-to-hand fighter, overwhelming both Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, and she also puts Gordon in an unpleasant situation by killing Dick Lovecraft with his gun: quite a pest. The character seems to resemble her videogame version in Batman: Arkham Origins, and she suffered some major changes from the comics: not only her costume is (luckily) different, but she changed gender as well, as Copperhead is not a “she” at all. Let’s see together.

Little or nothing is known about Copperhead’s early life, not even his real name (on the Justice League files he only appears as “John Doe“). A skilled escapologist and a master contortionist, Copperhead decided to use his abilities to become rich in the easiest and fastest way, and turned himself to crime. He targeted Gotham City first, realizing that the corrupted metropolis gave him a lot of occasions to take whatever he wanted: upon learning that an important (and rich) dignitary was visiting Gotham, Copperhead disguised himself as an old man and approached copperheadcomics1his victim, stealing a precious tiara from him. Needless to say, the city’s protector Batman intervened, but the thief’s skills proved to be too much even for him, and he managed to escape with his booty. Adopting a snake-themed costume which increased his contortionist’s skills, Copperhead attempted yet another heist, and targeted the precious Golden Casque of Montezuma: this proved to be a trap set for him by Batman, who had teamed up with Batgirl and even Wonder Woman for the occasion…but Copperhead managed to escape once again, despite the three heroes pursuing him. Even more, after the theft he followed Wonder Woman to Gotham Park and confronted her directly: using his athletic skills only, he managed to subdue the Amazon and to kidnap her, bringing her to his lair. Batman and Batgirl, however, eventually found him, freed Wonder Woman, and arrested him. Copperhead was sent to jail for the first time…luckily enough, he was a master escapologist, and no prison could hold him for long.

Copperhead came back on the scene with a new, improved costume: this time he had also a prehensile tail he could use to help him in his acrobatics or to suffocate his enemies to death, like a real copperhead snake. Copperhead was hired by Manhunter in his Secret Society of Super-Villains, but he ended up being arrested again when Gorilla Grodd betrayed him during a mission. He was freed by Lex Luthor, who then became the new leader of the Society: Copperhead remained in the team even when Luthor left, but he quit the moment he realised the new leader, Funky Flashman, was using all the money of the team for his personal benefit. Abandoning Grodd and copperheadcomics2Star Sapphire during a mission, Copperhead left the Society, never to be part of it again. During this period, he suffered some major changes in personality, and abandoned his career as a thief as well: realising there were easier ways to get rich, and trusting his new costume’s potentialities, Copperhead became an assassin for hire, and improved his costume by poisoning his “fangs”. The first contract he accepted had him go to Paris to kill the French Minister of Finance, but also the Elongated Man was in Paris at the time, and he prevented Copperhead from accomplishing his mission. Warp helped Copperhead escape, and together they teamed up with an Italian criminal, Il Calamari, who they attacked the Pan-European Economic Conference with. The three villains overpowered Elongated Man, but the hero as well had some back-up: the Justice League Europe sent to him an old friend, the third Flash, who helped him defeat the three assassins. Once again, Copperhead evaded capture, and came back to the United States waiting for another contract, knowing that, despite his failure, his talents were pretty required by many people…

Copperhead is an enigmatic man, who never revealed much of himself. Originally, he was just a greedy man who wanted to make money fast, and who ended up being a killer due to quite a lack of morality or empathy. He suffered another major change when he sold his soul to the demon Neron to obtain more power: from that moment, Copperhead is more and more similar to the snake he looks like, and he’s reduced to a brutal and feral predator, a cannibalistic serial killer who acts on pure instinct. A superb athlete, escapologist and contorsionist, Copperhead derives most of his “superhuman powers” from his costume: he has control over a prehensile tail, which he mostly uses to suffocate his enemies, and he possesses sharp fangs and claws, which he has bathed in powerful poison. Deadly and determined, Copperhead won’t stop until his designated prey is dead.

Farooq (Blackout)

FarooqIn yesterday night’s episode of The Flash we met yet another supervillain, and quite a pesky one. At the beginning of Power Outage, The Flash tries to battle a man named Farooq, who after the incident possesses the power to manipulate electricity. Once again, our hero is a little bit too rushy, and Farooq hits him with a massive shock wave that drains from him all his body’s electricity, resulting in a near-death experience and a total loss of super speed. Of course, Farooq then attacks S.T.A.R. Labs in order to claim the life of Dr. Harrison Wells. who he blames for his present (and ugly) condition…and The Flash cannot protect his friends without his powers (luckily, four genius brains are more than enough to dispose of the electrical villain). The authors made a curious choice with this one, and not only because he’s a very young character (first appeared in 2011), but especially because he only appeared in an alternate reality that has been erased from existence a little while after it was introduced. Let’s see together.

When Barry Allen tried to travel back in time to prevent his nemesis Professor Zoom to kill his mother Nora, framing his father Henry in the process, something unexpected happened, and history changed radically, and not for the best. Nora wasn’t killed and Henry didn’t go to jail, but Barry didn’t become the Flash either, and the Justice League of America itself never happened. In this world, the forces of Atlantis, led by Emperor Aquaman, and blackoutcomics1the Amazons from New Themyscira, led by Wonder Woman, entered a massive war against each other for world’s domination, destroying Europe in the process and threatening to do the same with the United States of America. Farooq was born in this reality, possibly somewhere in the US, from an Arab family. He was born a metahuman, and he developed the power to harness and manipulate electricity, some sort of living battery with unlimited potential. Despite his powers, Farooq tried to live a life as normal as he could, but his ever-evolving abilities attracted some unwanted attentions from powerful men: one of this was Michael Desai, a powerful metahuman himself and a criminal mastermind known as The Outsider. The Outsider wanted to kidnap Farooq and to use him as a source of electricity to grant his homecountry, India, an inexhaustible power. Farooq wasn’t so happy at the perspective, obviously, and The Outsider became his first and worst enemy, a determined and unstoppable nemesis who would have done everything in his power to obtain what he wanted.

The Outsider’s hunt for Farooq became quite tragic, as the villain ended up killing the boy’s girlfriend during an attempt to abduct him. In order to protect his family and friends, Farooq was forced to leave his home and school, and started traveling the country as a lonely adventurer, using his powers to help other people: with just a balaclava to cover his face, he became a superhero known as Blackout. When the war between Atlantis and New Themyscira escalated, killing billions and threatening the natural balance of the planet itself, America‘s greatest superhero, Cyborg, decided to try an extreme measure and to unite the world’s greatest superheroes in a single team, in the blackoutcomics2effort of bringing down both Emperor Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Blackout was among the ones who had been summoned by Cyborg, and he was quite happy to be part of the team…until he found out that The Outsider, whose business had been damaged by the war as well, was inteded to be part of it. Despite fighting for a greater good, Farooq wasn’t comfortable in working back to back with the man who had ruined his life; when the team altogether went to Gotham City to try and recruit Batman (in this reality, it was Thomas Wayne who donned the mantle of the Dark Knight), the dark hero mocked the idea, pointing out the inner enmities and the lack of cohesion: much to Cyborg’s disappointment, the team disbanded even before the first mission, with all the heroes convinced by Batman to give up the idea. When the war finally arrived to the US, a trio composed of Cyborg, original timeline Flash (who was the only one remembergin how the world was supposed to be) and Batman recruited once again all the heroes, and led them to war against the two battling armies. Finally, Blackout had the chance to truly make the difference…even if it meant cooperating with his worst enemy.

Farooq is a boy who has lost much, and who derives his strength of character by the rage he feels for his losses. As Blackout, he’s one of Earth‘s most powerful metahumans, and actually the most powerful source of electricity on the entire planet: he can produce, harness and manipulate a seemingly unlimited amount of electricity, which he can use in a variety of ways. Despite all he’s endured in the past, other sacrifices will be needed, as future has something bigger in store for Blackout.

Cedella

CedellaThere’s still one character who appeared in the last episode of Constantine…well, sort of. She didn’t really appear in flesh and bones, at least not in flesh. In Danse Vaudou, when Papa Midnite is told by John Constantine that his spells are having catastrophical side-effects, the voodoo sorcerer goes to his informer and asks her if his rival is telling the truth or not: the informer in question is Cedella, or better her skull. We learn from a following dialogue between the two mages that Midnite sent the soul of his sister to Hell, and uses her as a spy to know what’s happening on the other side that can interest him, something that Constantine rubs in his face. Constantine himself tries to know something from Cedella about the “Rising Darkness“, but she only tells him that it’s too late to stop anything is coming. Pretty useful. Anyway, let’s see together who the skull (and everything else) is in the comics.

For many years, we believed that Cedella (sometimes spelled Cedilla) was actually Papa Midnite’s biological sister, but more recently we learnt that this was just one of the many lies from the voodoo master. She was born in the early XIX Century in Jamaica, where she lived with her brother Linton. Life went on pretty normally for the two of them, until a charismatic stranger arrived on the island: it was Papa Midnite, a powerful voodoo sorcerer, traveling from place to place looking for more power. Midnite started practicing his dark arts on the island as well, and in no cedellacomics1time he collected quite a number of followers: among these, there was Linton. Cedella was fascinated by Midnite as well, and following her brother she got close to the sorcerer. What either she or her brother didn’t know was that Papa Midnite had sent his sister Luna to Hell to provide informations for him, allowing him to raise his powers on the material world, but that her soul eventually had broken free and moved on: now, Midnite needed another soul to be sacrificed to his ambition and lust for power. While in Jamaica, he selected a group of girls he named his “sisters“, and Cedella was honored to be one of them: Papa’s sisters competed one with the other to obtain their “brother”‘s attentions, but Cedella was the favorite…and this was her undoing. In the midst of a complex and obscure ritual, Midnite convinced Linton to kill Cedella and to decapitate her body; he then polished her skull until only the bone was left, and bonded her soul to it. At the end, he forced Cedella’s soul to Hell, making her his slave: as long as he would have owned her skull, Cedella would have been forced to stay in Hell and to provide Papa with the informations he required. So much for the favorite sister.

Years passed, and Cedella was forced to suffer atrocious agonies to comply to Papa Midnite’s orders. She gave him all the intel she could from Hell, but she had to collect the informations first, and she did this by giving herself to demons, becoming the bed mate of the universe’s most disgusting, brutal and repulsive beings. Cedella endured any kind of pain, torture and humiliation, forced by Papa’s powerful spell to obey him and to accomplish his requests. She believed she would have spent the entire eternity in Hell (although being an innocent soul), until Papa Midnite cedellacomics2himself made a mistake he would have harshly regretted. During one of his usual scuffles with Constantine, Papa sent him to Hell, believing he had gotten rid of his rival once and for all: unfortunately for him, while wandering in Hell for a way out Constantine met Cedella, whose spirit was suffering and tired for the decades of slavery. Fully understanding how important the girl’s soul was to his enemy, Constantine offered her his help to be freed: she had learnt some voodoo herself during her life (and some new tricks in Hell as well), and the two’s magic proved to be stronger than Papa Midnite’s. The voodoo sorcerer immediately realised the connection was broken, and smashed the skull to protect himself, but it was too late: Cedella had already broken free from Hell, and before going to Heaven she wanted to give her long-time master a parting gift. Her spirit possessed Papa Midnite and made him climb to the top of the Empire State Building; there, she forced him to jump. Of course, Papa was immortal, and he would have come back soon enough, but for Cedella it was quite a satisfaction to see her torturer and captor squashed all over New York City.

Cedella started off as a perfectly normal girl, intruged as everybody else by Papa Midnite and victim to his charisma, but she ended up being something else entirely. As a tortured and imprisoned spirit, she is now a vengeful woman who has lost all hopes of salvation, and who grudgingly complies her master’s overpowering orders. She is a voodoo practicer herself, and as a spirit her powers are far stronger than when she was alive. The right occasion may give her the chance to unload decades and decades of suffering and hate on the one who forced her to an eternity of torture for his personal profit…

James Brendan Corrigan (The Spectre)

Jim CorriganAnother good episode for Constantine this week, and another couple of characters to speak about. The first one, obviously, is one of the new recurring allies of our truly. When John Constantine arrives in New Orleans to investigate murder cases involving a ghost, he’s immediately confronted by Jim Corrigan, portrayed by Emmett Scanlan, a local police detective who witnessed the homicide, but couldn’t prevent it since the killer was apparently bulletproof… After a bit of a clash between the two men (Corrigan even arrests Constantine when a second ghost shows up…), Jim ends up opening his mind and allying with him to stop the invasion from the otherworld…we even have a glimpse of his greenish (and deadish…) future the moment Zed touches him and has a vision. This marks his first live action appearance, if we do not count the painting featuring him as a member of the Justice Society of America seen in Smallville. Anyway, don’t worry too much for him: he’ll die, no doubt…but Jim Corrigan never stays dead too long. Let’s see together.

We can’t say that Jim’s childhood was a happy one: he was born James Brendan Corrigan, son of Evangelist Reverend Jebediah Corrigan, a man who had been taught to fear God‘s wrath by his mother through beatings, and who did the same with his children, Jim and Louisa. Jebediah believed that Jim would have learnt the difference between good and evil, between Heaven and Hell, only understanding the severity of God’s justice, and thespectrecomics1he was just as severe and violent in delivering punishment as he believed God was. The only friend Jim had was Rafe, son of the housekeeper Rose. Unfortunately, Jebediah and Rose had an affair (so much for absolute morality…), and when the Reverend’s wife found it out, Rose and Rafe were forced to leave. Rafe had a fight with Jim upon leaving, blaming him for everything, and before the two of them could make it up Rose and her son were caught in a storm, and Rafe died. His only friend’s departure and death were the last drop Jim needed to finally rebel to his father: rejecting everything he had been taught up to that moment, and wanting to hurt Jebediah by offending what he held most dear, Jim Corrigan refused God himself and left home, never to return. The young man moved to New York City, where he became a police detective known for never showing pity or mercy towards the ones he arrested (looks like old Jebediah’s teachings remained somewhere in the boy’s psiche…). His enmity towards criminality created a lot of enemies for him in a corrupted city: a local boss named “Gat” Benson kidnapped both him and his fiancée, Clarice Winston, then had Jim buried alive in cement inside a barrel, later sent to the bottom of the river. Jim Corrigan had been murdered.

Corrigan’s spirit found himself in a void created by his own rage and desire of revenge: in that moment, he heard a Voice who offered to him the possibility of coming back and repair the wrongs, using amazing powers to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. Corrigan accepted, and was bonded to the spirit of the Divine Wrath, becoming the host of an eternal entity with the mission of delivering the severe justice Jim’s father always spoke about. Corrigan came back to life as The Spectre, and killed Benson by ripping off his skin, reducing him to a bloody skeleton; he then delivered to the police Benson’s men, thus saving Clarice. He then proceeded to hunt down and kill Rhami, a “honest businessman” who Corrigan had been investigating on, and who was the one who had hired Benson to kill thespectrecomics2him. Jim found out that he was able to switch back to human appearance, and he came back to NYPD as a physical “ghost”, continuing his job. Corrigan started acting as a superhero (a mystery man, as they were called in the 1930s), keeping his true identity secret and fighting crimes as both a police detective and a supernatural agent for God. Other heroes started popping out, and The Spectre became part of the All-Star Squadron, which during the war prevented Adolf Hitler‘s attack on both USA and England, and most of all he was among the founders of the Justice Society of America, world’s first super team. The Spectre became trapped for some years in the body of Jim Corrigan when one of his supernatural enemies, the demonic Azmodus, decided to bond to a human host the same way The Spectre had: as a result, the worlds’ balance was compromised, and as long as both the hosts lived none of the spirits were allowed to roam free (and, since Corrigan was dead already, it had to bee Azmodus’). Finally, after forty years, Azmodus’ host died, and Jim Corrigan became able to turn into The Spectre once again. In the new, modern world, tons of superheroes had been born, but together with them there was an infinite army of supervillains and criminals: it was time for God’s justice to be delivered once again.

Jim Corrigan is a divided man, a bright and caring friend and lover on a side, a dark and merciless law-abiding protector on the other, a split soul resulting from his father’s abusive teachings on good and evil. As The Spectre, he’s one of the most powerful beings in the universe, able to bend reality to his own will: he’s able to control any kind of magic, to fly, to become invisible and to alter his size, to phase through solid objects and to read people’s mind, to teleport and to possess inanimate objects, to project one’s fear directly from his heart to his mind and to increase at will his strength and speed; he’s also immortal and virtually invulnerable, a spirit moved by the lust for justice, the harsher the better. Unfortunately, Corrigan not always agrees with Aztar (the Spirit of Vengeance inhabiting his body), and the two often clash about judgements and punishments: thanks to Jim, however, Aztar has assumed more of a human perspective over sin, and became softer; Corrigan, on his side, has become even more resolute in the pursuing of his mission…