Note: This page is for Jennifer Knight, the fourth and current Phantom Lady after the New 52 reboot of the DC Universe.
For the original Phantom Lady (active from 1941-1989), see: Sandra Knight.
For the second Phantom Lady (active from 1989-2005), see: Dee Tyler.
For the third Phantom Lady (active from 2006-2011), see: Stormy Knight.
When Jennifer Knight was a young girl, she witnessed her parents being murdered by crime lord Robert Bender and his men on Christmas Eve. They then burned down her house, and she barely escaped with her life. Jennifer's father was a reporter for the Daily Planet who had been working on a report that would have exposed and ruined the Bloody Bender crime family. The Bloody Benders used their connections and influence to completely clear themselves of the murders, but Jennifer swore she would one day bring them to justice. As Jennifer reached adulthood, she followed in the footsteps of her father and became a reporter. Once she was hired at the Daily Planet to report on crime in Metropolis, she decided it was time to finish the job her father started and take down the Bloody Benders, now led by Robert Bender's ruthless son Cyrus. This precipitated a series of events that led Jennifer to assume the mantle of a classic superheroine in her quest to avenge her parents.
After the DC Universe was rebooted by the New 52 event in 2011, it was decided that many characters, Phantom Lady included, should be replaced by entirely new versions. In 2012, Jennifer Knight was created to be the next Phantom Lady by writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray and artist Cat Staggs.
In tone with the New 52 relaunch, Jennifer Knight was conceived as a darker and more realistic take on Phantom Lady, as well as a less sexualized one (though certain DC heroines like Starfire have actually become more sexualized since being revamped). Over the decades Phantom Lady's skimpy costumes have become her trademark, but Jennifer's new yellow-and-purple costume was deliberately designed to be different. Her arms, legs, and midriff were almost entirely covered, and even the amount of cleavage she revealed was modest compared to her predecessors. Her origin was given Batman-like undertones, with the murder of her parents becoming her primary motivation for taking a costumed identity. To introduce the new Phantom Lady, Jennifer was given her own 4-part miniseries, marking the first time the character has ever had her own title with DC.
Though she shares the same last name with two previous Phantom Ladies (Sandra Knight and Stormy Knight), there is no apparent family connection between Jennifer and the other two women. Jennifer replaced Stormy, the third Phantom Lady, whose character is assumed to be on indefinite hiatus following the New 52 relaunch.
Major Story Arcs
War with the Bloody Benders
When crime lord Cyrus Bender learned that reporter Jennifer Knight was writing an exposé on him and his criminal family, he attempted to intimidate her into abandoning the effort. Instead, Jennifer escalated the conflict by stealing Cyrus's cell phone. Taking the phone to her inventor friend Dane Maxwell, she begged him to hack it and find proof that Cyrus killed his own father, Robert Bender.
But Cyrus and his men quickly tracked down both Dane and Jennifer. Cyrus decided to kill Dane and make it look like an accident, so he locked the inventor inside one of his own experimental machines and turned it on full power. Cyrus then kidnapped Jennifer and took her back to his private club, which also served as the Bloody Benders base of operations. He had Jennifer bound and suspended upside-down by her ankles in the basement, where he talked about all the different ways he might kill her before leaving her to hang in the dark. Hours passed, and Jennifer grew convinced she was going to die, leaving her parents and Dane unavenged.
But it was revealed that Dane had not been killed by his experimental machine; instead it shrank him down to the point of being just 8 inches tall, but with the same strength he had at full size. In his miniaturized state he was able to infiltrate the Benders club undetected, and located Jennifer just in time to rescue her. After they returned to his laboratory, Dane armed Jennifer with more of his inventions ("black light gloves" and related technology) so that she could effectively battle the Bender crime family.
Sobered by her narrow escape from death, Jennifer realized that she must change her approach and disguise her identity before going after the Bloody Benders again. Once she mastered the darkness powers that Dane's gloves provided her, she donned a distinctive costume and decided to call herself Phantom Lady. She gave the miniaturized Dane a code name as well, calling him Doll Man.
Over the next few months, Jennifer, under the guise of Phantom Lady, used her new powers to systematically take down Cyrus's criminal businesses one by one. Everything seemed to be going her way until Cyrus hired the female super-villain Funerella to destroy Phantom Lady. After a pitched battle Jennifer was able to defeat Funerella, but not before Cyrus learned who Phantom Lady really was. Cyrus then sent an armed strike force to eliminate Jennifer permanently.
In the ensuing struggle, Phantom Lady, with help from Doll Man and new allies Uncle Sam and Lucien Gates, defeated Cyrus and his minions. She pulled Cyrus into the Shadow Zone (described in her powers, below) and left him there long enough for his mind to snap, turning him into a vegetable. With her parents finally avenged, Phantom Lady agreed to join Uncle Sam's new super-team, not yet named (though in past incarnations it has been called the Freedom Fighters).
Powers and Abilities
Black Light Gloves: Jennifer wears high-tech gauntlets that allow her to create darkness, a power shared by all Phantom Ladies since the beginning. Jennifer's power over darkness is more versatile than previous versions of the character. She can manifest blackness in tight concentrated beams, large amorphous clouds, or tentacle-like arms, as well as create "hard-light" objects like razors, shields, and living shadows.
Enhanced Vision Goggles: In the tradition of previous Phantom Ladies, Jennifer wears high-tech goggles as part of her costume. They allow her to see in total darkness as well as in 3D-relay vision. They also help to disguise her identity.
Shadow Slide: Jennifer's gauntlets allow her to teleport into shadow and pull people and objects into a completely dark extra-dimensional void called the Shadow Zone. People trapped in the Shadow Zone quickly experience overwhelming fear and isolation, and if left there too long, can lose their minds entirely.