By Saren 55 Comments
I'm posting this because I'm getting tired of people on the battle forums thinking the infamous incident from Tales of the Unexpected #4, where Batman seemingly hurts the Spectre with a kick, is somehow a valid point to raise in an argument. If you haven't read the issue in question or if you're one of the seven or eight people on Earth who haven't seen it floating around on the internet, here it is:
This is most often brought up by people who claim Spectre's a jobber (another point that is erroneous and tiresome, but that's a discussion for another day). I raised it because a user on this site was debating on a Darkseid thread a while back, and tried to claim that the incident in Superman/Batman where he hits Darkseid hard enough to make him bleed (for the love of god, Loeb) is somehow not PIS because "Batman sometimes hurts people he shouldn't be able to". He brought up this incident as proof of that point. That was what prompted me to make this thread, though I took some time to get around to it. As you might expect, there's a context to this incident.
First of all, you need to understand how the Spectre functions. He's literally the Presence's wrath made manifest, and so in his primal form he's perpetually pissed off at everything. In his early days his rage was so all-consuming that he would have destroyed everything if Michael Demiurgos hadn't intervened and placed restrictions on his power. Michael made it such that the Spectre needed to bond with a human host to access all his power. However, the presence of the host was also a clever safeguard against the Spectre going on a rampage. The host would exercise discretion over the Spectre's activities. Therefore, the power of the Spectre was linked to the personality of the host. If the host wasn't queasy about violence, the Spectre's power would face very few limits. It's for this reason that Jim Corrigan is commonly considered the most powerful of the Spectre's three main hosts. Corrigan was a tough-as-nails homicide detective from the 1940's. His father was an evangelist preacher, and he'd been raised with the eye-for-an-eye philosophy and the idea of Old Testament-esque severity in justice. He was fine with the violence the Spectre dished out, and most of the time he supported it. And it's for this same reason that Hal Jordan is commonly considered the weakest of the Spectre's hosts. Hal was a hero, and so he stood in opposition to the Spectre's usual MO. His guilt over all the people he killed as Parallax also played a part. He was opposed to murder, and thus denied the Spectre's true nature.
Point being made is that the host can restrain the Spectre, curtailing the amount of power that flows through him. Moving on to the incident itself:
Spectre's trying to kill a criminal, but his host Crispus Allen is trying to stop him. That's restraining his power right there. Moreover, read Spectre's sentences in the last scan. He says:
a) "I thought it might make you feel better", and
b) "The human already shackles me more than I am willing."
Not only do you have the Spectre's host restraining his power from the inside, but you've got the Spectre himself feeling sorry for Batman and allowing him to vent. If Batman kicking Darkseid is valid (helpful hint: it's not) because Batman "sometimes hurts people he shouldn't be able to", then why is Batman stunned that he was able to hit the Spectre? Because he hurt someone he shouldn't be able to.
There's no Batfactor at work here. It's just the Spectre letting Bruce vent before turning away to get on with his job. Next time someone raises this point I'm just going to direct them to this blog.