Griffin was an albino scientist who developed a process to make a person invisible by altering their refractive index. Always an unstable man, Griffin grew more megalomaniacal as the process which he had used proved irreversible. He began to commit a series of crimes in order to finance his research into the nature of his newfound and unwanted powers.
Chased from his laboratory refuge by the townsfolk who were victimized by him, he travelled to the town of Burdock where he reveals to an old medical school friend that he intends to start a Reign of Terror, the First Year of the Invisible Man the First. The old friend, realizing Griffin's obvious and dangerous insanity, attempts to call the police, forcing Griffin out onto the street. There, he is cornered and supposedly beaten to death by an enraged mob, his body slowly becoming visible as he dies.
The Invisible Man was created by H.G. Wells. Many creators have adapted him for comics, including Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.
Major Story Arcs
In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it is revealed that Griffin, first name now revealed to be Hawley, had actually turned a half-wit albino man invisible first, as a test of the process on humans, and this man was the one who was beaten to death by the enraged mob in Burdock.
The real Hawley Griffin managed to escape to Rosa Coote's boarding school. There he hid away in the areas of the school that were under construction and had his way with a number of the students, fathering several children while allowing the residents of the school to believe that he was the "Holy Spirit". Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, and Captain Nemo were eventually sent to end his victimization of the school. On the night they arrived they caught him in the act of raping one of the female students. After a brief fight they capture him and he was inducted into the League after being promised monetary remuneration, a full pardon for his numerous crimes and a cure for his condition to ensure his cooperation and loyalty. He aided the team in their fight against the Devil Doctor and Professor Moriarty. Griffin was also instrumental in discovering the identity of their mysterious leader, M.
After witnessing the beginning of the Martian invasion and hearing Captain Nemo's descriptions of the Martian's weaponry, Griffin determined that the human race had no chance of survival. He secretly defected to the side of the Martians, his one demand being that they would allow him to rule alongside them. He advised the Martians about the capabilities of the Nautilus, and stole the plans for the defense of London from the League. While stealing the plans he was discovered by Mina Murray, who he assaulted and humiliated. Shortly after this encounter he returned to the headquarters of the League at the Secret Annexe of the British Museum, where he was confronted by Hyde, who revealed that he was capable of perceiving Griffin through infrared vision and also smell, contrary to what Griffin had previously believed. Disgusted and angered by the way Griffin had treated Mina, Hyde beat, raped and ultimately murdered Griffin.
As in the original novel, Griffin's blood (and presumably body, though it is never shown in-panel) slowly became visible as he died what was presumably a slow and very painful death.
In Other Media
The original Invisible Man appeared in the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. There was one film made based loosely on this character, 1933's The Invisible Man, which starred English actor Claude Rains as Griffin (in the film his first name was given as Jack; his first name is never revealed in the original novel).
In the fan- and critic-reviled film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hawley Griffin was replaced, due to copyright reasons, with the cheerful Cockney thief Rodney Skinner. He claims to have stolen the invisibility formula from the original inventor (presumably Griffin) in the hopes of becoming the greatest cat burglar of all time. Like Griffin, he found himself unable to reverse the process. Unlike the original, this Invisible Man was neither psychotic nor a murderer, and he proved to be ultimately loyal to the League, despite early and decidedly heavy-handed indications that he may be the mole. In the end he was instrumental to defeating the plot of the film's villain. This version of the the Invisible Man was portrayed by Scottish actor Tony Curran.