TG Universes & Series:
Lee Stone Presents: The Spectre!
In a world a lot like ours, hidden powers surface, both new and old. But not everyone is a metahuman or has supernormal abilities. Join us now, as we take a peak at how a normal comic book artist deals with both his pain, and his encounter with a world that will never be the same again!
A very different story from the Comics Retcon Universe!
Disclaimer: I make no claims to any character or image owned or under copyright by another party, nor do I intend on profiting in any way from their use. The Comics Retcon Universe concept is the creative property of Lilith Langtree.
Authors Note: This story is unusual in a lot of ways. It's a work of fiction, published in a fictional world, about someone who is real in that world. Confusing, I know. In 'GreenWith Envy-5', we are introduced briefly to The Spectre, a powerful entity devoted to vengeance, which was wrongly hunting a comic book artist named Kyle Rayner. In 'A Ghost of a Chance-3', we're shown the other side of this story. But what about the man, who carries with him such loss and pain? Having faced his own death, only to be miraculously saved, what does he do to find his own salvation?
In one reality, he writes a comic book.
Lee Stone Presents: Kyle Rayner's The Spectre
I've been involved in comics for a long time now, and I've seen a lot of stories. But trust me when I say that this story is something special. Not long after the Las Vegas Comic Con, Kyle came to me with a problem; he wasn't going to meet his deadline on Mysterious Y-Women.
In comics, it's important to get a book out on time, but I knew Kyle had been through a lot lately, so I told him that I'd find a way to extend his deadline, thinking that this was simply a case of artist's block.
“No Lee, you don't understand. It's not that I can't draw, it's...it's really hard to explain. Can I come by the office tomorrow?”
This sounded serious, so I told him sure, come on by, we'll have lunch. Well True Believers, when he did come by, I was astounded. In a very short time, Kyle had done the storyboards for a brand-new comic: The Spectre!
Not the giant that appeared at the Comic Con, but the female Spectre, who is currently wanted for questioning for suspected involvement in a string of vigilante crimes. It's not unheard of for comics to be based on real events and people. But this was pretty controversial, no matter how you look at it.
Of course, as you know, I've never been one to stray from controversy; my early collaborations with Jackie King in the late 60's and early 70's is testament to that. So I gave Kyle a chance; to be honest, the quality was the best I'd seen out of him to date.
And I read his story, and was floored. This was no mere comic, friends. This was catharsis in illustrated form. I'd never had the privilege to meet Alexandra DeWitt, but by all accounts, she'd been a very special young woman, whose life tragically ended in a hit-and-run accident. Kyle had loved her very much, and even admitted to me that she died wearing his engagement ring on her finger.
“Lee, back in Vegas, I saw her. The girl Spectre. I don't think she was Alex, but she reminded me of her so much. The strength of purpose, the desire to somehow balance the scales...too often in this world, good people suffer and evil people elude justice. I saw her, and I saw the same kind of drive and compassion that I had seen in Alex. And I knew what I had to do. I wrestled with it, I had other commitments, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I have to do this, Lee, I have to.”
What could I say? I've been young and in love before, and I too, have known loss. It was eating away at Kyle from the inside. So the book you're holding in your hands now, is Kyle's farewell to the woman he loved. But it's also a dark, gripping tale, of supernatural, even divine vengeance. Just like the real Spectre, there are a lot of questions.
Is she good? Evil? An angel or a demon? A villain or a hero? In the end, each of us must decide, using our own hearts to guide us, whether we feel vigilante justice is right or wrong. Personally? I hope that the real Spectre is something like the young woman in this comic book. I hope that her passion for vengeance is tempered by mercy, and compassion.
Because sometimes, we have to walk in dark places to do what is right.
Without further adieu, I give you, The Spectre!
I wake up in the dark. Wherever I'm at, it's cold. Really cold. I reach out slowly to examine my surroundings, only to find that I'm inside some kind of small container. It's padded, like a coffin.
I realize with horror that it is a coffin! Panic fills my being, and I start clawing at the lid, pounding on it with my fists, but the hardwood lid resists my efforts. I'm frightened, am I doing to die, buried alive?
I should be crying, but I'm not. Slowly, rational thought returns, and I realize that the reason I'm not crying is that I have no tears! With a gasp, I realize I hadn't been breathing either; the air is dank and smells of mildew and rot. Oh God, this can't be real! I'm already dead!
I scream, but there's no one to hear me.
WHO ARE YOU?
My scream dies, becoming a sort of frightened whimper. The voice emanates from all around me. I think it's a woman's voice; I definitely get the sense of strong femininity. And that's when it really hits me. I couldn't remember anything!
“I...I don't know!”
THINK CAREFULLY. WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
I wracked my mind. A snatch of a memory. Someone I cared about. A man. Calling me... “Dee! My name is Dee!”
DEE. WHY DO YOU YET LINGER? WHAT KEEPS YOU IN THIS PLACE?
I blinked. I didn't want to be here at all! “Nothing, please, can you let me out?”
I CAN TAKE YOU AWAY FROM THIS WORLD OF PAIN. ARE YOU READY TO LEAVE IT BEHIND?
I tried to say yes, but the word wouldn't come out of my throat. I was overwhelmed by alien emotions. Anger. Pain. Loss. Anguish. Suffering. Wrath. I shuddered at the intensity of my feelings. “I...I can't!”
WHAT IS IT YOU DESIRE?
“Vengeance!” It came out of my mouth, even though I didn't understand why.
THEN YOU SHALL BE REBORN.
A great ghostly (and feminine) hand reached into the coffin, and grabbed me. Not my body, that was left behind, but my soul. The true self, that hides in the flesh. With a wrenching sensation, the hand pulled me away from my remains, and lifted me through the earth.
It released me then, and I floated just above the ground. It was nighttime, and I was naked, yet I no longer felt cold. I saw a tombstone, but before I could make it out, a shadow fell over it. Looking up, I saw the thing that had cast the shadow.
It's body was shrouded in a great hooded cowl, but I could see the outline of breasts and hips. She was giant, that was for sure, easily twice my height.
DEE, THOUGH YOU HAVE DIED, YOUR HEART STILL BURNS. IN LIFE, YOU POSSESSED GREAT LOVE, BUT HAVING LOST IT, YOU NOW ALSO POSSESS GREAT RAGE. I GIVE UNTO YOU THE POWER TO BE A SWORD, FOR JUSTICE, OR VENGEANCE, AS YE SEE FIT.
“But...why? Why me?”
YOU ARE STILL VERY YOUNG. TAKEN BEFORE YOUR TIME. YOU HAVE NOT YET BECOME HARDENED BY THE WORLD. WHERE AS MY HEART HAS GROWN COLD.
Clothing appeared on my body. A great hooded cloak, along with a skimpy pair of shorts and a halter top that just barely covered my breasts. Completing the costume was a pair of low, heeled boots.
I raised an eyebrow. I was solid now, although I was still floating in the air. I could feel the cold wind and the rain on my skin, but it did not bother me. In fact, it felt good to be solid, even if I wasn't really alive anymore. My flesh was ghostly white, and somehow I knew my hair was equally pale. My eyes glowed with reddish light.
“What's with this costume?” The cloak and other garments were all the same green color, the cloth was sturdy and lightweight. Not really soft, but it didn't chafe either.
THERE IS A REASON AND A PURPOSE. THE CLOAK IS YOUR BADGE OF OFFICE, WITHOUT IT, YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A NAKED SOUL. WITHOUT YOUR BOOTS, YOU COULD NOT TREAD ON SOLID GROUND.
“Yeah, but the rest? I've seen bikinis that covered more!”
I DO APOLOGIZE, IT IS NOT MY INTENT TO OFFEND YOUR DIGNITY, OR OBJECTIFY YOUR APPEARANCE. HOWEVER, THERE MUST BE NO DOUBT AS TO YOUR GENDER. FOR WHAT BEING IS MORE GENTLE, AND MORE WRATHFUL, THAN A WOMAN?
Her words made a twisted kind of sense to me. I found I could wrap the cloak around my body, and at least mitigate my cheesecake status. Whoever I was, I'm not a very tall girl, but I am quite attractive, even with the goth-pale skin and scary eyes.
“It's better than being dead. What am I to do?”
LISTEN. CAN YOU NOT HEAR THE CRIES OF THE TORMENTED? CAN YOU NOT FEEL THE ANGUISH OF THE INNOCENT?
I closed my eyes, and yes, I did sense those things! I knew there was a city around me, and where I was in it. I rose into the air and flew towards the nearest source of injustice. I soon came across a brownstone building, and I could hear a man's voice, screaming.
I simply passed through the wall, finding myself in an apartment. I saw a man, worn down by years of hard living, pain and drink. He stood over a young girl, who couldn't be any older than nine, who was standing protectively in front of a weeping older woman. Her mother, whose body was already bruised and broken.
I was dead, but the sight was chilling. And hauntingly familiar.
“You little bitch! You're not even my kid! God knows who your mother spread her legs for, the whore! I bet you're a whore too, aren't you?” The man slapped the girl, but amazingly, she stayed on her feet.
“I won't let you hurt her any more. I won't!”
“Like you can stop me, you little slut!” He punched the girl in the gut.
Well, he intended to. Faster than thought, I slipped inside the girl's form. In that moment, I was the girl. I could feel her emotions, and her desire to protect her mother, who had long ago lost the will to defend herself from her husband.
I casually caught the fist in my hand. Despite the small size of my body, I was amazingly strong. The girl and I spoke as one. “You're not going to hurt anyone, ever again.”
I unleashed the girl's anger, as she grabbed a knife and began to stab at him. He fell on his ass, trying feebly to protect himself from the sharp blade. The edge cut deep, and soon he was a mass of cuts, and there was blood everywhere.
He begged, he pleaded. We didn't care. He breathed his last, and I saw his miserable, blackened soul rise from his body. I reached out with my real arm, and grabbed it, and threw it downward, casting it into Hell.
But what had I done? The girl's life was now shattered, could she live, knowing what she had done?
FEAR NOT, MY DAUGHTER. SHE HAS A STRONG WILL, SHE ONLY LACKED THE STRENGTH OF HER CONVICTIONS. THAT WAS THE ONLY REASON YOU WERE ABLE TO JOIN WITH HER.
“I could have saved her without doing this?”
YES. BUT SHE NEEDED THIS.
I looked at my..the girl's arm. I saw the bruises. I felt the bruises on her body, and between her legs...No! Oh God no! I left her body then, and she fell to her knees. I wanted to look away, but I couldn't.
“Her own father!”
YES. THIS IS WHY YOU WERE REBORN. CAN YOU ACCEPT THIS DUTY?
I nodded slowly. But...”I won't be a monster. I want to help people. I want to take her pain away, and her mother's pain. To heal them, and make them forget.”
THAT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER.
I reached out and touched the girl's forehead, gently brushing aside her hair. Then I kissed her, and I felt blackness rushing into my mouth. I inhaled darkness and pain. She grew healthier, the bruises faded, she seemed a little taller. I wanted to retch, the blackness was so foul! But I forced myself to draw it all out. To undo every horror inflicted on her young body and soul.
Finally, even her maidenhead was restored, but I could take no more in me, and I sank into the floor, down, down, far beneath the building. And there, I retched out all of the evil. Yes, EVIL. I felt weak and ill. I needed to rest.
YOU CANNOT HEAL ALL WOUNDS, MY DAUGHTER. YOU CHOSE TO HEAL THE GIRL FULLY, LEAVING NOTHING FOR HER MOTHER.
“No! I didn't mean...” But I had. Her mother had died a long time ago, I realized. She had known. She had known! And did nothing!
YES. HERS WAS A LIVING NIGHTMARE, PERHAPS IT IS BETTER THAT SHE BE FREE FROM IT, RATHER THAN HAVE TO ENDURE KNOWING WHAT SHE ALLOWED. BECAUSE SHE WAS WEAK.
“I pity her.” There was still something I had to do. I forced myself to rise back to the apartment. The girl was crying, holding her mother close. The woman managed to smile before she faded. I took her soul. I could feel it being pulled downwards. But no, she didn't deserve that.
I rose upward, into the sky, and I threw the soul upwards. I saw a golden door open, and the soul flew into it. I started to fall. I had expended too much strength. And then, I knew no more.
AWAKEN MY DAUGHTER. NIGHT HAS FALLEN ANEW, AND THERE IS MUCH WORK TO BE DONE.
I was aware again. I knew that some time had passed. “But..I used up all my power..”
MY DAUGHTER, EACH NIGHT YOUR POWER SHALL BE RENEWED. YOU HAVE MUCH WORK AHEAD OF YOU.
I smiled. Once I had been a girl called Dee. I had lost my life in tragedy, but now I had been given power. Power enough to help others. To punish the wicked.
I yelled out to the heavens. “I AM THE SPECTRE! LET THE GOOD FEAR ME NOT, AND LET THE WICKED TREMBLE, FOR I AM COMING!”
But first, I had to visit a little girl, and tell her that everything would be alright. For without compassion, what is vengeance, but brutal slaughter?
And so ends our first exciting issue! See you in thirty days, True Believers, The Spectre's mission has just begun!
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