This article contains spoilers for the first three episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
In an Arrowverse crossover full of surprises and shocks, Crisis on Infinite Earths‘ biggest curveball before the winter break might have been what they did to Oliver Queen.
Crisis promised big changes for the Green Arrow right from the outset. He had already cut a deal with the Monitor during the Elseworlds crossover last year, to save Supergirl and the Flash. The presumption was, knowing that the Crisis was coming, that he would be sacrificing himself for Barry, who famously died in the pages of the original comics version of the story. And then they went and killed Ollie in the first hour of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The next step was for John Constantine, Sara Lance, and Mia Smoak to track down a multiversal Lazarus Pit and revive Ollie’s body, but as is best practices when operating a Lazarus Pit, they also had to trek into Purgatory to retrieve his soul. And they almost had him, too! Diggle managed to reawaken Ollie’s soul’s memories, and as he was getting ready to leave, he got stopped by a bearded fellow calling himself Jim Corrigan, the Spectre, and he needed Ollie’s help to save everyone. So Ollie didn’t come back to life after all.
What does this mean for the Arrowverse? We’re here to break it down for you.
Who is the Spectre?
Jim Corrigan was created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily in 1940. He was a policeman murdered on his way to his engagement party, and sent back to Earth by “The Voice” (an allusion to the God, not to the show) to exact very specific and gruesome revenge on evil. This made him a natural candidate to be a charter member of the world’s first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, joined by a guy with “FAIR PLAY” written on his jacket and a boxer dressed like a cat.
Like all golden age heroes, he drifted out of popularity for a time, before reemerging in the silver age for team ups with Batman and the Flash, and eventually played a big role in the Justice League/Justice Society crossovers. He later got his own run of stories in Adventure Comics,where he was drawn by one of the greatest Batman artists who’s ever lived, Jim Aparo. There, he retained his thirst for inventive vengeance, turning criminals into self-aware burning candles and broken windows.
Later still, he was reintroduced for the Modern Age of comics. His solo book was written by Suicide Squadco-creator and one of the most underrated writers in the history of the medium, John Ostrander. Ostrander, a thoughtful guy and a former seminarian, used the Spectre’s status as the spirit of God’s wrath on Earth as an excuse to fill the comic with the kinds of complex moral questions that you’d expect theology students to shout at each other over a beer after class: do you punish an abused wife who killed her husband? How does moral responsibility shift in a state of constant war? Are secret murders worse than others?
Corrigan eventually felt that he fulfilled his duty as the Spectre and walked away from the job. The spirit settled on a new host: a dead Hal Jordan, still reeling from his villanous and medium-genocidal turn as Parallax. Jordan was looking for a way to redeem himself, so he took on the spirit and tried to steer it in a more constructive direction. When Jordan was resurrected, the Spectre eventually hooked onto former Gotham City detective Crispus Allen (after going a little crazy and tying up all the big gun magic users for Infinite Crisis).
Through it all, the Spectre hung in the background of the greater DC Universe as one of the most powerful beings in existence, so when there was a major Crisis happening, he was almost always set to play a huge role in the plot.
What About Oliver Queen?
Coming into TV Crisis, the consensus was that Ollie made his sacrifice in Elseworlds to save Kara and Barry here. Supergirl and the Flash were the two most prominent deaths in the original comic version, and it was heavily implied that Oliver cut a deal with the Monitor to take their place.
Meanwhile, Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen have long been best friends in the comics. They were the main characters of the legendary “Hard Travellin’ Heroes” storyline in the ’70s, the one where Speedy got hooked on heroin and the pair tried to tackle racism. In fact, Hal (as Spectre) played a part in OLIVER being resurrected, bringing Oliver’s empty body to heaven to retrieve its soul.
I think, even after Oliver’s death at the end of the first hour, everyone was expecting a fakeout, that an Ollie from a pocket universe would step in at the last second and save the day, or the Archery of Ollies would step out of the Hall of Heroes to stop the shadow demons.
Instead, what we get is the original comics Spectre handing the keys to the most powerful being in the multiverse to its first hero.
Wait, did Corrigan say “a” Spectre?
He…did, didn’t he? That’s also very odd.
In the comics, there’s only one, and he’s as close to all-powerful as you can get. He can manipulate time, space, matter, people, whatever. He’s super strong, can size shift, travel between dimensions, turn people into sentient goo. That’s not a power set that dilutes very easily, nor is it one you want to duplicate too often.
That said, as an aspect of Christian God, there may be an out there. This show has been playing with a lot of ideas from Sandmanand early Vertigo, especially after Lucifer’s cameo. They could be conflating the Spectre with another host of angels and implying there are many, but that feels like it would be a mistake, and not one that these writers are prone to making.
What about Ollie’s body?
Let’s just call it “Chekhov’s Husk” and wait and see what they do with Oliver’s abandoned but presumably alive again body in the last two hours.
Possible Crisis on Infinite Earths Spoilers!
Turn back now if you don’t want to hear it!
If Oliver is the new Spectre, he’s got the power to personally take on the Anti-Monitor. As a reminder of what that might look like, the Anti-Monitor just destroyed countless universes. But the only one with the juice to take him on and undo what Mobius has done is the Spectre, who can roll back time, attack the Anti-Monitor at his moment of creation, and take whatever antimatter energy beam or antimatter infused punches that Mobius can dish out. We’re set up for a massive battle the CW TV shows have never seen before and it’s gonna be incredible.
Also Ollie’s totally gonna go crazy with all the power his mortal mind can’t handle and then Barry and Constantine are going to have to kill him in the next crossover.
This sounds absurd, but it’s not a huge leap from where we might be now – Oliver, newly all-powerful, but taking over a mantle known for its vindictiveness – to Day of Vengeance. That was the Infinite Crisistie-in miniseries that saw a host-less Spectre convinced that magic was the root of all evil, sending him on a quest to destroy all sources of magic and magic users in the DCU. The last season of Legends of Tomorrowwas all about magical beings and did a lot to build up magical infrastructure and history while completely missing the opportunity to introduce Zatanna or Detective Chimp, so I don’t think we can rule this out yet.
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