Doctor Spectro (right) fighting Captain Atom, on the cover of Captain Atom #79
Art by Steve Ditko.
|First appearance||Captain Atom #79 (February–March 1966)|
|Created by||Steve Ditko (plot, art)|
Joe Gill (script)
|Alter ego||Tom Emery|
|Abilities||Ability to control emotions using light-based powers|
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Doctor Spectro is a fictional brightly costumed supervillain that appears in comics published by Charlton Comics and DC Comics as a recurring enemy of Captain Atom.
Doctor Spectro first appeared in Captain Atom #79 and was created by Steve Ditko and Joe Gill.
Fictional character biography
After inventing a series of prisms that could alter human emotions, a scientist was kidnapped by a gang of criminals and forced to use his invention to commit a bank robbery. When the scientist refused to help, the criminals pushed him into his experimental machinery. The strange energies of the machine reacted with the prisms, giving the scientist the ability to control emotions directly. The energy also affected his mind, causing the scientist to embark on a crime spree as Doctor Spectro. The superhero Captain Atom confronted Doctor Spectro, who was disintegrated when he came into contact with a high tension wire.
Doctor Spectro managed to survive and returned to fight Captain Atom.
Doctor Spectro became part of the DC Universe after DC Comics purchased the rights to Captain Atom and other characters. He appeared in issues #9 and 10 of Crisis on Infinite Earths (December 1985 and January 1986, respectively).
Post-Crisis, Doctor Spectro was re-introduced in Captain Atom Vol. 3, #5 (July 1987), in a story written by Cary Bates and drawn by Pat Broderick. In the new version Doctor Spectro was really Tom Emery. A newspaper reporter discovered that "Doctor Spectro" was the creation of General Wade Eiling to act as a fake supervillain whose exploits were used to provide a cover story for the Captain Atom project. Once Captain Atom went missing, Doctor Spectro reverted to the life of a small-time super-crook.
Doctor Spectro has made guest appearances in other DC titles, including Underworld Unleashed (November 1995), JLA #34 (October 1999), Action Comics #760 (December 1999), JSA #28 (November 2001), and Superman/Batman #3 (December 2003).
In the Green Arrow comics, the Green Arrow family often claim that Doctor Spectro has the worst supervillain costume. In Green Arrow #26, Green Arrow confronts saboteurs at a construction site saying: "What are you doing?! When a guy twice your size in a costume tells you to stop doing something--you stop! Unless it’s the Riddler. Or that moron Doctor Spectro. Cause they’re just…sad". In #46, Speedy quips to a villain: "Dude, that is one sorry outfit. You make Doctor Spectro look cool. You know how hard that is?"
In the recent novelized version of Infinite Crisis, Doctor Spectro was killed by Superboy-Prime alongside the hero Gunfire. This was a scene notably not shown in the illustrated Infinite Crisis mini-series, and occurred at the same time that the death of Blood Pack was shown.
Powers and abilities
Doctor Spectro uses his special light powers to control people's emotions.
In other media
In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Dead Reckoning", Doctor Spectro is seen as one of the latest recruits in the Secret Society.
Doctor Spectro appears at the beginning of the second volume of the comic book tie-in of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He teams up with Crazy Quilt and Rainbow Raider to defeat Batman and Blue Beetle.
James Sandy counted Doctor Spectro among the many comic characters that were introduced in the Silver Age of Comic Books and disappeared again after a short run.
The authors of The Superhero Book named Doctor Spectro as the first supervillain antagonist for Captain Atom and found him unique.
- Misiroglu, Gina, ed. (2012). The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes (2 ed.). Visible Ink Press. pp. 87–88, 361. ISBN 978-1-57859-375-0. Search this book on
- Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. pp. 105–106. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X. Search this book on
- Captain Atom #79
- Captain Atom #81 (July 1966)
- Batman: The Brave and The Bold Volume 2 #14.
- Sandy, James (2017). "A Paneled Perspective: The United States and the Vietnam War Examined Through Comic Books". In Milam, Ron. The Vietnam War in Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, Califormia and Denver, Colorado: Praeger Publishing. p. 246. ISBN 978-1-4408-4046-3. Search this book on
- Doctor Spectro at the Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
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