Judge Michael Hart, Judge "No" Hart, The Phantom of Gramercy Park
Place of Birth
Deadline #1 (2002)
Deadline #2 (2002)
He can also teleport himself and at least one other person. The maximum distance he can travel has yet to be revealed.
Michael Hart began his career as a defense attorney, specializing in cases involving those who were considered super-criminals or "Capes." Eventually the governor set up a special Circuit Court to deal only with these individuals, and Hart was appointed its first judge; and the people he previously got off were suddenly finding themselves being locked behind bars. Hart received a lot of press and the nickname of Judge "No" Hart, but his rising fame would cost him dearly. Police were called to his home for a domestic disturbance and when they arrived, they discovered the body of his wife – dead. Hart was not present which made him either another potential victim or his wife's killer.
A string of murders claiming the lives of seven "Capes" in six months led some to believe Judge Hart was responsible for their deaths. Katherine "Kat" Farrell, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, stumbled onto the story after chasing down a lead in the murder of the known felon called Carjack. While visiting seedy places in her search for clues, Kat decided to stalk the recently paroled menace, Third Rail, to see if he might be next on the list. As he attempted to victimize her for following him, Judge Hart made an appearance and claimed the life of one more villain.
When the same man who killed his wife shot and left Michael Hart for dead, the Tinkerer said he found his body washed up on the shore near the west Side Promenade. He brought Hart back to his workshop and watched him die – but only for a moment. When Hart's heart began beating on its own again, Tinkerer nursed him back to health, but Michael Hart brought something back from the other side. He was a changed man, and every night since then he was summoned to a spirit realm his wife called the Zeitgeist to watch as the dead repeated the tragic events that suddenly took their lives. In this place he can only watch as murderers claim their victims, which is why he chose to act in the real world.
After Kat Farrell discovered a fellow reporter broke into her house, leaving an ominous message to discourage her from pursuing the investigation into the Judge Hart murders, a pep talk from Phil Urich led her to the truth. The Tinkerer didn't find the body washed ashore. The Tinkerer was the man responsible for the slaying of Hart's wife and Hart's shooting.
The Tinkerer's son, Rick Mason, was seemingly killed by individuals Hart helped to dodge prison time, and Tinkerer wanted revenge. The grieving father disguised himself, went to Hart's apartment to find anything to use against him, and accidentally killed Hart's wife when she unexpectedly came home and surprised him. Hart entered his apartment and found the intruder with his slain wife, forcing the Tinkerer to shoot him too.Judge Hart became enraged at the Tinkerer for ruining his life and struck the old man. He unleashed the spirits to claim the murderer's life, but they refused to do so. At that moment, Judge Hart considered his new role in life may not be for revenge but rather redemption. He also rationalized the spirits may not have killed Tinkerer because he still serves some purpose – possibly helping Hart to fulfill his mission.