|Robert Bender murders Jennifer's parents. From Phantom Lady #1 (2012). Art by Cat Staggs and Tom Derenick.|
Jennifer's story is similarly tied into that of her father's, Harry Knight, a renown writer for the Daily Planet. When Jen was six, Knight's stories about Robert Bender, head of the Bender crime family, earned him and his wife a ticket to early graves.
Like so many super-heroes, Jennifer became motivated by grief and so she took up her father's former profession and became a journalist herself. She was so bold as to go after the family's new boss, Cyrus Bender, widely considered to have killed his own father. Her byline appeared mostly on stories about Metropolis nightlife, but she wrote about the Benders anonymously. They found her out, threatened her, and beat her friend. In the commotion, she stole Cyrus's cell phone and took it directly to her number one confidant—Dane Maxwell.
|Jennifer and her oldest friend |
(and occasional lover),
inventor Dane Maxwell.
Bender's men shot Jennifer in the leg and Dane retreated inside one of his experiments—a bulletproof cell made to test the process of miniaturization. The thugs turned on the machine and Dane apparently disappeared into smoke. They left with Jennifer and Dane emerged—shrunken to no more than six inches tall.
It's unclear from the story whether Dane was the inventor of Phantom Lady's "black light gloves," but they are formidable. The gloves give her the ability to manipulate and move within shadows (and mirrors much of what her immediate predecessor could do). She can create, mold, and bend shadows to her will using her gauntlets. They can become solid, malleable, and also allow her to "shadow slide" between locations via the darkness. The void in between is void of all emotion save sadness. This is very similar to the powers of DC's other heroine, Nightshade (originally a Charlton character).