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Zachary Hale Comstock

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Comstock
Zachary Hale Comstock
AliasesZachary Comstock
Father Comstock
The Prophet
BornApril 19, 1874[1]
NationalityAmerican
Arrived in Columbia1893
Died1912
(BioShock Infinite)
1958
(Burial at Sea
- Episode 1
)
Place of DeathHand of the Prophet,
Columbia;
Housewares Building,
Fontaine's,
Rapture
FamilyLady Comstock
(Wife)
AffiliationThe Founders
Elizabeth
Physical Description
GenderMale
Height6' 1" (1.86 m)
Hair ColorWhite
Eye ColorBlue
Appearances
Appears inBioShock Infinite
Burial at Sea
- Episode 1

Burial at Sea
- Episode 2
Voice ActorKiff Vanden Heuvel
(BioShock Infinite)
Troy Baker
(Burial at Sea -
Episode 1
)
Diary 3
"The Lord forgives everything, but I'm just a prophet… so I don't have to. Amen."
―Father Comstock

Zachary Hale Comstock is the leader of the Founders, the ultra-nationalist/nativist party that founded the floating city of Columbia. He is the main antagonist of BioShock Infinite. Within Columbia, Comstock is known as earning the title of "the Prophet" and "Father Comstock." He claims to have the ability to predict the future of Columbia, attacks from his enemies, and the actions of the False Shepherd.[2]


Infinite Spoilers


HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

Zachary Comstock was born as Booker DeWitt. He became a soldier in the 7th Cavalry in the United States army, and was a participant in the Wounded Knee Massacre. After the Battle of Wounded Knee, DeWitt felt regret in his actions and sought forgiveness in baptism, and to amend his life. DeWitt partook in the baptism by Preacher Witting, found a re-invigorated faith in Christianity, and changed his identity to Zachary Hale Comstock. He would go on to be one of the rulers of Columbia and a racist dictator.

Little was known about Comstock prior to a baptism he spoke of, and he rarely spoke of anything that happened before that event. One thing he claimed was that he was a member of the 7th Cavalry and a participant in the Wounded Knee Massacre. After the baptism, Comstock became a deeply religious man, used his newfound faith to reshape his identity and became an influential man within the United States government.

Creation of ColumbiaEdit

Hqdefault (1)

Zachary Comstock giving a speech, featured in Columbia: A Modern Day Icarus?

Sometime after his baptism, Comstock met Rosalind Lutece, a genius physicist who was experimenting with manipulating the actions of atoms -- through use of her "Lutece Field," being able to lock atoms at fixed positions in space. Comstock took great interest in her research, which would allow the creation of the floating city he claimed to have seen in a vision.[3] Receiving support from the United States government, Comstock oversaw the construction of that city, which he named Columbia. It was launched in 1893[4] with much fanfare. Comstock became its leader, later creating a political party of its white inhabitants called the Founders.

Comstock began to see the idea of America as "the New Eden," and the Founding Fathers as prophets of God's Great Plan. He also saw Caucasians as the only truly free race, and viewed "minority" races with total contempt. He declared Abraham Lincoln "the Great Apostate" who brought nothing but war and death upon the country. He also saw Columbia as the key to usher the world into righteousness, and became determined to make it a reality.

Shortly afterwards, Comstock would marry one of his devotees, Lady Comstock.

Discovery of Inter-dimensional TearsEdit

Between 1892 and 1893, while conducting further study into the Lutece Field, Rosalind found that she was able to induce communication into an alternate universe. She made contact with Robert Lutece, an alternate version of herself, who was performing the same exact experiment. Determined to find a way to see Robert face-to-face, Rosalind reported her findings to Comstock. Comstock provided Rosalind with additional funding to further her research, believing her discovery was a window into the future, despite her insistence otherwise. In 1893, Rosalind and Robert were able to create a machine to open Tears into alternate universes; on October 8th of that year[5][6], they successfully in opened their first Tear, allowing Robert to cross into Rosalind's universe.

Comstock used this device extensively, utilizing Tears to look into other realities, and even see future happenings. When he showed these visions to inventor and businessman Jeremiah Fink, the latter was able to greatly advance technology in Columbia through various inventions such as the Sky-Hook and mass-produced Vigors. (He would also eventually create the Songbird for Comstock, based on a "wonder" he saw through the Tears.[7]) Due to Comstock's use of the tears, the people of Columbia saw him as a true prophet, and began to worship him.

The Presentation and Secession of ColumbiaEdit

Comstock Statue

A statue of Zachary Comstock in Columbia's Welcome Center.

Presented as a floating symbol of American ideals at a time when the United States was becoming a world power, Columbia was sent to all corners of the globe on a goodwill tour. In 1901, during the Boxer Rebellion in Peking, China, Comstock learned that the Boxers were holding American citizens hostage and ordered Columbia to open fire upon the Chinese populace. This act revealed to the world that Columbia was, in fact, a giant warship. The United States government disavowed Columbia, and ordered Comstock to stand down. Seeing this as a betrayal, Comstock led Columbia in seceding from the Union the following year, and the city vanished into the skies. Comstock thereafter declared Columbia the true America, believing the United States to be a shell of its former self, and condemning it along with the rest of the world.

The Lamb of ColumbiaEdit

Through Rosalind and Robert's device, Comstock saw that Columbia would only prosper as long as his bloodline continued to rule the city. However, overuse of the Tear device took its toll on Comstock; and he aged rapidly, and soon discovered that he had been rendered sterile[8]. Desperate to have a blood successor, he conferred with the Luteces, and the three deduced that an heir could be procured from another universe.

In October 1893, Robert was able to find Booker DeWitt. After rejecting Preacher Witting's baptism, Booker, still-regretful, had spiraled deep into alcoholism and gambling debt. Comstock had Robert offer to wipe away those debts in exchange for Booker's infant daughter, Anna DeWitt. Booker haltingly agreed, and Robert brought Anna to Comstock.

2013-03-28 00261

Zachary Comstock with an infant Anna DeWitt, whom he renamed Elizabeth.

Almost immediately regretting his decision, Booker pursued Robert to retrieve Anna. He found them in an alleyway preparing to pass through a Tear back to Comstock's reality. Although Booker tried to stop him from taking Anna through the Tear, Comstock managed to escape with her. The Tear severed Anna's pinky finger, the resulting scar she hid with a thimble.

Comstock saw Anna as the key to his dream of remaking the world a reality. However, the child was rejected by Lady Comstock, who believed her to be Rosalind and Comstock's "bastard" child. At Lady Comstock's insistence the child not live under their roof, Comstock created Monument Island Tower to house her. When the child began to develop Tear-making powers, Comstock saw to the creation of the Siphons to keep them in check. Renaming her Elizabeth, Comstock began to call her the "Lamb of Columbia," and the Founders soon worshiped her as their savior.

Overuse of the Luteces' tear machine continued to deteriorate Comstock's body, giving him cancer, and causing him to have the appearance of an old man at thirty-eight years of age. The Tears gave him the knowledge that Booker would eventually find a way to take Elizabeth from him. He began to forewarn the populace that a "False Shepherd" would appear, and began formulating a plan to make Elizabeth servile to him.

Murder of Lady Comstock and the LutecesEdit

Lady Comstock had been growing frustrated and angry with keeping the truth about Elizabeth from the populace. Comstock, knowing that she was going to reveal the truth, in 1895,[9]had Lady Comstock killed and framed her servant, Daisy Fitzroy, for the murder. This act set in motion the chain of events that would lead to Fitzroy creating the revolutionary group known as the Vox Populi.

Meanwhile, Rosalind and Robert saw the future of Columbia, and what Elizabeth would become, through their machine. In an effort to prevent such a future, they plotted to take Elizabeth from Comstock and return her to her original universe. Comstock soon discovered what they were doing, and ordered Jeremiah Fink to sabotage their contraption, which seemingly killed the two as they were using it. The effects of the sabotage in fact caused the Luteces to exist across all space and time, giving them the ability to appear wherever and whenever they wanted. Still determined to stop Comstock, they devised a plan to send Booker to Columbia to retrieve his long-lost daughter.

BioShock InfiniteEdit

Comstock becomes aware of Booker's presence after a commotion at Columbia's annual Raffle & Fair and sends his forces after the man, determined to stop him from retrieving Elizabeth. At one point he confronts Booker directly, mocking the man's personal failures and tries to trap him inside a burning airship. Comstock's efforts are for naught, as Booker reaches Monument Island and Elizabeth willingly leaves with him. Comstock's tactics soon become more aggressive; he uses Siphons to hijack Elizabeth's powers and resurrect Lady Comstock as the Siren to stop them from proceeding.

When Comstock is finally able to recover Elizabeth with the help of Songbird, he takes drastic measures to keep her servile: barricading her in Comstock House, instructing his scientists to operate to decrease her access to her powers, and has her fitted with an electric mechanism that delivers an intensely painful shock when she is disobedient.[10] The scientists then use this device for mental conditioning, to turn her to Comstock's way of thinking and to squash her hope that Booker will come for her.

In the reality where this occurs, Comstock successfully turns Elizabeth into a brutal and murderous dictator. Feeling regret for allowing herself to become Comstock's heir, Elizabeth brings Booker to her universe. She gives him instructions to give to her other self on how to avoid this fate. She then sends him back to the other timeline, where Booker is able to rescue Elizabeth, and the two resolve to murder Comstock.

DeathEdit

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The death of Comstock.

"It... is... finished."
―Zachary Hale Comstock's last words

After boarding and navigating Comstock's ship, the Hand of the Prophet, Booker and Elizabeth confront Comstock in his cabin. There, Comstock tries to regain Elizabeth's trust by weakening her faith in Booker, grabbing her and demanding that Booker tell her the truth about her lost finger. In a fit of rage, Booker grabs Comstock by the throat and smashes his head against a stone baptismal font multiple times before drowning him in it.

After destroying the Siphon at Monument Island, Elizabeth is able to unlock the full extent of her powers and discovers Comstock's true origins. Comstock is an alternate version of Booker DeWitt. After the Battle of Wounded Knee, Booker was overcome with guilt for the atrocities he committed, and sought a way to absolve himself of his sins. He turned to Preacher Witting for baptism, so that he may be reborn as a different man and start anew, free of his past crimes. In one reality, Booker was unable to go through with the baptism, while in another he accepted it, and took on the name Zachary Hale Comstock. She and Booker travel to the place of Booker's baptism, where one was "reborn" as Comstock. Elizabeth reveals that to truly destroy Comstock, in the set of realities where he accepts the baptism, Booker must die. With this revelation, Booker allows a number of Elizabeths from different universes to drown him. In doing so, Comstock and all of the events he put in motion --  including the creation of Columbia -- are erased from existence.

Alternate ComstocksEdit

UnbaptizedEdit

Main article: Booker DeWitt

While Comstock accepted baptism and changed his name in some realities, in others he rejected it and retained the name Booker DeWitt. Unable to find succor in religion, Booker turned to the vices of gambling and drinking to deal with his lingering guilt over his actions at Wounded Knee. At some point he met a woman that would become the mother of his child, but she died in childbirth, sending him further into his downward spiral of gambling debts and alcoholism. One day, Robert Lutece arrived, using a Tear, and made an offer to erase Booker's debts in exchange for the infant Anna, an exchange he made but immediately regretted and then failed to retrieve her.

Two decades later, the Luteces had a change of heart and sent Booker repeatedly to Comstock's universe to retrieve Anna, though the journey disrupted his memory.

In another universe Booker became a prominent leader of the Vox Populi, and after his death in the Hall of Heroes, was held up as a martyr to their revolution, ironically a revolution waged against a version of himself.

InvestigatorEdit

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1

In an alternate reality, Comstock's path shifted course when Anna's head rather than her pinkie was severed by the closing of the Lutece Tear. Overwhelmed by horror, Comstock had the initials 'AD' tattooed on his hand and had the Luteces help him escape to a new time and place where he could start a new life and forget his guilt. The Luteces opened a tear to Rapture, where Comstock lost his memories of his prior life and began using his original name once more, Booker DeWitt, as a private detective.

At some point in his years in Rapture, he took in a young orphan girl named Sally, who disappeared one day while he was gambling at Sir Prize. His search for her lead him to torture Dr. Yi Suchong but yielded no leads. He lost all hope when a police friend of his, Sullivan, told him they had found her dead. A woman named Elizabeth came to his office on New Years Eve 1958 and hired him to find Sally, claiming that she was not dead. Though skeptical, Comstock followed her and eventually found Sally in the sunken Fontaine's Department Store.

His struggle to pull Sally out of a vent and the action triggered the memory of his identity as Comstock and Anna's death. The Luteces appeared and remarked that Comstock always ran away from his problems by stealing the lives of others. Comstock, once again guilt-stricken and horrified, told Elizabeth he was sorry. Elizabeth, told him he wasn't, but would be. Comstock was then impaled through the chest by the drill of a Bouncer.

In Burial at Sea - Episode 2, Elizabeth saw Comstock's dead body being dragged away by Atlas' men. Also revealed is his previously unseen white hair and aged face, showing Comstock was still afflicted by his overuse of the Luteces' trans-dimensional device. Despite her apparent hatred for this particular Comstock, Elizabeth acknowledged the fact that he had tried to save Sally, something which she was trying to do in Episode 2. When later questioned by her hallucination of 'Booker DeWitt' on whether Comstock truly deserved to die, Elizabeth solemnly answered that everyone deserved to, one way or another.

VoxophonesEdit

GalleryEdit

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • Comstock is apparently only thirty-eight years old during the events of BioShock Infinite. In a Voxophone located on the Hand of the Prophet airship, Rosalind Lutece suggests his advanced aging is due to the cancer caused by the Luteces' machine.
    • In early gameplay footage, Comstock appeared on political banners as middle-aged, with darker hair and clean shaven. These political banners can be seen on the miniature Soldier's Field diorama when Booker and Elizabeth visit the Soldier's Field Welcome Center.
      Old Comstock Pic Soldiers Field

      Early Comstock in the Soldier's Field model

  • Comstock's dying words in-game are the same as the last words traditionally attributed to Jesus Christ, in the Gospel according to John, in the Christian faith.
  • Comstock's name is potentially an allusion to Anthony Comstock, a 19th century American politician responsible for the 'Comstock Laws' which labeled anything remotely sexual in nature (including anatomy textbooks) as pornographic and banned their publication. He referred to himself as the 'weeder in God's garden' and was known for his religious fanaticism and extreme methods.
  • Another possible background for Comstock's name is from George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, in which the main character, Gordon Comstock, rebels from what he calls the Money-God, the urge for more money, and seeks other ways of life.
  • In his quarters on the Hand of the Prophet is a uniform that has the U.S. Army variant of the Medal of Honor pinned on it. However, the Medal of Honor has a neck order both for wear and display. 
  • During the Hall of Heroes, Slate vehemently condemns Comstock for lying about being at the Battle of Wounded Knee and others. In actuality, he actually was at the battle, only as Booker DeWitt. Slate simply did not recognize Comstock had previously been Booker DeWitt.
  • Comstock has a scar on the right side of his head.
  • Comstock's death at the end of Burial at Sea - Episode 1 is very similar to the death of the Splicer in one of the early BioShock 1 trailers. From his struggling to pull a Little Sister out of a vent, to being impaled by a Big Daddy's drill through his back. 

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://bioshock.wikia.com/wiki/File:BookerBadge.jpg
  2. BioShock Infinite Preview: Back on Track on Eurogamer
  3. Undeserving
  4. City of Columbia Historical Timeline
  5. Date indicated by the calender on Booker's desk
  6. One and the Same
  7. A Child Needs a Protector
  8. A Broken Circle
  9. Columbia Historical Timeline
  10. Pavlov's Bell

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