A humble pastor and preacher in the DC Universe, McCay inherits the prophetic dreaming abilities of Wesley Dodds (Sandman) and finds himself appointed by the Spectre (Jim Corrigan) to serve as his lost human conscience and help the Spirit of Vengeance to judge the forthcoming apocalyptic events in order to properly punish the guilty. Reluctantly, McCay serves as the Witness to the events of Kingdom Come.
Created by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. Norman McCay's visual appearance was actually based upon Kingdom Come's artist Alex Ross' actual father, Minister Clark Norman Ross.
In the otherdimension of Earth-22, Norman McCay is a deeply religious man who became a minister and in his later years, moved to Metropolis with his wife, Ellen to assume the role of the pastor of a small Presbyterian congregation which included Wesley Dodds, the long retired Golden Age Sandman.
Dodds is increasingly disturbed by the growing amorality and violence of the current generation of metahumans and discusses his fears with McCay and the two become close friends. Shortly after the death of McCay's wife, Dodds falls ill as well and has to be hospitalized himself.
Often visiting him in the hospital, McCay believed Dodds' ramblings of apocalyptic visions to be the result of senility or dementia. After Dodds' death, McCay finds that he is experiencing disturbing visions of his own. He is shocked to learn of the Kansas Disaster instigated by Magog who has replaced Superman as the dominant superhuman of this new and more violent age.
During a sermon, he begins screaming a warning of the coming apocalypse and upon recovering, is horrified that he has completely terrified his congregation.
In despair and wondering if he is losing his mind as well, McCay is approached by the Spectre (Jim Corrigan) who confirms that McCay has inherited Dodds' gift of prophetic dreams. After so many years, the ghostly Spirit of Vengeance has lost touch with his humanity and is unable to properly judge human beings anymore. He believes that he needs a human anchor to help him in his judgments and has selected McCay to serve in this role and to bear testament.
Together, McCay and the Spectre view the coming apocalypse as a pair of invisible witnesses; watching the reemergence of Superman and his reformation of the Justice League as well as the manipulations of Lex Luthor and his secret cabal who seek to destabilize the world in order to seize power for themselves.
Superman ultimately believes that they have no choice but to imprison the most violent superhuman offenders and constructs a monstrous Gulag and believes that they have finally begun to reassert control over the world.
McCay is abruptly dragged from the dimension from which he and the Spectre have been traveling through by the superhumanly swift Flash who is able to perceive the higher dimensions. Originally believed to be an intruder, McCay instead tries to warn Superman of the growing threat and the disaster about to befall them all. Superman however, dismisses him as a confused old man.
But McCay is proven right when a riot breaks out at the Gulag and Wonder Woman orders the other Leaguers to respond with lethal force, overriding Superman's protests. Desperate to save lives, Superman travels to the Batcave and tries to convince the infirm but still active Bruce Wayne to combine forces with him once more as the World's Finest Team to end this threat and they join the struggle. But the war between the metahumans has not gone undetected or unnoticed, and the United Nations decide to end the growing metahuman threat themselves by dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gulag, eliminating all of the metahumans; both hero and villain once and for all.
At this point, the Spectre asks who is the guilty party of this horrible event. Who is the one he should punish? McCay determines that there is no choice between any innocent or guilty parties or persons. There is no one person to be blamed for this horrible tragedy and this is much more complex than a simple struggle between good and evil. Satisfied, the Spectre allows the nuclear bombs to detonate.
Believing himself the only survivor, Superman is enraged by the massacre and he flies to the U.N. Headquarters and begins to bring down the entire building as punishment even as the Spectre is content to allow this to occur. Angrily, McCay demands the Spectre bring him to the U.N. to prevent more senseless loss of life. McCay chastises Superman, proclaiming that he has lost his way and his ability to empathize with humanity after his abandonment of his human identity of Clark Kent. This has all helped led them to this holocaust and helps calm Superman down and buying time for the other survivors of the nuclear detonation to reach the U.N.
Realizing that he is not the only survivor and that McCay is right, Superman promises to work with humanity rather than imposing their views and decisions. Satisfied, the Spectre brings McCay home and allows him to rejoin his life.
Norman McCay resumes preaching to his congregation a new message of hope for all of humanity. He is also frequently visited by the Spectre in his guise of Jim Corrigan who seeks to reconnect with his own lost humanity.
Powers & Abilities
Norman McCay possesses prophetic visions of future events. He had no conscious control of these visions and could not always control them or understand what these cryptic images represented. These visions could appear as flashes of future events or symbolic images. Unlike Wesley Dodds however, McCay does not need to be asleep to receive these visions.
Norman McCay also appears in a novelization of the Kingdom Come comic series of the same name. This novel was written by Elliot S! Maggin and has been printed as both a hardcover and paperback versions in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
Norman McCay's character and role in the story has not changed, although this novel greatly expands on McCay's background and also reveals that he was ordained as a Dutch Reformed Minister, a sect that was founded in the 16th Century in the Netherlands.
In this version, McCay also had the ability to "speak in tongues" during his visions and could also perceive ghosts and other spirits. He could also occasionally perceive events of the past as well and event the history of certain notable people.