|“||The Lord forgives everything, but I'm just a prophet... so I don't have to. Amen.||„|
|~ Father Comstock|
Zachary Hale Comstock is the main antagonist in BioShock Infinite. He is the leader of the Founders, the ultra-nationalist party that founded the floating city of Columbia. Within Columbia, Comstock is known as a prophet, earning the nicknames "Father Comstock" and the "Hero of the Battle of Wounded Knee". He was once married to Lady Comstock until sometime before Friday, February 13, 1903, when he claimed she was killed by their maid, Daisy Fitzroy. It is later revealed that Comstock himself killed her to cover up his "daughter" Elizabeth's true origin.
As a result, the duo has to travel through Columbia to reach Comstock House to take down Comstock together, where he resides. It is later revealed that Comstock is actually an alternative version of Booker DeWitt reborn after accepting baptism.
He is voiced by Kiff VandenHeuvel.
The man that would become Zachary Hale Comstock was 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. Coming across Preacher Witting, Booker was offered a chance to 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. However, in an alternate reality he accepted it and then re-invented himself, taking on the name Zachary Hale Comstock. After the baptism, Comstock became a deeply religious man, and he used his newfound faith to reshape his identity. He soon became a powerful man with a strong pull in the United States government.
Discovery of Interdemensional Tears
Not long after his baptism, Comstock met Rosalind Lutece, a genius physicist, who had been experimenting with manipulating the actions of atoms. Between 1892-1893, through extended experimentation with the quantum atom, Rosalind found that she was able to create a communication field into an alternate universe, making contact with Robert Lutece, an alternate version of herself, who was performing the same exact experiment. The two quickly befriended each other and even started to consider themselves "twins." Determined to find a way to see Robert face to face, Rosalind reported her findings to Comstock. Comstock provided Rosalind with sufficient funds, 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 create tears into alternate universes.
Robert soon used this device to travel to Rosalind's universe, though it had an ill effect on him; his body had a hard time adjusing to the new reality, causing confusion and hemorrhaging. Rosalind mended him back to health, and his body eventually came accustomed to using the device. Despite warnings from Rosalind and Robert of the side effects caused by the device, Comstock decided to use it anyway. Using this device, Comstock saw a floating city, one that he would be responsible for creating. Like Robert, the device had an ill effect on Comstock as well, and he became delusional, as well as sterile, unable to conceive children. If he had any hope for raising an heir to his floating city, it was in adoption. The use of the inter-dimensional machine made it possible to adopt his offspring from a different universe. Thereafter believing himself to be a prophet, Comstock began to believe that these interdimensional tears were visions of the "angel" Columbia. Comstock began to see America as "the New Eden," and the Founding Fathers as prophets of God's Great Plan. However, he also saw Caucasians as the only truly free race, and viewed minority races with 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.
The Creation and Secession of Columbia
Before she met Comstock, Rosalind had discovered an atom that refused to descend. She was convinced that it could be used to make the Comstock's floating city a reality. Receiving support from the United States government, Comstock oversaw the creation of the city, which Comstock named Columbia. It was launched in 1894 with much fanfare, and Comstock became its leader, creating a political party of all whites called The Founders.
Seen as a floating symbol of American ideals at the time the United States was becoming a world power, Columbia was sent to all corners of the globe, and was marveled by the people throughout. During this time, Comstock continued to use Rosalind's device to open more tears, using them to see even more visions of the future. When he showed these visions to inventor and businessman Jeremiah Fink, the latter was able to create several inventions (such as the Sky-Hook) and mass produce Vigors, making Columbia advanced beyond its time. With Comstock's influence, thanks to the interdimensional tears, the Founders would eventually see him as a true prophet, and began to worship him like a God.
When the Boxer Rebellion in China occurred in 1901, Comstock discovered that the Chinese were holding American citizens hostage. Comstock then ordered Columbia to open fire on the Chinese populace, considering them an enemy of American ideals. 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 to secede from the United States, and the city disappeared into the skies. Comstock thereafter considered Columbia the true America, believing the United States to be a shell of its former self, and condemning it with the rest of the world as "the Sodom Below."
The Lamb of Columbia
Through Rosalind and Robert's device, Comstock saw that in order for Columbia to remain alive, he would need an heir to take his place. However, overuse of the device began to take its toll on Comstock. He began to age rapidly, and he soon discovered to his horror that he was rendered infertile. Desperate to carry his seed into the future, he got an idea to gain an heir from an alternate version of himself.
In 1895, Robert was able to return to his own reality and find Booker DeWitt; since rejecting Preacher Witting's baptism, a still-regretful Booker had spiraled deep into alcoholism and gambling debt. Comstock had Robert offer to wipe away these debts in exchange for Booker's infant daughter, Anna DeWitt. Booker haltingly agreed, and Robert brought Anna to Comstock.
Booker almost immediately regretted the decision, and tracked Robert down. 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. In the process, the tear closed a moment too soon, slicing a portion of Anna's right pinkie finger off.
Seeing the child as the key to making his dream of remaking the world a reality, and with Lady Comstock's insistence that the child not live under their roof, Comstock created Monument Island to house her. Due to the fact that her pinkie finger was in another universe—she existed in two realities at once—she acquired the ability to create Tears, portals through dimensional space and time similar to the ones created by the Luteces' machine. To keep her in check, Comstock saw to the creation of the Siphons, which limited her use of her powers. Comstock also used these inter-dimensional abilities with the Siphon to create a guardian creature known as "the Songbird", which would not only keep her safe, but also prevent her from escaping. Renaming her Elizabeth, Comstock began to call her the "Lamb of Columbia," and the Founders soon began to worship her as a savior.
Unfortunately for Comstock, overuse of the Luteces' contraption continued to deteriorate his body, giving him cancer, the inability to sexually reproduce, and causing him to have the appearance of an old man at a mere thirty-eight years of age. In addition, it gave him knowledge that Booker would eventually find a way to take Elizabeth from him. He then began to warn the populace that a "False Shepherd" would appear, bearing the mark "AD" on his right hand—Anna DeWitt's initials, a mark which Booker branded on himself as penance for his failure—and became determined to make Elizabeth his heir.
Murder of Lady Comstock and the Luteces
At the same time, Lady Comstock was growing frustrated and angry with keeping the truth about Elizabeth from the populace. Knowing that she was going to reveal the truth, Comstock had her killed and framed his servant, Daisy Fitzroy, for her murder—this 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 from transpiring, they plotted to take Elizabeth from Comstock and return her to her original universe. However, Comstock soon discovered what they were doing, and ordered Jeremiah Fink to sabotage their contraption, killing the two as they were using it. In actuality, the sabotage 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 as a form of redemption for both sides.
As Booker traveled through the tear that Rosalind and Robert created, he lost his memory, and his brain created new ones. He now believed that he was bringing Elizabeth back to New York to clear a gambling debt he owed to "people you would not want to owe money to", which the Lutece twins would pay off for him upon recovery of the girl. Knowing that he would have to reacquire his memories on his own, the Luteces decided to play along with Booker's false memories, and sent him to Columbia. When Booker makes his presence known during a city raffle, Comstock sends his forces after the man, determined to stop him from retrieving Elizabeth. Comstock's efforts are initially for naught, as Elizabeth willingly goes along with Booker and assists him in battling Comstock's soldiers. Comstock's tactics soon become more aggressive; on one occasion, he uses Elizabeth's powers with the siphon to create a both living and dead version of Lady Comstock in order 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, he instructs his scientists to operate on her 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. The scientists then use this device as part of the mental conditioning she is put through, both to turn her to Comstock's way of thinking, and squash any hope that Booker will come for her.
In one reality, Booker is unable to save Elizabeth, and Comstock turns her into a brutal and murderous dictator. However, this older Elizabeth, feeling regret that she allowed herself to become Comstock's heir—the executor of his desire to "drown in flame the mountains of man"—brings Booker to her universe while he is navigating Comstock House. She gives him a note for her younger self with coded instructions on how to avoid this fate, and sends him back to retrieve Elizabeth in the appropriate timeline.
- "It is… finished."
- ―Zachary Hale Comstock's last words, before he is killed by Booker DeWitt
After eliminating the scientists, escaping Comstock House, and boarding and navigating his 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 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. The two travel to the place of Booker's baptism after the Battle of Wounded Knee, where he was "reborn" as Comstock. Elizabeth then reveals that, in order to truly destroy Comstock, throughout all the realities he exists in, Booker must die before he can either accept or refuse the baptism. 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—up to and including the creation of Columbia—are erased from existence. Booker and Anna's life return to the moment when she was still a baby.
- 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 age is due to the cancer caused by the Luteces' machine.
- Although his appearance as a prophet shows that he is much older, with white hair and a full beard, in early gameplay footage, he appeared on political banners as middle-aged, with darker hair and clean shaven.
- Comstock's dying words in-game are the same as the last words traditionally attributed to Jesus Christ 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.
- Comstock is mentioned in an off-hand comment in BioShock: Rapture (Novel), indicating that he may have existed in some form in that universe. In that universe, he was a wealthy American mining tycoon whose financial empire was considered to be the precursor to Andrew Ryan's.