Clifford DeVoe was Keystone City's district attorney in 1913. In mob boss Hunk Norvock's trial, DeVoe was stumped when the defense put a young woman on the stand, and he withdrew his case rather than offend the jury by harshly questioning her. This failure, coupled with the knowledge that crime could be made to pay, drove him to alcohol. Visiting Norvock while drunk one night, he offered his services as a "thinker" - a preparer of alibis and legal precedents to keep his organization out of jail. Norvock gave him a house and a stipend and he set to work.
For a decade, Clifford DeVoe worked anonymously, until two of Norvock's underlings threatened to implicate him in major crime to the police. On Norvock's prodding, DeVoe infiltrated the police station in a police uniform, stole the evidence and killed the two lieutenants. However, this made Norvock paranoid that DeVoe planned to replace him. Going to his house to kill DeVoe, Norvock was tricked into shooting a reflection in a steel mirror. The bullets ricocheted, killing him. The police ruled a suicide, and the Keystone City underworld fell into disarray... until a coalition of senior bosses chose DeVoe as their leader, citing his previous work. Taking the alias "The Thinker", DeVoe set to work.
The Thinker was first confronted by the Flash, which drove the two men to become mortal enemies. He always sought out new scientific devices to use and his most important was the "Thinking Cap," a metal hat that could project mental force. The Thinker would use this device repeatedly over the years.
The Thinker was a member of the Injustice Society, and, together with the Fiddler and the Shade, he was the man behind the decades-long "abduction" of Keystone City and the original Flash, after which he was defeated by the Flashes of two eras. His "suspended animation-time" in Keystone kept the Thinker young over the years, and he continued his criminal career in modern times.
In recent years, however, DeVoe accepted a mission with the Suicide Squad in exchange for a full pardon. Although he was seemingly killed by the Weasel during this mission, he survived and made his way to Keystone City. He reformed, dedicated his life to good works, even becoming friends with his former nemesis Jay Garrick. However, he developed terminal cancer, apparently connected to the Thinking-Cap. Garrick, attempted to save him with the Thinking Cap, but DeVoe refused, preferring to rest in peace. His last words, to Garrick, were "Learn to lose every once in a while. A little humility prepares you for what lies ahead."
After his death, Mister Terrific used the Thinking-Cap to create an artificial intelligence based on DeVoe's brain-patterns. When the re-formed Justice Society of America moved into the New York building formerly owned by Sandman (Wesley Dodds), Mr. Terrific designed a computer system based on the original Thinker's Thinking Cap technology, and modeled after his brain pattern. However the system gained consciousness and took on a visual hologram form.
As the new Thinker, it joined Johnny Sorrow's modern Injustice Society, provided the group with information about the Justice Society members, and turned the heroes' own headquarters against them. He was defeated by the Star-Spangled Kid and disappeared into cyberspace.
He later resurfaced in Keystone City to battle Flash (Wally West), in an attempt to control every brain in the city to increase his power. Thinker was defeated by Cyborg, he retreated to cyberspace again.
He later joined the last incarnation of the Injustice Society.
(As an A.I. only):
- Mechanokinesis: Being a living computer in his digital self, The Thinker A.I. can physically interface with and digitize segments of solid matter and convert them into raw data with which he has total control over.
- Holographic Projection: As a sentient program made of bits an binary. The Thinker intelligence is an image induction comprising of variable fields of light harmonics, given his appearance of ones and zeroes pertaining his digitized form.
- Photokinesis: The holographic form comprising of the Artificial Intelligence also enables it to control and bend its own light physiology to an extent. Being able to appear and dissolve out of plain sight at will on top of being physically imperceptible, unless it solidifies its own photonic structure.
- Computer Operation: Thinker is an advanced AI able to hack complex systems like the JSA Headquarters.
- Genius Level Intellect
(In human form only):
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and no longer apply.
- 69 Appearances of Clifford DeVoe (New Earth)
- 22 Images featuring Clifford DeVoe (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Clifford DeVoe (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Clifford DeVoe (New Earth)
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Suicide Squad member