The original Secret Society of Super-Villains was secretly created by Darkseid as a replacement for the ineffectual Intergang, although it quickly developed into something much more autonomous and individual.
Through unknown circumstances, Darkseid contacted a solitary clone of the original Manhunter, Paul Kirk, who was engineered by a shadowy organization known as The Council. Other clones of Paul Kirk were killed upon The Council's defeat, but the sole survivor was directed by Darkseid to organize a team of powerful villains to front his interests on the planet Earth. Manhunter's initial recruits were Gorilla Grodd, Star Sapphire, Captain Cold, Sinestro, Copperhead, The Wizard, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, and Shadow Thief. Catwoman was also mentioned by Manhunter as having been inducted into the group, but was never seen as a participating member. The first convention of the Secret Society was in a high-rise office building by San Francisco Bay, known to the general public as the Loman Building, although the Secret Society referred to it as their Sinister Citadel. Copperhead was captured by mundane policemen during the team's first mission, due to being callously abandoned by Grodd.
He was quickly replaced by Hi-Jack (formerly Jack of the Royal Flush Gang, striking out to make an independent reputation). Green Lantern ran afoul of Grodd and Hi-Jack during the Society's second public outing, but an error in character judgement caused Captain Comet, then newly returned to the Earth after a long absence, to aid the Super-Villains against the Emerald Gladiator. Captain Comet accompanied the villains back to the Sinister Citadel, where the Secret Society privately discussed whether to make Comet a part of their group by manipulating his naivete. Though the Society believed their true intentions guarded by Grodd's telepathic screen, Captain Comet's own telepathic powers were more advanced and penetrated through, allowing him to secretly divine their malevolent designs. Captain Comet later revealed his knowledge of the Society's perfidy to Manhunter in another private conversation, deciding to trust him due to his ability to detect Manhunter's motives were noble, alone out of all the Society members. Manhunter's conscience moved him to betray Darkseid's plans, revealing the source of the Secret Society's financial backing to the other members and leading them to a secret Apokoliptian lab on Earth.
The Lord of Apokolips became privy to this betrayal almost immediately, dispatching Kalibak and Mantis to terminate his ill-conceived experiment. However, Grodd defeated Kalibak after a pitched battle, and Mantis absorbed the energies of Green Lantern's power ring and turned against Darkseid, confident in his enhanced power levels. This turn of events forced Darkseid to intercede personally to see his will enacted. After humbling Mantis with a show of might, Darkseid fought the rebellious Secret Society directly, apparently being vanquished by a suicide-bomb attack from Manhunter. Captain Comet then left the Secret Society, as the defeat of Darkseid meant the end of any cause to cooperation between himself and the Super-Villains. Instead, Captain Comet convinced Green Lantern to call an emergency meeting of the Justice League of America in order to warn them about the Secret Society's existence. Meanwhile, Sinestro and the Wizard, being the most opportunistic, antisocial, and power-hungry of the group, quit the Society and struck out on their own. They subsequently ran across egotistical con-artist Funky Flashman, who had somehow learned of the existence of their organization and made unauthorized entry to the Sinister Citadel to convince the Secret Society to hire him as their public relations manager. Already irritated by the failure of the Secret Society to live up to its promise, Sinestro exploded into a rampage throughout downtown San Francisco, bringing him to the heightened attentions of Captain Comet, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, who neutralized him. With that, the end of the Secret Society's conflict with Darkseid led into a new conflict, against the Earth's heroes more generally and Captain Comet in specific.
However, with Manhunter dead, the Secret Society was without a clearly identifiable leader and split into factions. One faction, consisting of Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang, broke away and recruited Captain Stingaree, prior to launching a campaign to kidnap "captains of air, land, and sea" in a metaphorical act of "world conquest." Captain Comet captured the "captains cataclysmic" with the assistance of Green Arrow and Black Canary. The rest of the Secret Society gradually coalesced around the Wizard and Funky Flashman, who now had control over the technology that was developed for the team's usage in the Sinister Citadel. However, a new player in the game of power emerged to assume decisive command over the Secret Society, staking his claim to the right by busting Copperhead out of prison and beating Wizard senseless in a fistfight. This figure was Lex Luthor, who having becoming aware of the Society's existence sought to direct the team's energies towards the goal of destroying his archfoe Superman. Luthor planned to ambush Superman with a trio of the Society's magic users -- The Wizard and newly acquired assets Felix Faust and Matter Master -- at the site where his latest movie was to be shot in Sapporo, Japan, but the execution of the operation failed at multiple stages: First, Lex was not aware that Superman was being substituted for his professional public impersonator Greg Reed on the day that the attack was to commence; secondly, he didn't account for the arrival of other members of the Justice League to back "Superman" up such as Hawkgirl; and third, he was clueless to the fact that the Wizard's mystic powers were ebbing due to prolonged residence in the Earth-One dimensional plane, and that it was only on account of this fact that he was ever capable of muscling his way into the position as the Secret Society's leader. Lex's ambush backfired and he scornfully dismissed the Society as a band of incompetents, being anonymously tipped off to the police by Funky Flashman as he left the building (something that Lex had planned to do to the Society instead before he was beaten to it).
The Wizard devised a plan to manipulate the Secret Society, effectively under the leadership of Flashman, to renew his magic powers using enchanted artifacts collectively known as the Sorcerer's Treasures -- The Sorcerer's Prism, The Power Glove, The Dragon Box, and The Cloak of Invisibility -- which Superman and Batman had encountered on an adventure years prior and hurled into the void of space. To accomplish this, the Wizard adopted a second, clandestine role as the Secret Society's new bankroller "Mister Big," counterfeiting money using his dwindling magic and channeling funds to Flashman through discreet avenues which would not betray his true identity. On the orders of his "unknown benefactor," Flashman dispatched the Secret Society to recover the Sorcerer's Treasures, which had since returned to Earth by sheer happenstance. In the pursuit of this new campaign, the Secret Society made a new enemy for themselves in Kid Flash, who tried to recover the Sorcerer's Prism from a local gangster who had acquired it when the Society intervened and seized it for themselves. In addition, the Society recruited the Trickster, but after recovering the Sorcerer's Prism, the Trickster unsuccessfully attempted to abscond with it and was ejected from the Society for his efforts. Kid Flash joined up with Captain Comet to obstruct the Society's attempted heist of the Power Glove and managed to capture Grodd in the ensuing fracas, but the heroes failed to actually prevent the theft.
Grodd psychically summoned his Quadromobile to orchestrate his escape from prison and rendezvous at the Sinister Citadel. Afterwards, the Trickster approached Kid Flash and Captain Comet with the proposal to help them against the Secret Society, owing to taking their rejection badly. Parallel to these developments, Star Sapphire recruited the Creeper out of Gotham City, mistaken that the Creeper was a criminal because the GCPD treated him as one. The Creeper decided to join the Society and learn its secrets in order to dismantle it from within at a convenient later date. Flashman located the Dragon Box and dispatched a team of villains to retrieve it, but their mission was frustrated by Kid Flash, Captain Comet, and the Trickster. Ultimately, the Trickster turned on the heroes once the Dragon Box was in his hands, seeking to sell it on the black market himself, but was swiftly taken down. Grodd nearly escaped with the artifact but inadvertently released its hidden power, shattering the Box in the process. Star Sapphire spied on Captain Comet when Comet was reported tackling an inexplicable string of natural disasters and learned that the source of the calamity was Jean Loring, who had been altered by the denizens of Lemuria into an instrument of destruction. Star Sapphire then traced Jean to the laboratory of Ray Palmer and kidnapped her with the reluctant help of the Creeper, who went along to maintain his cover. Following this excursion, the Society completed their original goal, stealing the Cloak of Invisibility from S.T.A.R. Labs and digging up the chest where they hid the Power Glove and Sorcerer's Prism. Captain Comet ambushed the team at the recovery site, but he was defeated by Grodd and Star Sapphire. Funky Flashman absconded with the Sorcerer's Treasures and dropped the artifacts off at a bus terminal, where the Wizard appeared a few minutes later to pick them up. However, the Creeper was keeping watch over the location in anticipation that "Mister Big" would appear and sprang on the Wizard, causing him to be arrested and the Sorcerer's Treasures to be confiscated by the police.
The setback in the Wizard's plans gave Grodd the opportunity necessary to launch his own planned coup of the Secret Society, mesmerizing Star Sapphire using his psychic powers and bullying Flashman into a position of subservience. Grodd formed a faction of the Secret Society with his own handpicked batch of super-villains, consisting of Poison Ivy, Angle Man, Bizarro, and Sinestro (whom Grodd convinced to rejoin the group). The Society launched a systematic assault on the chief membership roster of the Justice League, downing Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. The winning streak of Grodd's team came to a crashing halt when they broke into the Fortress of Solitude to challenge Superman. Grodd recovered from this setback and joined with Star Sapphire (now freed from his mental control but willing to cooperate in the name of greed) and new recruit Plant Master. Grodd overcame the defenses of Gorilla City and used it as his base of operations, from where he planned to use Jean Loring to power a doomsday weapon and coerce the nations of the world into surrendering to his rule. Ray Palmer, as the Atom, teamed up with Wonder Woman to save Jean and put a stop to the Secret Society's takeover bid. Afterwards, the Wizard managed to establish contact with the Sorcerer's Treasures during an interrogation session in jail and broke out using the artifacts' innate power. The Wizard then recruited Star Sapphire, Plant Master, Professor Zoom, and Blockbuster into his own faction of the Secret Society, returning to the Sinister Citadel to reveal to Flashman how he had been played for a dupe during his tenure as leader and teleporting him to the Gotham City bowery without a penny for his involvement. The Wizard's team then commandeered an interdimensional portal at a S.T.A.R. Labs facility in order to jump to Earth-Two and defeat the Wizard's long-standing enemies in the Justice Society of America. Captain Comet followed them into the Interdimensional Limbo, where they all became stranded on Earth-Three. The Secret Society ran afoul of the Crime Syndicate of America and used the Syndicate's items of power to perform a magic ritual to reach their intended destination. After his own grisly run-in with the Crime Syndicate, Captain Comet followed the Wizard's Secret Society to Earth-Two, where they had already set about waging a campaign against the Justice Society by picking off their most vulnerable members one at a time, starting with Dr. Mid-Nite, the Atom, and Mister Terrific. Back on Earth-One, Mirror Master occupied the Sinister Citadel and formed another faction of the Secret Society by recruiting Copperhead, Killer Moth, Chronos, Quakemaster, and the Sizematic Twins. Mirror Master's Secret Society battled the Freedom Fighters during their period of exile on Earth-One, under the pay of their arch-enemy Silver Ghost.
Through as yet unrevealed circumstances, Mirror Master's faction failed to accomplish its objective and broke up, while the Wizard's faction returned from Earth-Two to Earth-One, similarly unsuccessful. The Wizard's group rematerialized in the Justice League Satellite, yet while their bodies had made the dimensional leap, their souls were still trapped in the Interdimensional Limbo with high risk of dissipation. To circumvent this, the Society seized a Mesopotamian griffin statue with mystical properties and used it as the focus for a magic ritual to swap minds and bodies with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Zatanna. The Secret Society, wearing the JLAers' bodies, then sprung a trap on the JLAers in their original bodies by summoning the rest of the League to take them down. The Wizard and Professor Zoom, using the powers of Superman and Green Lantern, then imprisoned the JLAers wearing their forms in a power-ring construct prison and hurled it into outer space on a trajectory for the Sun. The Society then planned to lull the rest of the JLA into a false sense of security, take them out, and loot a gem exhibit that the Justice League had been entrusted with guarding against thieves. However, the suspicions of Green Arrow eventually caused the other remaining JLAers to pay more attention to oddities in their comrades' behavior and therefore to counterattack more gracefully when the Society showed their true colors. Red Tornado saved the JLAers who exchanged bodies with the Society members from a fiery death of being consumed by the Sun's corona, and the Secret Society were ultimately defeated by the Justice League, with the mind-body swap being reversed by Zatanna's magical powers.
This was the final gathering of the original Secret Society of Super-Villains prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and while much of the Secret Society's history was preserved in some form into the New Earth reality, certain aspects, such as Multiverse-hopping or the membership of specific individuals whose Post-Crisis history became incompatibly different, were excised from the timeline of the merged universe.
It was much later revealed that the members of the Wizard's Secret Society faction learned the secret identities of the Justice Leaguers whose bodies they switched into and that Zatanna mindwiped them into forgetting. The significance of this fact would only be fully realized in the aftermath of the death of Sue Dibny and the revelation that Zatanna altered the personality of Doctor Light years prior. At that time, Despero undid the Secret Society's mental blocks and permitted them to remember the Justice League's secret identities and what was done to them. The Wizard assembled the Secret Society one final time, drawing from the rosters of all factions of the original group, and began a spree of destruction through Gotham City and Metropolis with the goal of murdering the loved ones of anyone who had ever been a Justice Leaguer. The Society was captured after making an attempt on the life of Lois Lane and attacking the Daily Planet building, and in the end, their memories were blocked once more by Zatanna.
- 35 Appearances of Secret Society of Super-Villains I
- 5 Images that include Secret Society of Super-Villains I
- Team Gallery: Secret Society of Super-Villains I
Links and References
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #3
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #1
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #2
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #4
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #5
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #6
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #7
- World's Finest #103
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #11
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #8
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #9
- Super-Team Family #13
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #10
- DC Special Series #6
- Super-Team Family #14
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #11
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #12
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #13
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #14
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #15
- Justice League of America #166
- Justice League of America #167
- Justice League of America #168
- Identity Crisis
- JLA #116
- JLA #117
- JLA #118
- JLA #119