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|First appearance||(I)All Star Comics #57, 1951
(II) Justice League of America #41 (December 1965)
|Created by||Gardner Fox (script), Mike Sekowsky (art)|
|Team affiliations||Injustice League
|Abilities||Carries a key-shaped blaster
Dream-like flu via psycho-virus that produces structured hallucinations
Ability to steal energy from the minds of infected people
Robot servants that have limited resistance to physical attacks and offensive capabilities
Fictional character biographies
Golden Age Key
The Golden Age Key's sole appearance is in 1951's All Star Comics #57, which features the last Golden Age appearance of the Justice Society of America. In this story, the Key is the head of a major crime syndicate, and uses various agents around the world in his misdeeds. While escaping from the Justice Society in a cable car moving over a gorge, the Key leaps out to avoid capture by the JSA, presumably falling to his death (as this version of the Key hasn't been seen since).
Modern Age Key
The second Key debuted in Justice League of America (volume 1) #41 (December 1965). Originally a chemist with Intergang, the man who would be known as the Key develops mind-expanding "psycho-chemicals" that activate his ten senses and help him plan crimes mere humans can never hope to understand. Armed with these plans, a series of henchmen known as the "Key-Men", and a "key blaster", the Key has several failed run-ins with the JLA.
The Key returns in JLA #8 (August 1997), after spending years in hibernation due to a drug-induced coma he had put himself into to unlock dormant potential in his brain. The psycho-chemicals he has been ingesting have altered his appearance into a pale, cadaverous form, and heightened his mental abilities. He manages to infiltrate the JLA headquarters, and traps the team in fantasy realms of their own creation- ranging from Kal-El as the Green Lantern of Sector 2813 on a still-existent Krypton, a now-retired Bruce Wayne going back into action when Tim Drake and his son face the Joker as the clown is dying of cancer, Aquaman in a time where Earth has been virtually flooded, and a powerless Wonder Woman facing Nazi archaeologists unleashing demons-, intending to siphon off the energies of their inevitable victory in order to increase his power. He almost succeeds if not for the intervention of Connor Hawke, who beams up to the JLA headquarters while the Key is present due to a pre-arranged meeting to discuss him becoming a member of the League, Connor attacking the Key at a crucial moment before he can complete his goal. He eventually returns to fight Batman in Arkham Asylum after infecting the asylum with an airborne toxin to heighten aggression, attempting to provoke the Dark Knight into murdering him so he could escape life itself, but the plan proves unsuccessful.
In the aftermath of the "World without a Justice League" storyline (JLA, #120-#125) when the Justice League is disassembled, the Key, now with telepathic powers thanks to a cybernetic implant, tries to destroy the League. After a long battle with Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Manitou Dawn, he is beaten and sent to "the dream realm", a place for telepaths, where he can think in peace. He somehow escapes, as he is later seen fighting in the Battle of Metropolis.
After this, he appeared in Justice League of America (volume 2) #17, as leader of a group of villains seeking to avoid being sent to the prison planet. The story suggests that the other villains are looking to the Key to facilitate their escape from JLA holding cells when they see fit to do so, but the League has prepared for this and ensured that the power dampeners in the cells prevent his enhanced intelligence from working as well as the more physical abilities of the other villains. Later, in issue #37, he is shown acting as a middle man between Roulette and an unseen master. In Final Crisis, he is part of Libra's Secret Society of Super-Villains.
In The New 52, Key appears after causing a massive riot at Arkham Asylum. He is stopped by Batman, Superman and Cyborg, but is revealed to have been coerced by a new villain named David Graves as a means of distracting the Justice League.
Powers and abilities
Originally The Key carries a blaster in the shape of a key.
The Key’s psycho-chemicals have allowed him to access the 90% of the human brain that is untapped. This has vastly increased his intelligence and expanded his range of senses. He has created a programmable psycho-virus that initiates a dream-like flu. The flu takes over the central nervous system and allows the Key to produce structured hallucinations. He is then able to steal the energy from the mind of the infected person.
The Key has several robot servants that he uses to perform tasks for him. The androids have some resistance to physical attacks, and also have offensive capabilities.
In other media
- In Justice League Unlimited, the Key (voiced by Corey Burton) is seen as a member of the Secret Society. His skills seem more oriented to penetrating secure areas with a key shaped gun that can easily open doors as well as fulfill mundane ballistic means. In his premier episode I Am Legion, the Key also displayed some form of intangibility to save Lex Luthor from a police manhunt. In a commentary, it was said that he was originally going to be possessed by, or be connected to, Brainiac, and play an important role in the season finale. However, he was dropped in favor of a resurrected Darkseid. In the finale, he sided against Lex Luthor and was subsequently frozen by Killer Frost.
- The Key appears in Beware the Batman episode "Animal", voiced by J.B. Blanc. He is depicted as a small old shopkeeper with the ability to mold his fingers into any key fitting a lock, and is able to download digital security keys from computers into his brain. He also acts as an expert forger, creating new identities for a high price. The Key downloads an important security code worth a fortune, only to be defeated by Batman and placed in Blackgate Penitentiary. Batman has himself arrested to go after the Key before he breaks out, before the thief is kidnapped by Killer Croc and his men. Batman and Croc have a fight to get a hold of him. After Batman brutally beats Croc, he threatens the Key to break out of prison with him. Batman retrieves the code from the Key and hands him over to Commissioner Gordon to keep him in custody in the cell of the Gotham City Police Department. In "Twist", the Key is revealed to have been paid by Slade Wilson to create his new identity as "Dane Lisslow" in order to fake his death and begin his elaborate revenge scheme against Batman and Alfred Pennyworth. The Key is interrogated by Batman and Katana, and later arrested.
- The Key is featured in the video game Justice League Heroes voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. He appears as the third game boss and as Brainiac's henchman.
- Justice League #9 (May 2012)
- Justice League Unlimited Season Two, commentary on Alive