Royal Flush Gang

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Royal Flush Gang
The second Royal Flush Gang vs JLA, art by George Pérez
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice League of America #43 March (1966)
Created by Gardner Fox (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
In-story information
Member(s) Ace
King
Queen
Jack
Ten
Wild Card or Wildcard (some versions)

The Royal Flush Gang or RFG are fictional characters in DC Comics. They first appeared in Justice League of America #43 in March 1966 under the leadership of Professor Amos Fortune.

History[edit]

They are a group of playing card-themed supervillains who are usually thwarted by the superheroes they encounter. Their code names based on a royal flush in poker: King, Queen, Jack, Ten and Ace.

First Gang: Clubs[edit]

The first Royal Flush Gang, Mike Sekowsky

The original Royal Flush Gang was Professor Amos Fortune's childhood gang. With Fortune himself as Ace, they fought the Justice League on two occasions, using Fortune's luck-altering "stellaration" technology to realize the fortune-telling significance of playing cards. After Fortune abandoned the Gang, they attempted to steal paintings containing clues to a hidden treasure but were thwarted by the Joker's manipulations.[1] Most of them then abandoned their criminal careers, although Jack briefly joined the Secret Society of Super Villains as "Hi-Jack". Fortune's gang wore costumes based on the suit of clubs. In the pages of JLA Classified, it was revealed the original Royal Flush Gang (sans Amos Fortune) reunited to fight the "Detroit Era" Justice League and their successors in the second gang. In this battle, the original King, Queen and Ten were all killed.

Second Gang: Spades[edit]

The second Royal Flush Gang was set up by Green Lantern villain Hector Hammond in Justice League of America #203. Hammond led the group as "Wildcard". This version wore costumes based on the suit of spades. The gang split up and went on to have separate criminal careers before re-establishing themselves, without Hammond. They were twice hired by Maxwell Lord as part of his manipulation of Justice League International. Later, they were reorganized and reoutfitted by a successor to the Golden Age Green Lantern villain the Gambler masquerading as the Joker.

  • King (Joe Carny) - The so-called "King of the Hoboes", Carny also suffered from lung cancer. As Hammond's agent, he wore a costume that technologically enhanced his natural charisma to the point of mind control. Following the metagene bomb in Invasion!, King became immortal. Although King is the highest-ranking member of the gang, in poker the Ace ranks as the highest card in a royal flush.
  • Queen (Mona Taylor) - Taylor was originally a Broadway star whose career was destroyed by her ongoing alcoholism. As Hammond's agent, she wielded a sceptre that cast realistic illusions. After the Gambler reoutiftted the team, she began employing a wrist shooter that fires razor sharp spades.
  • Jack (name unknown) - Originally a gigolo, he became a fugitive after inadvertently killing a client while attempting to steal her jewelry. As Hammond's agent, he wielded an energy-charged sword. The Gambler replaced his left eye with a cybernetically-activated laser weapon, making him a literal "one-eyed Jack". The removal of his eye to implant the laser initially impacted his sanity.
  • Ten (Wanda Wayland) - Wayland was a test pilot fired for refusing her employer's sexual advances. As Hammond's agent, she wore a costume with energy blasters in its gloves. She has enhanced reflexes, and carries explosive playing cards.
  • Ace - The first Ace ("Derek Reston") was a superstrong android in the form of an African-American man. A second Ace (Ernie Clay) was recruited by King and used a strength-enhancing exoskeleton provided by the Gambler. In more recent appearances in Starman and Infinite Crisis, however, the team was once again employing the robot Ace.

King, Queen and Ten also have blaster-pistols. The Gang fly on hovering playing cards. In the Gang's appearances in Teen Titans, Ten had organized runaways as "Ten's Little Indians", a gang of thieves dressed as the two through nine of spades and armed with bows and trick arrows.

Third Gang: All Suits[edit]

Superman: The Man of Steel #121 revealed that the Royal Flush Gang had expanded. The Royal Flush Gang is now an organization that reaches across America, with cells in every major city. Instead of five members, each "cell" has fifty-two, split into four suits run by the "court cards". Each member has a playing card value, and those who rise or fall in the Gang's esteem gain or lose a "pip". Notably, Stargirl's father was a "Two"; upon defeating him, she transitioned from the Star-Spangled Kid identity to Stargirl in JSA: All-Stars.

Recently, in Infinite Crisis #2, the Joker tortures and kills the leadership of a local cell of the Royal Flush Gang from an unspecified city, after being rejected by the Society for his "instability". The King is the last one left alive and he mocks the Joker for being rejected. He kills the King with an electrical blast to the face. The dead gang is left in the ruins of a casino. However, given the fact that King is immortal, to the point that he has recovered from death almost instantly on numerous occasions, it seems improbable that he actually permanently died.

Another cell of the expanded version, this one stylized as a street gang, appear as members of the Society in Villains United and several of its tie-ins in other comics. It is unclear what ties the third gang has or had—if any—to its predecessors and successors.

Post-Crisis Gang[edit]

A new version of the Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League of America (volume 2) #35. This version is working under the authority of Amos Fortune, who is addressed by other members as "Wild Card". In the following issue, Fortune gives a history of the gang. It seems to combine the first and third gangs' histories/characteristics, with Fortune indicating that he was always running the group in some capacity.

Currently, there are multiple active, costumed members, some of whom deriving their outfits and codenames from cards with pip values lower than ten. Members can raise in the numerical ranks as reward for their successes, or be "dealt out" at the discretion of Wild Card.

It is unclear if there are still 52 cells throughout the country, or 52 members in total. A lower ranked member mentions that there are four Queens, but Fortune states that the group is constantly growing.

A branch of the Royal Flush Gang based in Las Vegas, Nevada recently appeared in Zatanna # 4. Rather than using a playing card motif, each member of the Vegas branch is modeled after a member of the Rat Pack (such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin).

The New 52[edit]

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), the Royal Flush Gang appears in the Forever Evil storyline. They appear as members of the Secret Society of Super Villains at the time when the Crime Syndicate arrive from their world.[2] While Heat Wave sacrifices himself so that the other Rogues can get away from Black Mask, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze, the remaining Rogues are confronted by the Royal Flush Gang who orders them to surrender if they don't want Golden Glider to die.[3]

Other versions[edit]

Elseworlds[edit]

In the miniseries Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, King is a member of Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front. He apparently has gone separate from the Gang, but carries a cigarette pack with playing card markings and speaks in metaphors drawn from card games. There is also a man in the Justice League's prison who appears to be a new version of the Ace of Spades. According to the Elliot S! Maggin novelization, King is also newly immortal, and Vandal Savage's protege.

JLA/Avengers[edit]

In the crossover series JLA/Avengers, the group appears as lackeys of Krona who attack Green Arrow and Hawkeye. King is shown being defeated by Jack of Hearts.

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Wild Cards" featured the Royal Flush Gang. They are a quartet of thieves recruited by the mysterious Ace (not an android). In league with Darkseid, Ace is revealed to be the Joker in disguise as deduced by Batman upon realizing that Joker's house of cards was missing his namesake card. It is also revealed that the house of cards disguises a dimensional warp from Earth to Apokolips. By the end of the episode, Ten (feeling in over her head) switches sides and the rest of the gang and Joker are captured.
  • Several forms of the Royal Flush Gang are prominent in the DC Animated Universe:
    • The Royal Flush Gang appear as recurring foes in Batman Beyond where the new Batman (Terry McGinnis) repeatedly faces a future version of the gang. They use various high-tech weapons with a playing card theme per their name: the husband King (voiced by George Lazenby), the wife Queen (voiced by Amanda Donohoe for the first season and Sarah Douglas for subsequent appearances), their son Jack (voiced by Scott Cleverdon in season one and Nicholas Guest in season three), their daughter Melanie Walker (voiced by Olivia d'Abo) takes the role of Ten, and an android Ace. This version resembles the Hector Hammond group due to their riding hovering playing cards and Ace being an android. It is also a group of criminals that runs in the family with each new generation forming a new version or branch of the gang as the former King was the father of the current Queen. In the episode "Dead Man's Hand", Batman and Melanie develop a romantic interest. Melanie leaves the gang after the episode "Once Burned". This gang's activities are ended in the episode "King's Ransom" when Ace is destroyed and King is revealed to have been having an affair with Sable Thrope (Paxton Powers's secretary) as he was fed up with living in the shadow of his predecessor, (his late father-in-law). The family is arrested, but Jack is bailed out by his sister and takes an honest job at the same restaurant where she works.
    • The Royal Flush Gang's DCAU origins are depicted in the Justice League animated series and Justice League Unlimited. The two-part episode "Wild Cards" features the first incarnation as a group of government-trained teenagers found and given their theme by the Joker (playing on the fact that his name is also a card in a deck): King (voiced by Scott Menville) is able to create fire blasts with Pyrokinesis, Queen (voiced by Tara Strong) can manipulate metal with ferrokinesis, Jack (voiced by Greg Cipes) has complete body elasticity, Ten (voiced by Khary Payton) has invulnerability and super strength comparable to that of Superman, and Ace (voiced by Hynden Walch) who has telepathy, is able to create illusions and drive people insane just by looking at them, even through video broadcasts. Joker uses his gang to stage a reality show in Las Vegas to serve as muscle while the Justice League searches the city for explosives. While King, Ten and Jack are eventually captured, Queen was knocked out during a fight with the Green Lantern and Hawkgirl then presumably perished when one of the bombs inside detonated. The bombs are then revealed to be a ruse, the point of which was to draw viewership so that the Joker could use Ace to drive millions of people insane. The plan fails when Batman pulls a collar from Joker's jacket which Ace's government handlers had used to control her as a child and which Joker had kept as insurance against her. Realizing that Joker was simply using her, Ace turns her powers on him to drive him into catatonia for a time; she then departed the scene and disappeared. It is interesting to note that this Royal Flush Gang shares all of its voice actors with the title characters of the Teen Titans animated series. Bigoted and disgraced former General Hardcastle reveals in the episode "Fearful Symmetry" to Supergirl, Green Arrow and Question that the gang of teenagers that Joker freed were part of an early version of Project Cadmus. A flashback in the episode "Epilogue" features a second incarnation. When Ace's powers evolved to the point where she could warp reality, she granted powers to four random people in an attempt to make friends, but they ditch her and use their powers for crime. All of the new members were various puns based partially on their names: King is a massive head with small limbs that flew on a throne and fired beams from his eyes (a homage to Marvel Comics villain MODOK as well as creator Jack Kirby ("The King of Comic Book Characters")), Queen is a large transvestite with enhanced strength (a cross between famous drag queen Divine and the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland), Jack is an African-American Samurai-styled warrior (a reference to Samurai Jack), and Ten is a beautiful woman with long, extensible cornrows she could use like a whip (modeled after Bo Derek's appearance in 10). As the Justice League battled the empowered criminals, Amanda Waller revealed that Ace was dying and a possible psychic backlash caused by her death could kill millions. Batman volunteered to use a device to kill her before that could happen, but he instead comforted Ace in her last moments, allowing her to pass away peacefully without harming anyone. Ace's warped reality and empowered criminals returned to normal upon her death. It's implied that the Batman Beyond version of Ace the Bat-Hound is named after this girl. As Waller recalls these events to Terry McGinnis, Waller stated that this was the second or third incarnation of the gang as she can't remember which (possibly an in-joke to this being the third in production terms but the second in the DCAU's chronological order as well preceding the future incarnations alluded in Batman Beyond).
  • The Royal Flush Gang appear in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This version is reimagined as a gang of bandits in the Old West with the diamond insignia on their outfits: Ace (voiced by Diedrich Bader) is the leader, Jack (voiced by Edoardo Ballerini) speaks Spanish, King and Queen are present but there is no evidence of Ten. In the teaser of the episode "Return of the Fearsome Fangs", Jonah Hex is caught and the gang plan to tear him apart with scattering horses. Batman frees him and the two apprehend the Royal Flush Gang. In the opening narration of the episode "The Siege of Starro" (Part 1), they are featured attempting to rob a bank. However, they are stopped by Hex and Cinnamon.
  • The Royal Flush Gang appears in the Arrow episode "Legacies" where King is portrayed by Currie Graham, Ace is portrayed by Kyle Schmid, Jack is portrayed by Tom Stevens and Queen is portrayed by Sarah-Jane Redmond. There is no evidence of Ten in this version.[4] Here, the gang is a family of bank robbers who wear hockey masks with their respective playing card. It's later revealed that the leader Derek Reston worked for Queen Industries before Robert Queen outsourced 1500 jobs to China and the Reston family lost their home as a result. Feeling guilty, Oliver tries to persuade Derek to right his own wrongs, but when he learns that the family are going to rob another bank he chooses to stop them. During Oliver Queen's confrontation, Derek is shot and killed, Ace is arrested, and the rest of the family escapes. During Derek's final moments, Oliver sits with him and reveals his secret identity to him to show him that he always had his best interests at heart. Derek admits that what he did was wrong and shouldn't have dragged his sons into this. He then asks Oliver if his son is alright. Oliver tells him he's just knocked out. Derek then closes his eyes and dies in Oliver's arms.

Film[edit]

  • The Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League: Doom with King voiced by Jim Meskimen, Queen voiced by Grey DeLisle, Jack voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, Ten voiced by Juliet Landau, and the robotic Ace voiced by Bruce Timm.[5] They are mainly used as a plot device rather than main antagonists and have no direct connection to Vandal Savage's Legion of Doom. They attempt to rob a bank using technology that allows them to walk through walls but are halted by the arrival of Batman tipped off by Cyborg about their robberies. Alone and outnumbered, they manage to overcome the Dark Knight. But after the remainder of the Justice League arrive, they quickly begin to fall: Queen is overpowered by Wonder Woman, Ten is taken out by Green Lantern, Jack is captured by Batman and the Flash, Ace is destroyed by Superman, and King is defeated by Cyborg. The tech they used is revealed to have been supplied by Savage as a test for his own plans as the battle itself may have been simply a diversion for Mirror Master to infiltrate the Batcave.

Miscellaneous[edit]

  • The Old West version of the Royal Flush Gang appears in issue 6 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comics.
  • Ace from the Royal Flush Gang appears in issue 23 of the tie-in Arrow comic book series.

References[edit]

External links[edit]