Secret Society of Super Villains
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- Justice Underground redirects here.
|Secret Society of Super Villains|
Alex Luthor's Society, as seen in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special (2006)
Art by Karl Kerschl
|First appearance||Secret Society of Super Villains #1 (May-June 1976)|
|Created by||Gerry Conway
The Secret Society of Super Villains (SSoSV) (also known simply as The Society) is a group of comic book supervillains that exist in the DC Universe. The SSoSV, first introduced in their own eponymous series with issue #1 (May-June 1976), could be considered an enemy of the Justice League of America, in whose series they made several appearances during the late 1970s.
Series conception 
Written by editor Gerry Conway, the first issue of Secret Society of Super Villains was drafted with artwork and brought before then publisher Carmine Infantino for the cover's design whom had Conway alter the initial concept and saw major changes made with the art. Originally, Darkseid (demanding to be called the Director) founded the group under the title of the Brotherhood of Crime in a bid to hold the world ransom by stealing the world's deadliest nerve gas. The group, made up of Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd, Clayface, Star Sapphire, and a clone of Manhunter, turned on their benefactor when Manhunter raised the issue of Darkseid's history for trying to enslave humanity. Darkseid was revealed to be an android. Manhunter suspected Darkseid controlled it from afar and nominated forming the Secret Society of Super Villains to combat Darkseid while pursuing their own goals.
Fictional history 
Darkseid's Society 
First organized by Darkseid, the Secret Society of Super Villains were based out of the Sinister Citadel in San Francisco. From early on, the team was plagued with power struggles. Lex Luthor, the Wizard, Gorilla Grodd and Funky Flashman all sought to control the powerful team; Manhunter (the team's first leader) and Captain Comet, on the other hand, sought to divert the villains' evil ways into a more positive channel. After discovering the true identity of their benefactor, the team rebelled against the alien overlord. To quash their uprising, Darkseid sent Mantis and Kalibak. At the end of the struggle, Manhunter sacrificed himself to seemingly kill Darkseid. After this, the team splintered, with Luthor, the Wizard, Gorilla Grodd and Flashman leading the team at different times. However, the Wizard proved to be the most tenacious and created the definitive incarnation of the SSoSV. They went on to fight the original Crime Syndicate of America of Earth-3 and the Justice Society of America. While traveling dimensions, back on Earth-1 Silver Ghost, Mirror Master and Copperhead formed yet another team and fought the Freedom Fighters.
The Wizard's group eventually returned from Earth-2 and battled against the Justice League of America aboard their satellite headquarters. At one point in the battle, the two teams swapped bodies, allowing the super villains to discover the true identities of their nemeses. After gaining the upper hand, the Justice League wiped the memories of the super villains, precipitating Identity Crisis and the formation of the current Society years later.
Ultra-Humanite's Society 
The next incarnation of the Secret Society was organized by the Ultra-Humanite, who organized foes of both Earth-One's Justice League of America and Earth-Two's Justice Society of America. This marked the first appearance of the now-classic albino ape body of the Ultra-Humanite.
This incarnation of the SSoSV was betrayed by the Ultra-Humanite, who had his own agenda. However, he was defeated, and the entire group was incarcerated in another dimension. Ultra-Humanite contacted his younger self in 1942, who helped to break out the SSoSV using the power of Brain Wave I. The ape Ultra-Humanite attacked Infinity, Inc. in the modern day, while the rest of the SSoSV battled against the All-Star Squadron in 1942. The villains were defeated, and returned to their proper times.
The SSoSV in time grew into a large underground group with dozens of villains holding membership in various scattered cells. After the reformation of the JLA, the seven superheroes decided to infiltrate and shut down this new Society.
Disguising himself as the deceased Brain Wave, Martian Manhunter lured the villains to one spot, where they were defeated by the JLA. As the tale was told by the Rainbow Raider to Sonar II, it's uncertain whether this tale actually happened. At the very least, there may have been some embellishment.
Lex Luthor's Society 
After the defeat of the last incarnation of the SSoSV, time would pass before villains would band together in any sort of large organization. Fueled by rumors of the mindwiping of Dr. Light, a new Society emerged. This Society was founded by Alexander Luthor, Jr. posing as Lex Luthor, along with five other supervillains: Calculator, Dr. Psycho, Deathstroke, Talia al Ghul, and Black Adam.
Alexander Luthor's intent was to gather together a cadre of supervillains to retrieve several key superheroes who have ties to the Multiverse, in order to harness their residual temporal vibration to recreate the multiverse, through a giant "tuning fork" tower similar to the ones seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Only Psycho-Pirate, who remembered the multiverse, knew of this plan, as Alexander Luthor lied to the members of his inner circle, telling them that he was building a massive mind-erasing machine to use against all of the heroes in the DC Universe.
Playing on the fear of superheroes, retaliation for refusal, and the desire for power, Alexander created a Society the size of which (over 500 members) is larger than all previous incarnations combined. Out of all the villains in the DC Universe, the only one not even offered an invitation is the Joker, on the grounds that he was 'too wild'.
The group, referred to simply as The Society, was featured in the mini-series Villains United as background characters and foils for the new Secret Six (Consisting of six villains recruited by the real Lex Luthor who refused their invitation to join the Society). The follow-up one-shot Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special focused on the Society itself as they enacted Alexander Luthor's back-up plan to conquer Earth in the event his main plan failed. This led to a final battle, referred to as the Battle of Metropolis, where the Society, led by Dr. Psycho and Doomsday, made their final battle against the various heroes of the DC Universe. Many heroes and villains died that day.
One Year Later 
Alexander Luthor, Jr. was killed by the Joker (who managed to get his revenge on Alexander Luthor, Jr. for not including him) and Lex Luthor at the end of Infinite Crisis. Black Adam, betrayed by Alexander Luthor, fought the Society in the Battle of Metropolis, tearing off Amazo's head, and returned to rule Khandaq full-time.
One year after the Crisis, most of the Society's inner circle is either in prison or has resigned from the group. Dr. Psycho was captured by the authorities after the Battle of Metropolis and is on trial in the Manhunter series; he has also appeared in Secret Six and Wonder Woman. Deathstroke was apprehended by Green Arrow but escaped and started recruiting members for Titans East.
With Talia returning to rule the League of Assassins, the Calculator remains the only original member of the 'inner council' left running the Society.
Final Crisis 
Not long after the Society's dissolution, Checkmate instigated a crackdown on all villains in the DC universe, who were captured and exiled to a prison planet (in the "Salvation Run" miniseries.) The group included almost every villain in the DC universe, with rare exceptions. Though the villains escaped back to Earth, their desire for revenge drives the Society to depose Lex Luthor and replace him with a leader who promises them what they desire, the mysterious Libra.
Libra, a follower of the Intergang "Religion of Crime" and secretly an agent of Darkseid, leads the Secret Society as Darkseid's ground troops as part of Final Crisis. Promising to fulfill the hearts desires of his subordinates, Libra murders the Martian Manhunter for new SSOSV recruit the Human Flame. He also arranges for Clayface to leave an explosion at the Daily Planet, killing and maiming dozens of Superman's closest friends and mortally wounding his wife Lois in the process, to try to seduce the disgruntled Luthor to his side.
With most of the Society, including Vandal Savage, behind him, Libra reveals his true self to Lex Luthor as the villain turns on the Human Flame by forcing a mind control helmet onto the villain's face, exposing him to the Anti-Life Equation and turning him into a mindless slave warrior known as a Justifier. Faced with the threat of being forced to become a Justifier himself, Luthor agrees to become Libra and Darkseid's servant, though with help from Doctor Sivana and Calculator, ultimately turns against Libra and forcing him to retreat. With Sivana's help, Luthor and the mind controlled legions of the Secret Society helped Superman in battle against the last remaining forces of Darkseid, the Fury Riders. Luthor and Sivana then proceed to help Superman build the Miracle Machine to save the Earth, though the two are only allowed to work on sections of the machine due to the risk of them stealing the designs for future villainous schemes.
In Final Crisis: Revelations, the third Spectre kills Doctor Light and melts Effigy before trying to take on Libra. Sister Wrack of the Religion of Crime impales Vandal Savage with the Spear of Destiny causing Vandal Savage to be reborn as Cain. Cain then seeks out Spectre and easily overwhelms Spectre followed by Cain impaling Spectre with the Spear of Destiny. It separates Spectre from Crispus as Renee and Radiant carry his body into the church. Cain later controls Spectre and has it recite the Anti-Life Equation to recreate the world in Darkseid's name. Cain manages to stab Renee with the Spear of Destiny. Renee manages to grab the spear and use its powers to restore the world and Crispus' life. Reuniting with Spectre, Crispus uses his judgement to kill Cain's followers but could not kill Cain. Spectre casts Cain out into the world with no chance of peace until God decides to grant him otherwise.
In Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, the Rogues withdraw from Libra's society and plot to take revenge on a movement-restored Inertia before they retire. However, Libra uses his New Rogues to target the Rogues and forces them to join up with Libra by doing various things to those close to them. Even with the New Rogues slain by the Rogues, Libra doesn't give up that easily. They still turn down Libra even after Zoom is depowered by Inertia who is then killed by the Rogues.
From an idea by T.O. Morrow during and after Final Crisis, Cheetah assigned several scientific members of a new Secret Society (such as Professor Ivo and Doctor Poison ) to collect soil samples from various regions of Earth in which acts of genocide occurred. They plan to use the soil to form a new villain named Genocide. Genocide is brought to life through a combination of science and the magic of Felix Faust. They are successful in doing so, but soon after an enraged Wonder Woman defeats a small team of members consisting of Shrapnel, Firefly, Phobia and Dr. Morrow. After telling them to disband the team, Wonder Woman then destroys their homebase skyscraper building.
The New 52 
In The New 52, the Secret Society's origins are traced to two shadowy figures (one of whom is later revealed to be Professor Ivo) who meet to discuss the growing superhero community. The Secret Society is officially uncovered five years later by Green Arrow, who is injured while trying to infiltrate the organization under the name Dark Hunter. The mysterious leader of the Secret Society of Super Villains spreads out photographs of the different supervillains in front of him and says "It's recruitment time starting with Scarecrow." The mysterious leader has successfully convinced Scarecrow to join the Secret Society of Super Villains. The Justice League plans to use Catwoman to infiltrate the Secret Society by sending her to Arkham Asylum and letting her escape. When she does, she runs into Blockbuster and Signalman on the rooftops where she ends up knocked out and wakes up strapped to a chair in an empty room.
Other versions 
Justice Underground 
|First appearance||JLA Secret Files 2004|
|Created by||Kurt Busiek
|Base(s)||Undisclosed location in Nation of Modora (on an alternate Earth)|
Sir Solomon Grundy
The Justice Underground is a fictional superhero team in the DC Multiverse. The Justice Underground is an alternative version of the Secret Society of Super Villains from the Anti-Matter Universe.
Fictional history 
The Underground experienced some temporary victories in their battles with the Syndicate, both as a team and individually. For example, Quizmaster's underground connections allowed him to interfere with the supplies needed by the Crime Syndicate for various operations, such as the speed serum that Johnny Quick requires to maintain his super speed.
One by one the Justice Underground members were all defeated, captured or killed. For example, Ultraman rendered Sir Grundy inert on a Saturday, and Lady Sonar sustained massive injuries from having her sonic abilities reflected back to her by Power Ring. Lady Sonar was forced to replace much of her shattered body with bionic implants. It was in this form that she resided as the guardian of Modora, the final free nation of Antimatter Earth.
Upon her home's invasion, Lady Sonar was successful in defeating Johnny Quick (Antimatter Flash) by temporarily shifting his body out of phase with reality. She was eventually destroyed by Owlman and the rest of the Crime Syndicate when they finally conquered Modora. She was placed into cryogenic storage alongside her teammates, ready to be reanimated in a zombified state if the Syndicate decides it necessary. Their remains are located in the Crime Syndicate's Panopticon on the Moon's surface.
The Justice Underground was released by J'onn J'onzz as a team of associate JLA members reversed back into the Matter Universe. It is unclear how they were able to recover from their injuries, though it could be inferred that Owlman healed their injuries while they were in stasis.
- The Quizmaster (the anti-matter Riddler) is the leader and the smartest man alive; he does not have any superpowers. His incredibly high IQ and knowledge of almost all disciplines enabled him to be as effective a fighter as any of his compatriots with super powers.
- Sir Solomon Grundy (the anti-matter Grundy) is a distinguished, poised mountain of a man. During an aerial bombardment of Dover, he was blasted to life out of the white rock. Sir Solomon appears to be identical in physical appearance to our own Solomon Grundy with the exception of a trimmed mustache and a small goatee. In keeping with his educated personality, Sir Solomon dresses himself as a 19th century Englishman would, and speaks accordingly. His super strength and invulnerability made him a formidable hero.
- General Grodd (the antimatter Gorilla Grodd) is the one altruistic escapee from a militaristic ape nation.
- Star Sapphire (the antimatter Star Sapphire)
- Lady Sonar (the antimatter Sonar)
- Q Ranger (the antimatter Major Force)
Collected editions 
Their series was scheduled to be collected into a trade paperback entitled Showcase Presents: Secret Society of Super Villains (collects SSoSV #1-17, 520 pages, ISBN 1-4012-1587-3), but that project was canceled.
- Secret Society of Super Villains, Vol 1 (collects SSoSV #1-10), August 2011, ISBN 1-4012-3109-8.
- Secret Society of Super Villains, Vol 2 (collects SSoSV #11-15, DC Special #27, DC Special Series #6, Super-Team Family #13-14, Justice League of America #166-167 and the unpublished SSoSV #15-16 from Cancelled Comics Cavalcade #2), March 2012, ISBN
In other media 
- In Justice League, Gorilla Grodd and Giganta (who was fiercely loyal to Grodd) formed the Secret Society with Shade (who was offered the chance by Grodd to be a master criminal), Sinestro (who has sworn blood oath against all Green Lanterns), Killer Frost (who just likes to kill people), and Parasite (who simply hated Superman). In its formation, Grodd took pains to encourage a more cohesive organization in order to avoid the infighting of Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang. His first plan was to rescue Clayface from Morgan Edge's mansion where Killer Frost froze Morgan. Grodd tells Clayface that he'll help him find a way to return Clayface to his true identity of Matt Hagen after they defeat the Justice League. The Secret Society defeated the Justice League the first time, but The Secret Society was defeated by the Justice League in the second battle.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Grodd renewed his attempts to create a new Secret Society, with a swamp based headquarters resembling the Hall of Doom, to take on the expanded Justice League by recruiting Lex Luthor and any villain he can obtain. Grodd succeeded with the creation of a massive co-operative operation. Any member who tried to reveal any details about the Secret Society after being captured had their brain shorted out. After the revelation that Grodd's ultimate plan in the creation of the team was the ludicrous transformation of humanity into apes, Lex Luthor ousted him and assumed the position as leader with no objections from the membership. During the two-part series finale, Lex Luthor tried to resurrect Brainiac by ordering the crew to transform the base into a spaceship, so that they could travel to the site of Brainiac's ruined asteroid base. With Tala's help, Grodd attempted a coup to retake control of the Legion, leading to a battle between members loyal to either Grodd or Luthor. As the battle ends the members who were loyal to Grodd were frozen by Killer Frost. When the Secret Society reaches the site of Brainiac's defeat, Luthor used Tala's magic to restore Brainiac, despite a sudden warning from the New God, Metron. Luthor accidentally resurrected Darkseid instead, who rewards Luthor for his help by destroying the Secret Society's base in a fiery explosion. However, force fields produced by Star Sapphire and Sinestro saved Luthor's crew. Lightray, another of the Gods of New Genesis, spotted the explosion, and was subsequently robbed of his mother box, which allowed the remnants of the Secret Society to make it back to Earth to warn the Justice League of Darkseid's return.
- In Justice League Unlimited, on the episode "Epilogue," a futuristic version of the Secret Society was featured, known as the Iniquity Collective. Its members include future Bat-villains Inque, Shriek, Stalker, and monstrous future version of Parasite.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Deep Cover for Batman," a version of the alternate Secret Society group Justice Underground appears. This group is led by Red Hood (this reality's Joker) and had alternate versions of Black Manta, Clock King, Doctor Polaris, Gentleman Ghost, Gorilla Grodd, and Sinestro (the alternate versions of Brain and Kite Man appear in a flashback). After a battle with the Injustice Syndicate, only Red Hood was free and attempted to contact Batman's world to look for new allies. Batman soon arrived (when he was disguised as Owlman) and was able to help free the heroes and help capture the Injustice Syndicate.
- In Young Justice, a group of villains called The Light have motives like the Secret Society of Super Villains as they implement plans to make the people of Earth "see the light." The group was founded by Vandal Savage to counteract the Justice League's role in preserving society's "calcified status quo". In his view, the League inhibited mankind by protecting it from disaster, crime, and tragedy—factors needed for humanity to evolve. To counteract this, the Light created or co-opted networks of operatives, placed key individuals in key positions, and explored the boundaries of all new technology. Genetic engineering, biochemical engineering, robotics, nano-robotics, techno-sorcery, and all conceivable methods of mind control were all explored by the Light in its quest to accelerate human evolution. A resurgent Earth "taking its rightful place at the center of the cosmos" appears to be the Light's ultimate goal. Responsible for almost every threat "the Team" faced in the season, they acted as the Board of Directors for Project Cadmus, developed the Kobra-made Blockbuster/Venom chemical, brought New Genesis technology to Earth with the help of their as-yet-unrevealed Partner, brokered peace in Rhelasia, placed Hugo Strange in power at Belle Reve prison, established the Injustice League as their proxies to fool the hero community into believing the group was defeated, cloned Roy Harper and used him to infiltrate the Justice League, and enslaved the Justice League to initiate an attack on the planet Rimbor to provoke an alien attack on Earth. In "Revelation," Batman claims that the villains responsible for the villain activities are a "Secret Society of Super Villains." By the end of the episode, the members of The Light are revealed to be Vandal Savage, Ra's al Ghul, Lex Luthor, the first Bialyan Queen Bee, Ocean Master, Brain, and Klarion the Witch Boy (in the second season, underling Black Manta is promoted to take Ocean Master's place on the council). The Light has also employed multiple villains including Blockbuster, Mister Twister, T.O. Morrow, Kobra, Mammoth, Shimmer, Bane, Sportsmaster, the League of Shadows (Sensei, Cheshire, Hook, Black Spider), Professor Ivo, Abra Kadabra, Psimon, the Injustice League (Atomic Skull, Black Adam, Count Vertigo, Joker, Poison Ivy, Ultra-Humanite, and Wotan), Riddler, Hugo Strange, both Icicles, Captain Cold, Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, Monsieur Mallah, Blackbriar Thorn, Wizard, Felix Faust, Devastation, and the Terror Twins. The Light are implied to have connections with Intergang. When it came to Season Two, The Light's as-yet-unidentified Partner (later revealed to be the Reach) has been helping out The Light when the Kroloteans started appearing on Earth. At the conclusion of the season after a faling out of the Reach, and the loss of the WarWorld, Vandal Savage travels to Apokolips with Desaad and G. Gordon Godfrey and forges a treaty with Darkseid.
- A version of the alternate Secret Society group Justice Underground appears in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. The group's lineup includes a heroic Lex Luthor and the Jester (this reality's Joker) along with his monkey sidekick Harley. Most of the group is decimated (including Jester) causing their Lex Luthor to flee to the Justice League's Earth and seek their help.
Video games 
- The Secret Society of Super Villains appears in DC Universe Online. The line-up consists of Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Black Adam, Calculator, Catwoman, Circe, Doctor Psycho, Gorilla Grodd, Joker, Killer Frost, Metallo, Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, Deathstroke, Brother Blood, Ursa, Harley Quinn, Felix Faust, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Riddler, the Rogues (Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master), Talia al Ghul, Two-Face, and Zoom. Their headquarters is the Hall of Doom which is a hub for any player that is playing as a villain.
See also 
- Index of the first incarnation of the Secret Society of Super Villains at Comics Archives
- Secret Society of Super Villains Index at DarkMark's Comics Indexing Domain
- The Secret Society of Super Villains at DC Cosmic Teams
- The Society at DC Cosmic Teams