Thinker (DC Comics)

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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (DeVoe)
All-Flash #12 (Fall 1943)
Firestorm #1 (1978)
(as the Thinker) Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #99 (July 1990)
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #67 (October 1997)
JSA #9 (April 2000)
Created by (DeVoe)
Gardner Fox
E.E. Hibbard
Gerry Conway
Al Milgrom
In-story information
Alter ego Clifford DeVoe
Cliff Carmichael
Desmond Connor
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Team affiliations (DeVoe)
Injustice Society
Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad
Secret Society of Super Villains
Injustice Society
Secret Society of Super Villains
Notable aliases White King's Bishop
Abilities (DeVoe, Carmichael)
Technologically derived telekinesis and mind control
Telepathy, fear projection
Binary intelligence capable of integrating into and controlling computerized and electronics systems

The Thinker is the name of four supervillains in the DC Comics universe.

Publication history[edit]

The Clifford DeVoe version of Thinker first appeared in All-Flash #12 and was created by Gardner Fox and E.E. Hibbard.

The Cliff Carmichael version of Thinker first appeared in Firestorm #1 and was created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Clifford DeVoe[edit]

Clifford DeVoe was a failed lawyer who bitterly ended his career in 1933. Realizing that many of the criminals he had encountered had the skills but not the brains to rule Gotham City's underworld, he started a new career as the brain behind small-time villains. As the Thinker, he was defeated by the original Flash, who soon became his most recurrent foe. 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, leading an army of prison escapees like the other members. In Plateau City, the police nab a shabbily dressed man who is trying to shoot the Governor. They discover that this man is a dead ringer for the Governor and also claims to be the real Governor! The Flash arrives on the scene to overhear this, but moves on to confront the hoodlums attacking the city. The Thinker appears on the scene, firing a ray at the Crimson Comet, causing him to gain weight and crash through a roof. Recovering, the Flash speeds over the Governor's mansion, only to overhear the Governor ordering all police forces to surrender. Flash enters his office and discovers the Governor to be a dummy/machine, which flees through an open door. Flash attempts to warn the police that a phony Governor put out the message, but the Thinker shows up and tells the Fastest Man Alive that he is speaking into a dead mike, then snares him with invisible wires.

The Thinker appeared as a judge in the 'trial' of the JSA, but was revealed as the Green Lantern in disguise, having captured the real Thinker after escaping Brain Wave. This led to the Injustice Society's defeat. Together with the Fiddler and the Shade, the Thinker was the man behind the decades-long "abduction" of Keystone City and the original Flash[volume & issue needed], after which he was defeated by the Flashes of two eras[volume & issue needed]. His "suspended animation-time" in Keystone kept the Thinker young over the years[volume & issue needed], 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.[1] Although he was seemingly killed by the Weasel during this mission, he turned up alive soon after only to be dying from cancer due to the cap.[2] His former foe, the original Flash, attempted to save him with the Thinking Cap but DeVoe refused, preferring to rest in peace.[2]

Cliff Carmichael[edit]

Clifford "Cliff" Carmichael was an intellectual bully and the rival of Ronald Raymond (one half of Firestorm) at Vandemeer University. Wracked with guilt after accidentally paralyzing his cousin, he was admitted into a mental institution. For some reason, scientists started an experiment with the now-abandoned "Thinking Cap" of the original Thinker (who was believed dead at the time) and used Carmichael as a guinea pig. Cliff used the cap to analyze the cap and improve on its design. Implanting microchip versions of the helmet into his own brain, Cliff became a "cyberpunk maniac" with meta-human powers. As the new Thinker, he was drafted into the Suicide Squad after he tried to kill Oracle and Amanda Waller. After several missions, he betrayed them for the villainous Cabal. He has since resurfaced as a foe of Jason Rusch, the new Firestorm. When Killer Frost discovered that the consciousness of Raymond, the previous Firestorm, existed within Rusch,[3] Thinker exploited a new opportunity to antagonize an old foe. Technologically dominating the minds of Multiplex and Typhoon, he battled Firestorm, ultimately forcing the dissolution of the Raymond persona. Motivated by his predecessor's final words of encouragement, Rusch dissolved the enhancements in Carmichael's brain, leaving him in a comatose state.

During the Infinite Crisis storyline, Cliff popped up as a member of Alexander Luthor, Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains.

With John Ostrander's revival of the Suicide Squad in a 2007-2008 miniseries, Cliff was once again associated with the Suicide Squad under Amanda Waller's direction. It was revealed that although Firestorm had removed the enhancements in Cliff's brain, he made a full recovery and continued to serve as a technical support staffer and lackey to Waller in her operations of the Squad. Eventually betraying the Squad under the direction of "The General", Wade Eiling, Cliff shot King Faraday and subdued Waller in the middle of an operation. Faraday recovers, shooting Cliff three times and presumably killing him before rousing Waller and attempting to recover control of the Squad.

Des Connor[edit]

Des Connor was a villain who also used the name "Thinker" and faced Batman in Gotham City. Possessing telepathic abilities enabling him to amplify the fears of others, Connor began a partnership with hypnotist Marlon Dall. Their combined illusions caused the city's most prominent citizens to commit various criminal acts which they used as a distraction for their own heist. This Thinker was swiftly beaten by Batman, who was somehow immune to his powers.

Artificial intelligence[edit]

When the re-formed JSA moved into the New York building formerly owned by Wesley Dodds, Mr. Terrific designed a computer system based on the original Thinker's "Thinking Cap" technology and modeled after his brain pattern. Not surprisingly, 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 villains with information about the JSA members, and turned the heroes' own HQ against them. He was defeated by the second Star-Spangled Kid and disappeared into cyberspace. He resurfaced in Keystone City to battle Wally West, the then-current Flash, in an attempt to control every brain in Keystone to increase his power. Defeated by Cyborg, he retreated to cyberspace again. He has since appeared briefly in some other books, most recently in JSA Classified #5, joining the last incarnation of the Injustice Society alongside former teammates.

During the "Infinite Crisis" storyline, the AI Thinker was among the villains in Alexander Luthor Jr.'s Secret Society of Super Villains.

This version of the Thinker has been brought in as the White King's (Mr. Terrific) Bishop in Checkmate (vol. 2) #9.

Other versions[edit]

JLA: The Nail[edit]

In JLA: The Nail, the Atom attempts to investigate the Thinker's base to determine if he is responsible for recent propaganda attacks on the superhuman community. Using a catapult, he shrinks down to the size of an air molecule and penetrates the force field surrounding the Thinker's base, only to find the Thinker dead of a broken neck. Subsequent evidence reveals that he was killed by a brainwashed Metamorpho on the orders of the mutated Jimmy Olsen to stop anyone from learning about Olsen's plans to isolate Earth from the galaxy until he had successfully recreated Krypton.


In the Flashpoint universe, a version of the Thinker was an inmate at the Doom prison. During the prison break, he helped Heat Wave ram at Detroit city, but was defeated by Cyborg who had hacked into Doom prison to move them away.[4]

In other media[edit]




  1. ^ Doom Patrol and the Suicide Squad Special #1
  2. ^ a b Flash #134 (February 1998)
  3. ^ Firestorm #11 (May 2005)
  4. ^ Flashpoint: Legion of Doom #3 (August 2011)