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Cover to Villains United #1
Art by J.G. Jones
|Publication date||(Limited series) July - December, 2005
(Infinite Crisis Special) April 2006
|No. of issues||6 (along with a special)|
|Main character(s)||Secret Six
Secret Society of Super Villains
|Created by||Secret Six created by
E. Nelson Bridwell
|Written by||Gail Simone|
|Inker(s)||Wade Von Grawbadger
|Villains United||ISBN 1-4012-0838-X|
Villains United is a six-issue, 2005 comic book limited series, published by DC Comics, written by Gail Simone and illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and Wade Von Grawbadger, and later by Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins.
Villains United is one of four limited series leading up to DC Comics' Infinite Crisis event and seven-issue limited series. This story follows the evolution of the latest incarnation of the Secret Six, and the group's ongoing plight against the machinations of the various supervillains belonging to Lex Luthor's expansive Secret Society of Super Villains.
Like all major intracompany events, this series ties in with several monthly DC Comics titles, including:
- Action Comics #830-831
- Batman: Gotham Knights #66
- Breach #7
- Catwoman #46-49
- Firestorm #17
- The Flash #225
- Nightwing #109-111
- Superman #221
For months now, former President Lex Luthor has been using his resources to assemble an army against the superheroes. Luthor's team now has over two hundred members with a six-member core team consisting of Luthor, Talia al Ghul, Doctor Psycho, Deathstroke, Black Adam, and the Calculator. But not all the villains offered a chance to join this army are thrilled with this idea. Batman villain Catman has joined a team of five supported by the mysterious Mockingbird including Cheshire, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Parademon to oppose this new Secret Society. Catman replaced the first Fiddler, after he was killed by Deadshot on Mockingbird's orders when Mockingbird felt he had not fulfilled his part in a mission.
Late one night in the mansion of the Secret Six, Catman and Deadshot have a discussion about their unknown leader, Mockingbird and the dramatic change in Catman's life, while Cheshire secretly listens in the shadows. After a short while Scandal informs everyone that Mockingbird has just assigned them to steal Thanagarian weaponry from a tanker in Gotham harbor.
Upon their arrival to the tanker they are ambushed by members of the Society, which include Weather Wizard, Cheetah, Doctor Polaris, Count Vertigo, Killer Frost, Captain Nazi, Hyena, Crazy Quilt, and others. After their capture, the Crime Doctor tortures the Secret Six, asking them the identity of Mockingbird among other questions. After a few rounds of torture, Catman breaks free and rescues his villainous teammates. While escaping they decide to send the Society a message. They murder one of the two Hyena.
After their escape the Six infiltrated a Society installation in Brazil. After fighting their way through a legion of H.I.V.E. troopers, apparently led by the Queen Bee, they discover the Society's plans for the 'Vindication Scenario' - erasing the memories of all of Earth's superheroes. The facility is a giant battery, powered by a duo of kidnap victims, Firestorm and Gehenna. They release Firestorm just as Black Adam was arriving with a response team and the facility is destroyed.
Once the Six return to their base Cheshire and Catman are in bed together when Cheshire accuses Catman of being a spy and wanting to be a hero. However, she reveals that she has slept with him in order to conceive a child.
A short time later, most of the Society's founding council votes to mount a final strike on the Secret Six — Lex Luthor disagrees with a preemptive attack, but the remaining four members (Black Adam is absent for unknown reasons) decide the action is necessary. Simultaneously, the Six agree to a last stand, but only under the condition that any survivors be set free from Mockingbird's control with no strings attached.
Prior to the battle between the Society and the Six, Deadshot visits Scandal's room to talk about the team's future. A framed picture on the woman's desk reveals that her father is the immortal Vandal Savage.
The Six hunted
Before the conversation can progress past basic greetings, Catman ambushes Deadshot and admits knowing that he (Deadshot) masqueraded as the villainous Deathstroke and murdered the lions in his pride. The two scuffle before finding the real Deathstroke leading a small band of villains to the front door of the House of Secrets.
As the crew debates how the Society found them, Cheshire confesses to several traitorous deeds, including giving Luthor the coordinates of the Six's base and covertly joining the Society. When asked why she would do such a thing, considering Mockingbird's threat to kill her daughter if she doesn't comply, Cheshire points out that the baby she's having with Catman would make a fine replacement for a lost child.
The Society storms through the castle, and Cheshire is shot by Deathstroke, who comments that "The Society doesn't need traitors". The Secret Six, however, fights back successfully. Talia and Scandal, daughters of immortals Ra's al Ghul and Vandal Savage respectively, fight each other. Just when Talia has the upper hand, Scandal's mole in the Society, Knockout, knocks her out (it is also revealed that Knockout is Scandal's lover). Ragdoll convinces Solomon Grundy, a fellow "ugly monster," to switch sides. Ragdoll fights his father until Parademon beats the elder Ragdoll. Catman and Ragdoll Jr. escape from Black Adam's group while Parademon blows up himself, Ragdoll and the battleground. Deathstroke and Deadshot duel, ultimately shooting each other at the same time. To save his daughter Scandal, Vandal Savage infiltrates the Society's headquarters and threatens to kill Luthor if he does not disengage the attack against the Six. Reluctantly, and over Black Adam's objections, Luthor ends the battle. Deadshot is led to medical help by the surviving members of the Secret Six.
The central revelation of the book is that Mockingbird is actually Lex Luthor and that the Luthor who organized the Secret Society is an "imposter" (in reality, Alexander Luthor, Jr.). Mockingbird/Luthor reveals that he chose those six individuals because each had different knowledge and experience that could be used to oppose the Society: Catman, for his knowledge on Batman's villains; Deadshot, for his knowledge on the remaining Suicide Squad members; Parademon, for his experience living on Apokolips; Ragdoll, because he grew up as a "nephew" to the members of the Injustice Society; Scandal, because she grew up with Vandal Savage and his associates; and Cheshire, for her knowledge on the villains of the Teen Titans. Mockingbird/Luthor reveals to Scandal that he never placed the families of the Six in danger and disbands the team. Also notable is the Society Luthor's apparent murder of Pariah, a character from the original Crisis.
Villains United Special: A Hero Dies but One
In phase one of a master plan, the Society executes "Operation: Hope Abandoned," engineering breakouts at metahuman holding facilities worldwide. Oracle masses responses as fast as possible, but with the "Big Guns" of the Justice League unavailable, the heroes are having problems just holding the line. Contacting the Martian Manhunter, Oracle organizes a global telepathic link.
Meanwhile, the Secret Six intercept the Scarecrow and Amos Fortune fleeing Enclave M, and discover that all supervillains, once freed, are to head to Metropolis. They relay this information to Green Arrow, who informs J'onn. Lady Blackhawk commandeers aircraft to traffic all available heroes and national guardsmen to Metropolis.
An army of second-stringers, vigilantes, and retired metas (including Argus, Geist, Manhunter, and El Diablo) align with the authorities to fend off the Society's assault. Leading the villains' charge is Doctor Psycho, flanked by the monster he and "Monsieur" Warp unleashed from imprisonment: Doomsday.
High above the battle, Catman informs the rest of the Six they are to remain neutral, even after the battle. The Six leave, determined to be an independent group, while the battle continues.
The series has been collected into a trade paperback:
- Secret Six Vol. 1: Villains United (collects Villains United 6-issue limited series, Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1 Secret Six 6-issue limited series; 328 pages, DC Comics, February 2014, ISBN 1-4012-5075-0)
- Guide to Infinite Crisis: Villains United—study of series as part of Infinite Crisis