For the concept of crime syndicates in general, see Organized crime.
|Crime Syndicate of America|
The antimatter Crime Syndicate of AmeriKa (and counterparts) feature on the JLA: Earth 2 cover. Art by Frank Quitely. Upside down characters, left to right: Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. Right side up, left to right: Johnny Quick, Power Ring, Superwoman, Ultraman, Owlman.
|First appearance||Historical Syndicate:
Justice League of America (vol. 1) #29, 1964
JLA: Earth 2, 2000
52 Week 52, 2007
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
The Flying Fortress
The Crime Syndicate are teams of fictional supervillains, from one of DC Comics' parallel universes, who are the evil counterparts of the Justice League of America. The original team was specifically known as Crime Syndicate of America and is sometimes abbreviated as CSA. This first superpowered Crime Syndicate team appeared in Justice League of America #29 in August 1964. The primary successive incarnation, known as the Crime Syndicate of Amerika (with the variant spelling of America), first appeared in the 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel.
A related successive group on Earth-3 is known as the Crime Society of America and first appeared in 52 Week 52.
The Crime Syndicate of America originally lived on Earth-Three, a world where history was "reversed" from the world we knew (e.g. British colonists declared their independence from America, and President John Wilkes Booth was assassinated by Abraham Lincoln). It initially had no superheroes, only the supervillains of the Crime Syndicate, though this changed with the advent of heroic Lex Luthor who used his vast intelligence for good.
In their first appearance, the Crime Syndicate, bored with the ease with which they were able to commit crimes on their Earth (and with no one to truly challenge them), discovered the existence of Earth-One and Earth-Two, and set out to challenge the JLA and JSA to a lengthy fight, after which the Syndicate was ultimately defeated, the JLA tricking the Syndicate members into unleashing more power than they could control. Following this defeat, they were imprisoned in an unbreakable bubble generated by Green Lantern's power ring, and placed in a "limbo" dimension between the Earths. Over the following years, the Syndicate or one of its members would occasionally escape and attempt to wreak havoc on Earth-One and/or Earth-Two.
Earth-Three and the original Crime Syndicate were destroyed along with the rest of DC's parallel worlds in the 1985 twelve-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. The inhabitants of that world were swallowed by an anti-matter wave, with the Crime Syndicate, having decided to be heroic for once, charged straight into the wave defiantly, although Lex Luthor and his wife Lois Luthor managed to send their infant son Alexander Luthor, Jr. to the safety of Earth-One. This was the last appearance of the Crime Syndicate that decade until the post-Crisis version was introduced several years later.
The duplicates of the original Earth-Three Syndicate members have made a few post-Crisis appearances as in Animal Man series and most recently in Infinite Crisis when Earth-Three was temporarily recreated, and models of the Earth-Three Ultraman, Superwoman, and Alexander Luthor, Sr. were almost merged with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Superman of Earth-Two and Wonder Woman of Earth-Two to create so-called "perfect beings".
A post-Crisis version of the team, simply known as the "Crime Syndicate" (not 'of America'), was eventually introduced. This post-Crisis version (revealed in 1992's Justice League Quarterly #8) was composed of Qwardians (residents of the antimatter counterpart of Oa) as well as being "more powerful than their counterparts" and "long gone" and shown to be different from the Earth-Three incarnation by their enlarged eyes reflective of the Weaponers of Qward. This version of the Crime Syndicate is never mentioned again; it is quite possible this version was wiped out by Zero Hour or suffered some other fate.
The first appearance of a Crime Syndicate post-Zero Hour was in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel in 2000 by Grant Morrison, which combined the pre-Crisis parallel Earth idea with the pre-Zero Hour anti-matter universe concept. The Crime Syndicate's post-Zero Hour anti-matter Earth possesses a "reversed" history similar to Earth-Three's, but with a much darker tone to both the team and its world. JLA Secret Files 2004 provided additional history of this team, showing that they did once resemble the Earth-Three Syndicate. Unlike the Crime Syndicate of Earth-Three, this Crime Syndicate of Amerika are able to rule their world (a change from their pre-Crisis counterparts, who were unsuccessful in conquering their world) though allow governments to continue operating and honest people are able to continue operating in pockets such as Gotham City Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne Sr. (father to Owlman and counterpart of the murdered father of Batman). The antimatter Crime Syndicate's motto is "Cui Bono?" ("Who profits?"). The only universally respected principle on their world is that of the "favor bank"—if someone does you a favor, you owe them a favor in return that must be repaid whenever the favor is called in.
Along with the heroic analogue Alexander Luthor, other opponents include the heroic "H.I.V.E." (Hierarchy for International Virtuous Empowerment), the Missile Men and the "Justice Underground", a reversed analog of the Secret Society of Super Villains consisting of General Grodd, Lady Sonar, Quizmaster, Q-Ranger, Sir Solomon Grundy, and Star Sapphire.
2003's JLA/Avengers crossover written by Kurt Busiek seemed to involve the destruction of the Crime Syndicate's universe, but this was later reversed when the special's villain, Krona, was defeated. The Crime Syndicate later reappeared in the Syndicate Rules arc where they learn of the 'reboot' of their universe which shows the blonde haired Power Ring being replaced by a John Stewart marine counterpart.
Other criminal organizations on the Crime Syndicate's Earth include the Crime Lodge (anti-matter analogues to the Justice Society) and Young Offenders (anti-matter analogues of the Teen Titans and Young Justice). They are mentioned at the end of the Syndicate Rules arc as prepared to take advantage of the Crime Syndicate's weakness, but are not shown.
Superman/Batman Annual #1 (2006) details Superman and Batman's first encounter with Ultraman and Owlman. Set years ago, before Superman and Batman knew each other's identities, a vacationing Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Lois Lane meet Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman when their antimatter counterparts appear on a cruise ship. This story also features the first appearance of Deathstroke's unnamed antimatter doppelganger. The Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman presented in the story have the same costumes as the anti-matter universe version of the Syndicate. However, it should be noted that this tale is being told by Mister Mxyzptlk and as such, may not actually be canonical.
The antimatter Clark Kent appears in Kandor, posing as Superman. Saturn Queen, last seen in the "Absolute Power" arc of Superman/Batman, explains how Ultraman and she arrive in the city. When Alexander Luthor, Jr. brought the multiverse back in Infinite Crisis, her alternate reality (the Earth featuring the original Legion of Super-Villains) was recreated briefly. When the Multiverse collapsed, she found herself stranded in the Phantom Zone, where she found Ultraman. She viewed Ultraman as a suitable replacement for the version of Superman who was her son in her reality and placed him under mind control so that he would believe her to be his mother. She was also able to put Supergirl under her control and initiated plans for the two to marry, but Supergirl was able to break free of her control and viciously beat Ultraman. Saturn Queen gave information regarding Argo City to Supergirl in exchange for Ultraman's life.
Ultraman and Saturn Queen remained in Kandor, until it was discovered that the bottled city was not the true Kandor. Though it is not known where Saturn Queen went upon the city's abandonment, Ultraman somehow returned to the Anti-matter Universe — which, not being part of the Multiverse but a reflection of it, was not destroyed in Infinite Crisis — and later appeared in The Brave and the Bold (inexplicably depicted wearing the costume of the then-recently-introduced Crime Society's Ultraman), where he was forced to briefly team up with Superman and Final Crisis: Superman: Beyond!, where he was recruited by Superman to be part of a team of Supermen looking for a way to save the Multiverse.
The full five base members of the anti-matter Crime Syndicate, including the aforementioned Kent (his return to his source reality is unrevealed at this point along with the mentioned Justice League team up with the anti-matter Crime Syndicate to drive off the Weaponers of Qwards attack) next appear in Trinity #9. It is revealed that their world was badly damaged by an attack from the Weaponers of Qward. The antimatter Crime Syndicate have adopted open active control of their Earth and have been abducting people from throughout all of the individual fifty-two universes in the current positive matter Multiverse to use as slave labor in their source Earth's repair. After the Trinity defeat and imprison their anti-matter counterparts and free the slaves, the anti-matter Earth falls into even worse chaos than their first visit, without the controlling influence of Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman to watch over it.
In 52 Week 52, an alternate version of Earth-Three is shown as a part of the new Multiverse. In the depiction are characters that are altered versions of the original Justice League of America, plus the Martian Manhunter. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the two panels in which they appear.
Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-Three, making these new characters unrelated to previous versions. In Countdown #31, the name of this team is revealed to be the Crime Society of America. The Society are said to be evil dopplegangers of the heroes of Earth-2, and make their first solo appearance in Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 written by Sean McKeever and illustrated by Jamal Igle, Appearing in Countdown, the Crime Society's greatest parallel to the Justice Society is their larger roster (which is not strictly limited to Justice Society counterparts), featuring evil versions of Green Arrow, Wildcat, Black Canary, Hawkwoman, Doctor Fate, Stargirl, and the Spectre alongside better-known CSA members Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick. Later issues introduce Annataz Arataz (the evil counterpart of Zatanna), and counterparts of Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), and Booster Gold. However, although villains are the majority of Earth-3, there are a few heroes that are active on this earth as well. Most of the heroes revealed-to-date are good versions of Batman's famous enemies such as the Joker (known as the Jokester), the Riddler, and Two-Face (Three-Face, a woman named Evelyn Dent).
Shortly after the Crime Society's introduction, they are offered a place among Monarch's army. Already recruited into Monarch's army, Johnny Quick wins a place in Monarch's elite squad when he defeats his Earth-9 and Earth-2 counterparts in the Countdown: Arena miniseries.
The Crime Syndicate will reappear in the 2010 Multiversity miniseries written by Grant Morrison. It is unknown which version of the team will appear.
In both the Crime Syndicate and Crime Society, the five permanent members are:
The JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel featured several costumes in the CSA Watchtower, three of them labeled Doctor Noon (Doctor Mid-Nite's counterpart), White Cat (Black Canary's counterpart), and Spaceman (Starman's counterpart).
The CSA's Post-Crisis world is primarily governed by the "favor bank"; unofficial but ironically the only rule that is not consistently broken. If any person should grant a favor for someone else, that person is entitled to compensation whenever they see fit, no matter what the cost or hardship to the latter. Failure to pay back a favor results in inordinately harsh consequences; as seen in the beginning of "Syndicate Rules". A mobster, Jackson "Rat-Eyes" Drake, who failed to follow up on a favor owed was put on "trial" by Owlman, who then had him incinerated by Ultraman as a favor.
A team of Qwardians based on the then-current Justice League International roster appeared on the Post-Crisis Pre-Zero Hour Earth, although they did not call themselves the Crime Syndicate. Its members were:
It is not clear if any of these characters exist in post-Zero Hour or post-Infinite Crisis continuity.