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Secret Society of Super Villains
Alex Luthor's Society, as seen in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special (2006).
Art by Karl Kerschl.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Secret Society of Super Villains #1 (May 1976)
Created by Gerry Conway
In-story information
Base(s) Gotham City
See:List of Secret Society of Super Villains members

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, 1976), could be considered an enemy of the Justice League of America, in whose series they made several appearances during the late 1970s.


Fictional history

Darkseid's Society

Cover to Secret Society of Super-Villains #3. Art by Ernie Chan.

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.

Also notable in this series' run is the first appearance of Captain Comet in over 20 years as well as the introduction of a new Star Sapphire. Both were regular, recurring characters.

Ultra-Humanite's Society

The Secret Society on the cover to Justice League of America #195 by George Pérez.

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 (pre-Crisis, the SSoSV was placed in Limbo, the area between parallel earths. Where the heroes incarcerated the SSoSV hasn't been explored post-Crisis, but an area of the Phantom Zone seems most likely). 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.

The Society's council. Cover to Villains United #1 (2005). Art by J.G. Jones.

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. The group included almost every villain in the DC universe, with rare exceptions. Though they escape their prison planet, their desire for revenge causes the group to depose Lex Luthor as their leader and replace him with the mysterious Libra.

Libra, a follower of the Intergang "Religion of Crime" and secretly an agent of Darkseid, lead 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, in order to try and 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 Suprman 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 couldn't 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 the Secret Society (such as Professor Ivo and Doctor Poison II) 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.

Other versions

Justice Underground

Justice Underground
Justice Underground 01.jpg
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance JLA Secret Files 2004
Created by Kurt Busiek
Ron Garney
In-story information
Base(s) Undisclosed location in Nation of Modora (on an alternate Earth)
Member(s) Quizmaster
Sir Solomon Grundy
Lady Sonar
General Grodd
Star Sapphire

The Justice Underground is a fictional superhero team in the DC Universe. The Justice Underground is an alternate 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.
  • Lady Sonar (the antimatter Sonar)

List of appearances

  • Secret Society of Super-Villains # 1-15
  • Amazing World of DC Comics #11 (Contains alternate version of SSoSV # 1)
  • DC Special Series # 6 (SSoSV Special)
  • Super-Team Family # 14
  • DC Special # 27
  • Cancelled Comic Cavalcade # 2 (Contains 'unpublished' black and white version of SSoSV # 16-17)
  • Justice League of America # 166-168, 195-197
  • All-Star Squadron # 25-26, Annual # 2
  • JLA 80-Page Giant # 1
  • JLA # 115-119
  • Villains United # 1-6
  • Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special
  • DC Universe #0

Collected editions

Their series has been collected into a trade paperback:

  • Showcase Presents: Secret Society of Super Villains (collects SSoSV #1-17, 520 pages, ISBN 1-4012-1587-3)

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 is there simply to kill), and Parasite (who wanted revenge against 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 (which is also a base-off for the Legion 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 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, 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.


  • A version of the alternate Secret Society group Justice Underground appears in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Most of the group is decimated causing their Lex Luthor to flee to the Justice League's Earth and seek their help.

See also

External links

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