WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains

The Injustice Society of the World

     Depending on one's definition, crime is as old as mankind himself. A serpent in a garden may have told the first lie, a jealous brother may have committed the first murder. Regardless of it's origin, the arts of evil run hand-in-hand with human history. In Ancient Egypt, conquering Pharaohs enslaved generations of Hebrews. The development of sea-worthy craft was closely followed by the rise of piracy. Criminals and oppressors have become legendary, their names inspiring awe and fear across the centuries; The Borgias, Caligula, and Jack the Ripper.


            In America, notably after the American Civil War, a new era in crime began. As the American West was laid open by U.S. Troops clearing endogenous populations, refugees from the defeated confederacy fled west and made a new life for themselves in a new era of lawlessness. Often, these desperadoes became popular figures in contemporary folklore, robbing from the wealthy, thwarting the law and thumbing their collective noses at the intrusive federal government. Names such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid and the Dalton Gang still resonate across the American consciousness. These figures also inspired the second generation of crime. Kids growing up in turn of the century American idolized these free spirits and developed outlaw legends of their own. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Darrow developed a love affair in the public eye, with major papers publishing Bonnie's poetry. Pretty Boy Floyd took the time to burn the mortgages of Depression-Era homeowners whenever he robbed a bank. These men and women, while desperate criminals, become subjects of songs, poems and legends.

Injustice Society Logo

     On Earth-Two crime contended with the arrival of metahuman champions of the law.  In the early 1940's, the attention of the world was dominated by the imminent entry of most of the world's nations into the second World War. Megalomaniacs like Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini dominated world affairs with endless belligerence. Guarding the Allied nations were intrepid groups such as the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron. While the Spear of Destiny was used by Hitler for most of the war to shield Axis nations from direct attack, these heroes worked to thwart axis activities in allied territories, on the sea and in Axis lands as they fell to Allied Victory and broke the spell of the Spear.


    As the tide of war shifted in the favor of the Allies  in the mid-1940's, a new balance of power began to form. Super-powered agents of law and order turned their attention on other forms of crime. Confronted with this new threat, criminals made an evolutionary advancement, meeting the high-flying heroes with technology of their own. By 1950, the newspapers of the time were filled with battles between bizarre characters like the Icicle, the Sportsmaster and the Fiddler and the heroes of the time.  As these insurgents found themselves often defeated by the sheer numbers of the Justice Society, they countered with an organization of their own:  The Injustice Society of the World.

The exact circumstances under which the Injustice Society was formed have never been revealed.  Even the name of the group may imply a desire to commit crimes or their perception that the law unfairly, or unjustly, prevented  their ambitions.  If they engaged in activities prior to their initial encounter with  the Justice Society, such has never been recorded.


The group first came to public light in 1947 led by the Wizard, a probable agent in its origins as he participates in almost every iteration of the group's history. Along with the Thinker, Vandal Savage, the Gambler, the Brain Wave and newcomer Per Degaton,  the Wizard planned to launch a 3 pronged assault on the Justice Society.  The first part of their plan was to generate an army of criminals by liberating American penitentiaries. The second required disruption of the government and legal system through conquest and replacement of key figures with ISW-controlled androids. The final part was to capture and place on trial their collective enemy, the Justice Society of America.


    Fragmenting into individual efforts, the ISW launched strikes are government facilities around the nation, each with his own private army of convicts. In additional to furthering their primary aims, the villains were each assigned to capture a member of the JSA in anticipated resistance. To ensure that the JSA showed up, the villains notified the heroes of their plans. In due course, Hawkman was captured by Vandal Savage and Dr. Mid-Nite was apprehended by Degaton. The Flash fell victim to his long-time foe, the Thinker and the Atom was snared by the Gambler. After an encounter at a government nuclear facility, the Brain Wave left the Green Lantern for dead at the bottom of a ravine. Hearing of Degaton's capture of Dr. Mid-Nite in Washington, Wonder Woman and Johnny Thunder left the JSA HQ to intervene, only to be captured themselves.

Original Founders
Founders of the Injustice Society (Right to left): The Gambler, Brain Wave, Vandal Savage, Per Degaton, the Thinker and the Wizard

    Bringing the JSA to trial before Judge Thinker, the heroes are quickly convicted for plots against evil and sentenced to death. The villains are thwarted however, when the the Thinker is revealed to be the Green Lantern, not quite so dead as assumed by the over-confident Brain Wave. Quickly liberating his colleagues, the JSA turns the tide against the villains. All are handily captured save the Wizard, who flees into the street only to be captured by a group of children who idolize the Justice Society. (All-Star Comics #37).

Not satisfied with this outcome, the Wizard abandoned his fellow members in prison and  re-organized the Injustice Society a few months later with new, less megalomanical members including the Fiddler, the Icicle, the Sportsmaster, the Huntress and the Harlequin. After recruiting the Harlequin, the Injustice Society learned that Green Lantern's "enemy" had no intention of joining the group. Instead, they learned from a diary she dropped, she intended to betray them. Followed covertly by the Sportsmaster, the Harlequin alerted the JSA to the villains' plan only to be felled with the heroes when the Sportsmaster launched a grenade in the form of a lacrosse ball.


The Harlequin was thrown under a table by the blast and went undetected as the Sportsmaster lugged the JSA members out to captivity. When the Black Canary arrived later for membership induction, she found the ersatz villainess and together, the two were ambushed by the Icicle. Taken back to the Injustice Society headquarters, the two found the JSA brainwashed and working as slaves for the villains. Before they could join their comrades in slavery, the Black Canary revived the JSA and each member set off in pursuit of the individual ISW members, each of whom had targeted a national monument to steal. Unfortunately, the heroes had been subject to a post-hypnotic suggestion that would return them to a mindless state when they heard the snap of fingers. As each intercepted their target, the villains handily re-captured them and carted the heroes and the monuments back to their lair.


    To determine who had committed the best theft, the villains planned to ask a large crowd of captured Americans to judge them. To make sure the JSA was no longer a threat, they were dropped in their automaton state into a deep mine shaft along with the recaptured Harlequin and Black Canary. Trapped in the bowels of the earth, the heroines worked feverishly to convince the JSA of their true identities. With constant urging, the two convinced Green Lantern to employ his ring, freeing the JSA from their stupor. The team then rocketed up the shaft and confronted the ISW, who had reached a murderous level of frustration with their captive judges. Surprising the villains, the heroes quickly rounded up the criminals. The ISW was deposited in jail and Black Canary was then inducted as a full member of the Justice Society (All-Star Comics #41)

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Second Wave of Injustice Society inductees  Sportsmaster and the Huntress (back), The Icicle and The Fiddler (front).

By 1950, the Injustice Society was the predominant organized criminal organization on Earth-Two.  While only two cases have been recorded, it seems likely others must exist.  Three major issues remain unclear.


First, the full roster of the Injustice Society may be unknown.  The known roster is dominated by foes of the JSA (Wizard, Degaton, Brain Wave), the Flash (Fiddler, Thinker, the Shade) and Green Lantern (Gambler, Icicle, Sportsmaster, Solomon Grundy, the Harlequin) with the Huntress, a foe of Wildcat, as they only break in this pattern.  Recurrent adversaries experienced with Starman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Hawkman were known to be active in the same time frame as the formation of the Society and it seems likely they would have been targeted for recruitment.  Whether they were, whether they accepted or declined and whether the Society would have sought to punish those that denied them are all unknown.


Second, the Society’s reaction to or involvement in the decision by the House Un-American Affairs Committee to force the resignation from public life of the Justice Society remains unclear.  Congress subpoenaed the JSA to appear before the HUAC after a case in which a suspicious benefactor, a group of “grateful private citizens” called Eliminations Inc., offered a new satellite headquarters for the heroes using extremely advanced technology.  When the JSA inspected the new facility, they were immediately attacked and captured.  While the ultimately freed themselves, the identity of the satellite’s manufacturers have never been revealed.  Members of Congress speculated that the JSA may have been receiving benefits from foreign powers and requested they cease their activities in their hidden identities, unmasking to allow a full background examination.  The JSA declined and disbanded in 1951.  In later years, it was revealed the both the Wizard and Per Degaton had relationships with the family of Senator O’Fallon who led the HUAC hearings, raising the suggestion that the Injustice Society was more involved in the disbanding of the Justice Society than is widely appreciated (America vs. the Justice Society #1-4).


Finally, what the Injustice Society did once the JSA disbanded is also unknown. Many may have been captured by adventurers like Superman who remained active after the JSA ban and spent years in prison.   In many timelines, the 1950’s were an experiment in governance in the west in place like Las Vegas.  Legalized gambling and prostitution invited an eclectic mix of celebrity glitterati and organized crime in an environment that seemed largely untouchable by the arm of the law.  High-profile super-rogues would likely find such an environment to be irresistible.  Activities of ISW members between 1951 and 1961 are largely undocumented.

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Speculated interviews of members for the Injustice Society by the Gambler, the Wizard and the Icicle.  Candidates include the Gentleman Ghost, the Mist, Dr. Light, Gorilla Ganty and the Yellow Wasp.

The next recorded activity of Injustice Society members occurred in 1961 when the three members of the Flash’s Rogues – the Fiddler, the Thinker and the Shade – recently escaped from prison plotting a crime spree across Keystone City which would ultimately pull Jay Garrick out of full retirement to resume his career as the Flash.  Somewhat serendipitously, the Flash of Earth-One had stumbled across the concept of vibratory signatures separating the various Earths of the Multiverse and made his first appearance on Earth-Two.  The combined forces of the two Flashes thwarted the schemes of the three rogues and carted them off to jail (Flash #123). Two years later, another visit by the Flash of Earth-One occurred during a confrontation with ISW Founder Vandal Savage who had captured the Justice Society.  The two Flashes freed the JSA, leading to their return to active duty in law enforcement on Earth-Two (Flash #137).


These cases marked an important revelation for the criminals of Earth-Two:  They became aware of the existence of the multiverse.  In did not take long for the membership of the Injustice Society to begin to exploit this knowledge. In 1963, The Fiddler, The Icicle and The Wizard staged a jail break and when cornered by the authorities, the Fiddler used vibrational frequencies in his music to transport them to Earth-One.  There they were met by three Earth-One criminals – Dr. Alchemy, Chronos and Felix Faust – and formed an earth-hopping team of villains known as the Crime Champions (Justice League of American #21-22).  The inter-dimensional team remained in contact for decades, last appearing right before the Crisis on Infinite Earths (Justice League of America #219-220).  The full extent of the Crime Champions activities and membership are unknown but likely more extensive than reported to date.


From this point forward, Injustice Society members were extremely active on Earth-One.  In 1965, the Shade conducted a series of robberies on Earth-One to provide a front in Earth-Two (Flash #151).  The Thinker employed a similar strategy in 1967 against the Atoms of Earth-One and Earth-Two (Atom #29).  Vandal Savage made forays against both Flashes (Flash #215, #235-236) and Superman of Earth-One (Action #515-516) and the Icicle joined a series of cold-based villains employed by Earth-One’s Shadow Thief (Justice League of America #139).  Whether reciprocal relationships existed with Earth-One criminals traveling to Earth-Two to engage in similar activities has never been revealed.

Crime Champions resize
Speculated expanded roster of Crime Champions, the ISW expansion effort with villains of Earth-One.

In the 1970's, several recorded group cases of the Injustice Society on Earth-Two were recorded. When an other-dimension comic book writer found himself thrust in the Injustice Society's world, he contacted several members of the Injustice Society and actually succeeded in killing off the Justice Society.  The intervention of the Justice League of Earth-One and the resurrection of the JSA by the Spectre turned the tide and defeated the villains  (Justice League of America  #123-124). Another case involved a direct battle with the Justice Society initiated by invading the JSA HQ. In series of waved assaults, the villains tangled with newer member in the streets with Solomon Grundy and the Fiddler be captured at the outset.  When they managed to infiiltrate the JSA brownstone, the Icicle managed to critically injure Hourman before escaping to Alaska where there were ultimately captured again by the JSA, notably augmented with younger members like Power Girl and the Star-Spangled Kid (All-Star Comics #63-66).


This defeat was profoundly demoralizing to the Injustice Society.  The Fiddler briefly abandoned  the group to conduct crimes on Earth-One, only to be thwarted the Teen Titans (Teen Titans #46).  The elder members of the group convened and decided that the problem they faced was that the JSA had recruited younger, vital members while they remained the same old crew (Secret Society of Super-Villains #12).  To recruit new members, The Wizard moved to Earth-One where he infiltrated an effort by Darkseid to organzed Earth-One’s super criminals, an effort that was ultimately defeated by the sacrifice of Manhunter (Secret Society of Super-Villains #1-5).  The Wizard then quietly moved into a behind the scenes leadership role, charging the society with finding four sorcerous artifacts originally thought destroyed by Superman and Batman (World’s Finest #103).  The Society recovered three of the four artifacts (Secret Society of Super-Villains #8-10) at which point the Wizard revealed that he was the true secret backer and then he, Star Sapphire, Blockbuster, Professor Zoom and the Floronic Man left for Earth-Two (Secret Society of Super-Villains #12).  After an inadvertent trip to Earth-Three (Secret Society of Super-Villains #13-14), they arrived on Earth-Two and waged war against the JSA.  While they were initially successful, capturing the Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific, they were defeated and forced to flee when the more powerful members of the JSA retaliated (Secret Society of Super-Villains #15-unpublished #16).  They retreated to Earth-One were they were eventually apprehended by the Justice League (Justice League of America #166-168).

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Final battle between the Wizard's Secret Society of Super-Villains and the 1970's incarnation of the Justice Society of America.

Late in the decade, three members of the Injustice Society were intercepted on a case by the spirit of Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips. The villains were taken to Apokolips to serve as Darkseid's strike force against the combined might of the Justice League, the Justice Society and the heroes of New Genesis known as the New Gods. Although the villain succeeded in resurrecting Darkseid, the dark lord turned on them and imprisoned them in a holding pit until they were liberated by the heroes and joined the fight to repel Darkseid (Justice League of America #183-185).


In the waning years before the Crisis, the Injustice Society suffered a series of reversals.  Degaton committed suicided after his latest defeat by JSA (America vs. the Justice Society #4) and Brain Wave had been slain by the Ultra-Humanite (Infinity Inc. #10).  The Icicle was killed during the Villain War during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, reducing the active membership by 25%.  The extent to which the remaining members survived  the Crisis and the future of the Society on Earth-Two remains to be revealed.

Multiversity Villains

Multiversity

Prior Earth-0

The history of the Injustice Society on Prior Earth-0 is thought to be largely similar to that on Earth-Two, minus obvious interactions with characters such as Superman or Wonder Woman.  Shortly after Crisis, additional members were lost, including the Gambler (Infinity Inc. #35) to suicide and the Thinker to reform and then to brain cancer (Flash #134).  The Wizard formed a new group with The Fiddler, the Shade and the heirs of the Icicle, the Gambler and the Sportsmaster and the Huntress called Injustice Unlimited, but were soon defeated by Infinity Inc. and the Global Guardians (Infinity Inc. #34-36).  In the years that followed, the Fiddler was killed on a mission with the Secret Six (Villains United #1) and the Shade reformed to some degree and moved to Opal City (Starman #0).


 In the late 1990’s,  a new version was met by a resurrected version of the Injustice Society lead by Starman foe Johnny Sorrow including an heir to the Yellow Wasp,  surviving members of the Injustice Unlimited and several villains unfamiliar with the JSA (JSA #10). Sorrow’s goal was to bring a Lovecraftian being known as The King of Tears to the current dimension but he was ultimately thwarted by the JSA and in the Justice Society scattered (JSA #16-19).  The Wizard re-formed the group a few years later, including the new Thinker, the Rag Doll and the Gentleman Ghost to return Johnny Sorrow from the Realm of Tears, a successful venture tho it cost the life of the Rag Doll (JSA Classified #5-7).   The further activities of the Injustice Society on this Earth are unrecorded.

Appearances

Issue

Comment

Reprinted in

All-Star Comics #37

First appearance  the Injustice Society, vs. The Justice Society

All-Star Comics Archives #8, DC Comics 100-Page Spectacular #DC-17, The Greatest Golden Age Stories Every Told, Justice Society of America:A Celebration of 75 Years

All-Star Comics #41

vs. the JSA

Justice League of America #113, Justice League of America Super-Spectacular #1 (1999), All-Star Archives #9

Justice League of America #21-22

with the Crime Champions, vs. the JLA and JSA

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1 TPB, DC 100-Page Spectacular #6, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told, Justice League of America Archives #3, Showcase Presents: The Justice League of America #2, Justice League of America: The Silver Age Omnibus #1, Justice Society, A Celebration of 75 years

Justice League of America #123-124

vs. the JLA and JSA

DC Retroactive: Justice League of America - The '70s #1 (JLA #123 only), Showcase Presents: The Justice League of America #6, Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus #2, Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. #4

All-Star Comics #63-66

vs. the JSA

Justice Society TPB Vol. 1, Showcase Presents All-Star Comics Vol. 1, All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever

Justice League of America #183-185

vs. JLA, JSA, the New Gods

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5,  The New Gods HC

Secret Society of Super-Villains #12

Cameo, explaining why the Wizard traveled to Earth-One

Secret Society of Super-Villains HC Vol. 2

Justice League of America #219-220

with the Crime Champions, vs. the JLA and JSA