WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
Residence: New York City, later Southern France
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Flash Comics #64 (April 1945)
First Appearance (Silver Age): Justice League of America #195 (August 1982)
Jonathan Cheval was likely born sometime in the early 1920's,
the son of a master oculist. For centuries, the Chevals had been masters of lens and glasswork, crafting lens to focus
light, X-rays and various radiations. The craft had been passed down through
generations until, in the mid-1940's, Jonathan Cheval maintained the family
business in a small shop on Broadway in downtown New York City. A honest
citizen, Cheval worked hard to keep up the family name of excellence in
Unfortunately for Cheval,
events were transpiring elsewhere that would cost him dearly. At the Midtown
Bank and Trust, several bankers gathered to ponder their fate. Speculation
in the stock markets had cost them greatly, forcing them to drain the assets
of their clients. They needed hard cash to refund those assets before they
were discovered and prosecuted. The board of directors, Jim Cassidy, hatched
a plan that would reap the bank millions. The bank held a mortgage on Jonathan's
Cheval's shop and while the shop was not worth much, the land it occupied
in downtown New York was worth millions. Cassidy had a petty thief break
into Cheval's shop and still his bank book containing his mortgage receipts.
Without proof of payment, the bank would simply declare Cheval in default
on his mortgage and foreclose his shop. In very short order, Cheval found
himself bereft of a business his family had held for generations. Miserably, Cheval attended the sale of his shop at
the foreclosure proceedings. Standing in the back of the room, Cheval overhead
two members of the bank board ridiculing him and congratulating Jim Cassidy
for having stolen Cheval's receipts. In a flash, Cheval realized that he
had been cheated of everything his family had ever worked for. The revelation
drove Cheval beyond the breaking point and swore vengeance on Cassidy and
his five associates as the Monocle!
Later that evening, the Monocle wrapped himself in
a cloak and took several of his family's most secret inventions to visit
the home of Jim Cassidy. Catching the banker by surprise, the Monocle used
a special lens that focused cosmic rays to atomize the man who had swindled
him. Cassidy's dying screams echoed into the night, attracting the attention
of Hawkman flying overhead. As the hero dove swiftly into Cassidy's home,
he found only a perplexing pattern of dust in the shape of a man.
The next evening, the Monocle tracked Charley Burton
to a popular night spot where Carter and Shiera Hall were enjoying an evening
out. As Burton approached a radiator, the Monocle used a special eyepiece
to super-charge with electricity. When Burton touched the radiator, he
was instantly electrocuted. As the Monocle tried to slip away, he inadvertently
loosed a ray from his monocle, electrifying a cigarette lighter near Carter
Hall and cluing the heroes onto him. As he made a dash for the exit, the
Hall ducked out of sight, donned their Hawk garb and took flight. A few
blocks away, Hawkman caught up with the Monocle and the two engaged
in fisticuffs. As Hawkgirl approached, the Monocle slipped a lens free
and stunned the hero, allowing him a chance to escape.
In the morning, the headline revealed the death of the second banker. One of the remaining members of the board of directors, Alfred Donnely, pieced together their deaths and monocles to conclude the murderer must be none other than Jonathan Cheval. He took out an ad in the personals sections to appear the next day, seeking the aide of Hawkman. That very evening, banker Robert Ryan and two of his colleagues met grisly ends at the hands of the Monocle. Donnely was the only one that remained alive. The next day, Hawkman read Donnely's ad and visited the banker in his home. There, Donnely revealed the scam that the bankers had run on Cheval and explained his suspicions about who had murdered his colleagues. As Hawkman rebuked the banker for his swindling, the Monocle blasted open the door and asked Hawkman to stand aside that he might finish his work. Hawkman refused and slapped the Monocle's eyepiece into an aquarium, rendering it helpless. The two tussled briefly but the melee ended with a strong blow from the Hawkman sending the Monocle into unconsciousness. He then escorted both Cheval and Donnely to the police, where both were sentenced to lengthy jail terms (Flash Comics #64),
The activities of the Monocle in the following years
remain open to speculation. It is known that by the early 1980's, decades
after his original conviction, Cheval had established himself as a wealthy
businessman in southern France, specializing in laser optics. Cheval found
himself bored and was even forced, by the inertia of the marketplace, to
keep his most advanced models to himself. When he was contacted by the
Ultra-Humanite to form a Secret Society of Super-Villains, the Monocle
decided it was worth the risk. The Ultra-Humanite had devised a machine
that, for the sacrifice of ten heroes to be held in stasis, five from each
Earth, all the heroes on Earth-Two would disappear. each villain then was
assigned a target and the Monocle delivered the Hawkman. After tricking
the hero into taking his monocle, the lens self-activated, stunning the
hero and allowing Cheval to truss him up for the Ultra-Humanite's device.
As the other members of the
Secret Society completed their task, the heroes were dispatched to Limbo,
clearing Earth-Two of costumed heroes. Unfortunately, the Ultra-Humanite
had deceived the heroes of Earth-One into helping and while the Monocle and
his colleague waged a massive crime wave on Earth-Two, the villains of Earth-1
rescued the captured heroes in Limbo. In short order, the Secret Society
of Super-Villains were consigned to Limbo and the balance of heroes on
Earth-Two was restored (Justice League of America #195-197).
Shortly thereafter, the Ultra-Humanite contacted himself in the 1940's, allow the earlier form to rescue the Secret Society from Limbo. Once there, the Ultra-Humanite planned to use the villains to change the course of history, allowing the Ultra-Humanite to rule. After some initial success, the Monocle, along with the Secret Society, Vulcan and several of the Humanite's 1940's era henchmen were routed by the All-Star Squadron and quickly returned to Limbo (All-Star Squadron #24-26, Annual #1). Cheval was not seen during the Crisis on Infinite Earths and may have still been trapped in Limbo. The final fate of the Golden Age Monocle is not known.
NOTE: The Monocle was a somewhat common name for professional criminals on Earth-Two including adversaries of The Flash (All-Flash #1), Johnny Quick (Adventure Comics #172) and Zatara (Action Comics #94). None of these characters are thought to be related in anyway to Jonathan Cheval.
Powers and Abilities
The Monocle was an extremely skilled optical engineer and glass-worker, the product of generations of family experience. He created a variety of optic weapons, his signature pieces being his custom-designed monocles that could generate a variety of bursts of energy. The full range of his inventions are not entirely known.
Weaknesses and Limitations
The Monocle possessed no super-powers that aided him in hand to hand combat and separated from his equipment, could be captured as an ordinary criminal.
The career of the post-crisis Earth-0 Monocle appears to bear many similarities to his Earth-Two counterpart, though some alterations must exist given the periodic revisions in the history of Hawkman. He remained active after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, operating as an agent for hire and as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. He was among those involved in the criminal communities defensive actions from the aggressive pursuit of the murderer of Sue Dibny by the Justice League (Identity Crisis #1-7). He was among a hit team encountered by Manhunter Kate Spencer and in the ensuing battle, the Monocle was killed by a headshot through his monocle (Manhunter Vol. 3 #9).
The Monocle is known to have had a criminal career on this earth, the details of which are unknown. When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 gathered this Earth's super-villains to form an army against the Justice League, the Monocle immediately decried it as a trick, exclaiming that Ultra-Man, leader of the Syndicate, was simply Superman in disguise. Ultra-Man promptly established his credentials by incinerating the Monocle with his heat vision (Forever Evil #1).
Flash Comics #64
First appearance and origin, vs. Hawkman of Earth-Two
joins the Ultra-Humanite's Secret Society of Super-Villains, vs. the Justice League and the Justice Society
Crisis on Multiple Earths TPB Vol. 6, DC Classic Library: Justice League of America by George Perez Vol. 2
with the Secret Society of Super-Villains, vs. the All-Star Squadron
Infinity Inc.: The Generations Saga Vol. 1