Saturday, May 19, 2012

Infinite Crisis: Villains United

Continuing from my post on the Countdown to Infinite Crisis 80 page Special, I've been catching up to more of the story arcs preceding and surrounding the Infinite Crisis event, having the luck to find quite a bit recently in the dollar comic bins, including this six-issue limited Villains United series. Lex Luthor has managed to assemble his Secret Society of Supervillains with the exception of a few that refused to join- The Secret Six! Catman, Cheshire, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Parademon oppose this new Secret Society, and are led by the mysterious Mockingbird who uses a personal threat against each member to ensure their united loyalty against Luthor's army. This team assembled of villainous characters undertake missions of dubious morality, resulting in bloody conflicts with high casualties.

Right off the bat there's inner conflict and odd fellowship within the group, the prominent testosterone-fueled rivalry between Catman and Deadshot, the latter revealed to have killed the former's pride of lions he'd been living with while in exile. Blamed on Lex Luthor and Deathstroke, the ploy to designed to lure Catman to joining the Secret Six for revenge. The two men are at odds throughout the series, their uneasy alliance finally resulting in a truce of sorts at the end. Cheshire and Catman hit the sack together at one point, after which she accuses Catman of being a spy, wanting to be a hero. She later reveals their consumation merely a plot to conceive a child. And Rag Doll shares a strange relationship with a Parademon, who refers to him simply as "Clown". For reasons unexplained it protects Rag Doll, threatening to kill anyone who gives the contortionist a hard time.

One of Mockingbird's first assignments has the group stealing Thanagarian weaponry from a tanker in Gotham harbor, only to be ambushed by members of the Society and tortured by the Crime Doctor, who's eager to discover Mockingbird's identity. Catman breaks free, releasing the others so the group can go from one hair-raising situation to the next, including fighting their way through a legion of H.I.V.E. troopers led by Queen Bee in Brazil. Who can be trusted is a constant wedge between the members, finally resulting in betrayal by Cheshire who has given Luthor their coordinates and defected from the group in return for safety. A bloody last stand against the Society is the result!

The final battle is riveting: the Society storms the Secret Six hideout castle, the traitorous Cheshire is shot by Deathstroke, and Talia and Scandal (daughters of immortals Ra's al Ghul and Vandal Savage) duke it out. Scandal's mole in the Society, Knockout, take Talia down (also revealing that Knockout is Scandal's lover). Ragdoll bumps into Solomon Grundy on the run for cover, deftly convincing the fellow "ugly monster" to switch sides. Just as Catman and Ragdoll Jr. escape from Black Adam's group, Parademon blows himself up with a stack of Motherboxes sending everyone flying. Outside the castle, Deathstroke and Deadshot are caught in one another's sights, pumping several rounds into each other simultaneously. Fed up with Luthor and concerned for daughter Scandal's safety, Vandal Savage storms Society's headquarters and threatens to kill him if he doesn't back off the Six. Luthor hesitantly ends the battle, the remainder of the Six taking Deadshot to medical attention. 

The climax reveals that Mockingbird is Lex Luthor and that the Luthor who organized the Secret Society is an impostor, Alexander Luthor, Jr., the Earth-Three son of that world's Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane-Luthor. In Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985, DC Comics), the Anti-Monitor destroyed incalculable universes, including Earth-Three. To save their son, the Luthors place him in an experimental device that carries the infant to the safety of Earth-One. The real Lex Luthor chose members of the Secret Six based on their knowledge of the Society's members' strengths & weaknesses. It's fun reading all this after having read Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, all the pieces of continuity slowly pulling together in my head!

I was also lucky to find the Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special in the dollar bins! Discussing their future as a group, Deadshot is of the opinion they fight for whatever side pays, mercenary style. Meanwhile the Society breaks all the incarcerated villains out of metahuman holding facilities around the world. Oracle responds, but is quickly losing ground against the massive group of escapees. She turns to Martian Manhunter who establishes a global telepathic link, calling on all available help, retired or otherwise, as the heavy hitters of the Justice League are unavailable. In the final scenes, Doctor Psycho leads the villains, Doomsday at his side, meeting the heroes for a big standoff in Metropolis. Surveying the scene from a helicopter above the battle, the Secret Six decide to remain neutral surprisingly, leaving the scene determined to maintain their independence.

 All this comes together in The OMAC Project, the Rann-Thanagar War, and the Spectre: Day of Vengeance crossover events, which tie into Infinite Crisis. Again, I'm really excited to be reading these all now! Gail Simone's dialogue got better & better as things progressed, and art duties were superbly executed by pencilist Dale Eaglesham and inker Wade Von Grawbadger (Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins filling in seamlessly on issue #3). This one is worth your time, Kids!
More Later- Make It FUN!
(Sources: Wikepedia, Villains United #1-6, Villains United Infinite Crisis Special)


  1. These are some great comic book covers!

  2. Such a great idea in the right hands. How much difference between a HERO and a VILLAIN when you really get down to it?