I guess if they came out and told you, it wouldn’t be that secret. But as teased throughout today’s issue of DC Comics Justice League of America, there’s a mystery behind the leader of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. We’re going to speculate on twelve likely identities for the mystery man, but first, here’s the clues as we know them (and spoilers for JLA #5, natch):
1) He’s very pale.
2) He has a bowler hat, a cane, and is bald.
3) He likes to play around with coins.
4) He knows the Joker.
5) According to Martian Manhunter, he watched his world die, “like me.”
6) His verbal tic is saying “Ha.”
So who is this unmasked man? Using the clues in context, and a healthy dose of Secret Society history, here’s our best guesses:
Last we saw of Jokesey, he was falling into a chasm in Gotham City with his face off. Certainly The Joker is very pale, likes the word, “Ha,” and we guess would… Know… The Joker? But he hasn’t really watched his world die; and the sanity, and definite face-having seem to rule him out.
Bowler hat? Check. Cane? Check. Knows the Joker? Sure. But Riddler doesn’t fit the rest of the criteria, and is appearing in a flashback capacity in the currently running Batman: Zero Year storyline, so we’re thinking no on this one, too.
It was the talking to coins thing that made us wonder about this one, as Harvey Dent has a thing for currency – and would want to impress The Joker. That said, last we saw of him, he had two-faces, not one pale one. This also doesn’t fit his M.O. at all.
The Green Lantern baddie was the first ever leader of the Secret Society in DC Comics’ original series. And with writer Geoff Johns' frequent throws to the past (check out Chronos’ appearance here, he was one of the prime targets of the SSoSV at one point, decades ago), it might make sense to call back to their original appearance. Plus, in the original series, Sinestro was a non-purple dude with a receding hairline, wearing a swanky suit. That said, does Thaal Sinestro even know The Joker? Maybe they were at a wedding together one time. A wedding… Of DEATH!
Another classic leader of the Society – and we should mention at this point that nearly every leader of the Society has been super pale, so kudos to Johns and company for picking up on that – one of the oldest beings on the planet has made it his life’s mission to never die… By transferring his brain into other bodies. He’s most famous for his stint as a super-smart monkey, but mostly, he’s an insanely intelligent human being. And so far, he hasn’t turned up in the New 52. Plus, that whole “world dying” thing could just refer to him watching every human on the planet die, while he lived on.
Not to be confused with the delicious drink of not the same name, White Martians are the evil antagonists of Martian Manhunter. That would certainly explain the paleness, the inability to mind-scan (J’onn has a hard time reading his opposite numbers), and the connection with J’onzz.
The mind-jumping parasite who swore eternal vengeance on Martian Manhunter in JLA #5’s back-up story would make logical story sense, but considering he was just introduced, is a weird little bit of potential ret-con.
Often cast as the leader of the Society in the older books, we have no idea where The Wizard is now. Oz, maybe?
The Silver Ghost
An evil, other-dimensional Nazi with the power to turn people into silver (and then control their minds), this one-time leader of the Society with a mad-on for the Freedom Fighters is more likely to show up in Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's ongoing mini-series rebooting the FF, than as the maniacal mastermind behind all the baddies in the DCU.
Considering Superman’s main antagonist is locked in prison, we’re going to rule this out – even if Luthor has lead the society in the past. That said, has prison stopped any super bad guy ever? Plus, Luthor does know The Joker, and does have the stuff to pull off a take-down-the-good-guys plan of this magnitude. That said, it’s more likely to be…
The alternate universe version of Luthor started as a good guy, trying to save the Multiverse during Crisis On Infinite Earths. However, under Geoff Johns watch, he became an insane mad-man, trying to return his universe into existence even if it meant he had to destroy all the rest. Not only that, but Alexander Luthor led The Society by pretending to be regular-styles Lex Luthor for nearly two years. We don’t know his status in the New 52, but what if he’s a refugee from the war-ravaged Earth-2? That might tie nicely into our next theory:
No, we don’t think the massive leader of Apokolips is walking around in a skinny twee skin-suit. But time and again, Darkseid has been the true leader behind the Society. There’s a small panel towards the end of JLA #5, where our mystery man is talking to someone about how surprising it will be when the heroes learn he – or she – is involved. Could that be Darkseid? The metal plating near the head area on the mostly hidden figure seems to suggest it just may be.
So what do you think, folks? Who's the DC Universe's next big bad?