The Crime Syndicate are teams of fictional supervillains from one of DC Comics' parallel universes where they are the evil counterparts of the Justice League. The original team was specifically known as Crime Syndicate of America and is sometimes abbreviated as CSA. This first superpowered Crime Syndicate team appeared in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #29 in August 1964. The primary successive incarnation, known as the Crime Syndicate of Amerika (with the variant spelling of America), first appeared in the 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel.
A related successive group on Earth-3 is known as the Crime Society of America and first appeared in 52 #52, and later featured in Countdown to Final Crisis. A "Golden Age" supervillain group, the Crime Society was to Earth-2 what the Anti-Matter Crime Syndicate of Amerika was to Earth-0, until it was removed from continuity following DC's 2011 Flashpoint storyline and The New 52 company-wide reboot. Following this, a singular Crime Syndicate is the Earth-3 counterpart of the Earth-0 Justice League, first appearing in Justice League #23 (October 2013), and the main focus of the company-wide crossover storyline Forever Evil. The events of that story have far-reaching consequences in the DC Universe, and the Crime Syndicate characters which survive remain on Earth-0 in one form or another after its events.
|Crime Syndicate of America|
|Created by||Gardner Fox |
The Flying Fortress
As detailed in Justice League of America #29 (August 1964), the Crime Syndicate of America originally lived on Earth-Three, a world where history was "reversed" from the real world (e.g., Christopher Columbus discovered Europe, British colonists declared their independence from America, and President John Wilkes Booth was assassinated by an actor named Abraham Lincoln). It initially had no superheroes, only the supervillains of the Crime Syndicate, though this changed with the later introduction of the heroic Lex Luthor who used his vast intelligence for good.
In their first appearance, the Crime Syndicate, bored with the ease with which they were able to commit crimes on their Earth (and with no one to truly challenge them), discovered the existence of Earth-One and Earth-Two after Ultraman got "Ultra-Vision" from exposure to a large chunk of kryptonite and found he could peer between worlds. Intrigued by the existence of superheroes, they crossed the dimensional void and attacked the JLA and JSA. The villains were at first defeated but when they said the word "Volthoom", they sent themselves into Earth-Three thanks to a fail-safe created by Power Ring. The CSA was then able to capture the JSA by transporting them to Earth-Three and imprisoning them, intending to fight the JLA on Earth-2 to prove their superiority (the JLA had a natural advantage on Earth-1 and the CSA had a similar advantage on Earth-3, Earth-2 being chosen as a neutral environment where neither would have an edge). However, the JLA defeated the Syndicate by tricking the members into unleashing more power than they could control, such as Ultraman acquiring so many powers he could not use any of them, Power Ring's ring generating constructs that were too large for him to control after Green Lantern gave it a boost, and Wonder Woman allowing Superwoman to 'steal' her Lasso of Truth knowing that her opponent would not be able to use both of them. Following this defeat, the JLA freed the captured Justice Society heroes and imprisoned the CSA in an unbreakable bubble generated by Green Lantern's power ring that was placed in a "limbo" dimension between the Earths where time has no meaning.
Over the ensuing years, the Syndicate or one of its members would occasionally escape and attempt to wreak havoc on Earth-One and/or Earth-Two. Power Ring, Johnny Quick, and Superwoman battled Captain Comet after being released by the Secret Society of Super Villains. Ultraman once escaped but was returned by the Supermen from Earth-One and Earth-Two.
On one occasion the entire CSA were released by the time travelling villain Per Degaton when he was caught up in a time storm and stumbled upon their limbo prison. He freed them and they reluctantly agreed to help him take over his home world of Earth-Two in his present time of 1942 by stealing nuclear missiles from the 1962 Cuban missile crisis of Earth-Prime. When they inevitably tried to double-cross him, a safety protocol he had created hurled the traitors uncontrollably into the time stream, where they landed coincidentally on the satellite headquarters of the Justice League in the then present day of 1982 (the year the story was published). An intricate tale then followed involving the CSA escaping and the JLA traveling back in time to Earth-Two in 1942 and Earth-Prime in 1962 to prevent the Crime Syndicate from helping Degaton. It was during the Earth-Two visit to the past that the JLA teamed up with America's superhero team of that era, the All-Star Squadron. The heroes succeeded in stopping Per Degaton and the CSA before their evil plan could be set in motion, effectively wiping these events from existence and everyone's memory.
Earth-Three and the original Crime Syndicate were destroyed along with the rest of DC's parallel worlds in the 1985 twelve-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. As shown in issue #1, Earth-Three and all of its inhabitants were obliterated by an anti-matter wave that was the catalyst for the story. The original Earth-Three Syndicate made a few post-Crisis appearances, when Ultraman and Power Ring appeared in the Animal Man series and then again in Infinite Crisis when Earth-Three was temporarily recreated and models of the Earth-Three Ultraman, Superwoman, and Alexander Luthor, Sr. were briefly merged with the Superman and Wonder Woman of Earth-1 and the Superman of Earth-Two and Wonder Woman of Earth-2.
During the Convergence storyline, the Crime Syndicate had accidentally killed the Earth-Three version of Bruno Mannheim where Superwoman was arrested and sentenced to death. Despite the dome being over their Metropolis, Ultraman, Owlman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick worked to infiltrate the prison and free Superwoman. Due to the interference of the Rogue Hunters, the Crime Syndicate failed to save Superwoman as the electric chair was activated. As the Rogue Hunters placed the shackles on the Crime Syndicate members, the domes fall around the cities as the Crime Syndicate breaks free. The Crime Syndicate soon found themselves fighting against the Justice Legion Alpha from the 853rd Century's Metropolis.
A post-Crisis version of the team, simply known as the "Crime Syndicate" (not 'of America'), was eventually introduced. This post-Crisis version (revealed in 1992's Justice League Quarterly #8) was composed of Qwardians (residents of the antimatter counterpart of Oa) as well as being "more powerful than their counterparts", they are shown to be different from the Earth-Three incarnation by their enlarged eyes, resembling the Weaponers of Qward. They acted as Claire Montgomery's (Maxwell Lord's ex-wife) second Conglomerate team.
Following a further "soft" reboot of DC continuity in 1994's Zero Hour (1994) crossover, the Crime Syndicate was introduced once again, in 2000, in the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel by Grant Morrison, which combined the pre-Crisis parallel Earth idea with the pre-Zero Hour anti-matter universe concept. The Crime Syndicate's post-Zero Hour anti-matter Earth possesses a "reversed" history similar to Earth-Three's, but with a much darker tone to both the team and its world. JLA Secret Files 2004 provided additional history of this team, showing that they did once partially resemble the Earth-Three Syndicate though still easily identifiable from their Pre-Crisis Earth-Three incarnation. Unlike the Crime Syndicate of Earth-Three, this Crime Syndicate of Amerika are able to rule their world (a change from their pre-Crisis counterparts, who were unsuccessful in conquering their world) though they allow governments to continue operating and honest people are able to continue operating in pockets such as Gotham City Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne Sr. (father to Owlman and counterpart of the murdered father of Batman).
Superman later encounters Ultraman, Superwoman and Owlman after a scared and out of control superpowered baby appears out of nowhere. Ultraman and Owlman come to believe the child is the offspring of Ultraman and Superwoman. Owlman wants to kill it out of jealousy, Ultraman wants to raise it as his demented protégé, and Superman tries to save it from them both. When Superwoman arrives on the scene, adamant that she has never given birth, it is revealed that the superpowered infant is actually a reborn Brainiac from the antimatter universe, defeated by Ultraman in the Earth-2 story. Brainiac's sentience is eventually disbursed and the villains return home to sort out their differences.
The Crime Syndicate reappear and lay waste to the planet Qward out of boredom. During their decimation of the planet, the entire Anti-Matter universe undergoes a reboot which causes some immediate changes, the most obvious of which is the sudden replacement of the white Power Ring with a black counterpart to John Stewart, the then current Green Lantern in the JLA. In the story, it is explained that the reboot the Syndicate experiences is direct fallout from the events of 2003's JLA/Avengers crossover. Not knowing of these events, the Crime Syndicate journey to the matter universe to attack Earth, blaming the JLA in the mistaken belief that the heroes are responsible for the changes they have endured. It is during this time that they discover that the reboot of the antimatter universe wiped out the previous 24-hour rule so the plan is changed to secretly take over the planet instead. Meanwhile, the defeated Qwardians rally behind a dimension-destroying weapon called The Void Hound and pursue the Syndicate to the matter universe, laying waste to hundreds of planets along the way. Reluctantly the CSA team up with the JLA but the Void Hound proved too powerful. The heroes finally defeat the Void Hound by using a former League foe, The Construct, to remove the artificial intelligence of the massive weapon and render it powerless. With the Void Hound defeated and the CSA owing the JLA a favor for saving them, the villains are sent back to the antimatter universe where they discover to their horror that the Qwardians have also invaded their Earth, dismantling their entire criminal organization and freeing many imprisoned superheroes and rival supervillains.
Superman/Batman Annual #1 (2006) details Superman and Batman's first encounter with Ultraman and Owlman. Set years before Superman and Batman knew each other's secret identities, a vacationing Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Lois Lane meet Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman when the villains appear on a cruise ship. This story also features the first appearance of Deathstroke's unnamed antimatter doppelganger. The Ultraman, Owlman, and Superwoman presented in the story have the same costumes as the antimatter universe version of the Syndicate. However, it should be noted that this tale is being told by Mister Mxyzptlk and, as such, may not actually be canonical.
After the events of Infinite Crisis, the original pre-Crisis Ultraman appears in the bottle city of Kandor posing as Kal-El (Superman). It is also revealed that Saturn Queen, last seen in "Absolute Power", survived the reboot of the universe in Infinite Crisis and through flashback we learn that she has used her telepathic abilities to convince Ultraman that he is Kal-El and that she is his mother. His original personality seems intact however as he is portrayed as being as sadistic and self-centered as ever. Saturn Queen further manipulates events to place him in charge of Kandor and mind controls Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) into marrying him. Kara eventually breaks free and in a blind rage beats him to a pulp (at this point in time, Supergirl was portrayed as being slightly more powerful than Superman). Ultraman is saved when Saturn Queen provides information to Supergirl about her lost home of Argo City in exchange for sparing his life. From this point on neither the pre-Crisis Ultraman nor Saturn Queen are seen again and their fates were unknown at the time the universe was rebooted again during 2011's Flashpoint.
Meanwhile, the anti-matter CSA made their next appearance in Trinity. Here it is revealed that the Syndicate have gained control of their Earth again and have been abducting people from throughout all of the individual 52 universes in the current positive matter Multiverse to use as slave labor to repair their damaged Earth. After the hyper-powered Trinity heroes of the story defeat and imprison the Syndicate and free the slaves, the antimatter Earth falls into chaos.
In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #43, Doctor Impossible and his cohorts use extra-dimensional superhero Blue Jay to open up a gateway to the Multiverse. Owlman, Ultraman, and Superwoman are briefly seen standing atop a building, with shadows obscuring most of their identifying marks, thus making it unclear which versions they are. The full Crime Syndicate members later appear with the original pre-Crisis iterations of Power Ring and Johnny Quick replacing their contemporary counterparts as a mirror to the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth and Flash: Rebirth. After arriving on New Earth following the destruction of their world at the hands of Alexander Luthor (who had built a weapon of mass destruction that detonated following his demise), the Syndicate attacks the Hall of Justice, where Luthor's corpse was interred after his murder at the hands of the Joker during the finale of Infinite Crisis. It is revealed that the Syndicate members were working with Doctor Impossible in order to create a machine that could resurrect the dead, hoping that they could revive Luthor and force him to undo the damage he had dealt to the Crime Syndicate's world. However, just as the machine is to be activated, Doctor Impossible double-crosses the Syndicate and attempts to resurrect Darkseid rather than Luthor, but the machine malfunctions and instead creates an immensely powerful villain called the Omega Man.
In the ensuing storyline, Power Ring is killed and the members of the Justice League and the Crime Syndicate are forced to work together to stop Omega Man. Realizing that the situation is hopeless, Owlman betrays the League and turns them over to Omega Man, figuring that the Syndicate could take over the League's Earth after Omega Man kills off most of the heroes. At the last second, Batman reveals that he anticipated the Syndicate's betrayal, and used the Tangent Universe's version of Green Lantern to resurrect Luthor behind the Syndicate's back. Though his resurrection is short-lived, Luthor builds a machine that ultimately sends the Syndicate back to their own ravaged world and seemingly destroys Omega Man.
In 52 #52, an alternate version of Earth-Three is shown as a part of the new Multiverse. In the depiction are characters that are altered versions of the original Justice League of America, plus the Martian Manhunter. The names of the characters and the team are not mentioned in the two panels in which they appear.
Based on comments by Grant Morrison, this alternate universe is not the pre-Crisis Earth-Three, making these new characters unrelated to previous versions. In Countdown #31, the name of this team is revealed to be the Crime Society of America. The Society are said to be evil doppelgangers of the heroes of Earth-2, and make their first solo appearance in Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer: Crime Society #1 written by Sean McKeever and illustrated by Jamal Igle, In addition to the five known members, this version of the CSA includes evil versions of Green Arrow, Wildcat, Black Canary, Hawkwoman, Stargirl, and the Spectre Later issues introduce Annataz Arataz (the evil counterpart of Zatanna), and counterparts of Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), and Booster Gold.
Shortly after the Crime Society's introduction, they are offered a place among Monarch's army. Already recruited into Monarch's army, Johnny Quick wins a place in Monarch's elite squad when he defeats his Earth-9 and Earth-2 counterparts in the Countdown: Arena mini-series. All of the Crime Society members who are present in the Earth-51 dimension at the end battle with Superman-Prime and the Monarch are killed, as the entire dimension is completely destroyed with only Superman-Prime and a single plant surviving the cataclysm. The original five members are not present at this battle though their fates remain unknown.
In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. With the changes of this new timeline, Geoff Johns revealed, in August 2013, that the Crime Syndicate would be introduced as the true antagonists of the "Villains Month" event, and the Forever Evil series.
At the conclusion of "Trinity War", it is revealed that the leader of the Secret Society, previously known as "the Outsider", was actually an Earth-3 version of Alfred Pennyworth. He gains possession of Pandora's Box to open a portal to Earth-3 from which the Crime Syndicate emerges. The Crime Syndicate then proceeds to attack the fallen Justice League members and claims Prime Earth now belongs to them.
The New 52 line-up of the Crime Syndicate consists of Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, Power Ring, Deathstorm, Sea King (who does not survive the trip to Prime Earth) and two new members: Atomica, who had posed as Atom while working as a mole for the Secrety Society, and Grid, a sentient computer virus in a robot body made from Cyborg's old prosthetic parts. Sea King, however, awakens after his body is placed at the bottom of the ocean. After Power Ring fell in battle against Sinestro, Grid informs Ultraman and Superwoman about it at the time when they are looking for Batman's kryptonite Ring. Grid also informs them that the ring has released a pulse that was sensed throughout the Multiverse. Knowing the creature that destroyed their world has found them, Ultraman orders the Syndicate to regroup and heads to Maine with them. Batman, Lex Luthor and their team arrive at the fallen Watchtower and go in search of Grayson and the Crime Syndicate. Grid informs the Outsider of the intrusion, and he goes to protect their hooded prisoner over Grayson only for Black Manta to intercept Outsider and kill him. Batman, Luthor, Catwoman and Bizarro enter the room with Grayson and see he has been placed in a "Murder Machine" originally intended for Doomsday. They realize that the machine is a detonator for a bomb that can only be stopped if Grayson's heart stops. The remaining Crime Syndicate members return to the Watchtower and attack Sinestro, Deathstroke, and Black Adam. Johnny Quick and Atomica attack Captain Cold and Black Manta, who have unmasked the prisoner and removed the tape from his mouth. Captain Cold fires his cold gun on Johnny Quick's leg and then breaks it off. Back with Grayson, Luthor prevents Batman from saving Grayson, choosing to save the group's lives over Grayson's. As Grayson dies, Batman attacks Luthor for murdering him with Luthor trying to reason with him that he has everything under control. With the hooded prisoner now free, he reveals himself as Alexander Luthor and yells "Mazahs!" to access the dark lightning. Alexander Luthor transforms into Mazahs and kills the injured Johnny Quick, taking his power. After the trapped superheroes are freed from the Firestorm Matrix, Superwoman reveals that the father of her child is actually Alexander Luthor. Mazahs goes on to destroy Deathstorm taking his powers as well as attacking Lex and Bizarro, where Mazahs defeats Bizarro. Mazahs is able to pin Lex, who says "Mazahs!", summoning the dark lightning as he sounds like Alexander Luthor. Lex Luthor is able to defeat him once he is back to Alexander Luthor and then kills him. Ultraman begins attacking Lex. As he does, Black Adam and Sinestro move the moon causing Ultraman to be hit with the sun, weakening him. Atomica reappears from underneath rubble only for Lex Luthor to kill her by stepping on her. Lex Luthor rejoins the heroes and saves Superman by removing the Kryptonite placed in his brain by Atomica. In the aftermath, Ultraman and Superwoman are captured with Owlman still on the loose. It is later revealed that the entity that destroyed the Crime Syndicate's world is the Anti-Monitor, who declares "Darkseid shall be mine."
In the Darkseid War story in Justice League, Cyborg and Jessica Cruz, who has partially learned to harness Power Ring's Ring of Volthoom, seek out Superwoman in her maximum security prison for guidance on how to deal with the Anti-Monitor, who has killed Darkseid and now threatens all of existence. Seizing the opportunity to reunite the Synidcate, Volthoom seizes control of Jessica's body and when Cyborg attempts to interface with the ring, has the "Grid" personality reuploaded and placed in control of his armor. As the trio plot to reunite with Ultraman, the heretofore-missing Owlman shows up and declares that the League and Syndicate must work together to stop Anti-Monitor. It ended with all the remaining membership of the New 52 Crime Syndicate being killed.
The following five members founded the original Crime Syndicate of America and have appeared in all additional iterations of the team:
The CSA's post-Crisis world is primarily governed by the "favor bank"; the only rule that is not consistently broken. If any person should grant a favor for someone else, that person is entitled to compensation whenever they see fit, no matter what the cost or hardship to the latter. Failure to pay back a favor results in inordinately harsh consequences; as seen in the beginning of "Syndicate Rules". A mobster, Jackson "Rat-Eyes" Drake, who failed to follow up on a favor owed, was put on "trial" by Owlman, who then had him incinerated by Ultraman as a favor.
A team of Qwardians based on the then-current Justice League International roster appeared on the post-Crisis, pre-Zero Hour Earth, although they did not call themselves the Crime Syndicate even through their predecessors (Qwardian versions of the original Syndicate) did. Its members were:
It is not clear if any of these characters exist in post-Zero Hour or post-Infinite Crisis continuity.
The JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel featured several costumes in Syndicate Satellite (CSA Watchtower), three of them labeled Doctor Noon (Doctor Mid-Nite's counterpart), White Cat (Black Canary's counterpart), and Spaceman (Starman's counterpart).
In addition to the five founding members, The New 52 version of the team introduces four new members:
The Crime Syndicate appeared in the 2010 Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths DC animated film, which was based on the abandoned Justice League: Worlds Collide project. This version of the Crime Syndicate is based on actual crime syndicates, consisting of different families and bosses. It is composed of Ultraman (voiced by Brian Bloom), Superwoman (voiced by Gina Torres), Owlman (voiced by James Woods), Power Ring (voiced by Nolan North), Johnny Quick (voiced by James Patrick Stuart), and J'edd "The Martian" J'arkus (a counterpart of the Martian Manhunter), collectively known as the "Bosses", with Ultraman as the "Boss of Bosses".
Below them are lower-tier villains called the Made Men who were granted superpowers by the "Bosses" in exchange for joining the Syndicate.
The Crime Syndicate's opposition was the Justice League (a version of the Justice Underground), an alliance of superheroes forged by this Earth's Lex Luthor. Surviving members briefly seen in the film include Jester (this Earth's version of Joker), and Harley (the Jester's pet monkey). The President of the United States in this world is famed war hero and former government agent Slade Wilson who is depicted as missing his left eye rather than his right. President Wilson is reluctant to speak out against the Syndicate due to being afraid of what they would do to his daughter Rose and it is implied that his wife was killed by the Crime Syndicate for similar reasons. During one of Rose's speeches against the Crime Syndicate, the Crime Syndicate sends Archer to assassinate her, only to be defeated by Martian Manhunter and arrested by the authorities. The Crime Syndicate leaders were not pleased with the news of Archer's arrest. Following the deaths of Owlman and Johnny Quick, the Syndicate's remaining leaders are arrested by the Marines led by President Wilson, who sees to it that his world's law enforcement hunts down and arrests the remaining Crime Syndicate members.
Although the Syndicate itself does not appear in the Teen Titans television series, a similar team, the Teen Tyrants, appear in issue #48 of the comic spin-off. The roster consists of Red Robin (the parallel Earth counterpart of Dick Grayson, not the actual Red Robin), Tempest (the parallel Earth counterpart of Aqualad), Arsenal (counterpart of Speedy), Red Raven (counterpart of Raven) and Blackfire (counterpart of Starfire, not Blackfire). Their costumes are all colored with black and red to show their violent, gothic, corrupt nature and willingness to kill. There appearances are similar to their counterparts with a few differences. Red Robin's eyes are red, and he sports a red version of his counterpart's costume (albeit with a large grey "R" across his chest); Tempest wears a costume that his counterpart wears much later, has a hook in place of his left hand and has shorter hair; Arsenal has an "A" on his belt buckle and has a goatee; Red Raven wears a red version of her counterpart's costume and has pink hair; Blackfire wears red instead of purple and has black hair. There are no evil counterparts of Cyborg or Beast Boy despite both of them being part of the Teen Titans.
The Teen Tyrants appear when Raven attempts to send Killowat back to his own time, but he is accidentally sent to the Teen Tyrants' dimension where they have conquered Jump City. He is held captive after being assumed of being part of the Brotherhood of Justice (the parallel Earth Brotherhood of Evil but non-villainous). The Teen Titans travel to that dimension to rescue him, but once they step through the portal, they fight the Tyrants and are defeated. The Teen Tyrants attempt to conquer their counterparts' universe until Blackfire reveals that she is working undercover for the Brotherhood of Justice, whom she summons, and they help the Titans defeat the Tyrants. Killowat is then freed and sent back to his dimension.
Writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky crafted a tale in which the Crime Syndicate...ambushed the JLA on Earth-1.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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