|Royal Flush Gang|
The second Royal Flush Gang vs JLA, art by George Pérez
|First appearance||Justice League of America #43 March (1966)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)|
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
Wild Card or Wildcard (some versions)
They are a group of playing card-themed supervillains who are usually thwarted by the superheroes they encounter. Their code names are based on an ace-high straight in poker: King, Queen, Jack, Ten and Ace.
The original Royal Flush Gang was Professor Amos Fortune's childhood gang. With Fortune himself as Ace, they fought the Justice League on two occasions, using Fortune's luck-altering "stellaration" technology to realize the fortune-telling significance of playing cards. After Fortune abandoned the Gang, a new Ace became the leader and they attempted to steal four paintings containing clues to a hidden treasure, but were thwarted by the Joker's manipulations. Most of them then abandoned their criminal careers, although Jack briefly joined the Secret Society of Super Villains as "Hi-Jack". Fortune's gang wore costumes based on the suit of clubs, but when they fought the Joker, the second Ace convinced them to change them to the suit of spades. In the pages of JLA Classified, it was revealed the original Royal Flush Gang (sans Amos Fortune) reunited to fight the "Detroit Era" Justice League and their successors in the second gang. In this battle, the original King, Queen and Ten were all killed.
The second Royal Flush Gang was set up by Green Lantern villain Hector Hammond in Justice League of America #203. Hammond led the group as "Wildcard". This version wore costumes based on the suit of spades. The gang split up and went on to have separate criminal careers before re-establishing themselves, without Hammond. They were twice hired by Maxwell Lord as part of his manipulation of Justice League International. Later, they were reorganized and reoutfitted by a successor to the Golden Age Green Lantern villain the Gambler masquerading as the Joker.
King, Queen and Ten also have blaster-pistols. The Gang fly on hovering playing cards. In the Gang's appearances in Teen Titans, Ten had organized runaways as "Ten's Little Indians", a gang of thieves dressed as the two through nine of spades and armed with bows and trick arrows.
Superman: The Man of Steel #121 revealed that the Royal Flush Gang had expanded. The Royal Flush Gang is now an organization that reaches across America, with cells in every major city. Instead of five members, each "cell" has fifty-two, split into four suits run by the "court cards". Each member has a playing card value, and those who rise or fall in the Gang's esteem gain or lose a "pip". Notably, Stargirl's father was a "Two"; upon defeating him, she transitioned from the Star-Spangled Kid identity to Stargirl in JSA: All-Stars.
Recently, in Infinite Crisis #2, the Joker tortures and kills the leadership of a local cell of the Royal Flush Gang from an unspecified city, after being rejected by the Society for his "instability". The King is the last one left alive and he mocks the Joker for being rejected. He kills the King with an electrical blast to the face. The dead gang is left in the ruins of a casino. However, given the fact that King is immortal, to the point that he has recovered from death almost instantly on numerous occasions, it seems improbable that he actually permanently died.
Another cell of the expanded version, this one stylized as a street gang, appear as members of the Society in Villains United and several of its tie-ins in other comics. It is unclear what ties the third gang has or had—if any—to its predecessors and successors.
A new version of the Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League of America (volume 2) #35. This version is working under the authority of Amos Fortune, who is addressed by other members as "Wild Card". In the following issue, Fortune gives a history of the gang. It seems to combine the first and third gangs' histories/characteristics, with Fortune indicating that he was always running the group in some capacity.
Currently, there are multiple active, costumed members, some of whom are deriving their outfits and codenames from cards with pip values lower than ten. Members can rise in the numerical ranks as reward for their successes, or be "dealt out" at the discretion of Wild Card.
It is unclear if there are still 52 cells throughout the country, or 52 members in total. A lower ranked member mentions that there are four Queens, but Fortune states that the group is constantly growing.
A branch of the Royal Flush Gang based in Las Vegas, Nevada recently appeared in Zatanna # 4. Rather than using a playing card motif, each member of the Vegas branch is modeled after a member of the Rat Pack (such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin).
In The New 52 (a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe), the Royal Flush Gang appears in the Forever Evil storyline. They appear as members of the Secret Society of Super Villains at the time when the Crime Syndicate arrive from their world. While Heat Wave sacrifices himself so that the other Rogues can get away from Black Mask, Clayface, and Mr. Freeze, the remaining Rogues are confronted by the Royal Flush Gang who orders them to surrender if they don't want Golden Glider to die.
In the DC Rebirth initiative, the Royal Flush Gang have their design from Batman Beyond, including traveling on a flying playing card. They are among the many villains aiming to kill Batman in order to stop Two-Face from revealing information. They descend on KGBeast and ask him the location of Batman and Duke Thomas. KGBeast throws a bomb onto the bottom of their playing card, presumably to take out his rivals in stopping Batman.
In the miniseries Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, King is a member of Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front. He apparently has gone separate from the Gang, but carries a cigarette pack with playing card markings and speaks in metaphors drawn from card games. There is also a man in the Justice League's prison who appears to be a new version of the Ace of Spades. According to the Elliot S! Maggin novelization, King is also newly immortal, and Vandal Savage's protege.
The Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League: Doom with King voiced by Jim Meskimen, Queen voiced by Grey DeLisle, Jack voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, Ten voiced by Juliet Landau, and the robotic Ace voiced by Bruce Timm. This incarnation is a spades incarnation. They have similar or changed abilities from the original. King uses a scepter with the ability to electrocute targets at point blank range; he uses this against Martian Manhunter although it causes no permanent damage. His mind control and immortality is nowhere to be seen. Queen's wrist shooter and scepter are nowhere to be seen, replaced by simply throwing cards with incredible accuracy and speed (akin to Gambit) with enough strength to cut through even Batman's grappling lines. Jack's laser eye, Ace's android construction and Ten's energy blasts have not been changed, although Ten's explosive playing cards are not seen. Their hovering playing cards for transport have not been changed either. None of the members are given names. They attempt to rob a bank using technology that allows them to walk through walls but are halted by the arrival of Batman tipped off by Cyborg about their robberies. They manage to overcome Batman, but the remainder of the Justice League arrive and they quickly begin to fall: Queen is overpowered by Wonder Woman, Ten is taken out by the Green Lantern, Jack is captured by Batman and the Flash, Ace is destroyed by Superman, and King is defeated by Cyborg. Wonder Woman's magic lasso and Martian Manhunter's mind-reading abilities are unable to get the info on who supplied the technology to them as they didn't know who provided them the tech. It is discovered that the tech they used was secretly supplied by Vandal Savage as a test for his own plans as the battle itself may have been simply a diversion for Mirror Master to infiltrate the Batcave.
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