Crime Syndicate of Amerika
Created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky
Pre-Crisis Earth-3: Justice League of America #29 (Aug. 1964)
Post-Crisis (only app.): Justice League Quarterly #8 (Autumn 1992)
Antimatter Universe CSA: JLA: Earth 2 (2000)
This profile covers only the incarnations of
the Crime "Syndicate."
» SEE ALSO: Crime Society of Earth-3
The Original Crime Syndiate of Earth-3
The original Crime Syndicate of America hailed from Earth-3, a world where history was radically different. For example, on Earth-3, Europe was colonized by America rather than the other way around. The 20th century Crime Syndicate was an evil version of the Justice League comprised of Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Power Ring, villainous counterparts of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the Flash, and Green Lantern respectively. They operated from the Eyrie of Evil, a secret sanctuary on a mountain outside Metropolis.
Very little was ever revealed about these villains' backgrounds. Ultraman may have been from Krypton-3, but actually gained new powers each time he was exposed to Kryptonite. Superwoman was a rogue Amazon with powers and weapons similar to Wonder Woman's. Owlman could see in the dark and had a "super brain" that gave him super-intelligence and mind-control powers. Power Ring had a magical power ring (similar to that of the Golden Age Green Lantern, but without the weakness to wood) he received from a Buddhist priest called Volthoom. Johnny Quick had powers identical to those of the Flash.
The Syndicate first discovered the existence of other Earths after Ultraman gained ultra-vision from his latest Kryptonite exposure. Feeling they were growing soft and rusty from a lack of real challenges, the five villains decided to challenge Earth-One's JLA and then the JSA of Earth-Two. In the end, the villains were defeated and imprisoned in a power ring bubble in Limbo. (In the pre-Crisis universe, Limbo was the nether-realm between parallel Earths. Its equivalent in the modern DCU is called the Bleed.) (Justice League of America v.1 #29-30)
There they remained until they were unwittingly freed by the Wizard and the Secret Society of Super-Villains, who passed through Limbo en route to Earth-Two. Captain Comet was on the SSoSV's trail and came into confrontation with three of the Syndicate members. (SSoSV #13-14)
Their last recorded conflict was again with the JLA and JSA. They were freed from Limbo by the Ultra Humanite and his new time-traveling band of the Secret Society. At the conclusion of this case, the Syndicate were returned to their bubble-prison in Limbo. (JLofA #207-209) The CSA were shown one more time in their prison before the Crisis on Infinite Earths (only Superwoman, Johnny Quick and Power Ring). (JLofA #232)
Somehow, Ultraman freed only himself from Limbo and he encountered the Luthors from Earths -One and -Two. The three villains teamed up in a plot to destroy both Earths by collision! Of course, the Supermen of those Earths pursued their Luthors and first met the Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane of Earth-3. Alexander Luthor created a suit of armor for himself and became the first super-hero of Earth-3. At the end of the tale, Ultraman was returned to his prison in Limbo with the rest of the CSA and the Supermen took their respective Luthors captive as well. (DC Comics Presents Annual #1)
All of Earth-3 fell victim to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which apparently freed the Crime Syndicate from their prison. They all perished in a futile attempt to defend their homeworld. Earth-3's Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane-Luthor, who had married since Luthor began his heroic career, also perished after sending their infant son, Alex Luthor, through the dimensional barrier to Earth-One. (Crisis #1) Earth-3's Luthor & Lois also reappeared during the Crisis.
Several years later, elements from the many worlds destroyed during the Crisis began to manifest on the post-Crisis Earth in the vicinity of Psycho-Pirate II, who had been driven mad by his memories of the vanished multiverse. The Earth-3 Owlman, Ultraman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick were among the villains and heroes to appear in Arkham Asylum, apparently aware of their deaths during the Crisis and outraged by the idea that they were actually fictional characters who had been written out of existence. All ceased to exist again after Animal Man's friend James Highwater donned the Psycho-Pirate's Medusa Mask, sacrificing his sanity to undo the damage to reality. (Animal Man #23-24)
Alex Luthor Jr., the sole survivor of Earth-3, also survived the first Crisis and returned to cause a second. His actions ultimately resulted in the birth of a new multiverse. Its Earth-3 is home to the Crime Society.
Note: The name of the original team was spelled with a 'c': America.
The Post-Crisis Qwardians
This version of the Syndicate appeared only once, in flashback. After the Crisis, Earth-3 no longer existed. When the DC Universe's history was rewritten, the Crime Syndicate were said to have been a team from Qward, a world in the antimatter universe. It was this team who then supposedly battled the JLA, JSA and Captain Comet. (Justice League Quarterly #8)
+ The Anti-Matter Universe CSA
The current version of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika borrows from both of the previous incarnations. Creator Grant Morrison reintroduced this team of villains, but they lived on Earth in the antimatter universe, not Qward. (Qward is the planetary counterpart to Oa, home of the Guardians of the Universe). Everything that happens on their world is the exact opposite of things in "our" world. Whereas good always triumphs for the JLA, villainy succeeds for the CSA.
These villains first made their way to the positive matter universe Earth not long after their formation. In their first encounter, Superman, Batman, Lois Lane found themselves face-to-face with their counterparts Ultrman, Owlman and Superwoman. It was early in all their careers, and they were on cruises where they were destined to discover each other's secret identity. Both Batman and Owlman were also the targets of hired assassins. In the positive universe, Deathstroke pursued Bruce Wayne (Batman); in the antimatter, Superwoman was stalking Bruce Wayne (Owlman).
When their cruise ships entered the Bermuda Triangle, a spacial rift opened and the walls between universes wore thin. A man resembling Deathstroke burst into Batman's cabin, proclaiming he was hired by Wayne's father to save Bruce's life. On the antimatter Earth, Superwoman (Lois Lane) was betrothed to Ultraman, but she was having an affair with Owlman. Superwoman unwittingly attacked Batman. But while she still thought he was Owlman, she intimated that they needed to fake his death to hide their affair. At the same time, Ultraman deduced that Bruce Wayne was Owlman, and put a stop to the assassination. The counterparts then waged an evenly-matched battle which produced no winner. When the rift began to close, the CSA retreated. (Superman/Batman Annual #1) NOTES: Grant Morrison recreated Owlman as Thomas Wayne, which this story contradicts. The story is an homage to Superman v.1 #76 (1952), which first told the duo's discovery of each others' secret IDs. That event was retold for post-Crisis continuity in Adventures of Superman #440 (1988). The new Superman/Batman tale presumably replaces that. Deathstroke's counterpart was never named.
Few facts are known about the personal history of these villains
- Ultraman is the antimatter universe's Clark Kent. He is as powerful as Superman, but was not born on the antimatter universe's Krypton. His powers come from anti-kryptonite, from which he occasionaly "recharges." According to Luthor, Ultraman was once a human astronaut who was changed by something during an outer space mission. Owlman has theorized that like red sun radiation hurts Superman, a white dwarf would do the same to Ultraman. Regardless, he is unstoppable and looks down over his dominion from a fortress in the sky. He is more than a little bit jealous that his affections have been rebuffed by his wife,
- Superwoman. In this universe, she is the last of the Amzaons (having killed all the rest [JLofA v.2 #50]) and keeps a civilian identity as Lois Lane. She keeps a secret identity as a reporter for the Daily Planet. It is unclear whether she is an Amazon, but she also has a lasso, which has the power to release inhibitions. Though married to Ultraman, she spurns him in favor of a lustful relationship with
- Owlman. As a child, Thomas Wayne was sickened by the legacy of his dead mother and older brother. He grew to oppose his father, Gotham City Police Commissioner Thomas Wayne, Sr. Owlman now enjoys playing gangsters off one another in a superficial power game. Supposedly, he also has some kind of enhanced cortex.
These three barely tolerate...
- Johnny Quick, their drug-addled speedster. Little is known about him; apparently he is addicted to some kind of "speed-juice" which is the source of his powers.
- Power Ring. Nothing is known about the original Power Ring, other than his last name, Harrolds (a parallel to Hal Jordan). The power ring itself, however is known to be powered by an entity called Volthoom. When the antimatter universe was reconstructed by Krona's cosmic tampering (JLA/Avengers), this original Power Ring was replaced/succeeded by a black man, Power Ring II. (JLA #108) He confirmed that Harrolds was his predecessor but that he'd been tricked into taking the ring, which is a curse.
The only active hero in the antimatter universe is Alexander Luthor, who managed to break through and contact the Justice League. From the antimatter universe, Luthor traveled to enlist the JLA's help against the Crime Syndicate: Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, Power Ring, Johnny Quick II. There was one cosmic catch to this: when the CSA appeared in the matter universe, their counterparts in the JLA were automatically shunted into the antimatter universe. The JLA almost succeeded in liberating the CSA's society from their evil, but eventually realized that cosmic law would not allow them to triumph completely. Eventually, the JLA and CSA had to admit that it was futile to try and change the other's world. They gave up their battle as the only way to prevent their worlds from colliding. (JLA: Earth 2) Mention was also made of a Blood Eagle, who was also killed. (JLA #112)
This Luthor had not been the first to break the barrier between universes, however. Previously, Brainiac of the antimatter-Earth (who was found and imprisoned by Ultraman) conducted a test and sent a passenger airplane from the antimatter to matter-Earth. At the end of the battle with the JLA, Wonder Woman projected Brainiac (inside the body of Ultra-Titanus) into the Phantom Zone. But this Brainiac also proved to have a powerfullly resilient consciousness. He took root in one of Ultraman's dead skin cells and implanted himself inside Superwoman's womb. Upon his birth, he attempted to head for matter-Earth, but was pursued by the Crime Syndicate. This brought them into conflict with Superman who tried to protect the resulting infant. With Ultraman's biology, Brainiac was nearly unstoppable, but he now also possessed a new vulnerability: emotion. His "mother," Superwoman, played on his insecurity and killed the infant. All this took place inside a tesseract a fold in space. At the conclusion of the battle, the tesseract began to collapse and all parties went their separate ways. (Adventures of Superman #603-605)
The CSA's reign is supreme. From their Panopticon on the moon, they quickly and brutally squash all rebellion. In earlier days, the antimatter universe's Lady Sonar led the Justice Underground, with members such as Star Sapphire, General Grodd, Q-Ranger, Sir Solomon Grundy, Dr. Eclipso, Zazzala the Insect Queen and the Quizmaster. All but Sonar were slain by the CSA in one sweep. Lady Sonar somehow managed to hold onto the small nation of Modora, Earth's last bastion of freedom. Very recently, however, the CSA finally conquered Modora and killed Sonar, leaving them to wonder... what's left to conquer? During this battle, Johnny Quick was shunted a year into the future and found that nothing in their universe existed; a year later, they'd find out why. (JLA Secret Files 2004)
With their entire planet under thumb, the Crime Syndicate turned their attentions skyward and discovered the existence of the planet Qward. For sport, they launched a vicious attack on the planet. At this time, the entire antimatter universe was swept by a reality-altering wave from the evil Krona, who sought ultimate knowledge about the origins of the universe. The JLA waged a cross-dimensional battle and eventually reversed Krona's destruction. (JLA/Avengers #1) After Krona's defeat, the antimatter universe was reconstructed and the CSA did not remember the event. But there were signs that something cosmic had occurred. Perhaps the most shocking change was when, at the moment of their discovery of Qward (in the reconstructed universe), Power Ring changed into a black man! (JLA #108) The change was noticed by all the CSA, and the new Power Ring's ring confirmed that the CSA's universe has been dismantled then reintegrated. Owlman had also noticed other anomalies in the fabric of their universe, and upon further investigation, he learned that the League had likely been involved in the events which caused them. Incensed, the CSA employed Brainiac's technology and devised a way to exist on the matter-Earth for 36 hours before the JLA would be shunted into the antimatter universe. This would allow them to operate in secret and collect data on the mysterious "cosmic event." (JLA #107, 109)
On matter-Earth, the CSA disguised themselves as the JLA and attempted to obtain data about the recent cosmic disturbances. Power Ring and Johnny Quick were caught unaware and were nearly defeated by the new Rainbow Raiders. Owlman found what he was looking for at S.T.A.R. Labs, but not before Ultraman tired of being the good guy and murdered hundreds of people at the U.N. Plaza. (#110) The JLA finally discover the CSA in San Francisco, where they'd defeated the Power Company. When the CSA's 36-hour buffer ran out, all were suprised to discover that the JLA were not shunted into the antimatter universe. Apparently this fundamental law had been erased in Krona's cosmic restructuring. (#111)
Simultaneously, on Qward, a new leader named Roval assumed power and acquired long-dormant power. His mission: universal domination, beginning in the positive matter universe. (#109) Many planets were destroyed in its wake as the Qwardians traveled to the matter universe's Earth. (#110-111) The JLA enlisted an army of help and the Martian Manhunter disguised himself as Batman and led a team to the antimatter universe. (#112) Roval was ultimately betrayed by one of his officers, who allied with J'onn. They Qwardians ceased their assault on the positive matter Earth and instead turned their wrath on their known enemy, the Crime Syndicate. (#113) The Qwardians ravaged the antimatter Earth before the JLA could cripple their power source. After the Qwardians retreated, the CSA were left owing the Justice League a favor. All the chaos upset the balance of power on the antimatter Earth and gave rise to new rebels such as Barracuda of Atlantis and a new Justice Underground. (#114)
Since then, the universe has been reconstructed again, and on the new Earth-3 there is a Crime Society. The fate of the antimatter CS has not been revealed.
The name of this incarnation was spelled with a 'k': Amerika. Because this team was defined so distinctively, their introduction retroactively eliminated all Silver Age Crime Syndicate appearances from JLA continuity.
A Newsarama interview with Sean McKeever did little to explain the fate of the antimatter CSA:
NRAMA: With the whole multiverse shake-up that occurred recently, is this the same Crime Syndicate that readers would be familiar with from former stories about the team?
SM: Essentially, yeah. My exposure to the Crime Syndicate came initially from the JLA Earth 2 graphic novel that [Grant] Morrison and [Frank] Quitely did. And I loved that graphic novel -- I still have the hardcover. And then I also read the Syndicate Rules arc that [Kurt] Busiek and [Ron] Garney did for JLA. But this isn't that Crime Syndicate exactly. Because of what happened in Infinite Crisis and 52, the multiverse has been reset. So it's the same, but it's a little bit different. I'll be touching upon that in Countdown, as well as in the special.
In the post-Infinite Crisis DC Universe, Supergirl encoutered an Ultraman who was said to have survived a "crisis." It is inclear whether this Ultraman was an anomalous survivor of the original of Earth-3, or that of the antimatter universe. He said, "in the place I was from ... I was considered a criminal. A butcher. Leader of a syndicate of mademen ... All beings face a crisis in their lives." He claims that he was cast aside by the universe and lost to the "phantom nothing." He is now allied with another multiversal survivor, Saturn Queen, and uses the the name "Kal-El" (which may have been his true name on Earth-3, but it was never established). (Supergirl v.5 #7)
Appearances + References
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Animal Man #23-24
- All-Star Squadron #14-15
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #1
- DC Comics Presents Annual #1
- Justice League of America #29-30, 207-209
- Secret Society of Super-Villains #13-14
Anti-matter Universe Crime Syndiate:
- Adventures of Superman #603-605
- JLA #107-114
- JLA/Avengers #1
- JLA Secret Files 2004
- Superman/Batman Annual #1
- JLA: Earth 2, hardcover graphic novel (2000)
» SEE ALSO: