The Key




Justice League of America #41


As a child, the man who became the Key was a whiz at solving puzzles. He found satisfaction in unlocking secrets, and in time he became obsessed with unlocking the human mind as well. (JLA #123) He overindulged in psychotropic drugs to try and accelerate his learning, and his mad schemes soon brought him into conflict against the Justice League. The first time he battled the Justice League, the Key used potent hallucinogenic drugs to seize mental control over the Leaguers and force them to retire, hoping to clear the way for a far-reaching crime spree. This scheme was ultimately foiled by Zatanna, who used her magical powers to restore her fellow Leaguers to their old selves. (Justice League of America #41)

But prison did not hold the Key for long. A couple of months later, he was back with a new plan to eliminate the Justice League. This one involved seizing mental control over the items stored in the Secret Sanctuary's trophy room and using them to force the Justice Leaguers to kill each other, though it too failed, and he was returned to jail. (#63)

Approximately one year later, the Key again escaped. After this second break, he lured the Justice League into a death trap in St. Louis, Missouri, by murdering a Santa Claus impersonator close to the Leaguers. In this trap, the Key actually appeared to have murdered each of the Justice Leaguers in turn, though the heroes had, in fact, escaped death with the help of the Phantom Stranger, and returned to defeat the Key. (#110)

During this last plot, the Key informed the Justice Leaguers that he only had a few months left to live, due to all the psycho- active chemicals he had ingested throughout his life. Though he eventually solved this problem, the cure temporarily turned him into a dwarf, setting the Key off on a scheme to restore his height which again put him into conflict with the Justice League.

The Key later emerged to team up with the briefly evil Snapper Carr, (#150) for whom he created the identity of the Star-Tsar, and reactivated Amazo in an attempt to destroy the League. (#191)

He has reemerged in recent times a greatly changed villain. After awakening from a coma, he looked more ghastly, but successfully broke into the Watchtower and disabled the League. If not for the intervention of their newest member, Green Arrow II, he might have succeeded fully. (JLA #7-9)

The Key freed himself from the Martian Manhunter's mental maze and terrorized Arkham Asylum, messing with Batman's mind. The villain had hoped this time to coax the Dark Knight into killing him, so that he could unlock the secrets of death. (Batman: Gotham Knights #5)

Though the Key was never much of a killer, recent developments have changed his disposition. He awoke one day realizing that hidden metahuman powers were growing in him — he was becoming one of the world's most powerful telepaths. Unable to shut out the thousands of thoughts, he found that killing was an easy ways to find quiet. He blamed the Justice League for imprisoning his mind for years, which forced his abilities to grow beyond his control. Aided by his android servant, he cut a murderous swath in Metropolis that drew the simultaneous attention of the Batman and Manitou Dawn. (JLA #120-125)

The Key never enters into any criminal enterprise half-heartedly. His schemes are always carefully planned out to the smallest detail, and tend to feature elaborate traps capable of disorienting their victims. The effectiveness of his traps is easily illustrated by the swiftness with which he has immobilized most of the League. Frequently, if not for the intervention of outsiders, he would have succeeded in killing the Justice League.


There was another villain called the Key who fought the Justice Society, but whose face was never revealed, and who apparently jumped to his death. (All-Star Comics #57, March 1951) No connection has ever been drawn between the two.

+ Powers

The Key is a first-order telepath now that his metahuman powers have fully developed. He is highly skilled at making and solving puzzles and locks.

Appearances + References


Batman: Gotham Knights #5
JLofA #63, 110, 150, 191
JLA #6-9, 120-125