Secret Society of Super-Villains was my absolutely favourite comic book when I was a kid, so I am really thrilled that I have finally reached the series in my blog. But before I start discussing the actual issues of the series, I want to look at a story that was published a few months after the book began, which appeared in a fanzine DC published at the time, Amazing World of DC Comics.
Issue 11 of that magazine was devoted to DC villains, and they decided to print what one could consider the pilot for Secret Society of Super-Villains, a story by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Pablo Marcos. The tale has some resemblance to the story from the first issue, but significant differences as well. This story opens with the Secret Society teleporting potential members to their secret base, as occurs with Captain Cold. A Manhunter clone of Paul Kirk leads the group, though there is a higher up "director" mentioned. Grodd, Clayface and Star Sapphire are already members at the top of the story. As with the actual series, this Manhunter and Star Sapphire are new versions, never before seen, despite their adopting the guises of established characters. It's easy with Manhunter, there were a whole bunch of clones of Paul Kirk created by the Council during his run in Detective Comics a couple of years earlier, but no explanation is given for the new Star Sapphire.
The team quickly learns that the director, the one behind the creation of the Secret Society, is Darkseid. Oddly, Darkseid comes off as just another thieving villain in this story, nowhere near the ominous lord of Apokolips that Kirby created.
Darkseid even leads the Society on their first mission, and tries to bond with the others, explaining that they are all misfits.
Darkseid leads the group to an army base where they burst in and steal some nerve gas. At that point both Captain Cold and Grodd try to betray the team and take the gas for themselves. Manhunter then accuses Darkseid of manipulating them all for his own larger agenda, which is, you know, a safe bet when it comes to Darkseid.
Grodd attacks Darkseid, who is revealed to simply be a robot. That's definitely an improvement over having him lead the team in person, but also a bit too Dr. Doom. Manhunter gives a pep talk to the rest of the group, and they agree to join forces against Darkseid.
It wouldn't have made a terrible first issue, but it's not as strong as the one that did get released. Sad, though, that Clayface got dropped from the line-up.