Royal Flush Gang
The Royal Flush Gang on the cover of Justice League of America (vol. 2) 35 (September 2009). Art by Eddy Barrows.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceJustice League of America #43 March (1966)
Created byGardner Fox (writer)
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
In-story information
Member(s)Ace
King
Queen
Jack
Ten
Wild Card or Wildcard (some versions)
Joker (some versions)

The Royal Flush Gang is a group of supervillains appearing in DC Comics. The group, which debuted in Justice League of America #43 (March 1966), use a playing card theme.[1] Their code names are based on the cards needed to form a royal flush in poker: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten. Joker occasionally affiliates himself with the gang, but is not a consistent member. The group returned to battle the Justice League of America many times, and also appeared in other comics, including Wonder Woman,[2] Formerly Known as the Justice League[3] and Superman. The group has been described as "some of the most original villains of their time".[4]

The gang has also appeared in many animated television adaptations, including The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians in 1985, Batman Beyond in 1999 and 2000,[5][6] Justice League in 2003 and 2005, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold in 2009 and 2010.

The Royal Flush Gang also made appearances in the live-action Arrowverse TV shows airing on the CW, renamed the Reston crime family. They debuted in the first season of Arrow in 2012,[7] and also appeared in the first season of The Flash in 2015.[8] The comic book versions seen in the 2013 Forever Evil storyline were redesigned to follow the pattern set by their Arrow appearance.[9]

Publication history

The Royal Flush Gang first appeared in Justice League of America #43 in March 1966 under the leadership of Professor Amos Fortune and were created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky.[10]

Fictional team history

First Gang: Clubs

The first Royal Flush Gang, Mike Sekowsky
The first Royal Flush Gang, Mike Sekowsky

The original Royal Flush Gang was Professor Amos Fortune's childhood gang.[11] King was a man named Kerry, Queen was a woman named Queenie, Jack was an unnamed man, and Ten was a strongman named Thomas Dillon. 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.[12][13]

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 Joker's manipulations.[14] 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.

Second Gang: Spades

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 Gambler masquerading as the Joker.[15]

The membership of this group consists of:

King (Joe Carny)
The so-called "King of the Hoboes", Carny also suffered from lung disease. As Hammond's agent, he wore a costume that technologically enhanced his natural charisma to the point of mind control. Following the metagene bomb in Invasion!, King became immortal. Although King is the highest-ranking member of the gang, in poker the Ace ranks as the highest card in a royal flush.
Queen (Mona Taylor)
Taylor was originally a Broadway star whose career was destroyed by her ongoing alcoholism. As Hammond's agent, she wielded a sceptre that cast realistic illusions. After the Gambler reoutfitted the team, she began employing a wrist shooter that fires razor sharp spades.
Jack (name unknown)
Originally a gigolo, he became a fugitive after inadvertently killing a client while attempting to steal her jewelry. As Hammond's agent, he wielded an energy-charged sword. The Gambler replaced his left eye with a cybernetically-activated laser weapon, making him a literal "one-eyed Jack". The removal of his eye to implant the laser initially impacted his sanity.
Ten (Wanda Wayland)
Wayland was a test pilot fired for refusing her employer's sexual advances. As Hammond's agent, she wore a costume with energy blasters in its gloves. She has enhanced reflexes, and carries explosive playing cards.
Ace
The first Ace ("Derek Reston") was a superstrong android in the form of an African-American man. A second Ace (Ernie Clay) was recruited by King and used a strength-enhancing exoskeleton provided by the Gambler. In more recent appearances in Starman and Infinite Crisis, however, the team was once again employing the robot Ace.

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.

Third Gang: All Suits

In the Post-Crisis DC Universe, there were multiple active, costumed members, some of whom derived their outfits and codenames from cards with pip values lower than ten. 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". The Aces of Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades are all androids. Each member has a playing card value, and those who rise or fall in the Gang's esteem gain or lose a "pip".[16]

Notably, Stargirl's father Sam Kurtis was a "Two of Clubs"; upon defeating him, she transitioned from the Star-Spangled Kid identity to Stargirl in JSA: All-Stars.[17]

In Infinite Crisis #2 (2005), the Joker tortures and kills the leadership of a local Spades 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. The Joker kills the King with an electrical blast to the face. The dead gang is left in the ruins of a casino.[18]

A new version of the Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League of America (vol. 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. Ace of Spades is a man named Ernest Clay, Jack of Spades was a replacement for one that was a former gigolo, King of Spades was Joe Carny again, Queen of Spades was Mona Taylor, Six of Spades is an unnamed woman, and Ten of Spades was Wanda Wayland again.[19]

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. Ace of Spades was an unnamed buff man in sunglasses, Jack of Spades was Deuce Canyard, King of Spades was an unnamed man in a crown and sunglasses, Queen of Spades is an woman in a ponytail and sunglasses, and Ten of Spades is an unnamed orange-haired woman in sunglasses.[20] It is unclear what ties the third gang has or had—if any—to its predecessors and successors.

A branch of the Royal Flush Gang based in Las Vegas, Nevada 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).[21] 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.

The New 52

In 2011, "The New 52" rebooted the DC universe. The Royal Flush Gang are seen engaging the Justice League. They consist of an Ace android, King of Spades, Queen of Spades, and Jack of Spades. With help from Technician, the Justice League defeated the Royal Flush Gang.[22]

Another incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang appears in the "Forever Evil" storyline.[23] The group consists of Ace of Spades, King of Spades, Jack of Clubs, Queen of Clubs, and Ten of Clubs. They appear as members of the Secret Society of Super Villains at the time when the Crime Syndicate arrive from their world.[24] 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 members Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds, Ace of Hearts, Jack of Diamonds, and Jack of Hearts. The Royal Flush Gang orders them to surrender if they don't want Golden Glider to die.[25] The Royal Flush Gang members Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Clubs, Jack of Diamonds, and Eight of Hearts were seen guarding the hospital where Golden Glider is recuperating. Mirror Master uses his tricks to create mirror illusions of the Rogues to fool them so that they can get to Golden Glider. The Rogues ride off in an armored truck where Ace of Diamonds was hit by it. When Johnny Quick of the Crime Syndicate shows up, he kills Ace of Spades.[26]

Another incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang attacks Superman when his identity of Clark Kent gets known. King is an unnamed man who is the leader of the Royal Flush Gang, Queen is an unnamed woman who is the second-in-command of the Royal Flush Gang, Jack is an unnamed Man, and Ace and Ten are an unnamed sister and brother. They were defeated by Superman and left for the police.[27]

DC Rebirth

In 2016, DC Comics implemented another relaunch of its books called "DC Rebirth", which restored its continuity to a form much as it was prior to "The New 52". 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.[28]

Other versions

Elseworlds

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.

JLA/Avengers

In the crossover series JLA/Avengers, the group appears as lackeys of Krona who attack Green Arrow and Hawkeye. King is shown being defeated by Jack of Hearts.

In other media

Television

Film

The Royal Flush Gang appears in the animated direct-to-DVD film Justice League: Doom, with King voiced by Jim Meskimen, Queen voiced by an uncredited Grey DeLisle, Jack voiced by an uncredited Robin Atkin Downes, Ten voiced by Juliet Landau, and Ace voiced by Bruce Timm. This version is a spades-themed group who have similar or altered abilities from the comics' original version. King wields a scepter capable of electrocuting targets at point blank range while Queen wields cards she can throw with incredible accuracy and speed as well as enough strength to cut through Batman's grappling lines. Additionally, 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. The Royal Flush Gang attempt to rob a bank using dimensional phasing technology, but are hindered by Batman. They manage to overcome him, but the Justice League arrive and foil the gang. The heroes are unable to find out who supplied the Royal Flush Gang with their technology as they did not know themselves. Unbeknownst to the Justice League, Vandal Savage used the gang as a distraction so Mirror Master could infiltrate the Batcave.

Miscellaneous

Further reading

References

  1. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Korte, Steve; Manning, Matt; Wiacek, Win; Wilson, Sven (2016). The DC Comics Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. DK Publishing. p. 255. ISBN 978-1-4654-5357-0.
  2. ^ Jimenez, Phil; Wells, John (2010). The Essential Wonder Woman Encyclopedia. Random House. p. 357. ISBN 978-0-345-50107-3. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  3. ^ Cowsill, Alan; Irvine, Alex; Manning, Matthew K.; McAvennie, Michael; Wallace, Daniel (2010). DC Comics Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  4. ^ Horn, Maurice, ed. (1976). The World Encyclopedia of Comics, Volume 1. Chelsea House Publishers. p. 350. ISBN 0-87754-042-X. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  5. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (February 1999). "Tomorrow's Knight". Starlog (259): 51. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  6. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (January 2001). "Last Laughs". Starlog (282): 26. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  7. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin (September 13, 2012). "Arrow to Face DC Card Crooks "The Royal Flush Gang"". ScreenCrush. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  8. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (January 27, 2015). "Time To Pay The Piper". IGN. Archived from the original on January 28, 2015. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  9. ^ Johnston, Rich (September 5, 2013). "DC's Royal Flush Gang To Resemble Version On Arrow TV Show". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  10. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. p. 400. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
  11. ^ Greenberger, Robert; Pasko, Martin (2010). The Essential Superman Encyclopedia. Del Rey. pp. 342–343. ISBN 978-0-345-50108-0.
  12. ^ Justice League of America #43. DC Comics.
  13. ^ Justice League of America #52. DC Comics.
  14. ^ Joker #5. DC Comics.
  15. ^ Justice League of America #203. DC Comics.
  16. ^ Superman: The Man of Steel #121. DC Comics.
  17. ^ Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #10. DC Comics.
  18. ^ Infinite Crisis #2. DC Comics.
  19. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #35. DC Comics.
  20. ^ Villains United #4. DC Comics.
  21. ^ Zatanna #4. DC Comics.
  22. ^ Craftsman Bolt-On System Saves the Justice League #1. DC Comics.
  23. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Irvine, Alex (2016). DC Comics Encyclopedia All-New Edition: The Definitive Guide to the Characters of the DC Universe. Doring-Kindersley. p. 255. ISBN 978-1465453570.
  24. ^ Forever Evil #1. DC Comics.
  25. ^ Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #4. DC Comics.
  26. ^ Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #5. DC Comics.
  27. ^ Superman (vol. 3) #44. DC Comics.
  28. ^ All-Star Batman #3. DC Comics.
  29. ^ "The #DCTV Secrets of THE FLASH: Episode 11 - "The Sound and the Fury"". 2015-01-28. Archived from the original on 2017-08-21.