|Royal Flush Gang|
|First appearance||Justice League of America #43 March (1966)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)|
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
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. 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, Formerly Known as the Justice League and Superman. The group has been described as "some of the most original villains of their time".
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, 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, and also appeared in the first and eighth season of The Flash in 2015 and 2021. The comic book versions seen in the 2013 Forever Evil storyline were redesigned to follow the pattern set by their Arrow appearance.
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.
The original Royal Flush Gang was Professor Amos Fortune's childhood gang. 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.
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. 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 Gambler masquerading as the Joker.
The membership of this group consists of:
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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 a woman in a ponytail and sunglasses, and Ten of Spades is an unnamed orange-haired woman in sunglasses. 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). 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.
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.
Another incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang appears in the "Forever Evil" storyline. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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 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 2022-23 limited series The Gotham Game, the Royal Flush Gang, consisting of the King and Queen of Hearts (married couple Rex and Regina Quintain), Jack, Ten and Bluff (son of the King and Queen of Diamonds), are taken over by Punchline and help her to manufacture and distribute her drug XO in Gotham.
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.
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.
The second incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang appears in 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 of the group 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, though Ten's explosive playing cards are not seen. The Royal Flush Gang attempt to rob a bank using dimensional phasing technology, but are foiled by the Justice League. However, they are unable to find out who supplied the Royal Flush Gang with their technology as they did not know themselves. Unbeknownst to the Leaguers, Vandal Savage used the gang as a distraction so Mirror Master could infiltrate the Batcave.