DC reveals a new Secret Society of Super Villains in Deathstroke Inc. #5

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt
Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

DC has been teasing that Deathstroke will become a king this spring, with an army of his own. And that, as an extension of his reign, he will be the main suspect in the impending murder of Ra's al Ghul to set up the upcoming 'Shadow War' event

Deathstroke Inc. #5 cover (Image credit: Howard Porter/Hi-Fi (DC))

Well, thanks to January 25's Deathstroke Inc. #5 we now know the missing piece of the puzzle - what it is that Deathstroke is actually king of.

Spoilers ahead for Deathstroke Inc. #5 by Joshua Williamson, Paolo Pantalena, Hi-Fi, and Steve Wands.

Deathstroke is now king of the super villains at DC.

It's a bit of a self-appointed title, but it's now a real thing after the events of Deathstroke Inc. #5. 

Let us back up a bit.

For the past four issues, Deathstroke and Black Canary have been working for a shadowy group called TRUST to take down various DCU supervillains. Sounds like a chivalrous goal, but both Slade and Dinah smell something off about their employers and have been trying to figure out who is behind it.

After a sidetrip through fellow TRUST operative Prometheus' fractured mind and a quick pair of dream scenarios with Deathstroke as a upstanding Justice League member and Black Canary as a straight-up villain, the truth behind TRUST begins to be revealed.

First, a new Libra

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

The first major domino is the reveal of a new Libra. Previously teased in prior issues of Deathstroke Inc., it's revealed that its a new, second Libra - the previously-unknown sister of the original Libra, Justin Ballantine. The original was murdered by Lex Luthor in 2009's Final Crisis, after being revealed as the living embodiment of Darkseid's Anti-Life Equation. 

"Justin, the original Libra... was my twin brother," the new Libra says. "There was always a balance. From day one. "

The truth behind TRUST

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

Libra says she is continuing his "legacy", and then promptly reveals TRUST's leadership - the TRUST Council.

Once Deathstroke sees who they are though, he calls them by a more familiar name - the Secret Society of Super Villains.

The Secret Society of Super Villains were an all-star villains team created in 1976 to oppose the Justice League of America. Created to be an evil counterpart to the Justice League of America, the team - led by Lex Luthor - even ahd their own short-lived ongoing series. Since then they've popped up in different incarnations over the years, including a version during Final Crisis - led by the aforementioned, original Libra.

Deathstroke has been a member of previous incarnations before, but this one is new to him. In fact, he points out that he quit the Secret Society of Super Villains - although the history is much more seedy than that. Back in the 'Rebirth' era Deathstroke series, the Secret Society of Super Villains put him on trial for allegedly becoming a hero. He was ultimately found not guilty, but understandably that didn't repair the relationship.

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

This new Secret Society of Super Villains' line-up is: Count Vertigo, Monocle, Phobia, Dr. Moon, Dr. Destiny, the Calculator, Deadline, Prometheus, Tattooed Man, Shrapnel, the Body Doubles, and Toyman. 

The Calculator presents himself as the leader of this motley crew, explaining that this group organized because the last major all-star villains team-up - the Legion of Doom in the recent Justice League run by Scott Snyder - jeopardized the crime business for other villains in their wake (and endangered reality itself), especially by colluding with cosmic beings. 

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

"They formed to get power for themselves. They acted out of emotion. And they almost destroyed the world! How foolish is that?" Calculator says. You don't need that kind of power. You just need money."

Calculator and the new Libra then explain how they hired Deathstroke (a villain) and Black Canary (a hero) to be an unbiased but effective way of regulating the DC villains in order to avoid disrupting their order.

"Our numbers are growing," says Libra. "There are way more members of the society than you see here, Dinah."

Deathstroke makes an advance move against the dark Crisis looming

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

They also hint at something larger going on in the DCU - the "darkness" that has been mentioned that is lurking around the edges of the DCU by Darkseid and others in the recent Infinite Frontier series.

"There's a darkness in the world that is growing," says Libra. "Time and space are broken and never put back the same. People don't want to deal with that again."

A group of supervillains talking about the impeding "darkness" has some extra extra weight to it after the recent reveal of the 'Death of the Justice League' story in April's Justice League #75. DC has said nine Justice League members will be killed by a Dark Army that has been amassing on the edge of the DC Omniverse. That Dark Army is also said to be an all-star grouping of DC villains. 

Before any of that business can be delved into further, Deathstroke takes control of the situation by promptly shooting Calculator in the head, and then Libra in the chest. 

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt

Deathstroke Inc. #5 excerpt (Image credit: Paolo Pantalena/Hi-FI/Steve Wands (DC))

"You heard them. They're scared. They know something bad is coming. They're looking for a leader," says Deathstroke. "And if there is going to be some kind of king of the super villains...  it's going to be me."

With that, Deathstroke sits down in Calculator's chair - and it's shown to resemble more of a throne, befitting a 'King of the Super villains'.

What Deathstroke Inc. #5's surprise ending means going forward

Shadow War Alpa #1 variant cover (Image credit: DC)

This turn of events seems to be perfectly setting up the upcoming 'Shadow War' crossover event with the Batman and Robin titles (all written by Deathstroke's Williamson). That event kicks off with the murder of Ra's Al Ghul - Batman's longtime enemy, but also Robin's maternal grandfather - with Deathstroke as the prime suspect.

But should Deathstroke make it through that gauntlet, the Secret Society of Super Villains would seem to be fated to go up against the kind of thing they were organized to prevent - a group of supervillains with cosmic connections disrupting the balance of the DCU. That sounds lot like the Dark Army that is coming to kill the Justice League.

The story continues in February 22's Deathstroke Inc. #6, and into the three-way crossover with the Batman and Robin titles called 'Shadow War,' and seemingly into the looming Crisis to follow Justice League #75's 'Death of the Justice League.'

Deathstroke ranks high on our list of the best DC supervillains of all time. 

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)