Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: Dan Green
Cover Stretching his arms over the villains below is Neron, the big bad guy of the series. Beneath him, from left to right are: Dr. Polaris; Lex Luthor; the Joker; Circe; and Abra Kadabra. They are all arch-enemies of some of DC’s biggest heroes: Green Lantern; Superman; Batman; Wonder Woman; and the Flash respectively.
Page 1 – Panels 1 and 2 Captain Boomerang, a long time Flash foe and member of the Rogues, with his new cybernetic hands, gifted to him by another Flash foe, Abra Kadabra. The new hands were necessary after Boomerang had his original ones shot by his ex-Suicide Squad team mate Deadshot.
Page 1 – Panel 3 Captain Cold, another member of the Rogues. Note the reference to Kadabra representing a “higher being” and that Cold is doing a favour for him.
Page 1 – Panel 4 Heat Wave, another one of the Rogues, also doing a favour for Kadabra.
Page 1 – Panel 5 Mirror Master, another of the Rogues.
Page 1 – Panel 6 And the Weather Wizard. As the caption says, they’re all in their various locations doing favours for Kadabra in the hopes of gaining respect within the super villain community.
Pages 2 and 3 – Panel 1 Captain Boomerang attacks an arms depot for Kadabra . . .
Pages 2 and 3 – Panel 2 . . . Captain Cold freezes a nuclear reactor . . .
Pages 2 and 3 – Panel 3 . . . Heat Wave ignites a dormant volcano . . .
Pages 2 and 3 – Panel 4 . . . Mirror Master lights up an oil field . . .
Pages 2 and 3 – Panel 5 . . . and Weather Wizard strikes a chemical dump.
Pages 4 and 5 The five resulting explosions are a lot bigger than first expected and if you’re wondering how the Rogues survived . . .
Page 7 – Panel 1 . . . well, they didn’t. As Captain Cold dies, note the reference to a “voice of the flame”.
Page 7 – Panel 2 Heat Wave is killed.
Page 7 – Panel 3 Weather Wizard is killed.
Page 7 – Panel 4 Mirror Master shatters.
Page 7 – Panel 5 And Captain Boomerang bows out as well. Kadabra, it appears, used the Rogues and their desire for respect to unleash “the greatest evil the world will ever know.”
Page 8 – Panel 1 The caption identifies the “greatest evil” for us, naming it Neron. The ship we can see is the headquarters of the Justice League America. At this point in the team’s history, they inhabited a ship abandoned by the Overmaster whom they had recently defeated and which orbited the Earth, a slight nod to the glory days of the satellite-era League in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Page 8 – Panel 2 At the top of the panel we have the Martian Manhunter. On the platform below him, left to right, are Fire; Blue Devil; and Wonder Woman. Racing down the stairs from top to bottom are Nuklon; Crimson Fox; and the Flash. Not entirely sure why Martian Manhunter’s here – at this point he heads up the splinter group of the League called Justice League Task Force; Flash refers to two other members of that team, Triumph and the Ray.
Page 8 – Panel 3 Blue Devil notices something odd about the pattern of the fires set by the Rogues.
Page 8 – Panel 4 Wonder Woman’s uncharacteristically abrupt here.
Page 9 – Panel 4 Blue Devil joins the dots and forms a pentagram in a circle, often called a pentacle, which is seen by many as a sign with demonic overtones. Being a devil himself, it’s no surprise Blue Devil spotted that.
Page 10 – Panel 1 As the caption tells us, this is James Jesse, the Trickster, another of the Flash’s long time foes. He’s mostly reformed by this time (though he has fallen off the wagon occasionally) and is friends with Blue Devil.
Page 10 – Panels 2 to 4 As we can see, he’s not exactly happy with his lot in life.
Page 11 – Panel 1 It’s now been, according to the captions, “a few weeks” since the five Rogues attacked their targets and the Justice League put out the fires.
Page 11 – Panel 5 The Trickster, spurred on by the thought of dying and being remembered in the same way as the other Rogues, vows to head for the big time.
Page 12 – Panel 1 Belle Reve, Louisiana (note that the state is misspelt on the sign post!) is home to the Belle Reve prison which houses super villains and, at one time, was the base of operations for the Suicide Squad.
Page 12 – Panel 2 Someone who loves a bargain buys a gun, “something with real oomph.”
Page 12 – Panel 3 Belle Reve prison itself.
Page 13 – Panel 1 Within the prison, the guards escort a prisoner towards the Chaplain’s office.
Page 13 – Panel 2 They pass a holding cell where Shrapnel is held in place by magnets.
Page 13 – Panel 3 Killer Frost held in a cell with heat lamps.
Page 13 – Panel 4 Dr. Phosphorus contained in a jar within his cell.
Page 13 – Panel 5 The prisoner, Lou Krupke, meets the Chaplain of Belle Reve who is hidden in shadow.
Page 14 – Panels 1 and 2 Behind the man masquerading as the Chaplain is the real one: Father Richard Craemer who served as Chaplain to the prison as well as an advisor to the Suicide Squad and a friend and counsellor to the Spectre. Krupke, meanwhile, explains that a guard, Finney, has stolen his beloved calendar.
Page 14 – Panels 3 to 5 The false Chaplain gives Krupke a gun with which to exact his vengeance on Finney; this is, of course, the same gun that was bought from the gun shop on Page 12.
Page 14 – Panel 6 The fake Chaplain reveals it was he who had the calendar all along.
Page 15 – Panel 1 The Guard Captain is tempted out of the prison by a price too good to miss . . .
Page 15 – Panel 2 The prison engineer is tempted by a young lady . . .
Page 15 – Panel 3 And the prison Warden has to deal with his imprisoned son who was tempted to steal a car.
Page 16 – Panel 1 Finney, the guard suspected of stealing Krupke’s calendar strolls among the turbines that power the prison.
Page 16 – Panel 3 Krupke, using the gun given him by the fake Chaplain, opens fire on Finney.
Page 16 – Panel 4 As Finney dies, stray bullets hit the turbine.
Page 17 – Panel 2 In the event of an emergency, the workers call for the prison engineer but as we know, he’s busy elsewhere.
Page 17 – Panel 5 If they can’t reach the engineer, the Guard Captain and the Warden are to be informed . . . but again, we know they’ve been kept busy.
Page 18 – Panel 1 It all becomes moot, however, when the turbines explode.
Page 19 – Panel 2 And with the turbines gone, the power to the cells holding the villains is gone. In the air, launching himself from one walkway to another, is Dr. Alchemy. On the ground, from left to right, are: Metallo; Dr. Spectro; Deadshot; the Ghost; what might be White Dragon (based on the next panel); Punch; and Jewelee.
Page 19 – Panel 3 The breakout in full swing. From the top down on the left hand walkways are Deadline; Merlyn; and Bolt underneath the lowest walkway. In the air in the middle of the walkways are Airstryke and Dr. Alchemy. On the right hand walkway is Crazy Quilt.
On the ground, from left to right, are Dr. Phosphorus; Shrapnel; Ghost; Metallo; Jewelee; Punch; White Dragon; and Copperhead.
Page 20 The villains, all of whom we’ve just seen, lead the breakout from Belle Reve.
Page 21 – Panels 3 and 4 The villain of the piece stands (partially) revealed as he collects the soul of Lou Krupke.
Page 22 – Panel 2 The Rainbow Raider and the Trickster check out an armoured car; note the rubber chicken the Trickster’s holding. The Trickster, determined to go big time following the death of his fellow Rogues, is not impressed, though.
Page 22 – Panel 5 The Raider shows Trickster a candle which he and other villains received following the Belle Reve breakout.
Page 23 – Panel 1 The Raider takes them both to a clock tower just moments before it strikes twelve, the time when instructed to light the candle to “open the door to fame, power and glory.”
Page 23 – Panels 4 and 5 Remember that rubber chicken the Trickster had . . . ?
Page 24 – Panels 1 to 4 The Trickster lights the candle he stole from the Raider and finds himself in strange surroundings with company.
Page 24 – Panel 5 From left to right are Cheetah; Blockbuster; Shrapnel; the Riddler; Atomic Skull; Punch; Jewelee; Trickster; Scarecrow; Poison Ivy; and the hand of Dr. Alchemy.
Page 25 – Panel 1 On the far right are Jewelee, Punch and the Riddler. There’s a handful of characters in the background (Psycho Pirate’s among them) but c’mon, I’m not bothering with those!
Page 25 – Panel 2 The Prankster handily introduces himself. Odd that he’s a fan of Trickster’s as the Prankster debuted in 1942 while the Trickster followed in 1960.
Page 25 – Panel 3 “If I’m linking up with anybody, it’s gonna be a high roller.” The Trickster might come to regret those words. Over on the right are Dr. Spectro and (on the far right) Crazy Quilt.
Page 25 – Panel 4 In the top right hand corner are (left to right) The Dummy and The Ventriloquist holding Scarface; it’s no accident that The Dummy who may be a living ventriloquist’s doll is talking to The Ventriloquist. Below them are Metallo and Hellgrammite. Coming in from the left behind Trickster we can just see the hand of . . .
Page 25 – Panel 5 Killer Frost.
Page 26 – Panel 1 Blockbuster in the foreground with Killer Moth in the background.
Page 26 – Panel 2 Working from the back forwards we have Gorilla Grodd; the Ghost; and Dr. Alchemy.
Page 26 – Panel 3 Copperhead on the left, Cheetah on the right.
Page 26 – Panel 5 Shrapnel breaks up the fight.
Page 26 – Panel 6 Left to right we have Poison Ivy; the 90’s version of the Gentleman Ghost; Cheetah; Bolt; Shrapnel; the Riddler; and probably a miscoloured Copperhead.
Page 27 – Panel 1 Making his entrance is the bad guy of the story, Neron. His first words (“Please allow me to introduce myself.”) are a direct quote of the first line of “Sympathy For The Devil” by the Rolling Stones.
Page 27 – Panel 2 Working from top to bottom are Merlyn; Ocean Master; Solomon Grundy; Black Spider; Harlequin; Psycho Pirate; Trickster; the Fiddler; and Catman. As the Trickster mentions, the Fiddler seems to recognise Neron’s name.
Page 27 – Panel 3 Left to right are Gunhawk; Mammoth; Deadline; and Neron.
Page 28 – Panel 1 Abra Kadabra, a long time foe of the Flash, a scientist from the future who used advanced technology to commit crimes in the present.
Page 28 – Panel 2 Lex Luthor, arch-enemy of Superman, restored to health by Neron. Prior to this, he had suffered from radiation poisoning which led him to cloning himself and transferring his brain into the new body. The cloned body had deteriorated, however, leaving him unable to move.
Page 28 – Panel 3 Circe, the enemy of Wonder Woman.
Page 29 – Panel 1 Dr. Polaris, an enemy of Green Lantern.
Page 29 – Panel 2 And the Joker, the enemy of Batman. As mentioned in the notes for the cover, Neron’s council of five are all enemies of the pre-eminent members of the Justice League of America.
Page 29 – Panels 3 to 5 The Fiddler whispers to the Trickster that they may just be dealing with the Devil himself.
Pages 30 and 31 Neron speaks to the assembled villains. The two page spread is scanned and numbered on the side with the key below. The numbers start in the top left then work clockwise round the main balcony area, sweep left along the floor and then back up and to the right to finish with the small group in the middle.
1) Neron 2) Dr Polaris 3) Joker 4) Lex Luthor 5) Abra Kadabra 6) Circe 7) Silver Swan 8) Deadline 9) Airstryke 10) Poison Ivy 11) Parasite 12) Psycho Pirate 13) Gentleman Ghost 14) Ocean Master 15) Black Spider 16) Mongul 17) unknown guy in black 18) Scarecrow 19) unknown guy with white eyepatch who may be Sonar II 20) possibly Mammoth 21) Gorilla Grodd 22) Shrapnel 23) Chronos 24) Black Hand 25) Dr Alchemy 26) Atomic Skull 27) Riddler 28) Blockbuster 29) Harlequin 30) Golden Glider 31) Cheetah 32) Ghost 33) Killer Frost 34) Shark 35) Shadow Thief 36) possibly the Enforcer 7) Hyena 38) Killer Moth 39) Merlyn 40) Prankster 41) Bolt 42) possibly the Ratcatcher 43) Magpie 44) Jewelee 45) Punch 46) Cluemaster 47) possibly Killshot 48) Deadshot 49) Dr Spectro 50) Dr Phosphorous 51) Copperhead 52) White Dragon 53) unknown guy with pony tail who may be Kirk Langstrom, aka Man-Bat 54) Catman 55) Major Disaster 56) Crazy Quilt 57) Metallo 58) The Dummy 59) Ventriloquist and Scarface 60) Black Bison 61) Trickster 62) Fiddler 63) Chiller 64) Hellgrammite
Page 32 – Panel 1 Neron continues his pitch; to the left of the page are Deadshot, Dr Spectro and Catman; on the other side of Neron is Chronos; on the screen can be seen the hearts’ desires of various villains: Magpie sitting atop a pile of gold; Atomic Skull in an embrace with Lois Lane; and Metallo holding the cape of Superman.
Page 32 – Panel 2 Neron tempting Hi-Tech, a Superman villain, with diamonds.
Page 32 – Panel 3 Two rows of characters here. Top row right to left: Neron; Psycho Pirate; Hyena; Ghost; Black Spider; Crazy Quilt; Copperhead; Black Bison; Killer Moth; and Shadow Thief. Bottom row: Dr Phosphorous; Major Disaster?; possibly the Gentleman Ghost; Catman; Harlequin; Riddler; Blockbuster.
Page 32 – Panel 4 Poison Ivy and Neron.
Page 32 – Panel 5 Left to right are Cheetah; an unknown blue guy; Neron; Dr Alchemy; and Scarecrow.
Page 33 – Panel 1 Left to right are Cheetah; Chronos; Mongul; Trickster; Dr Spectro; and the Fiddler. Note these characters were nowhere near each other (Trickster and Fiddler excepted) just a few pages ago!
Page 33 – Panel 4 Neron is not fazed by Mongul’s reputation – an alien despot and leader of the artificial planet Warworld, Mongul has held his own against many of DC’s greatest heroes.
Page 34 – Panel 5 Neron refers to Superman and Green Lantern; Mongul was responsible for the destruction of Coast City, Green Lantern’s home, which ultimately led to Lantern’s fall from grace and his part in Zero Hour.
Page 35 – Panel 1 Despite Mongul’s pedigree, Neron defeats and kills him easily. If that doesn’t allow Neron to jump up the leader boards of DC’s villains, I’m not sure what does.
Page 35 – Panels 2 and 3 That green vapour that Neron absorbs? It’s the soul of Mongul.
Page 35 – Panel 4 In the background are Chronos; Bolt; and Deadshot.
Page 36 – Panel 1 Neron’s pitch isn’t for everyone it seems. Among those not interested in his deal are Silver Swan and Airstryke (in the air); possibly Killshot; Poison Ivy; Riddler; and Prankster on the ground.
Page 36 – Panels 4 to 8 Trickster almost goes with them before realising that, if he does, he’ll never be better than his former colleagues in the Rogues.
Page 37 – Panels 1 to 4 Blockbuster gets his heart’s desire: an intellect to go with his massive strength. Note in Panel 2 that the green vapour leaves Blockbuster and enters a jar off to one side.
Page 37 – Panel 5 Left to right are Neron; Copperhead; Major Disaster; and Killer Moth.
Page 38 – Panel 1 Again, the green vapour of the villains’ souls is taken from them and placed in the jar.
Page 38 – Panel 2 The reborn villains in all their finery: Killer Moth; Copperhead; and Major Disaster. On the left, Killer Moth has been transformed more than the others and from this point on becomes known as Charaxes.
Page 38 – Panel 3 More villains take Neron up on his offer: Merlyn; Psycho Piracte; and Metallo.
Page 38 – Panel 4 Gorilla Grodd and Dr Phosphorous.
Pages 39 and 40 – Panel 2 In return for their new powers, Neron wants the villains to rise up against the superheroes, something they’re all keen to do. Front and centre is Cheetah; on the ground, right to left, are: Sledge; Blockbuster; Deadshot; Bolt; Gorilla Grodd; Shadow Thief; Psycho Pirate; Major Disaster; Chiller; Merlyn; Shrapnel; Killer Frost; Copperhead; Charaxes; Metallo; and Dr Phosphorous.
Page 41 – Panel 1 Trickster doubts the reasoning behind Neron’s gifts which Neron himself agrees with.
Page 41 – Panel 3 Neron appears to have planned for Trickster’s appearance all along.
Page 41 – Panel 5 Neron introduces a final guest who was “an old comrade” of Trickster’s . . .
Page 42 – Panel 1 . . . Blue Devil, current member of the Justice League of America. In days gone by, Trickster and Blue Devil had been friends.
Page 42 – Panels 2 and 4 And Neron shows that he’s not just after the bad guys, offering Blue Devil something he always wants, leaving Trickster to make up his mind if he wants to go or stay.
Deaths in this issue:
- Captain Cold
- Heat Wave
- Weather Wizard
- Mirror Master
- Captain Boomerang