It was the end of an era, though I had no way to know that at the time. A trip to my local 7-11 to pick up the week’s new comics landed me this, the final issue of SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS, which had been a real favorite of mine for most of its run. The title would be discontinued abruptly, with a pair of additional issues in various stages of completion. It would be years before I’d get a chance to see those lost issues in the pages of DC’s contributors-only done-for-copyright-protection handmade collection CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE. To make matters worse for me, this issue began what was to be a multiple part story in which the Secret Society did battle with Earth-2’s Justice Society of America–another favorite group of mine. The dangling threads of this story would eventually be wrapped up in an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, but the loss of this series was still keenly felt. Especially since there really wasn’t any way of knowing that the book had ended. In 1978, quite often titles simply just stopped showing up, and I wasn’t plugged into any fan network (and there was absolutely no online community) where I might be able to keep up with such news.
This issue was produced by what had become the semi-consistent creative team on the series, writer Bob Rozakis and artist Mike Vosburg. After a rocky beginning that saw writers and artists swapping in and out virtually every issue, the advent of Rozakis and Vosburg brought some needed stability to the title (for all that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Vosburg’s particular style.) In addition to the plot threads mentioned above, Rozakis was about to open up a second front in the storyline, one designed to set a splinter version of the Secret Society against the Freedom Fighters, whose own series was also about to meet the chopping block. Rozakis’ work tended to be fun and lively, with a knowledge of DC continuity, but one that didn’t overwhelm the individual adventures. He’d learned working with editor Julie Schwartz how to put together a structured plot, and while he’d also do characterization, the overall tone of Rozakis’ stories tended to remain light and upbeat.
The issue opens with the Secret Society having finally made their way across the dimensional divide to Earth-2, after a two-issue detour on the similar-but-evil Earth-3. They’ve set up shop in the headquarters of the old Injustice Society–which seems like a good way to set off a villain war should any of the Injusticers show up, come to think of it. The newly-upgraded Wizard has brought the team here to help him annihilate his longtime enemies, the Justice Society of America. And not being idiots (and realizing that the JSA outnumbers them something like five to one) the Society decides to begin their attack by picking off the JSA members one by one, starting with the seemingly weakest ones. As such, the Wizard and Blockbuster head out to track down the Atom while Professor Zoom, the Floronic Man and Star Sapphire hang around and wait for further instructions.
And so it is that we catch up with Al Pratt in costume hanging out in an underground parking garage. He felt a compulsion to suit up and head over here–that compulsion planted in his mind by the Wizard. At the appearance of the villain, the Atom attacks, but Blockbuster makes a spectacular entrance and the fight is truly joined. For the most part, the Wizard stays out of things, preferring to let the massive Blockbuster contend directly with the Mighty Mite’s atomic strength. The Atom puts up a good fight, even felling his opponent with his final blow. But he’s simultaneously downed by Blockbuster’s last shot, and so is unable to prevent the Wizard from capturing him. So far, the Secret Society’s plan is playing out perfectly.
There follows a brief interlude back on Earth-1 in the Sinister Citadel, the Secret Society’s regular hangout. There, Mirror Master and Copperhead, two Society regulars, have arrived to meet a mysterious client who wants to hire the Society for some evil business. More on this plot thread by the end of the issue. Back on Earth-2, now that they’ve got the Atom captive in a tube, it’s time for the Reverse Flash and the Floronic Man to head out with the Wizard to take on Doctor Mid-Nite. As with the Atom, the Wizard draws the man of darkness out, and then Professor Zoom swiftly relieves him of his Blackout Bomb, through which he routinely causes an area to be swathed in darkness–his own ability to see clearly in the dark giving him an immediate advantage over his enemies.
Doctor Mid-Nite is on the ropes but not about to give up. He spends some time dodging the pair acrobatically, then manages to pull out a second Blackout Bomb–this one set to go off even after Professor Zoom snatches it out of his hands again–which he does. But Zoom is able to dissipate Mid-Nite’s darkness by whirling around cyclone-like, and he’s also able to cut the hero off as he attempts to perform a strategic retreat. It’s just seconds later that Mid-Nite finds himself entrapped by a bevy of plants quick-grown by the Floronic Man. It’s a clean sweep for the Secret Society this issue, and they seem like they stand a good chance of being able to work their way through the assorted members of the Justice Society given enough time.
As the book reaches its climax, Captain Comet, who had been pursuing the Secret Society from Earth-1 finally arrives himself on Earth-2. But he’s too late to help Doctor Mid-Nite, and he’s taunted by a message from the Floronic Man when he turns up at the battleground. Back on Earth-1, the benefactor of Mirror Master and Copperhead turns out to be the Silver Ghost, a recurring foe of the Freedom Fighters. He wants to enlist the Secret Society in a showdown with his enemies, and he’s selected a quartet of other villains to aid in this endeavor–these villains either being Rozakis creations from other stories or else villains that Rozakis had previously handled in other titles. And that’s where the issue, and the series, wrapped up–with two cliffhangers.