Royal Flush Gang
|Royal Flush Gang|
The Royal Flush Gang, art by Eddy Barrows
|First appearance||Justice League of America #43 March (1966)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox (writer)|
Mike Sekowsky (artist)
Wild Card or Wildcard (some versions)
The Royal Flush Gang is a fictional 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 an ace-high straight in poker: King, Queen, Jack, Ten and Ace. 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 season of The Flash in 2015. The comic book versions seen in the 2013 Forever Evil storyline were redesigned to follow the pattern set by their Arrow appearance.
Fictional team history
First Gang: Clubs
The original Royal Flush Gang was Professor Amos Fortune's childhood gang. 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 the 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.
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 the Gambler masquerading as the Joker.
- 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.
- 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
Superman: The Man of Steel #121 revealed that the Royal Flush Gang had expanded. 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". 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 was a "Two"; upon defeating him, she transitioned from the Star-Spangled Kid identity to Stargirl in JSA: All-Stars.
Recently, in Infinite Crisis #2, the Joker tortures and kills the leadership of a local 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. He kills the King with an electrical blast to the face. The dead gang is left in the ruins of a casino. However, given the fact that King is immortal, to the point that he has recovered from death almost instantly on numerous occasions, it seems improbable that he actually permanently died.
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. It is unclear what ties the third gang has or had—if any—to its predecessors and successors.
A new version of the Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League of America (volume 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.
Currently, there are multiple active, costumed members, some of whom are deriving their outfits and codenames from cards with pip values lower than ten. Members can rise in the numerical ranks as reward for their successes, or be "dealt out" at the discretion of Wild Card.
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.
A branch of the Royal Flush Gang based in Las Vegas, Nevada recently 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).
The New 52
In The New 52 (a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe), the Royal Flush Gang appears in the Forever Evil storyline. 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 who orders them to surrender if they don't want Golden Glider to die.
In the DC Rebirth initiative, 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.
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 other media
This show featured the Royal Flush Gang with King voiced by Eugene Williams, Queen voiced by Arlene Golonka, Jack voiced by Jerry Houser, and Ten voiced by Lynne Moody. In the 1985 episode "The Wild Cards", they are a quartet of thieves recruited by the mysterious Ace (not an android). In league with Darkseid, Ace is revealed to be the Joker in disguise as deduced by Batman upon realizing that the Royal Flush Gang's house of cards was missing his namesake card. It is also revealed that the house of cards disguises a dimensional warp from Earth to Apokolips. By the end of the episode, Ten (feeling in over her head) switches sides and the rest of the gang and Joker are captured.
A futuristic incarnation of the Royal Flush Gang appear in three episodes: "Dead Man's Hand" (1999), "Once Burned" (1999), and "King's Ransom" (2000). They use various high-tech weapons with a playing card theme per their name: King (voiced by George Lazenby), Queen (voiced by Amanda Donohoe in season one and by Sarah Douglas in subsequent appearances), their son Jack (voiced by Scott Cleverdon in season one and by Nicholas Guest in Season 3), their daughter Melanie Walker (voiced by Olivia d'Abo) takes the role of Ten, and Ace is an android.
They are a family of criminals that has existed for generations (Through Queen's line of the family as established in the episode King's Ransom) that now has encounters with the new Batman (Terry McGinnis). In the episode "Dead Man's Hand", King reveals that when he was younger, the family was briefly broken up and humiliated by the original Batman, and now seeks revenge. Terry and Melanie also develop a romantic interest. In the episode "Once Burned", Melanie's loyalty is tested by King and Queen, motivating Melanie to leave the gang. In the episode "King's Ransom", the gang is barely scraping by without Ten, and resort to holding their employer Paxton Powers for ransom, though Paxton is able to talk them into a new deal: assassinate Bruce Wayne, giving Paxton full control over Wayne Enterprises in exchange for a piece from Paxton's rare art collection worth twice the ransom. But thanks to Batman's intervention, the gang is thwarted, Ace is destroyed and King is revealed to have been having an affair with Sable Thorpe (Paxton Powers's secretary) as he was fed up with living in the shadow of his predecessor (King's late father-in-law and Queen's father). The family is arrested but Jack is bailed out by Melanie and takes an honest job at the same restaurant where she works.
Two different incarnations appeared. The 2003 two-part episode "Wild Cards" features the first incarnation as a group of government-trained teenagers found and given their theme by the Joker (playing on the fact that his name is also a card in a deck): King (voiced by Scott Menville) is able to create fire blasts with pyrokinesis, Queen (voiced by Tara Strong) can manipulate metal with ferrokinesis, Jack (voiced by Greg Cipes) has complete body elasticity, Ten (voiced by Khary Payton) has invulnerability and super strength comparable to that of Superman, and Ace (voiced by Hynden Walch) has telepathy and is able to create illusions that drive people insane just by looking at them even through video broadcasts. Joker uses his gang to stage a reality show in Las Vegas to serve as muscle while the Justice League searches the city for explosives. While King, Ten and Jack are eventually captured, Queen was knocked out during a fight with the Green Lantern and Hawkgirl then was subdued when one of the bombs inside detonated. The bombs are revealed to be a hoax, the point of which was to draw viewership so that Joker could use Ace to drive millions of people insane. The plan fails when Batman (Bruce Wayne) pulls a collar from Joker's jacket which Ace's government handlers had used to control her as a child and which Joker had kept as insurance against her. Realizing that Joker was simply using her, Ace gets so angry that she turns her powers on Joker to drive the Clown Prince of Crime into catatonia for a time; she then departed the scene and disappeared. Former General Hardcastle reveals in the episode "Fearful Symmetry" to Supergirl, Green Arrow and the Question that the gang of teenagers that Joker freed were part of Project Cadmus. The voice actors and actresses of the Royal Flush Gang were also the voice actors for the five main characters of Teen Titans. It's possible this iteration was also an homage to Marvel's Fantastic Four, with powers resembling those of the four primary members plus Franklin Richards.
A flashback in the 2005 episode "Epilogue" features a second incarnation. When a lonely and depressed Ace's powers evolved to the point where she could warp reality, she granted powers to four random people in an attempt to make friends, but they ditch her and use their powers for crime. All of the new members were various puns based partially on their names: King is a massive head with small limbs that flew on a throne and fired beams from his eyes (visually an homage to Marvel villain M.O.D.O.K. and Egg Fu), Queen is a large transvestite with enhanced strength, Jack is a samurai, and Ten is a woman with long, extensible cornrows she could use like a whip. As the Justice League battled the empowered criminals, Amanda Waller revealed that Ace was dying due to an aneurysm and a possible psychic backlash caused by her death could kill millions. Batman volunteered to use a device to kill her before that could happen, confronting her in a local park; she didn't attack him, however, choosing to briefly explain her backstory to him and then asking him to stay by her side until she dies. Batman accepted her request, allowing her to pass away peacefully without harming anyone. Ace's warped reality and empowered criminals returned to normal upon her death.
This version is a gang of bandits in the Old West with the diamond insignia on their outfits: Ace (voiced by Diedrich Bader) is the leader, Jack (voiced by Edoardo Ballerini) speaks Spanish, King and Queen are present but there is no evidence of Ten.
In the 2009 episode "Return of the Fearsome Fangs", Jonah Hex is caught by the gang. As they plan to tear Hex apart with scattering horses, Batman frees Hex and the two apprehend the Royal Flush Gang. In the 2010 episode "The Siege of Starro" (Pt. 1), they are featured attempting to rob a bank but are stopped by Hex and Cinnamon.
The Royal Flush Gang appears in the live-action series Arrow, where King is portrayed by Currie Graham, Ace is portrayed by Kyle Schmid, Jack is portrayed by Tom Stevens and Queen is portrayed by Sarah-Jane Redmond. There is no evidence of Ten in this version. In the 2012 episode "Legacies", the gang is a family of bank robbers who wear hockey masks with their respective playing card. It is later revealed that the leader Derek Reston worked for Queen Industries before Robert Queen outsourced 1500 jobs to China and the Reston family lost their home as a result. Feeling guilty, Oliver Queen tries to persuade Derek to right his own wrongs, but when he learns that the family are going to rob another bank, he chooses to stop them. During Oliver Queen's confrontation, Derek is shot and killed, while Ace and the rest of the family are arrested. During Derek's final moments, Oliver sits with him and reveals his secret identity to him to show him that he always had his best interests at heart. Derek admits that what he did was wrong and shouldn't have dragged his sons into this. He then asks Oliver if his son is alright. Oliver tells him he's just knocked out. Derek then closes his eyes and dies in Oliver's arms.
The second Royal Flush Gang appears briefly in the live-action series The Flash as three motorcycle thieves with specific helmets. In the 2015 episode "The Sound and the Fury", the masked Royal Flush Gang members were swiftly apprehended by Barry Allen. It's listed members are "King", "Queen" and "Ace". 
The Royal Flush Gang appears in Justice League: Doom with King voiced by Jim Meskimen, Queen voiced by Grey DeLisle, Jack voiced by Robin Atkin Downes, Ten voiced by Juliet Landau, and the robotic Ace voiced by Bruce Timm. This incarnation is a spades incarnation. They have similar or changed abilities from the original. King uses a scepter with the ability to electrocute targets at point blank range; he uses this against Martian Manhunter although it causes no permanent damage. His mind control and immortality is nowhere to be seen. Queen's wrist shooter and scepter are nowhere to be seen, replaced by simply throwing cards with incredible accuracy and speed (akin to Gambit) with enough strength to cut through even Batman's grappling lines. 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. Their hovering playing cards for transport have not been changed either. None of the members are given names. They attempt to rob a bank using a dimensional phasing technology that allows them to walk through walls but are halted by the arrival of Batman tipped off by Cyborg about their robberies. They manage to overcome Batman, but the remainder of the Justice League arrive and they quickly begin to fall: Queen is overpowered by Wonder Woman, Ten is taken out by the Green Lantern, Jack is captured by Batman and the Flash, Ace is destroyed by Superman, and King is defeated by Cyborg. Even with Wonder Woman's magic lasso and Martian Manhunter's mind-reading abilities, they couldn't find out who supplied the technology to them as the gang didn't know themselves. It is discovered that the tech was secretly supplied by Vandal Savage as a means to test it for his own plans, and the battle itself may have been simply a means for Mirror Master to infiltrate the Batcave.
- The Royal Flush Gang is alluded in Batman: Arkham Knight as a club named after the group is seen.
- Royal Flush Gang makes an appearance in issue #02 of the comic book tie-in of Justice League Unlimited.
- The Royal Flush Gang appears in issue 6 of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comics.
- Ace from the Royal Flush Gang appears in issue 23 of the tie-in Arrow comic book series.
- "10 Things Every DC Fan Should Know About the Royal Flush Gang" by Dylan Musselman, CBR.com (Aug 28, 2019)
- "All In: A History of the Royal Flush Gang" by Kyle Dodson, DCUniverse.com (Jan 31, 2020)
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