So the Justice League movie came out this weekend.
I haven’t seen it, I probably will despite the negative reviews, and I think I’ll use this opportunity to talk about super hero team ups.
The idea of superheroes teaming up to fight evil together is nothing new in comics. The very first time it happened was in All Star Comics #3 in 1940 when the Justice Society of America was formed.
Super hero team ups like this can happen for a couple of reasons. In the case of the JSA above and the original Luke Cage and Iron Fist books,
it was a successful attempt at saving the characters from poor sales numbers. In the case of the modern day Avengers,
It was a reward for the fans for watching the movies and making the MCU into the most successful franchise of all time.
But it’s not just superheroes that have been brought together, the bad guys get their team ups too.
While one of the most famous examples has to be DC’s Suicide Squad,
today I want to talk about the first super villain team up in comic book history: The Monster Society of Evil.
Origin and Career
The Monster Society of Evil was a collection of super villains that were published by Fawcett Comics: the original creators of Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel was an interesting hero, mostly because for a brief period of history he was actually more popular than Superman.
But we’re not here to talk about Captain Marvel, we’re here to talk about the bad guys and the devious mastermind that brought them together.
The Monster Society of Evil made its first appearance in Captain Marvel Adventures #22 in March of 1943.
The story was drawn by the original Captain Marvel artist C.C Beck,
and written by one of the most prolific Captain Marvel and Superman writers of all time: Otto Binder.
The comic starts off with the mysterious and intimidating Mister Mind intercepting a broadcast about an Indian Princess who has a set of jewels that she wishes to donate to the Allied war effort.
For starters, props to the villain for having a moon base and second, it’s amazing how just on the nose a bad guy named “Captain Nazi” can be.
Why is Mister Mind helping someone like Captain Nazi? Because it’s evil of course!
It turns out that there’s more to the princess’ jewels than meets the eye, and that Captain Nazi is very good at disguises,
even if his henchmen are idiots.
Captain Marvel manages to track down Captain Nazi, only to find that it was all a trap set up by Mister Mind.
While the hero is able to take the villains out one by one, both sides manage to track down a second pearl and the villains make their getaway through the power of teamwork.
The race to retrieve the pearls would go on for several issues, with Captain Marvel taki. Interestingly, the mastermind behind the whole operation would continue to remain hidden for two more issues until Captain Marvel finally decides to take the fight to Mister Mind’s moon base.
It’s a pretty awesome story, with Captain Marvel fighting robots,
and squid men.
The Captain decides to search as his alter ego, Billy Batson. After brushing off an insignificant little worm he’s confronted by a giant of a man who appears to be the real Mister Mind.
Our hero manages to defeat the villain with an epic headbutt!
But it turns out that the giant wasn’t Mister Mind at all!
Not to worry though, they reveal the true identity of Mister Mind in the next issue. You know that worm Batson brushed off of his shoulder? Yep…that’s the criminal mastermind!
Oh yes, that’s certainly the face of a criminal mastermind and genius.
Despite his small stature and lack of long range vision, Mister Mind is a capable villain with the ability to hypnotize creatures and humans to do his bidding. So naturally he teams up with Hitler.
Mister Mind turns out to be a very slippery nemesis for Captain Marvel and the two would continue their game of cat and mouse (worm and human just doesn’t have the same ring to it) for over twenty issues and ended in Captain Marvel Adventures #46 when he’s captured, tried, and executed via electric chair…
And that was the end of Mister Mind in the Golden Age of Comics, one of the smallest and most devious villains in all of comic books.
So what happened?
Sure the evil worm may have been killed, but we all know that death is but a revolving door in comics so he could have made a comeback.
Unfortunately that wouldn’t happen. Fawcett stopped making comics in 1953 and DC wound up suing Fawcett for copyright infringement in one of the longest court cases in comic book history.
In 1972 DC Comics began publishing their own Captain Marvel stories under the title of SHAZAM! due to Marvel Comics snapping up the copyright to the name.
Mister Mind would be reborn as a DC super villain in the second issue of the series where it was revealed that he had survived the electrocution and hypnotized a taxidermist into creating a fake corpse.
The villainous worm would reform the Society of Evil to include some of the most powerful and deadly villains in the Captain Marvel franchise.
This would continue until DC reset its entire universe in 1986 with the Crisis on Infinite Earths event and everything was reset.
Mister Mind would wind up returning to the DC universe in the limited event series The Power of SHAZAM!, only this time he became a tad more…intimidating.
This version of the villain was a member of a species from Venus and almost destroyed the Earth in a nuclear holocaust.
The worm would continue to be a nemesis of the Captain Marvel series and DC heroes as a whole. His most recent appearance was in the company’s New 52 reboot, although the Society of Evil didn’t make an appearance.
He has yet to appear in any recent DC comics.
Mister Mind is one of the most interesting comic book villains to ever come out of the Golden Age of Comics. He was smart, capable, and evil to the core but needed to manipulate others to do his dirty work for him. Outside of stalwarts like Lex Luthor and the Joker, Mister Mind has one of the longest and most successful careers of any comic book super villain and I would be very interested in seeing if DC decides to do anything with him in the future.
(Art provided by Dave Windett: http://www.davewindett.com/)