The Green Lantern Corps Podcast

Aces high! The Royal Flush Gang

Posted in Profiles by mrread7 on August 10, 2008

Ah, the Royal Flush gang, a group of villains that has been around for pretty much 30 years. I remember back during the old Super Friends show, back when they called it: the Super Powers team. The Royal Flush Gang quickly became a favorite of mine. However, they seemed to stay out of the comics a lot during most of the late 80s to 90s. Thank God, Geoff Johns and the creators of Batman Beyond came around. They showed why the Royal Flush Gang was just a bunch of bad asses and why you should be scared of them. The current group that is running around in Gail Simone’s books are a cool set of gang bangers that bring a new attitude to the Royal Flush Gang. Let’s look over their history in both the current DC Universe and Earth-12.

They are a group of playing card-themed supervillains who are usually thwarted by the superheroes they encounter. They have code names based on a royal flush in poker i.e. Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten. 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, they attempted to steal paintings containing clues to a hidden treasure but were thwarted by the Joker’s manipulations (Joker #6). 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. 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 members were killed.

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, who was masquerading as the Joker.

King (Joe Carny) — The so-called “King of the Hoboes,” Carny also suffered from lung cancer. 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 reoutiftted 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.

Ace (“Derek Reston”) – The Ace was a superstrong android in the form of an African-American man. A later 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.

In 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.
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. Most recently members of the diamond set were defeated by Booster Gold and Skeets… twice.

Amos Fortune

As a child, he was the leader of a gang of juvenile delinquents. Later, as an adult, he became obsessed with luck, both good and bad, and discovered the existence of “luck glands” in human beings that dictate how a person’s luck will run. Upon learning how to control these “luck glands” to manipulate his luck, he gathered his old gang and created the original Royal Flush Gang who battled the Justice League of America on two occasions. Professor Fortune first met the Justice League trying to remove their “good luck” but was defeated.
Fortune continued to battle the Justice League of America several times. At first, he acted as the leader of the Royal Flush Gang, though he abandoned them soon after. In their place, he created the short-lived Luck League, a group who could mimick the powers of the JLA. Still later, Fortune battled Justice League Europe, but was again defeated when his luck ran out.
When Parademon blew up the House of Secrets in Villains United #6 (2005), Fortune suffered injuries, but survived. However, when he joined Scarecrow from escaping Enclave M in Villains United Infinite Crisis Special, he was thrown from the Secret Six’s helicopter by Knockout, after calling her lover, Scandal, a “moronic slut.”
As of JSA Classified #14-16, it seems that Fortune survived the helicopter fall (his is the power of luck, after all) and is now masterminding a plot against the JSA using The Wizard as a focusing point for the ‘luck magicks’ – a.k.a. stellaration energy – in order to destroy the JSA, using Wildcat as his mind-controlled pawn (who is growing stronger with each victory over a JSA member via the stellaration energy). Vixen and Gypsy helped Stargirl against this plot, given they had faced him before many years ago while on a training mission as then-new recruits on the JLA, alongside Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Vibe, and Steel (Vibe and Steel also new recruits at the time), as they fought both the previous and then-new incarnations of the Royal Flush Gang, as seen in flashback in JLA Classified #22-25.

A warm thank you for Wiki for helping me with all of that history on the main DC group of high card villains. Now, to move towards the Batman Beyond group, which is now into continuity with the 52 multiverse on Earth-12. The Royal Flush showed up in the first season episode, Dead Man’s Hand. The Royal Flush Gang was led by the former Jack, who was now the King of the group along with the rest of his family. Melanie Walker, who would be the Catwoman to this world’s Batman. They Royal Flush Gang showed up in three total episodes between the three seasons and showed a very human drama as the group slowly fell apart. In the Batman Beyond series, the new Batman repeatedly faces a future version of the gang, who appear to be a family. They all mostly used various high-tech weapons, with the Walker parents as King and Queen, their son as Jack and daughter Melanie as Ten. It should be noted that this version of the gang resembles the group created by Hector Hammond, down to their riding hovering playing cards and Ace being an android. Its suggested that crime runs in the family: in the episode King’s Ransom we learn that the former King was the father of the current Queen, with each new generation forming a new version or branch of the gang.

The Royal Flush Gang still remains a favorite of mine and I hope to be seeing them again soon, since there is hints that members of the gang will show up in The Blackest Night that were killed by the Joker during Infinite Crisis. Should be a great time, in the mean time. I have to get ready for a poker game of my own with some friends, I’ll let you know if I pull my own Royal Flush.


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