This is "Just Like the Time Before," a feature where I examine instances from comic book history where comic book creators did early versions of later, notable comic book characters and plot ideas. Essentially, the "test runs" for later, more famous characters and stories.
A little while ago, I wrote about how Mark Millar and JG Jones' Wanted began life as a pitch for a Secret Society of Super-Villains miniseries that was rejected by DC Comics. It was then reworked and became Wanted, which was a huge hit that was then turned into a blockbuster film.
At the time, I casually mentioned a Secret Society of Super-Villains story that Millar had written in JLA 80 Page Giant #1, just to note that he had worked on a Secret Society story before Wanted. However, reader Steve F. wrote in to ask that he would like me to take a further look at the story, as he thinks that it really works a lot as a sort of prologue to Millar's Wanted story. So, well, sure, Steve!
As a recap about Wanted, the idea is that the world is essentially just the same as our normal world, except it turns out that unknown to anyone else, supervillains are not only real, but they secretly control the world. A young man, Wesley, is told that his father has been killed and that his dad was one of the main leaders of a secret society of super-villains. As it turned out, the villains all got together and took advantage of one of those crises that superhero universes are always dealing with and the combined might of the super villains managed to not only finally defeat their heroic counterparts, but they were able to make it so that the heroes were essentially wiped out of reality.
Here is a scene where Wesley is inducted into the ranks of the secret society (as he also learns the truth of their organization)...
It is kind of fascinating to think about it this way, but when Wanted was adapted into a film, the idea of a secret society of SUPER-VILLAINS was seen as not a good idea, so they changed it to a secret society of assassins. Think about how crazy that is. Wanted came out TEN YEARS AGO. It came out the same year as Iron Man. It was released a month or so after the first Marvel Studios film. Had it only come out after Iron Man, it would have been part of the big superhero revolution of the last decade and I bet the plot of the film would have gone back to being about supervillains.
Anyhow, okay, so that's the set up of Wanted. So let us take a look at the Super Secret Society story from the JLA 80 Page Giant to see how if Steve is right about the story...