Johnny Sorrow
Johnny Sorrow.
Art by Carlos Pacheco, from the graphic novel
Virtue and Vice (Jan. 2002).
Publication information
Publisher(s) DC Comics
Debut Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1 (Dec. 1999)
Creators James Robinson
David S. Goyer
Geoff Johns
Phil Winslade
subcat (s) DC Comics
sortkey(s) Sorrow, Johnny

Johnny Sorrow is a fictional character that appears in publications published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1 (Dec. 1999) and was created by writers Geoff Johns and David Goyer and artist Phil Winslade.

Debuting in the Modern Age of Comic Books, the character has appeared in both comic books and graphic novels, and other DC Comics-related products such as trading cards and toys.

Publication history

First mentioned in the storyline "A Knight in the Circus" in Starman #8 (June 1995), Johnny Sorrow debuted in Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1 (Dec. 1999), and was, according to writer Mike Conroy, "...a continuity implant. While purportedly a Golden Age villain...around since the 1940's, Sorrow didn't make his first appearance until more than 50 years later."[1]

After an initial defeat, a greatly changed Sorrow reappeared with a new version of the Injustice Society in JSA #9 - 10 (April - May 2000), and makes a brief appearance in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E #13 (Aug. 2000). The character returned in a storyline that detailed the origin of his new powers in JSA #16 - 20 (Nov. 2000 - March 2001), and then the graphic novel Virtue and Vice (Jan. 2002), battling both the Justice Society and the JLA with ally Despero. Johnny Sorrow and another version of the Injustice Society appeared in JSA All-Stars #1 (Feb. 2010).

Fictional character biography

First mentioned by a demonic opponent of the maverick Starman,[2] Sorrow appears as an unnamed intruder in the prison facility the "Slab", killing two prison guards simply by taking a mask off that reveals his true face. Sorrow then frees the supervillain the Icicle, telling the criminal that he once saved his father—the first Icicle—when he was forced to flee from the original Green Lantern.[3]

Sorrow reappears as the leader of the new Injustice Society (consisting of the Icicle, Blackbriar Thorn, Count Vertigo, Geomancer, Killer Wasp, and the Tigress). Together they storm the headquarters of superhero team Justice Society of America, although JSA member Wildcat defeats them all (destroying Blackbriar Thorn) despite still recovering from a broken arm and the attack initially being launched while he was in the bath, with the exception of Sorrow, who uses the diversion to steal an unknown artifact.[4]

Sorrow returns with a larger version of the Injustice Society (having also recruited Black Adam after removing a brain tumour, Shiv, Rival, and the Thinker) and finally reveals his origin:

Formerly a silent film actor, Sorrow was forced into retirement by the new "talkies," and turned to a life of crime. Sorrow stole a "Subspace Prototype" that enabled him to become intangible by warping through another dimension. During an encounter with the Justice Society of America, Sandy the Golden Boy destroyed the Subspace Prototype, which unexpectedly tore Sorrow apart and hurled his remains into what Sorrow another described as a "fractional dimension" and one of the "Subtle Realms". Sorrow's remains were found by a huge Lovecraftian entity called the "King of Tears", who revived him and bestowed on the villain a golden mask that will contain his new form and allow him to manifest in the material world. Sorrow's face, warped beyond description, was now instantly fatal to all who see it.

Sorrow was returned to Earth on the condition he find a way to allow the King of Tears to manifest. On his return to Earth, Sorrow killed his wife by accident in his haste to remove his mask so she could see that it was him, and kidnaps Sandy, blaming him for his disfigurement and taking him to a theatre. Newly formed superhero team the "Seven Shadows"—consisting of Dr. Nowhere, Jake Justice, the Shard, Man-At-Arms, Lodestar, the Scarab, and the Veil—attempted to stop Sorrow but with the exception of the Scarab they were all killed by Sorrow's gaze. The Scarab requested the aid of the Justice Society, who arrived as the King of Tears was materializing. The entity the Spectre reduced the monster to actual tears, which were contained and stored by the Green Lantern. Defeated, Sorrow fled. Later he helped remove a tumour from Black Adam's brain, causing him to join Sorrow to repay the debt. Sorrow somehow gained access to the Rock of Eternity and turns the wizard Shazam to stone with his gaze.

In the present, the Justice Society defeat their evil counterparts in another rematch, but Sorrow then reveals that the artifact he stole was in fact the liquid form of the King of Tears, who materializes once freed. Although the Spectre is summoned to deal with the entity, the King of Tears on this occasion disables the Spectre. The Flash solicits the aid of Black Adam (who has had a change of heart) and uses their combined speed—the Flash borrowing Black Adam's speed by tapping into the Speed Force—to punch Sorrow just as Doctor Mid-Nite—his goggles having recorded Sorrow's face when Sorrow tried to attack the blind Mid-Nite earlier but only knocked him out briefly—shows Sorrow his own face, rendering Sorrow solid long enough for Garrick to strike him with such force that it apparently destroys both Sorrow and the King of Tears.[5]

Reforming in an alternate dimension, Sorrow eventually encounters the consciousness of former Justice League of America villain Despero, and together the pair plan to take revenge on both the JLA and the Justice Society. The pair free the Seven Deadly Sins from the Rock of Eternity, and Sorrow turns the wizard Shazam to stone with his deadly stare. Despero takes control of Lex Luthor's form while seven members of the combined super teams are possessed by the Sins. The heroes are freed from the influence of the Sins by their team mates, and battle Sorrow and Despero, defeating them with teamwork.[6] Banished once again, Sorrow is retrieved when a new version of the Injustice Society, led by the Wizard, forms. Sorrow immediately takes control of the group, intent on revenge.[7]

Powers and abilities

Johnny Sorrow was a normal human until an accident with a teleportational device shredded his body and transported his remains to another dimension. An entity called the King of Tears restores Sorrow's consciousness, which now inhabits a floating suit and mask. The character can become solid (and vulnerable) if removing the mask, although this also reveals Sorrow's altered face. Seeing Sorrow's face is instantly fatal to almost all living creatures. Sorrow himself is apparently also vulnerable to his own gaze, a recorded image of his face causing temporary paralysis. The character can also teleport; levitate and manipulate energy.

In other media



  1. Conroy, Mike. 500 Comicbook Villains, Collins & Brown, 2004.
  2. Starman (comics)|Starman #7-8 (May–June 1995)
  3. Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1 (Dec. 1999)
  4. JSA #9 - 10 (April - May 2000)
  5. JSA #16 - 20 (Nov. 2000 - March 2001)
  6. Virtue and Vice (Jan. 2002)
  7. JSA All-Stars #1 (Feb. 2010)

External links

Template:Sandman (DC Comics)

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.