Johnny Sorrow is a male comic supervillain that features in DC Comics.
Johnny Sorrow was a male human who was born in the modern age where he lived in the mid-20th century. At some point, by adulthood he came to be married to a woman named Andrea and operated as a silent film star. As movies changed from silent movies to sound his career came to be affected. This resulted in him adopting the life of a costumed criminal where he was involved in a number of schemes that brought him into conflict with the heroes of the Justice Society of America. In 1944, he was in Opal City where he stole a subspace prototype from the Light giving him the ability to teleport by phasing at will. Once more confronted by heroes, he managed to gain an advantage by quickly phasing across locations until Sandy the Golden Boy believed he found a weakness by targeting the substance prototype on Sorrow's chest. However, the damaged device malfunctioned causing a tear that seemingly killed Sorrow though in reality he was transported into the Subtle Realms that were dimensions beyond those that could be perceived by humans. Once there, he encountered the various entities that resided there and their leader who was the King of Tears. The creature desperately sought a return to Earth and decided to make Sorrow its herald with him being transformed where he was given a mask to contain his altered form that also allowed him to return to the mortal world for short periods. Johnny then returned to Earth to his lifeline namely his wife Andrea where he haunted her for days before approaching her with him attempting to get her to accept him. Sorrow at the time did not fully comprehend his transformed state and took off his mask with him knowing that anyone gazing at his true face was killed. Distraught at her death, he came to blame Sandy and the others for his wife's death as he became determined to ensure his master the King of Tears was brought into the world. This saw him first target the team of mystery men called the Seven Shadows where he killed them all except for the Scarab. After the span of six months, he kidnapped Sandy Hawkins who was secretly the Golden Boy and took him to the theatre in order to kill him alongside the other slain heroes. However, the Justice Society arrived with the Spectre manifesting to defeat Sorrow whose gaze could not work against the Spirit of Vengeance. This resulted in Johnny deciding to open the doorway for the King of Tears to manifest but the entity was defeated by the Spectre with Sorrow fleeing in order to enact his masters plans another day. (JSA v1 #18) Many years ago, he was in Gotham City when he arrived at the scene where the supervillain Icicle had jumped into the river to escape Green Lantern Alan Scott. Joar Makent nearly drowned but Sorrow was present to help him out of the water thus saving his life. Icicle owed Johnny his life with Sorrow intending to collect in the future as he was informed that the man’s future son would aid him in a future endeavour. (Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant v1 #1)
Johnny Sorrow returned as the head of a new Injustice Society that targeted the headquarters of the Justice Society when only Wildcat was at the base. The rest of the supervillain team were sent to fight the vigilante whilst Sorrow himself journeyed into the tesseract vault to claim a relic for himself. Upon succeeding, he discovered his team mates to had been defeated but this did not bother Sorrow who teleported away from the scene. (JSA v1 #9) He then staged his next assault against the Justice Society by arranging for various ambushes conducted by his allies in the Injustice Society. With the heroes distracted, Sorrow attacked the home of the Louis Sendak in order to enact his plan to bring about the emergence of the King of Tears into the world. (JSA v1 #16) When the heroes arrived, Sorrow used his gaze to send the new Dr. Mid-Nite into a catatonic state whilst he turned Sendak into a doorway for the King of Tears manifestation with the entity emerging from the Subtle Realms. (JSA v1 #18) At the heart of the fight, he managed to capture Sand who he intended to witness the devastation caused by the King of Tears before killing him. Despite the arrival of the Spectre, even the spirit of vengeance was unable to defeat the King of Tears. However, Sand managed to distract Sorrow long enough for Dr. Mid-Nite to arrive where he used a visual recording of Sorrow's face back at him leaving Johnny stricken with horror for a moment. This provided a long enough distraction for Jay Garrick at lightspeed to strike Sorrow with a powerful blow that shattered his corporeal form leaving only his mask behind thus defeating him and without his guidance the King of Tears was returned back to its realm. (JSA v1 #20)
Following the Flashpoint, a new version of reality was created with a different history of events. Sorrow retained much of his history as he was a former actor who found himself trapped in another dimension where he exchanged his physical body to become an emissary for the King of Tears. At some point, he was captured and remanded into the custody of Amanda Waller who placed him in the first incarnation of the modern age Suicide Squad. (Justice League vs. Suicide Squad v1 #3)
Personality and attributes
He stated that he was never truly alone and that the King of Tears and its demonic hordes kept him company. (Justice League vs. Suicide Squad v1 #4)
Johnny cared little about ruling the world and wanted everyone on the planet to die. (JSA v1 #16) He wanted for everyone to pay for his pain as he blamed Sandy for condemning him to the life of an immaterial ghost-like being. (JSA v1 #18)
Powers and abilities
Originally, Sorrow was an ordinary mortal who operated as a costumed criminal in the 1940s where he had no powers beyond using a gun and stealing equipment that gave him an advantage. This changed when the subspace prototype he was wearing was damaged and sent him into the Subtle Realms. Whilst there, he was transformed into a mystical being by the King of Tears to be its intercessor in bringing it to the mortal world. In his altered state, a mask was made to contain his power and serve as a vessel for his essence. It also allowed him to journey to Earth for brief periods of time before he had to return to his dimension. (JSA v1 #18) This meant that he could switch to being intangible at will allowing him to avoid attacks made against him unless he was distracted. (JSA v1 #20) A more dangerous ability of Sorrow was him removing his mask as those that gaze at his true face died as a result. Some that were exposed to his face fell into a catatonic state whilst beings such as the Spectre were immune to his power. (JSA v1 #18) Sorrow was not immune to his own power which could leave him in horror if seeing a reflection of his own face though it did not kill him. (JSA v1 #20)
After his transformation, he became an intercessor for the King of Tears. (JSA v1 #18) The entity was a force of pure evil but largely without direction of its own with Johnny serving as a guide to it. As a creature without a conscience, the being had no guilt to exploit and thus was immune to the effects of the Spectre. (JSA v1 #20) Through the King of Tears, Sorrow had a connection to multiple dimensions allowing him to detect manipulations in reality. (Justice League vs. Suicide Squad v1 #1)
He could open up portals to the King of Tears realm thus unleashing a horde of demonic creatures upon his enemies. (Justice League vs. Suicide Squad v1 #4)
- Johnny Sorrow was created by James Robinson, David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns and Phil Winslade where he made his first appearance in Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant v1 #1 (December, 1999).
- Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant v1: #1 (1999)
- JSA v1:
- Justice League vs. Suicide Squad v1: (2017)