"Secret Society" is the forty-third and forty-fourth episodes of Justice League. As the Justice League undergoes training exercises to trust each other, Gorilla Grodd organizes a Secret Society to bring them down.
J'onn J'onzz and Green Lantern get in each other's way and fail to capture Shade, even though they succeed in preventing his attempted theft of a computer chip. Disgusted, Lantern suggests the League train to improve their teamwork. Everyone agrees, except Batman, who has enough on his plate as is. However, the Dark Knight is outvoted, so the League proceeds to a specially-constructed training course. Problems quickly ensue as Superman refuses to let the others take any hits, Batman defeats all his targets before giving anyone else a chance, Hawkgirl does not wait for intel prior to fighting, and so on.
Shade is able to escape the scene thanks to Giganta, who picks him up in a Hummer. Shade then learns that Gorilla Grodd and Giganta (who is fiercely loyal to Grodd) have formed a "Secret Society." All members have their own motivations: Shade (who is offered the chance by Grodd to become a "master of the world"), Sinestro (who has sworn a blood oath against all Green Lanterns), Killer Frost (who is there simply to kill), and Parasite (who wants Superman's power). Upon its formation, Grodd takes pains to encourage a more cohesive organization in order to avoid the infighting of Lex Luthor's Injustice gang.
Grodd's final recruitment plan is to rescue Clayface from Morgan Edge's mansion. During the mission, Killer Frost murders Morgan and the Society successfully liberates Clayface. Grodd convinces Clayface to join his team by promising something even better than a "cure" for his condition; Grodd tells him that he can find a way to return Clayface to his true identity of Matt Hagen and still retain his shapeshifting powers (after they destroy the Justice League, of course). Though Clayface is skeptical, Grodd convinces him by telling him about how he did the same for Giganta by transforming her from an ape into the woman she is now.
While the others continue training, Batman learns that Clayface is once again at large. Batman tracks down Clayface, stunning him with an electric batarang. A blast from Sinestro's power ring negates the batarang, and Clayface reveals the rest of his team (except Grodd, who is hiding in the shadows). Batman smugly counters by revealing he brought the League as well.
The Secret Society defeats the Justice League due to the League's disastrous lack of cooperation, but Grodd decides to spare them for now, seeking to humiliate the League before killing them. After the villains have escaped, the League starts outwardly sniping out at each other, blaming each other for their faulty performance. Fighting snowballs into personal attacks, with the heroes ultimately questioning the League's effectiveness and purpose. The episode ends with all seven members turning their backs on one another and walking away in different directions, effectively, though temporarily, disbanding the Justice League.
While keeping surveillance on the League, Grodd reveals that the accident the Flash caused in "The Brave and the Bold" has given him psychic abilities. Grodd has been using these powers to manipulate the League's moods, causing them to lash out at each other with feelings they would have otherwise kept repressed. Flash tries to track down Shade on his own by threatening a henchman who has been bailed out. Flash learns Shade has a base at the North Hill Subway Station, but walks into a trap and is captured by the Society.
Batman is contacted and tries to rescue Flash. When Batman arrives at the scene, Clayface impersonates Flash, but Batman sees through the ruse as Clayface overplays his part. Batman takes out Sinestro with a brutal batarang throw, but then is captured by the rest of the Society. The rest of the League is tricked into assembling at their practice range (with the exception of Green Lantern), where they are attacked by the Society and captured. Lantern discovers one of Grodd's spycams and tracks the Society to their hideout, only to be literally sniffed out by Grodd and captured.
The League is taken to a football stadium in Gotham City, where Grodd intends to execute them live on national television, but the heroes are saved by J'onn, who managed to infiltrate the Society by impersonating Clayface during the previous battle (having duped Killer Frost into freezing the real Clayface - who was impersonating J'onn at the time). J'onn releases his captured friends and the League, now aware of Grodd's manipulations, battles the Secret Society. The League is victorious in the end, Superman finally overcoming Grodd despite his telepathy, but the League realizes that they still have some issues that need to be worked on. Agreeing to let bygones be bygones, the League leaves the field together as thousands of fans cheer them on.
- Flash calls Superman out for the "whole stinking group" being his idea, as Superman was the one to suggest it at the end of "Secret Origins".
- Shade refers to the two previous incarnations of the Injustice Gang, as shown in "Injustice For All" and "Fury".
- Grodd makes his first appearance since "The Brave and the Bold", and refers to the accident with his mind-control helmet caused by Flash.
- Batman says to Clayface that he's always trying to find a cure which alludes to Batman's previous encounters with him since Matt Hagen's transformation to Clayface in "Feat of Clay".
Home video releases
- Justice League - Season Two (DVD)
- Justice League - Season Two (Blu-ray)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: Justice League Masterminds of Crime (DVD)
- While John Stewart spied on the Secret Society discussing what they'll do with him, Shade's lip sync switches to Sinestro's voice saying "Right. What are we going to do about the Lantern?".
- With the exception of Killer Frost, each member of the Secret Society belongs to the rogues gallery of one of the members of the Justice League in the DC Comics except for J'onn J'onzz and Hawkgirl:
|Flash||Gorilla Grodd & Shade|
- This is the last appearance of Clayface in the DCAU.
- In the comics, Giganta is often portrayed as a brutish woman, whereas in the DCAU she is almost excessively feminine, even girlish (by contrast, Jennifer Hale voices Killer Frost as excessively rough and masculine).
- Grodd's explanation of Giganta's origin is a call back to the Golden Age Giganta, who had been artificially evolved into a strongwoman by a renegade scientist.
- Darkseid, Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk appear as cardboard cutouts used in a training exercise in the episode.
- The exchange between Shade's thug and Flash is a spoof on Lloyd Bentsen's famous cutting remark to Dan Quayle during the 1988 U.S. Vice Presidential debates: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy".
- Sinestro claims that his beams move as fast as Flash does, the speed of light; in fact, Flash's top speed, exhibited in "Eclipsed" and Justice League Unlimited, "Divided We Fall" is still slower than the speed of light.
- Clayface's overplayed "yo" likely came from the Lightspeed Energy Bars commercial Flash did in "Eclipsed" where he says "Thanks, yo" to the kid in the commercial.
- The robots that Hawkgirl fights in the training exercise are very similar to Zeta in his form from Batman Beyond.
- The scene of the League and the Society rushing at one another in the football stadium is a clear homage to the opening title of the old Challenge of the Super Friends animated series from the 1978. That show's version of the Justice League also featured Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, a Flash (Barry Allen), and a Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) among its lineup. Their main antagonists were the original Legion of Doom, which included Grodd, Giganta, and Sinestro among the villains.
|Maria Canals|| Hawkgirl|
|Susan Eisenberg||Wonder Woman|
|Brian George|| Parasite|
Morgan Edge (uncredited)
|Jennifer Hale|| Giganta|
Killer Frost (uncredited)
|Phil LaMarr|| Green Lantern|
Stadium Announcer (uncredited)
|Carl Lumbly|| J'onn J'onzz|
(as Flash dangles him off a roof)
Clayface: What gave me away?
Hawkgirl: You don't care about me.