Underworld Unleashed

Underworld Unleashed

Underworld Unleashed #1 featuring Neron,
art by Howard Porter.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Format Mini-series
Publication date November–December 1995
Number of issues 3, plus cross-overs and special titles
Main character(s) Justice League of America
Creative team as of November 1995
Writer(s) Mark Waid
Penciller(s) Howard Porter
Inker(s) Dan Green
Dennis Janke
Colorist(s) Rick Taylor (Heroic Age)
Creator(s) Mark Waid
Howard Porter

"Underworld Unleashed" was a multi-title comic book cross-over event released by DC Comics in 1995. As well as the core story-line of the three-issue Underworld Unleashed mini-series, most of the DC titles published in November and December 1995 and a number of one-off titles were part of the series.

The main theme of Underworld Unleashed involved the new ruler of Hell, a demon called Neron, offering many of the DC Universe villains and a number of the superheroes their greatest desires in exchange for their soul or completing a task for him; and the consequences of these deals.[1][2]

Underworld Unleashed is one of very few DC Comics major crossovers not to directly involve Superman; at the time of the series he was off-planet as part of The Trial of Superman story arc. This is important to the Underworld Unleashed storyline, since the superheroes involved are driven by the belief that Superman is key to Neron's plans.


Five of the The Flash's 'Rogues Gallery': Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Mirror Master II, and Weather Wizard are approached with an offer by Abra-Kadabra, who had become an agent of the demon Neron in exchange for true magical powers to replace his technology-based magic. Abra-Kadabra persuades them to cause havoc by destroying five targets simultaneously, with the promise of 'respect' and 'a guarantee that they would be remembered forever, not as has-beens but as the most infamous villains of their age' . But Neron's deals are demonic and twisted, and they were not told that their actions would cost them their lives and unleash Neron onto the Earth. All five are killed in the ensuing explosions, forming a pentagram which releases Neron.

Soon after, Neron kills a priest who administers to the prisoners of Belle Reve Penitentiary and, disguised as him, offers a deal for the soul of one of the inmates (who is in search of revenge for the theft of a treasured possession) in exchange for a gun. Neron himself had stolen the calendar in question to engineer the situation, and he also makes offers to a number of key Belle Reve personnel or persuades or manipulates them in other ways to be absent that evening. The ensuing chaos allows 142 super-powered criminals to escape from Belle Reve. Another member of the Rogues Gallery, Trickster reads of the deaths of Flash's Rogues Gallery, and determines not to waste any more time on petty crime but finally make a major villain of himself. A week later another villain, Rainbow Raider, shows Trickster a carved candle he and other recently escaped super-villains had received, with instructions to light it at midnight on a certain day to 'open the door to fame, power and glory' . Trickster steals the candle, and on lighting it is instantly transported to Hell, joining about 50 other super-criminals who had done the same. Neron appears to the gathered villains, and offers them all their greatest desires in exchange for their souls, then introduces his 'Inner Council' - Abra Kadabra, Lex Luthor, Circe, Polaris and Joker. The Fiddler works out that Neron is The Devil, and Trickster overhears him; then while several dozen of the villains accept Neron's offer the rest are returned to Earth. At the end of Neron's speech and empowering session, Justice League member Blue Devil, who had worked out that the locations of the deaths of the five Rogues Gallery members formed a pentacle, appears. He is offered film star fame and fortune in exchange for performing a simple deed: the destruction of a power substation.[3]

The villains who accepted Neron's offer (with the exception of Neron's Inner Council and Trickster) are returned to Earth to fulfil their deals and wreak havoc, many of them with enhanced powers; while Neron turns his attention to Earth's superheroes. As well as trying to gain the souls of Batman, Flash and an unknown number of other superheroes in deals for their souls, Neron offers to resurrect Alexandra DeWitt in exchange for Green Lantern Kyle Rayner's soul. Kyle refuses, and after Neron beats him in battle he spares his life, giving Kyle the message that what he covets most is 'a far more noble soul' who Kyle knows; and when he has it, Earth will be his. Kyle assumes this means Superman (who is off-world because of his trial in space[4]), and carries the message to Justice League headquarters.[5]

Meanwhile, Neron causes further disruption on an Earth now seething with violence and war as a result of his demonic influence on people and the chaos caused by the super-villains in his debt. He also spreads chaos to New Apokolips, giving all those who desire the missing Darkseid's throne information on each other's plans, thus setting New Apokolips to war with itself.[6] Back in Hell, Luthor and The Joker force Trickster to reveal that Neron's power is contained within his Soul Jar, and succeed in rupturing the Jar using Polaris', Kadabra's and Circe's mystical and scientific resources together. As the Jar is breached a swirl of green smoke reaches outward, spiriting Polaris, Kadabra and Circe away, which is what Luthor and the Joker had actually planned. However, Neron had pre-empted them by fooling Trickster into giving them false information, thus removing his Inner Council before they could become a threat to his power. He traps Luthor and The Joker in a snowglobe - although they believe they are in a snowstorm in Metropolis, until they reach the glass walls of the globe.[7] As Earth collapses into war, anarchy and chaos, the Justice League calls most of the world's heroes together to stand against Neron. Like Kyle, all assume that because he is missing, it is Superman that Neron referred to as the pure soul he wanted, and that he had already been captured. The elite of the Justice League decide to take the fight to Neron, and Blue Devil, who had been fooled by Neron's Faustian deal into causing the death of his friend, film-maker Marla Bloom, takes them to Hell. Now alone in Hell after the fall of the Inner Council, Trickster, who had not yet been offered a deal for his soul, realizes that he had been taken for a fool again and Neron had deeper plans that he had not revealed. He begins to scheme against him.[5]

On Earth, Doctor Fate's home, the Tower of Nabu, has become the portal to the Underworld that the demon Blaze is trying to secure so Neron can send Hell's demonic forces to Earth. Sentinel and Fate fight to close the portal, Sentinel destroying the tower to do so.[8] While Fate battles back from being flung into far dimensions,[9] Sentinel is drawn away from his partner, Molly/The Harlequin, who opens a box containing one of Neron's candles and accepts a deal to become young again, losing her soul in the process. Sentinel contacts The Phantom Stranger, Zatanna and Jim Corrigan (Spectre, but without his full powers as the Spectre force within him had made a deal with Neron for a separate existence) for help. Together with Deadman, they enter Hell to get Molly's soul back from Blaze. The Spectre tries to help, but discovers his deal precludes him opposing Neron and he is Neron's slave, destined to become his successor. Realizing he is not prevented from fighting other demons, however, he joins the others, and Sentinel rescues Molly's soul. Blaze is forced to flee Neron for failing to stop the supernatural team, and while the heroes escape Sentinel is captured by Neron and taken to Hell captive.[10]

With Blue Devil's power, the Justice League pierces the barrier to the Underworld and confronts Neron's demonic army, battling through the circles of Hell to find Superman. Ray, Firestorm, Captain Atom and Maxima are killed on the way, while the other superheroes, with the exception of Captain Marvel, begin to be corrupted by the influence of their Hellish surroundings. In Hell, the demon Satanus bargains with Neron for the return of his soul after failing in his task to stop the Leymen of Primal Force,[11] offering up the whereabouts of his sister Blaze in exchange, but once his soul is returned and Blaze caged by Neron, he reveals to her that Neron can be beaten by a single word that if spoken, even in Hell, would give Neron pause. For this treachery Neron kills Satanus, though not before his comment is overheard by Trickster. At that moment Blue Devil, seeking revenge for the death of Marla, finally reaches Neron ahead of the Justice League, and is killed; while Neron reveals that it was Captain Marvel's soul he wanted all the time, just as The Trickster realizes the truth.

Neron has kept Blaze alive because her demonic magic powers dampen Captain Marvel's powers. She reverses this by augmenting his powers instead, saving him from death; while Blue Devil, who cannot die in hell, attacks Neron in a new demon body. Taking advantage of the diversion, Trickster tells Captain Marvel about the magic word, and Captain Marvel deduces that the word is 'SHAZAM'. When he uses it, the resulting lightning bolt in Hell stuns Neron and releases the Justice League from their spell to attack again; and Trickster uses the time to persuade Captain Marvel that he has a plan to defeat Neron. Captain Marvel suddenly offers Neron his soul, in exchange for 'the release of my friends ... the release of Earth. No 'and', nothing else. Nothing' . Neron tries to take the offer, but because it was purely altruistic, the first time someone had asked for something without personal gain, he cannot. Taunted by Trickster he disappears, and everyone is returned to Earth, including Joker and Lex Luthor, freed from their shattered snow globe.[12]

Offers of Neron

Superheroes who accepted Neron's offer

Superheroes who rejected Neron's offer

The following is an almost complete list of the superheroes who are known to have refused Neron's offer. A number of others may be very briefly shown dealing with Neron in Underworld Unleashed #2.

Villains who accepted Neron's offer

The following is an incomplete list of the super-villains who are known to have accepted Neron's offer. Others who accepted may have been briefly shown dealing with Neron in Underworld Unleashed #1 but not followed elsewhere in the series.

IceMan as he appears in R.E.B.E.L.S. #13.

Villains who rejected Neron's offer

The following is an incomplete list of the super-villains who are known to have refused Neron's offer. Others who were briefly shown dealing with Neron in 'Underworld Unleashed' #1 may also have refused, but have not been directly identified as having done so.

List of Underworld Unleashed titles

The following DC Comics titles contained stories linked to Underworld Unleashed. They are listed in a roughly chronological order as the series did not flow in a strictly linear manner - most titles fit loosely into a framework delineated by the 3 issues of the limited series:

In addition:

Other information


The 3-issue limited series Underworld Unleashed, together with Underworld Unleashed: Abyss - Hell's Sentinel # 1 was collected as a trade paperback Underworld Unleashed DC Comics, 1998, 158pp (ISBN 1-56389-447-5).


  1. Writer Mark Waid said, in his afterword to the trade paperback reprint of the series, that his original concept was to beef up a bunch of the old, lame DC villains, but then he decided that they were actually pretty cool as they were, so he didn't need to beef them up after all...at least not too much - 'Underworld Unleashed' Trade Paperback, DC Comics 1998 (ISBN 1-56389-447-5)
  2. Mark Waid wasn't impressed with the concept or his own work on Underworld Unleashed. In the afterword to the trade paperback reprint of the series he said of the series 'Knuckle-headed, well-intended creators ashamed of corny old characters have been, for most of a decade, dragging half-forgotten heroes and villains kicking and screaming into their own little hardware store of creativity. There, haunted by a guilty fear that these ancient superdoers aren't kewl enough for a generation of videogame-entranced readers, said knuckle-headed creators fool themselves into thinking they're doing them a good turn by bludgeoning all the innocent charm and colorful individuality out of them. I tried that once. Learned a lesson.' 'Underworld Unleashed' Trade Paperback, DC Comics 1998 (ISBN 1-56389-447-5
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Underworld Unleashed #1 (November 1995)
  4. 'The Trial of Superman' story arc in the late 1995 - early 1996 Superman titles
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Underworld Unleashed #2 (Early December 1995)
  6. 1 2 3 Underworld Unleashed: Apokolips - Dark Uprising #1 (November 1995)
  7. Superman vol 2 #107 (December 1995))
  8. Fate #13 (November 1995)
  9. Fate #14 (December 1995)
  10. 1 2 3 4 Underworld Unleashed: Abyss - Hell's Sentinel #1
  11. 1 2 Primal Force #13 - #14 (November - December 1995)
  12. 1 2 3 Underworld Unleashed #3 (late December 1995)
  13. Justice League America #105
  14. Guy Gardner, Warrior #36 - 37)
  15. 1 2 Hawkman vol 3 #27
  16. Spectre vol. 3 #35 - #36
  17. It is unclear as to whether it is actually Neron who is disguised as Kathy. Kathy changes into Neron when Ray kisses her, but later changes from Neron into Circe, and later again appears as Neron in Justice League Task Force #30 (avoiding Ray's question as to which he is). Circe does not approach anyone else in the series, and she is shown in Hell with the others of the Inner Circle throughout the series, which leads to the supposition it is Neron all along.
  18. 1 2 The Ray vol. 2 #18 - #19
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 Justice League Task Force #30
  20. Spectre vol 3 #35 - #36
  21. When asked, Vril does not make it clear whether he sold his own soul or someone else's. Neron told Vandal Savage in The Ray #19 that it was not possible to sell someone else's soul, but he might have been lying.
  22. L.E.G.I.O.N. #14
  23. 1 2 R.E.B.E.L.S. #13
  24. Note: A continuity error. Although Silver Swan is among the villains assembled by Neron in the first issue of Underworld Unleashed, she had become an active superhero four years before in the DC cross-over mini-series War of the Gods (1991)
  25. He did not agree, but his soul was accidentally sold by Gypsy and The Ray months after the Underworld Unleashed event when they unknowingly lit his candle. This resulted in Triumph getting his time back but as a failure of a superhero.
  26. Justice League Task Force #35
  27. Note: technically not a super-villain in the DC Universe at the point, more a misguided nuisance
  28. 1 2 Underworld Unleashed - Patterns of Fear
  29. Azrael #4, March 1995
  30. Azrael #10
  31. 1 2 Guy Gardner, Warrior #36
  32. Superboy Vol. 3 #20
  33. Fate #12-14
  34. Impulse #8
  35. 1 2 Justice League of America #105
  36. 1 2 Lobo #22
  37. Wonder Woman vol. 2 #119
  38. Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3 #75
  39. Legionnaires #32
  40. Damage #18
  41. 1 2 Justice League of America #105-106
  42. Starman vol. 2 #13
  43. Guy Gardner #36
  44. Guy Gardner Warrior #37
  45. Catwoman #27
  46. Adventures of Superman #530
  47. Superboy vol 3 #22
  48. Note: possibly a continuity error. Killer Moth is seen in Underworld Unleashed #1 as one of the villains in Hell who agrees the bargain there, but Robin vol. 3 #23 shows the deal taking place in his prison cell. It is possible that the deal was similar to Metallo's and Killer Moth was given a candle in his cell to transport him to Hell, but this is not specified in the story, and he is later seen in the same issue using his new powers in his cell
  49. Robin vol 3 #23
  50. Underworld Unleashed: Devil's Asylum
  51. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #3
  52. 1 2 Aquaman vol. 5 #14
  53. Justice League of America #106
  54. note: this is a different deal to all the others. Metallo was approached directly by Neron and given a temporary new body and the candle to burn and a deal was struck later in Hell after he had burned the candle.
  55. Steel vol 2 #21
  56. 1 2 Starman vol. 2 #71
  57. Green Lantern vol. 3 #68-69
  58. Batman #535
  59. Manhunter vol. 2 #11 - 12
  60. Green Lantern vol. 3 #68 - 69
  61. Flash vol 2 #107
  62. The Spectre vol 3 #36 - 37
  63. Detective Comics #691 - 692
  64. Extreme Justice #10-11
  65. Green Arrow vol 2 #102-103
  66. Detective Comics #691
  67. Showcase '95 #12
  68. Starman #70-72
  69. The Ray vol. 2 #18
  70. This is directly linked to an earlier event in Azreal #4 (March 1995), and explicitly occurred several months before Underworld Unleashed #1 - the false Azrael who made the deal took several months to heal from his fall in Azrael vol 1 #4 (instead of being killed)
  71. Black Manta's new powers and form are shown, and Neron is alluded as the cause to a month before the crossover starts.
  72. Note: not identified on the cover as linked to the series, but completes the linked storyline of the previous issues, and contains the introduction to Underworld Unleashed: Abyss - Hell's Sentinel
  73. Note: Not identified as an Underworld Unleashed tie-in on the cover, but explains the second part of Vril Dox's deal with Neron
  74. Note: although identified as an Underworld Unleashed cross-over the story has no real links to the series other than Mr Freeze possibly showing new powers
  75. Note: not identified as an Underworld Unleashed title but continues directly from previous issue
  76. Note: although not identified as an Underworld Unleashed cross-over, it has Lex Luthor and The Joker thinking they are in Metropolis but later discovering they are really under Neron's spell in the snow globe shown at the end of Underworld Unleashed #2

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.