Who the Clix? The Key

Posted June 10th, 2022 by Joe Pangrazio

Who the Clix? is a series of articles featuring information on comic book characters that have been made into figures for the popular tabletop game Heroclix. These articles are meant to help Heroclix players learn more about the characters behind their favorite pieces.

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Appearances in Heroclix:  Hypertime
First Appearance: Justice League of America #41 (December 1965)
Team Affiliations: Intergang, Injustice League, Secret Society of Super Villains
Powers/Abilities:  Key-shaped blaster; Enhanced senses, super-intelligence and telepathy due to psycho-chemical use; Uses psycho-chemicals and viruses to control others
Created by:  Gardner Fox - Mike Sekowsky

Artwork and character is copyright/trademark DC; used under Fair Use

At some point before coming out as a super villain, the man that calls himself the Key develops mind-expanding “psycho-chemicals” that allow him to reach a level of intellectual ability far beyond normal humans. After building a Key-blaster, the Key and his Key-Men drug the JLA with his psycho-chemicals. This causes the League to disband and also allows the Key and his henchmen to become invisible to the former Leaguers' notice. Hawkgirl escapes this drugging and is able to free Hawkman of its effects. Together, they free the other JLA members who swiftly defeat and imprison the Key.

Three years later, the Key returns and activates a subconscious suggestion he had left in the minds of the JLA members. This suggestion traps the League in their headquarters for one hour, at the end of which they will all turn on each other in a murderous rampage. Superman beats this plan by going back in time and sending his un-hypnotized self forward in time. Clear minded Superman is then able to defeat the rest of the League before imprisoning the Key in the Fortress of Solitude in suspended animation.

The Key is eventually freed from the Fortress of Solitude due to a sympathetic judge. While in regular prison, the Key learns that his drugs have ravaged his body and left him with months left to live. So naturally, the Key rigs an entire city block of St. Louis, Missouri with explosives in an attempt to kill the Justice League. The Phantom Stranger impersonates one of the Key-Men to buy them time while John Stewart is able to contain the explosive blast with his power ring.

The Key returns some time later under the alias of the Star-Tsar. After a convoluted series of events, the Key captures the League and reveals that the previous success they had was all part of a greater plan. When John Stewart contained the blast and pushed it into the ground, it was forced into a device that the Key had prepared to harness the radiation in order to treat his body and save his life. Key is only able to treat his head with the machine and is left with a normal healthy head on a shrunken body. He then builds a normal sized robotic body with which to enact his revenge. He proves unsuccessful.

Key later activates a dormant Amazo in an attempt to absorb the powers of the JLA and return his body to normal. Zatanna uses magic to cure the Key and return the Leaguer's powers to them, who then subdue Amazo. With his new lease on life, the Key makes the most reasonable choice: he enters into a years long drug-induced coma to unlock the fullest potential of his mind. Once he awakens, he travels to the Justice League Satellite and immobilizes the JLA with a psycho-virus that sends them into a shared dream state. Using fantastical means, he intends on using the power generated by this shared psychosis to open a portal to the dawn of creation and become the center of the universe. The key is foiled when Connor Hawke arrives and is able to defeat him and awaken the rest of the League. The Key is then imprisoned in Arkham Asylum in a coma, attempting to escape a mental maze build by the Martian Manhunter.

After escaping the coma and Arkham Asylum, the Key then makes another perfectly normal decision. He uses his psycho-chemicals to make Batman okay with killing in hopes that the Caped Crusader will kill the Key. Key hopes that this will allow his superior mind to unlock the secret of death. This plan is foiled by Batgirl and Azrael, who stop Batman from killing until the drugs wear off.

The Key's mental abilities continue to grow until he is on the brink of insanity due to hearing all the thoughts of millions of people. He soon realizes that killing people quiets the voices in his head and thus, goes on a murder spree in Metropolis. The key kidnaps Manitou Dawn and attempts to merge his mind with hers in order to kill all human life on Earth. The League is able to stop this plan but not before the Key can escape and order thousands of people, via telepathy, to kill each other. This brings Key into conflict with the Sin Envy, who needs humans live for envy to exist. Envy tries to merge with Key in order to feed on human's thoughts but is repelled by the Key's superior mind.

The key begs Manitou Dawn to kill him but instead she sends him into another coma where he will hear no voices and be at peace. The Key resurfaces several times after this but is often easily defeated or simply used by a more powerful puppet master. The Key later is brought forth as a servant of Troia, an evil future version of Donna Troy. He is once again defeated when Troia is driven back into the abyss.

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