Johnny Sorrow used to be a silent movie actor who was fired when non-silent films became popular. When still human, he used a subspace prototype to gain intangibility powers and commit crimes. After a short career, his subspace prototype was damaged by Sandy the Golden boy (later Sand), and he was thrown into the dimension between dimensions, the Subtle Realms. However, he was saved and transformed by the demonic entity, the King of Tears, who drafted him as his servant and sent him back to Earth. Upon returning, he found that his face has been so horribly disfigured that anyone who saw him died. He used this in addition to his now inborn intangibility powers to continue his life of crime.
Johnny Sorrow was created by Geoff Johns and David Goyer. He first appeared in Secret Origins of Super Villains #1.
Major Story Arcs
Eventually, in service to his master, he managed to open a portal which allowed the King of Tears to come to Earth. However, the demon was thwarted by the Spectre, who trapped the essence of the King of Tears after being unable to destroy it.
Years later, Johnny Sorrow stole the King of Tears' essence from Jay Garrick's laboratory, using the Injustice Society (composed of Icicle II, Tigress III, Killer Wasp, Geomancer and Blackbriar Thorn) as a diversion. Using the hero the Scarab as a host, he brought the King of Tears back to Earth. He was again thwarted by the Justice Society after being hit at light-speed by Jay Garrick and then being shown a recording of his own face by Dr. Mid-Nite. After all this, Johnny Sorrow was presumed dead. Hawkgirl mentioned that he was presumed dead before as well. She was correct, as he was simply banished to another dimension again.
Wandering through the Abyssal Plains, Sorrow encounters Despero; his corporeal form had been destroyed. They devise a plan to enact revenge on the Justice Society and Justice League. With the aid of Despero he returns, releasing the Seven Deadly Sins into Justice Society and the Justice League and the world. After the Justice League and the Justice Society freed themselves of the sins, they confronted Johnny Sorrow. He had the upper hand until he was stopped by Kyle Rayner and Alan Scott. The two teams then used Sorrow's own gaze to incapacitate Despero and foil their plan.
Johnny Sorrow came back to Earth again with the aid of the Injustice Society (now composed of Icicle II, Tigress III, Thinker, Solomon Grundy, Gentleman Ghost, Wizard and Ragdoll I). They stole the Cosmic Key from the Justice Society headquarters, and used it to bring Johnny Sorrow to Earth, sacrificing Ragdoll I in the process. As Johnny Sorrow returned, the rest of the Injustice Society fought some members of the League of Assassins. Johnny Sorrow killed much of the League of Assassins, with the exceptions of Talia and Nyssa al Ghul. The Injustice Society used the Cosmic Key to regroup in the Ghost Zone, where they planned their next attack on the Justice Society.
Recently, Johnny resurfaced again, but without his companions at this time. He employed the Strike Force to abduct Stargirl and deliver her to him in exchange for two million dollars. They agreed and attacked the Justice Society during opening of the new JSA museum. In the middle of the battle Arthur Pemberton grabbed Stargirl and fled from the battlefield using jetpack. Fulfilling the task, he killed the rest of his team by exploding their belts. Later, two members of the Strike Force came to the abandoned cinema (headquarters of Johnny Sorrow) to take their money, but Johnny only revealed the truth about his strong feelings to Courtney before killing them by detaching the mask from his face. The JSA arrives in the middle of a brawl between the Injustice Society and Arthur Permberton's troops. Johnny Sorrow and the Injustice Society teleport away. Sanderson Hawkins has a prophetic dream. In it, Johnny Sorrow has summoned the King of Tears as his servant.
Sand's dream quickly becomes reality. With help from the reluctant Injustice Society, Johnny Sorrow summons the King of Tears. He tells the Justice Society that the only way to get rid of it is to give him Stargirl. Stargirl unhappily listens. She breaks the Cosmic Rod and Johnny Sorrow takes her to some part of the Subtle Realms, where he vanishes. He takes the guise of Atom-Smasher, and takes Stargirl to a different part of the Subtle Realms. Stargirl, thinking he is Atom-Smasher, kisses him. At this point Johnny Sorrow reveals his identity and tells Stargirl the truth. Her love activated a spell to turn Johnny Sorrow human, which is all he really wanted. The final piece would be to kill her and the real Atom-Smasher.
Before Johnny Sorrow can do so, Anna Fortune accidentally brings the Subtle Realms to Earth. The JSA confront Johnny Sorrow. In revenge for almost killing him, King Chimera shows the now mostly-human Johnny Sorrow his own face. Knowing he will die otherwise, Johnny Sorrow tells King Chimera how to stop the King of Tears, who is decimating the area. Stargirl kills the King, sending Johnny Sorrow back to the Subtle Realms where he can recover.
Johnny Sorrow has joined forces with Emerald Empress, the original Doctor Polaris, Rustam, and Lobo to form The Nightmare Army. The team is lead by Maxwell Lord. It is revealed that Sorrow along with the other members Lords freed were the first Suicide Squad led by Amanda Waller.
Known Powers and Abilities
Anyone who sees Johnny Sorrow's face dies, with occasional exceptions. One example is when Sorrow entered the Rock of Eternity and confronted Shazam. Upon seeing Sorrow, Shazam turned to stone. Johnny is not immune to this power himself.
Johnny Sorrow also has the powers of intangibility and teleportation, as well as levitation. He becomes tangible though, when he removes his mask.
He has been shown as able to reform his mask. Firestorm in one instance transmuted his mask into tar, taking Sorrow off guard. Sorrow reformed the mask shortly after.
He has been shown as able to manipulate energy attacks, as well as magical attacks.
He is able to contact others while he is trapped in other dimensions, like the Subtle Realms.