Secret Origins: Secret Society of Super-Villains
by Martin Maenza
Before the Secret Society of Super-Villains, before the Fearsome Five, Gizmo was just a self-taught inventor named Mikron O’Jeneus! But what prompted Mikron to become a super-villain? Dr. Harleen Quinzel sits down for a session with Gizmo to try to get inside the dwarf’s head and see what makes him tick!
As the sunset cast a crimson glow onto the side of the Loman Building in downtown San Francisco, Dr. Harleen Quinzel stepped away from the upper-story window as the door to her office opened. A four-foot-tall man with a brown beard and mustache wearing a dark green costume stepped into the room. The blonde psychiatrist moved back the cuff of her white blouse sleeve and glanced at her watch. “Right on time, Mr. Gizmo,” she said, gesturing toward the couch. “Would you like to get comfortable?”
The dwarf, who was a bit concerned about this whole thing, smiled wickedly as a randy thought ran through his head.
Dr. Quinzel caught the smile. “Not what I meant,” she said. Still, she liked the idea that she could so easily push his buttons with the simplest of sexual suggestion. She would make a note of that in his chart.
Gizmo hopped up onto the leather sofa and spread out, almost looking like a doll on the large piece of furniture. Harleen Quinzel took the chair next to it, clicked open her ballpoint pen, and flipped open a pad of yellow paper. “Shall we start, then?”
“I told Mirror Master I’d go along with this,” Gizmo said. “So, the quicker we start, the quicker it can be over.”
Harleen crossed her long, well-shaped legs, allowing her short black skirt to hike up slightly. “Let’s not rush things,” she said. “I like to take things slow and thorough.” She made sure the odd man got a good look at her. She adjusted her wireframe glasses slightly. “Now tell me, how’d you get a name like Mikron? It’s rather unique.”
“That it is,” Gizmo said. “Actually, it was Father’s idea. See, he worked for an electronics manufacturer during the ’50s. Always found the word ‘micron’ to be interestin’. So, when I was born, he suggested it to Mother, with a slight variation on the spelling. Since I was her small bundle of joy, she went along with the idea.”
“I see,” Harleen Quinzel said, scribbling down notes in a shorthand she liked to use. Besides being quicker to write, it was also more difficult for others to read what she wrote. “And your mother, did she work at all when you were growing up?”
“Yeah, she did. Once my sister Mary Ann was old enough to watch after my brother Sean and me, Mother went back to cleanin’ houses for folks.”
“So, your sister is the eldest of the three,” Harleen asked in more of a statement. “And was Sean older, too, or younger?”
“Sean was younger by a year,” Gizmo explained. “There’s only about four years between the three of us. My parents wanted a big family, so they had us close together so Mother could get back to working again.”
“Did the three of you get along well?”
Gizmo hesitated, then said, “Fairly well.”
Harleen eyed him critically. “You had to think about that one,” she said. “Is there something more to that?”
“You’re pretty sharp, there, Doc,” Gizmo said, then hesitated. “Yeah, there was.”
“Tell me about it, Mikron.”
The brown-haired dwarf closed his eyes, his goggles hiding this action, as he recalled some of his childhood memories. “I had a feelin’ you’d ask about my growin’ up, Doc,” Gizmo began to explain to Dr. Harleen Quinzel. “Figured that was standard practice with your kind.”
“Right-e-o,” the psychiatrist said. “Freud was big on childhood analysis. It helps to understand where a person has come from to figure out where they’re going. Please continue.”
“Truth is, it was pretty good mostly, until we all started gettin’ older. Mary was in high school and had grown up tall and beautiful like Mother. Had long brown hair and everything. Sean had hit a growin’ spurt, too, and soon was passing me by. He liked to tease me, call me ‘the runt of the litter.’ Mother told me to pay him no mind, though. She just said I was a late bloomer.
“But even though I could ignore Sean’s words at home, I started to hear it around school from his friends. Pretty soon they all were teasin’ me about my height. I spent a lot of time by myself outside of school, mostly reading up on stuff at the library or at home.
“Father worked many late hours, but he noticed my interest in science and things. He would sometimes bring home some of the old manufacturing designs from work and spare parts that were discarded from the shop floor. He let me play around with them, tinkerin’ with his tools. I took to it all really well.”
Dr. Quinzel continued to write her notes. “So,” she said, “that’s where you developed your interest in machinery and inventing. Often an adult’s direction in life comes from interests he had as a child.”
“Probably. I was pretty good at it, too,” Gizmo said confidently. “Managed to pick up a lot of it from my own self-studies and such. With three children, my parents couldn’t afford to send us all to college, so I had to find ways to earn my own money to afford extra schooling after high school. I did so through odd jobs and such.”
“Any of them of the illegal variety?” Dr. Quinzel asked.
Gizmo just laughed at her. “I’m a costumed super-villain, Doc. What do you think?”
Harleen nodded. “I’ll take that as a yes, then. Go on.”
“I managed to earn enough money to get me through a few years of college,” Gizmo said, “but I realized that often I knew more about some of this stuff than the big-brains who were teachin’ the courses. My own practical knowledge, plus a bit of trial and error, seemed to be as good as the university book learnin’, if not more so. I eventually dropped out and started my own company: Gizmos, Inc. It took quite a few years to get it to be highly profitable, but eventually I was supplyin’ custom-made machinery to many well-known business operations.”
Dr. Quinzel looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes,” Gizmo said, anticipating her question. “Some of those businesses weren’t exactly legal, either.”
Dr. Quinzel nodded and scribbled down a few more notes. She was rather pleased how easily the dwarf was opening up to her. She attributed it to the fact that she was willing to listen, and that she was a rather attractive female showing interest in him. Gizmo seemed to eat that all up. That worked just fine for her needs.
“So,” Gizmo said, still sprawled out on the leather sofa, “now you know why I like to tinker with stuff. That satisfy your curiosity, Doc?”
Dr. Quinzel paused for a second, then looked up from her pad. Her brown eyes stared right at the dwarf. “Actually, Gizmo,” she said, “I was wondering if you’d tell me a bit about Francine.”
Gizmo became quiet all of a sudden. In the back of his mind, he started to wonder how in the world she even knew about Francine. It had been quite a while since he’d thought about her, since he had practically buried the memory of her in the back of his mind. It was buried, but not forgotten — no, never forgotten.
“Gizmo, I asked about Francine. Will you tell me about her, please?” Dr. Quinzel had to pose her question again before he’d snap back into focus.
“She’s me ex-wife, Doc,” he said softly. “We’re divorced. Not much to it.”
“Really?” the psychiatrist asked. “From your responses, both verbal and nonverbal, I’d say that’s not the case.”
Gizmo became irritated with the shrink and sat up right quickly. “Look, I said it was over, it’s over! Nothin’ more to tell!” He started to bolt from the couch.
Harleen Quinzel put her hand out to stop him. “Wait!” she said. “Wait. Just tell me, why’d you two break up? I can tell from your reaction that you loved her very much. I’d venture to guess you probably still do. Am I right, kiddo?”
Gizmo calmed down and let out a deep sigh. “Yeah, yeah, I still do. But that wasn’t enough for her to stay.”
Harleen repeated her previous question with a bit more emotion and concern. “Why’d you two break up?”
“Because,” Gizmo said. “Because of my work. The company was doin’ well, and I was gettin’ more involved with the clients. I found it excitin’, invigoratin’. For once folks were judgin’ me by what I could do with my mind, not about how I was physically. It felt good.
“It was the involvement in freelance crime that drove me and Francine apart. The height thing never bothered her. Not even from our first date. She was a sweet girl, always with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. We met one night in a pub; I was drinkin’, and she was waitin’ tables. See, she loved me for who I was, the whole package.
“But I was too stupid to realize it. Machines I know. People, I’m not so good with. After a short courtship and engagement, we were married for a little less than two years. Finally, I came home one day and found her bags were packed. That morning, she walked out of my life and told me not to follow her. Her eyes were red, and tears rolled down her cheek when she told me that. I think that’s one of the only times I ever saw her sad. I let her walk away without another word. I owed her at least that, given how I broke her heart.” A slight tear began to form in the corner of the dwarf’s eye, and it rolled down until it caught the inner edge of his goggles.
Gizmo shook his head slightly to regain his composure. “I threw myself back into my work, the only thing left going in my life. Not long after that, while readin’ the Underworld Star, I saw an advertisement in the personals section. Someone had posted lookin’ for villainous partners. I answered the ad, and pretty soon I was workin’ with Doctor Light and the others he’d gathered.”
“How did you like that?” Dr. Quinzel asked. “Working with that group, I mean.”
“Shimmer and Mammoth were a couple o’ great kids; they reminded me a lot of me and Mary Ann,” Gizmo said. “Always helpin’ one another out and watchin’ out for each other. Psimon, however, kind of bugged me with that big glass dome over his brain and his creepy way of talkin’. Together with Doctor Light, we made up the Fearsome Five.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Fearsome Five,” The New Teen Titans #3 (January, 1981).]
Dr. Quinzel finished her notes and nodded. “And the rest, as they say, is history?”
“Pretty much, Doc,” Gizmo said. “We had a couple three or four run-ins with the Titans and battled the Outsiders once, too. (*) That was enough to cool me on teams for a few years, but I was gettin’ kind of lonely. I managed to hook up with Mirror Master, and here I am.” (*) The dwarf took a moment to stretch. “Look, I’m tired of talkin’. How about we call it a night?”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Light’s Out, Everyone,” The New Teen Titans #37 (December, 1983), “Psimon Says,” Batman and the Outsiders #5 (December, 1983), and Secret Society of Super-Villains: Reclamation, Book 1: Honor Among Thieves.]
Dr. Quinzel nodded. “Fine, Gizmo,” she said. “I think that’ll do for now. Go get some rest.”
The dwarf hopped down from the couch and quickly headed for the door of the office.
Harleen felt a little touched inside from the man’s story. Although she wasn’t about to lose sight of her own personal goals, it was times like this that reminded her why she got into this profession to begin with. Despite her selfish motivations, she still had a heart. She just needed to make sure that no one knew about it.
As she glanced at her watch, she realized how the evening had gotten away from her. “Copperhead will have to wait for another time,” she said to herself. All Harleen wanted to do was to go back to her apartment and soak in a hot tub.