|“||The labyrinth that used to be contained in Sendak's home is growing - expanding exponentially. Eating away at your reality. Stripping it bare of everything that makes your kind human. Mere hours from now it will blanket this entire planet. And when it does - the floodgates of Hell will open.||„|
Johnny Sorrow was a former silent film actor who was forced into retirement by sound film and turned to a life of crime. In 1944, Sorrow battled the Justice Society of America (consisting of Starman, Sandman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Sandy the Golden Boy) in Opal City. Though he had been ordered by the Sandman to withdraw from the battle, Sandy fired his wirepoon at the teleportation device that Johnny Sorrow was wearing. Sorrow's body was torn apart, and his consciousness was transported to the other-dimensional "Subtle Realms."
Over the course of the next six months, the being known as the King of Tears recreated Sorrow in a new, horrific form. After the King of Tears returned Sorrow to Earth, the latter hunted down his wife, Andrea, and removed the mask that contained his true form. Upon seeing this form, Andrea dropped dead. Blaming Sandy for his misfortune, Sorrow found the young sidekick and abducted him, taking him to Chicago. Sorrow also slayed the superhero team the Seven Shadows, except for one of its member the Scarab who managed to escape and alert the Justice Society to Sorrow's presence. The JSA (this time consisting of Sandman, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and the Flash) joined with the Scarab in fighting Sorrow, but were outdone by the Spectre, who defeated Sorrow and transformed the King of Tears into literal tears. Though Green Lantern was able to contain the King of Tears after his transformation, Sorrow escaped, and later saved the Icicle's life after the latter was defeated by Green Lantern.
Almost 60 years later, Sorrow recruited Geomancer, Count Vertigo, Blackbriar Thorn, Killer Wasp, the second Icicle, and the new Tigress into a new Injustice Society which proceeded to attack the JSA's headquarters. Though the non-superpowered Wildcat managed to fend off the team by himself, Johnny Sorrow escaped again, this time with the King of Tears, and the rest of the team (except Blackbriar Thorn, who was shattered into wooden splinters after a several-story fall).
Soon after, the Injustice Society returned, adding Black Adam, Shiv, Rival, and the Thinker, (reconstituted as a disembodied hologram living within the JSA computer) to their ranks. A battle with Dr. Mid-Nite, Black Canary, and Sand left Killer Wasp and Geomancer defeated and the Scarab dead. Johnny Sorrow used the Scarab's body to return the King of Tears to the world, then took Sand and vanished.
Though he had been exposed to Sorrow's face, Doctor Mid-Nite survived the vision due to his blindness, and was able to defeat Sorrow by showing the latter an image of his own face. Sorrow froze, and Jay Garrick destroyed him with the help of Black Adam, who, in a startling change of heart, had recruited the new Spectre to the team's aid. Though the Spectre defeated the King of Tears in a desperate attempt to save the world, he was destroyed.
Virtue and Vice
Despite his apparent destruction, Johnny Sorrow returned alongside Despero, and attacked the wizard Shazam at the Rock of Eternity. Sorrow managed to freeze Shazam, who had been left with reduced powers due to the simultaneous use of his magic by Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Black Adam, and CM3. While Despero took control of Lex Luthor's body, Sorrow freed the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (Pride, Envy, Greed, Anger Sloth, Lust, Gluttony), and bound each of them to members of the JLA and JSA.
The reserves of the JSA and JLA came to the rescue, successfully freeing Batman and Captain Marvel. After Shazam's lightning was restored to him, the demons were exorcised from the heroes, the Green Lanterns captured Sorrow, and Luthor was rid of Despero's control after being exposed to Sorrow's face.
Honor Among Thieves
Once more banished from the Earthly plane, Johnny Sorrow sought another way back, and found one in the addled mind of the Wizard. At Johnny Sorrow's behest, the Wizard gathered various members of the Injustice Society to retrieve the Cosmic Key from the JSA's headquarters. After the Ragdoll was sacrificed after an attempt to betray the team and steal the Key for his own use, Sorrow was restored to Earth. Johnny then declared the Injustice Society back in business, and made it quite clear that none of its members have any choice in the matter.
In an attempt to become human again, Johnny Sorrow tried to do so by making Stargirl fall in love with him. Johnny initially used Icicle to hire several super-villains to defeat the JSA members but not to harm Stargirl. They failed and most of the villains were imprisoned.
Later, Johnny Sorrow hired Arthur Pemberton and his Strike Force to kidnap Stargirl. Arthur succeeded but when he double crossed Sorrow by increasing the fees, Sorrow and his Injustice Society attacked Arthur but the JSA All-Stars came in and saved Stargirl from both the Injustice Society and Arthur Pemberton's Strike Force.
Johnny Sorrow, in his final attempt, killed Killer Wasp and used his heart to bring the King of Tears to Earth. Stargirl surrendered herself to Sorrow believing his promise to remove the King of Tears from Earth. Sorrows then brought her to the Subtle Realms to make Stargirl love him. Disguised as Atom Smasher, Sorrow partially succeeded when Stargirl believing him to be Albert, gave him a true loves kiss, and was now becoming human again. However, in order to complete his transformation, he has to kill Stargirl with a special dagger which he failed when Sandman arrived in the Subtle Realms. Johnny was defeated by the JSA All-Stars team and King Chimera who used his illusion powers to show Johnny his own face. Dying, Johnny Sorrow told the JSA All-Stars to kill the King of Tears using the same dagger and stabbing it at the heart of the King of Tears, and the dagger can only be used by an innocent, referring to Stargirl. Stargirl succeeded and the JSA All-Stars returned to Earth. It is still unknown if he truly died in the Subtle Realms.
Sorrow debuts in the Rebirth series as a former member of Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad, now in a far more secret cell, who is 'recruited' by Maxwell Lord as part of his plan to destroy Waller. When Lord's team confront Waller, they are confronted by the Squad and the Justice League, but Sorrow helps turn the tables by revealing that he has spent his time in captivity meditating to unleash the monstrous minions of the King of Tears. While Flash and Captain Boomerang face his monsters, Sorrow is defeated by Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn, Harley's insanity rendering her immune to his gaze while Wonder Woman uses her bracelet to hit Sorrow with his own reflection.
"Come now, Scarab. You costumed do-gooders are ten a penny. A good villain, on the other hand, is far harder to find."
"No one could be exposed to ice water for that long and survive. No one except Joar."
"If you are a critic of my performance, I present my supporting cast. When I was kept in Waller's cell, I wasn't alone. The screams in the dark kept me company. It was the King of Tears' army demanding to be... FREE!"