And they were!
Joker, Luthor, Mirror Master, Sinestro, Shadow-Thief....this issue of DC Special, (#8 of July-September, 1970) was a chance for editor, E. Nelson Bridwell, to put together stories of the greatest villains of the DC Universe, all under a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.
So, as villains are quite impatient folks, let's get at them!
Joker started to work Metropolis, bringing Superman into the mix. Joker had some help from Luthor, with Lex using a new ray beam to turn Superman into a stream of atoms. Batman and Robin show up, but the villains escape. The villainous duo, inspired by success, try again, transforming Superman again, with the Dynamic Duo unable to stop the villains alone. The third time, Superman had figured out the villains plan, capturing a disguised Luthor before he could grab the loot, allowing both villains to be captured.
Luthor and Joker would have their individual origins reprinted later in a treasury edition.
Who Doomed The Flash?
Central City seemed to be plagues by many of Flash's old villains, but, when Barry checked up on each of them, they were all still in prison. Tracing back the connections of his foes, the only name in common was attorney Paul Bennett. Investigating him, Flash came to be knocked out. Putting on a Flash costume, Bennett goes to break out Mirror Master, who was the mastermind behind this scheme. Working his way freem from a trap Mirror Master put him in, Flash goes and defeats the villain and free the lawyer from Mirror Master's control.
This story sets up for the eventual team up of Flash's Rogues.
The Day 100,000 People Vanished
After the population of Valdale vanish, Green Lantern goes to investigate (as he had business there as Hal Jordan, but was delayed). While on his way there, Hal's astral form is summoned by the Guardians of the Universe, who tell him the tale of the renegade Green Lantern - Sinestro - who tried to take over his own space sector of 1417, until the Guardians stripped him of his ring, and banished him to the anti-matter dimension of Qward, where Sinestro came to work for the Weaponeers of Qward. That was why the population of Valdale was taken, in an attempt to get at Hal.
Sinestro sends them home, with Green Lantern in a yellow bubble trap, waiting for his ring charge to deplete in 24 hours. Green Lantern is able to use his ring to speed up the Qwardian clock, making them think his ring was decharged, and after being let out of the bubble, uses the ring to escape.
Sinestro would return, uniting with other villains over time, and even gaining a special yellow power ring of his own.
Shadow-Thief Of Midway City!
Katar and Shayera Hol were being recalled to Thanagar to give their report on Earth, when a shadow started to rob banks in Midway City. Becoming Hawkman and Hawkgirl to investigate, they also were unable to beat the Shadow-Thief. Investigating, they found that he was Carl Sands, a low level thief, fascinated by light, who found a way to another dimension, and meeting Thar Dan there, got an invention of his that would allow Sands to become a shadowy being.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl do figure out that gravity still works against him, and find away to suspend him in air, so that he has to get rid of his Dimensionmeter to save his own life, which also saves the Earth from an ice age.
Shadow-Thief would also return with other villains, in both the Injustice Gang of the World and the Secret Society of Super-Villains (both with Mirror Master), to menace Hawkman and the Justice League of America over the years.
80 Page Giant Magazine #4 from October, 1964). All in all, a nice start to what would be a longer series focusing on DC's villains.