Although there had been Injustice Societies and Injustice Leagues, it was the Lord of Apokolips who brought the original incarnation of the Secret Society together. Realizing that the heroes of Earth could possibly stop him in any planned invasion, he gathered eight villains together: Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, Copperhead, Gorilla Grodd, Mirror Master, Shadow Thief, Sinestro and Star Sapphire. They eventually discovered they were being manipulated by Darkseid, and soon after, they struck out on their own.
Not long after they became an independent operation, the Golden Age villain known as the Wizard joined the group, and quickly took over as leader. Under his guidance, the team fought both the Justice League and the Justice Society, but ultimately dissolved. Another Secret Society was formed by the criminal genius called the Ultra-Humanite, but this roster also did not last long. All together, these early version of the Society boasted a membership of over some forty super criminals.
Post-CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS
When the JLA reformed with of their most powerful line-ups ever, their villains followed suit. The Secret Society reformed with a roster of dozens of formidable criminals, many of which were members of the previous Society, along with several new recruits. This new iteration was brought together by the telepathic rogue known as Brainwave. Or at least that's what everyone thought. "Brainwave" was actually the Martian Manhunter in disguise, and his new Society was actually a way to trap as many of the League's enemies at once.
Another SSoSV was formed under false pretenses a few years later, when criminal mastermind Lex Luthor brought a new cadre of villains together. Only this wasn't the Lex Luthor everyone knew, but Alexander Luthor, from the parallel world of Earth-3, the only survivor of his entire universe, which was destroyed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. He promised this new group of villains that he would make the JLA pay for the mind-wipes they did to several of their ilk years earlier, erasing their memories and, in some cases, altering their personalities. And most of the JLA's foes were more than eager to sign up to get revenge.
Alexander Luthor led many assaults against Earth's heroes during this time, in the months leading up to the cosmic even known as the Infinite Crisis. Despite their numbers swelling to include almost every major costumed criminal, Alex Luthor made the fatal mistake of not asking the Joker to join his Society, and the Clown Prince of Crime got his revenge for this slight, and murdered him. With Luthor gone, this iteration of the Society fell apart quickly, with many of the members either being captured or simply going back to being solo operatives. During this time, many of these same criminals also formed more public groups like the Injustice League or the Legion of Doom, although these are considered separate teams to the Society.
Post Infinite Crisis
After Alexander Luthor's death, most of the world's Super-Villains were rounded up and sent to a distant planet by government agent Amanda Waller, as a way of permanently getting rid of the problem of super powerful criminals. However, once they made it back to Earth, these villains once again reformed as the Secret Society, under the leadership of the mastermind Libra, who promised this new version a chance for revenge for their exile. Libra's inner circle for this latest incarnation of the group was Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage, Talia al Ghul, Gorilla Grodd, Doctor Sivana, and the Ocean Master, making it truly their most deadly.
Libra, it was revealed, was an acolyte of Darkseid, so the one who formed the SSoSV in the first place all those years ago was actually behind this latest version as well, in a sense. Not wanting to be anyone's puppet, Lex Luthor took control of the team away from Libra, and actually helped Superman and the JLA defeat him during the so-called Final Crisis, a nearly Apocalyptic event engineered by Darkseid in his search for the Anti-Life Equation.
Following the history-altering events of 2011's FLASHPOINT, the Secret Society began when the mysterious villain known as the Outsider arrived on Earth, not long after Earth's heroes defeated Darkseid's invasion and formed the Justice League. About a year after the League came together, Outsider began contacting their enemies, and began to form a Secret Society of his own to counterbalance the League.
What no one knew was that the Outsider was the evil Earth-3 counterpart to Batman's butler, Alfred Pennyworth. This version of the Secret Society was by far the largest ever, with over 100 members. It was the Outsider's plan to have the Society act as an extension of the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3, villainous version of the Justice League from his home dimension, once they arrived on the Prime Earth. Although many served the Syndicate, many also rebelled against them, and became unlikely heroes. When the Justice League managed to defeat the Syndicate, the SSoSV once again collapsed. But you can't keep a bad idea down, and a new, smaller version currently exists, under the leadership of Vandal Savage.