With season 2 of Legends Of Tomorrow, DC Comics’ original superhero team, The Justice Society Of America, have come to the CW. While it’s not their first appearance on-screen (or even on the network), it will serve as the television debut for a number of the classic characters, as they fight alongside our time-hopping heroes and protect the universe from temporal threats.
While some of the most popular Golden Age veterans of the team won’t be showing up (this season, at least), members Hourman, Vixen, Doctor Mid-Nite, Stargirl, Obsidian, and Commander Steel look to play a pivotal role on this season of Legends. Given how integral they’ve been to the DC Comics Universe throughout the years, and knowing what we do about the 4-show Arrowverse crossover coming later this fall, it’s only a matter of time before these new, old heroes join forces with Green Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl to save the world.
Having existed since the earliest days of DC, it’s quite possible that the JSA might someday get their own series, thanks to their long and thrilling history full of twists, turns, and parallel worlds. Here are 15 Things You Never Knew About The Justice Society Of America.
15. They Exist On An Alternate Earth
Debuting during the winter of 1940 in All-Star Comics #3, the Justice Society of America marked one of the earliest examples of a superhero team-up book, and the first for All-American Publications (which would eventually merge with several other companies to form DC Comics). Featuring a rotating cast of both new and established heroes, the series was a hit. It ran for more than a decade before being cancelled with issue #57 in 1951, due to the decline in public interest for superhero comics.
It would be another decade before the team was reintroduced to the DC Comics Universe in the classic meet-up story, “The Flash Of Two Worlds.” With this issue, DC introduced the concept of the multiverse and posited that their Silver Age heroes (like the Barry Allen version of The Flash) occupied a world known as Earth-1, while the Golden Age heroes (such as the Jay Garrick Flash and the rest of his JSA teammates) existed on the newly discovered Earth-2.
14. The Team Featured Golden Age Versions Of Green Lantern And The Atom
Along with the original version of The Flash, the initial Justice Society roster featured the Golden Age incarnations of Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and The Atom (Al Pratt). Unlike his cosmic-counterpart, the first Green Lantern, who appeared in All-American Comics #16 just a few months before the JSA was born, had a more traditional appearance for the time (i.e. a multi-colored costume and a cape) and wielded a magic ring. Pratt’s version of the Atom, meanwhile, lacked powers until the latent effects of a supervillain’s radioactive abilities granted him superhuman strength. Like Scott, he wore a costume of many colors and a cape, which, interestingly, was styled after Cyclotron, the villain who gave him his abilities.
While any of the other core JSA members would eventually get their own Earth-1 counterparts, Scott and Pratt, like Jay Garrick, remained unique across both worlds. As the Silver Age dawned and DC attempted to reinvent and revitalize their superhero roster, readers witnessed the creation of Hal Jordan and Ray Palmer and their new, more science-fiction based versions of Green Lantern and The Atom.
13. Superman and Batman Were Only Honorary Members
Clark and Bruce may be ever-present when it comes to the Justice League Of America, but that wasn’t the case with the JSA. While the team-up book’s popularity was helped by featuring a collection of different heroes, the publishers weren’t keen on pulling all of the focus from their heavy-hitters’ solo titles. After it was established in All-Star Comics #5, any hero who had their own series would eventually leave the team and become an “honorary” member.
While heroes such as Hawkman and the Atom stuck around for most of the group’s history, others, such as The Flash and Green Lantern, would depart the team to helm their own titles. Because of this company rule, Superman and Batman became honorary JSA members before the team even existed in the pages of the comics. Though they’d join in with the Society’s exploits, the book served more as a jumping-off point and home for new heroes that the publisher wanted to test out or who weren’t popular enough on their own.
12. Wonder Woman Debuted In The Pages Of All-Star Comics
Superman and Batman may have already existed before the Justice Society came into existence, but the third member of DC’s Trinity is also the newest of the trio. In the winter of 1941, a year after the team’s debut, All-Star Comics #8 saw the introduction of Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman, into the annals of comics history. Sadly, for comic books fans and decent people everywhere, her character wasn’t treated with the respect her station deserves.
While Wonder Woman does have the distinction of being the JSA’s first female member, the writers (and, by extension, male members of the team) only saw fit for her to be the group’s secretary. That’s right, despite being an Amazonian princess with a bevy of abilities to match those of Superman himself, the character was relegated to taking minutes and dictating for the team, rather than helping them fight crime and save the world. Luckily, this eventually changed; the Wonder Woman of Earth-2 joined in on the action and her Earth-1 counterpart grew to become one of the most popular figures in pop culture.
11. 1963 Saw The JSA And JLA Team Up For The First Of Many Crises
With the reintroduction of the Golden Age Justice Society into the modern world of DC Comics, it was only a matter of time before the JSA had to join forces with the Justice League Of America to fight a threat too big for any single group to handle, just like the Arrowverse heroes will have to do this year. Two years after the multiverse was introduced during the meeting of The Flashes, the JSA and JLA came together for the first of many annual crossovers with “Crisis on Earth-One!” and “Crisis on Earth-Two!”
Appearing in the pages of Justice League Of America #21-22 in 1963, the story centered on a group of villains from both Earth-1 and Earth-2, including Icicle, The Wizard, Felix Faust, and Dr. Alchemy, teaming up to commit crimes and wreak havoc across the multiverse. With such a varied threat, heroes such as Aquaman, Black Canary, Hourman, Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter, Atom, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and many more all had to join forces in order to thwart their foes. The tradition of both teams banding together to save their respective worlds proved so popular that it would continue once a year until 1985.
10. It Took Nearly Four Decades To Get A JSA Origin Story
Though the idea seems ludicrous to us today, the Justice Society of America weren’t actually given an origin when they first appeared back in 1940. The facts that they teamed up and that well-known heroes like Superman and Batman were honorary members of the group were simply given to readers matter-of-factly. Even when the team was reintroduced in the ’60s, giving rise to the concept of the multiverse, there was still no solid explanation for how all these titans came to work together.
It wasn’t until August of 1977 in the pages of DC Special that “The Untold Origin of the Justice Society” was finally told. Almost 37 years after they were first introduced, the tale revealed that the team initially came together when President Roosevelt tasked Flash and Green Lantern with taking down Hitler, who had come into the possession of a powerful artifact known as the Spear Of Destiny. Eventually, the two “mystery men” were joined by Doctor Fate, Atom, Hourman, Spectre, and Hawkman. Together they stopped the Nazi threat and brought FDR back to life after he was killed by a Valkyrie (yes, you read all of that right).
9. After Crisis On Infinite Earths, Many Earth-2 Counterparts Were Killed Off
As many comic book fans know, 1985 was an important year. While DC had been using the concept of the multiverse for a few decades and had over 20 years of crossovers between heroes and villains from both worlds, things were starting to get convoluted. Not only was there a slew of characters and backstories for writers and readers to juggle, but, thanks to their many reboots and reinventions between the Golden and Silver Ages, there were a number of duplicate heroes. Their solution was one of the biggest crossover events in comic book history, and the first instance of what’s now become standard for both DC and Marvel: the company-wide reboot.
During the year-long Crisis On Infinite Earths event, DC orchestrated a massive coming-together of all of their heroes and villains, culminating in a universe-saving mission that resulted in a number of characters deaths from both worlds and the merger of Earth-1 and Earth-2. While many characters like the Flashes, Atoms, and Green Lanterns of the Golden and Silver Ages continued to exist side-by-side, DC decided there should be only one of each when it came to the Trinity (and Robin). While the Batman of Earth-2 had actually died years earlier in the comics, the new status quo created a world where the Earth-2 versions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Robin never existed, and the other members of the JSA were simply an older superhero group that pre-dated the Justice League.
8. The Members Of The JSA Actually Look Like They’ve Aged
Along with characters never staying dead for long, one of the tried and true comic book tropes is that both heroes and villains alike never seem to age, despite many of them (like the JSA) having existed since the 1940s. The characters often retain their decades-worth of memories and relationships, but they always seem to remain in peak physical condition and appear to be perpetually in the 20s/30s, including those characters who supposedly have no superhuman abilities.
While many writers have used this well-known idea to humorous effect, and others prefer to ignore it so as not to slowly kill off popular characters, the Justice Society Of America post-Crisis allowed DC to actually present a group of characters who appeared to be in their 40s and 50s. This not only allowed the characters to reflect on real historical events they’d been through in the context of the DC universe, but also to exist as mentors for the younger characters all around them, giving writers a chance to explore something rare in comic books: the wisdom of age.
7. Doctor Mid-Nite Was The Original Blind Superhero
Over twenty years before the sightless vigilante Daredevil was created in the pages of Marvel comics, there was Doctor Mid-Nite. Once a brilliant surgeon, Charles McNider was blinded by the grenade of a mobster while saving a witness’ life. After his recovery, he was shocked to find that he could actually see when in complete darkness. Since this was the 1940s, he was then able to invent special lenses that let him see in the light and his signature blackout bombs that allowed him to plunge his surroundings into total darkness, thus giving him an advantage over his enemies.
As Doctor Mid-Nite, McNider adopted an owl as his familiar and joined the nascent Justice Society Of America. Over the years, a few people have held the mantle, but it’s the original Doctor Mid-Nite who will appear on this season of Legends Of Tomorrow, where Charles McNider will be portrayed by Kwesi Ameyaw.
6. Huntress and Power Girl Were Introduced In The ’70s Revival Of All-Star Comics
Unlike Wonder Woman’s inauspicious debut in the pages of All-Star Comics during the 1940s, Huntress and Power Girl were granted their rightful place when they joined the Justice Society of America in the pages of the revived title in the 1970s. With the team’s reintroduction in the pages of The Flash and the subsequent crossovers with the Justice League, DC Comics’ fans were clamoring for a brand-new JSA title. The beginning of 1976 saw the return of All-Star Comics and a number of classic characters from the original run, and it also proved to be a fertile testing ground for new heroes.
Debuting in issue #58, Power Girl, AKA Kara Zor-L, is the Earth-2 version of Supergirl. Like her counterpart, she’s the cousin of Superman and possesses all of the standard Kryptonian powers. Similar to other Earth-2 heroes, like Green Lantern and Flash, her costume harkens back to the attire of Greek and Roman gods. She’s also proven popular enough in her own right to appear in many of the DC animated films and TV shows.
Huntress, also known as Helena Wayne, is the Earth-2 daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Much like how Power Girl is meant to mimic Supergirl, Huntress was designed to be the Earth-2 answer to Batgirl. Just like her parents, she’s a highly skilled fighter, though she prefers using a crossbow to batarangs or bullwhips. Her Earth-1 counterpart, Helena Bertinelli, has even appeared a number of times in the Arrowverse, as Oliver Queen’s protégé/love interest.
5. Obsidian Is The Son Of The Original Green Lantern
While Obsidian, who will appear as part of the JSA on Legends Of Tomorrow, wasn’t part of the original team, he does share a connection to them. Todd James Rice was originally raised by abusive adoptive parents, which instilled some negative habits into the man who would one day become the shadow-powered Obsidian. Eventually, though, it was revealed that Rice is actually the biological son of the original Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott.
Over the years, writers also danced around the issue of Rice’s sexuality. The idea of Obsidian being gay had been hinted at before, but in Manhunter #18, writer Marc Andreyko confirmed it by having Rice kiss Damon Matthew, an out character who was revealed to be Obsidian’s boyfriend. For fans of Obsidian’s entire, complex history, never fear, as actor Lance Henriksen has confirmed that his take on the character in Season 2 of Legends will feature his canon sexuality and parentage.
4. Green Lantern Guy Gardner’s Name Is An Homage To The JSA’s Creator
While Alan Scott and Hal Jordan served as the first two Green Lanterns in DC Comics, there have been quite a few of them over the years. Introduced in 1968 in Green Lantern #58, Guy Gardner was revealed to have almost acquired the ring that would grant Jordan his status as an intergalactic peacekeeper. When Abin Sur crash landed on Earth, his ring originally sought out two individuals to take his place: Jordan and Gardner. Jordan’s proximity (and later some timey-wimey meddling from Booster Gold) ensured that Jordan became the Lantern of Sector 2814 and Gardner simply served as a backup for a number of years. Eventually, he was able to step up and take his place with the other Lanterns and even joined the Justice League for a stretch.
As is often the case with the alter-egos of many superheroes, Gardner’s name is a reference to a classic DC creator. In this instance, it alludes to Gardner Fox, the writer who created the Justice Society Of America and penned many of their early adventures.
3. Stargirl Is Based On Geoff Johns’ Late Sister
Just as creators often fashion a character’s name after a person that they admire, sometimes the entire look and personality of a creation is based on a real-life counterpart. One of the most touching examples of this is how Geoff Johns based the look, name, and personality of his character Stargirl on his deceased sister, Courtney.
Originally adopting the moniker of Golden Age hero the Star-Spangled Kid, Courtney Whitmore joined the Justice Society of America and donned the name Stargirl once she was given the cosmic staff of Starman. Johns was not only integral in reinventing a number of DC characters and reintroducing classic JSA members to comics; he’s also responsible for many groundbreaking story arcs, such as Flashpoint. With him now serving as the overseer for DCTV (and film), it’s no wonder that Stargirl is joining up with the Arrowverse version of the JSA on Legends Of Tomorrow this season.
2. The Flash’s Jesse Quick First Appeared During The ’90s JSA Run
Huntress isn’t the only classic Justice Society of America member to have debuted in the Arrowverse already. After being absent since the aftermath of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the JSA reappeared in the pages of 1992’s Armageddon: Inferno. In the story, we first meet Jesse Chambers, who, like the Huntress and Obsidian, is a DC legacy. Chambers happens to be the daughter of Golden Age JSA members Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle and she’s granted the superhuman speed and strength of her respective parents, allowing her to fight crime with a formidable set of skills.
Eventually, Chambers took the name Jesse Quick and soon began working alongside the Wally West version of the Flash, bringing her closer to the version we know from television. While on The Flash she’s the daughter of Harrison Wells, she does share her comic counterpart’s Earth-2 origin and a connection to Wally West (teased last season). For what else they might share, you’ll just have to watch The Flash this season.
1. Legends Of Tomorrow Isn’t The JSA’s First TV Appearance
While this version of the Justice Society of America will be making their Arrowverse debut during this season of Legends Of Tomorrow, and many of the members haven’t been in a live-action series before, this isn’t the team’s first onscreen appearance. On film, they’ve simply had a cameo in the animated adaptation of DC: The New Frontier, but on television they’ve appeared in episodes of the animated series Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Young Justice, and both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
Outside of animation, the team and several of its members have already appeared on a live-action series, as the JSA and members Doctor Fate, Hawkman, and Stargirl all featured prominently in a number of episodes of Smallville. While Hawkman and Stargirl play a role in several Season 9 and 10 episodes of the show, Geoff Johns himself penned the double-episode/mini-movie Absolute Justice which introduced the story behind the JSA and featured many members of the team in a flashback and group painting, including Doctor Mid-Nite, Black Canary, Wildcat, Red Tornado, Flash, Atom, and Green Lantern.
Any interesting things about the Justice Society of America that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2 airs Thursday nights at 8 pm on The CW.