Justice Society on the Big and Small Screens
Almost everyone has heard of the Justice League of America even if they aren’t into comic books. They are the big names people everyone grew up around and have been on both TV and in the movies. Ask them about the Justice Society of America and, unless they’ve been a long time comic fan, they will probably give you a confused look. The members of the team are some of DC comics’ oldest characters and were in their prime long before most of us were even able to read a comic book. The JSA have been starting to pop up in more of the public eye though. The characters of Hawkman, Atom Smasher, and Cyclone have already been cast for the Black Adam live action movie that will be starring Dwayne Johnson and is to be released December 22, 2021.
Before that happens, the team will be coming to the small screen as part of the DC animated universe. Justice Society: World War II is set to be released sometime this spring on DVD and Blu-Ray. The one big name for voice acting announced is Matt Bomer who will voice the Flash. This won’t be the Jay Garrick that would be expected but the Earth 1 Flash. While Hawkman, Black Canary, Hourman, Doctor Fate, Wonder Woman (Hippolyta, I would presume), and of course Jay are all listed in the IMDB entry, so are characters like Aquaman and Iris West. Iris’ presence leads to the idea that Matt’s Flash will be Barry Allen. Not a lot has been revealed as yet regarding why the modern day characters appear so we’ll have to wait and see. Between the Justice Society and Black Adam movies, the team will definitely be stepping into their own.
But what if you don’t know about the Justice Society of America? (Actually, if you want to know a lot about them, Google them. I’m going to give a few details as well as how they have related to me.) While most of this will be decades past the point of being spoilers, there will be some stuff I’ll mention near the end that may be considered that so, I’ll add a spoiler banner in here to be safe.
Characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are familiar to most people and are associated lately with the Justice League. Back when they were created in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the thought of the JLA was still decades away. They started on their own along with characters like Green Lantern (Alan Scott, not Hal Jordan), the Flash (Jay Garrick, not Barry Allen), Hourman, Dr. Fate, Sandman, and more. Eventually, DC Comics brought the characters together in All-Star Comics #3. More characters joined them over time but by 1951, super-heroes were going out of fashion and the characters were no longer published.
The silver age came along along with revamped versions of the old characters as well as a lot of new ones. The Justice Society wasn’t heard of until they appeared in the first (of many) JLA/JSA team-ups. This is where I was first introduced to them. (Not the first one in Justice League of America #21, but in #172 which was the second half of the JLA/JSA team-up in 1979.) I enjoyed the annual team-up as well as their appearances in Adventure Comics, the continued All-Star Comics, and various guest star roles. I’m not sure why the characters appealed to me. Maybe it’s because they were the same yet different or because they weren’t always around like the regular characters of the time. All I knew is that while I liked the JLA, I really liked the JSA. The characters that started it all were explained to be on Earth 2 until Crisis on Infinite Earths came along and merged all the worlds into one and the JSA became the mentors and inspiration for the JLA.
Once they were part of Earth 1, DC tossed most of the characters into Limbo (literally). Thankfully, there was enough interest in the characters that they got their first self-titled series and the characters were brought back to modern times. I was more than happy to pick up any of their books from Justice Society of America, JSA, or JSA All-Stars. I even became a huge fan of the modern day Starman (Jack Knight) who held his own title for over 6 years. (I’ve even cosplayed this character.) Sadly, when DC Comics relaunched their entire line following Flashpoint, most of the JSA history was deleted. The JSA was gone and even Jack, who had passed his staff on to Stargirl, was replaced in that part of history by the Star-Spangled Kid who somehow still survived the relaunch along with characters like the modern Mister Terrific. A whole new Earth 2 was created and…. well… it sucked. I did give it a chance. It didn’t start out too bad with some of the old characters totally reimagined, but the storyline went into a long drawn out war (even launching a parallel series to draw it out even more) and a search for a new Earth that was just no longer interesting to me despite wanting to see what was left of my old JSA.
Eventually, DC started to backpedal some and there was Rebirth with the return of Wally West and the news that someone had messed with reality as it was reforming after Flashpoint. We see Johnny Thunder who suddenly remembers his Thunderbolt and wonders where it and the others are. It was great to see him again. This whole thing drags out over a lot of time though and eventually continues into Doomsday Clock where we see Doctor Manhattan (from Watchmen) make the nudge of Alan Scott’s lantern which keeps him from becoming Green Lantern and is somehow enough to keep the rest of the JSA from ever existing. By the last issue, this is fixed and the JSA returns. All is good in the world again. Oddly enough, the Wildcat and Doctor Mid-Nite that were killed by Eclipso were among the team instead of the versions that later joined and were part of the team prior to Flashpoint. I’m going to have to wait and see what they do about this.
To add onto all of this, the recent Dark Nights: Death Metal mini-series added more twists to all of this making the realities prior to every Crisis DC has had valid and people will supposedly have their memories from all of them. We’ll have to see what happens after Future State which I will address once I get my reading caught up. I have seen something that gives me hope though. The images below are from Dark Nights: Death Metal: Rise of the New God #1 and Generations Shattered #1 (respectively) and show Jack Knight included in points of history. It’s great seeing that he has been restored and, most importantly, not forgotten. With Jack being a good enough character but not as popular as a lot of the long list of other DC characters out there, it makes me wonder how he managed to cameo in 2 different books like this. I’m really hoping there are plans for him.
So, yes, I’m excited to see the Justice Society appear in these 2 movies this year. I’m really hoping that DC Comics will do them justice (pun not intended) and give them a title of their own again. Given how DC has been chopping down the number of books they are publishing, I’m not sure what the probability is, but I will keep hoping no matter what.