THE JSA FACT FILE
The Justice Society of America
Origins and World War II
On Earth-Two, the Justice Society was America's original team of super-heroes, forged in the fires of the World War II. The origin of this team lies in the days before America had entered that war. In the autumn of 1940, Adolph Hitler planned the Nazi invasion of the British Islands. Unbeknownst to the world at large, Hitler had acquired the Spear of Destiny, an ancient artifact once used to pierce the side of Christ. Hitler planned to use the Spear to summon magical powers to help him conquer the English forces who thus far had resisted him. The United States government obtained intelligence reports of the Spear and in consultation with British, dispatched an elite strike force comprised of three super-powered champions or "mystery men": Batman, Green Lantern and the Flash. The three heroes traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to conduct surveillance and potentially capture underground aides in planning the invasion. Confronted with superior robotics from Nazi Germany however, the three heroes were defeated and sent to Berlin as trophies of war. In Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Fate observed these portents with grim resolve. After recruiting another fledgling mystery-man, Hourman, he flew to Berlin to rescue the three American heroes. Once there, they were confronted by Norse Valkyries summoned by Hitler and the Spear of Destiny. While the five heroes struggled against the Valkyries, Fate summoned four more heroes, Sandman, Hawkman, the Atom and the Spectre and sent them to Dover, England to shore up the defense of the British Coast against the invading German hordes.The tide of the battle turned with the arrival of the Spectre who smashed most of the German invasion fleet single-handedly. With the repulsion of the Nazi invasion and the losing battle against the mystery-men in Berlin, most of the Valkyries fled with only small contingent left to guard an experimental Nazi bomber en route to the American capital. The heroes in Berlin joined those on the shores of Dover, a meeting which foreshadowed the formation of the greatest super-team in American history.
The heroes then followed the Nazi bomber to Washington, DC, battling the
Valkyries along the way. When the bomber entered the skies over the
capitol, the tides of battle turned when Superman rose into the morning
skies and destroyed the bomber and captured it's cargo. While most of
the Valkyries engaged that remaining heroes, a single goddess slipped
past the White House guard in an attempt to assassinate President
Roosevelt. The Atom followed the Valkyrie and when she attempted to slay
the President with a blast of mystic energy, the Atom flung himself in
her path and saved the President. The timely arrival of Superman
prevented a second attack by the Valkyrie, who vanished when failure of
her mission was unavoidable. Roosevelt was impressed by the actions of
these heroes and encouraged them to continue to act as a group. This
suggestion led to a formal organization and the formal formation of the
Justice Society of America
(DC Special #29).
The Justice Society then began regular meetings which often resulted in the exchange of information regarding their own affairs
(All-Star Comics #3). Their first official team effort was a
mission under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover. Under sealed orders, the
JSA smashed a ring of 5th columnists under the direction of Fritz
(All-Star Comics #4). The JSA fought mainly common criminals such as Mr. X
(All-Star Comics #5) and Professor Elba (All-Star Comics #8)
for the first 2 years after their formation. Johnny Thunder, a
tagalong since the first meeting, joined when the Flash left in early
(All-Star Comics #6).
In mid-1941, the Justice Society investigated the activities of Ian
Karkull, an adversary of Dr. Fate. Karkull had obtained the names of the
next 8 men destined to sit in the Oval Office and planned to kill each
one, thus creating a disruption in the fabric of American history which
he believed would work to his advantage. He selected several agents,
criminals experienced in dealing with the members of the Justice
Society, to act as his agents in this task. Each agent encountered a
different member and were defeated, with the exception of Wotan who slew
a young boy despite the intervention of Green Lantern. When the
assembled JSAers returned to battle Karkull, his defeat was accompanied
by a radiation of the temporal energy stored in his body. The radiation
took hold in the bodies of the assembled JSA members along with Starman,
Lois Lane, Robin (Dick Grayson) and Joan Williams. The result of this
exposure was to extend the lives and vitality of the each one, giving
them vigor much later into their active years. Starman replaced Hourman
at the end of this case
(All-Star Squadron Annual #3) and Dr. Mid-Nite replaced Green Lantern shortly thereafter
(All-Star Comics #8).
In December of 1941, Pearl Harbor was devastated by a Japanese surprise
attack. Roosevelt called not only on the Justice Society but all
costumed heroes of the day to form a broader group known as the All-Star
Squadron. Upon witnessing the destruction at Pearl Harbor, the heroes
were inflamed and launched an assault on the fleet that had launched the
Pearl Harbor attack. Unbeknownst to the heroes, a Japanese agent known
as the Dragon King had acquired a powerful mystical artifact, the Holy
Grail. In conjunction with Adolph Hitler and the Spear of Destiny, the
Dragon King generated a "sphere of influence" on the Axis-held lands in
the Orient. As the All-Star Squadron bore down on the Japanese fleet,
many of the members fell victim to strange compulsions. Without warning,
Superman, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate and Johnny
Thunder turned against the other members. The "sphere" generated by
Hitler and the Dragon King forced heroes that were susceptible to magic
to change their allegiance and develop strong anti-American sentiments.
Once the heroes left the "sphere", they reverted to normal. This
situation persisted in Asia and Europe through the war, preventing
America's most powerful heroes from taking part in the front lines of
World War II
(All-Star Squadron #4).
In 1942, the JSA encountered two foes who would become long-standing
enemies: the Ultra-Humanite and the Brain Wave. Several JSA members
encountered the Ultra-Humanite in early 1942 when he (in the body of
Dolores Winters, see also Superman, Atom) attempted to extort money from
the federal government using the Powerstone and the Hammer of Thor. The
Ultra-Humanite was ultimately defeated and believed destroyed by Terry
Curtis, a pawn of the Humanite's known as Cyclotron
(All-Star Squadron #21 -25, Annual #2). The second major
adversary encountered as psychiatrist Dr. Henry King, known as the Brain
Wave. King had been manipulating the JSA prior to the original meeting
through his agent Dr. Elba
(All-Star Comics #8, revealed in All-Star Squadron #19) and behind the scenes after capturing the JSA and the All-Star Squadron
(All-Star Squadron #19-20). King's first direct confrontation
with the JSA occurred in late 1942, during which he captured the members
of the JSA enrolled in the armed forces and manipulated their dreams
through a device he had invented to directly access their psyches. He
later captured the All-Star Squadron as well but was ultimately thwarted
by the arrival of Green Lantern, who defeated the Axis forces conjured
by the Brain Wave's device. With their defeat, the feedback destroyed
the machine and the Brain Wave escaped. Since he had spoken via
speakerphone, the JSA never knew the identity of their captor. Shortly
after this case, Wonder Woman joined the JSA as it's secretary
(All-Star Comics #12).
In 1943, the JSA again encountered Brain Wave, this time using mental projections to commit thefts for him. He was ultimately defeated by Wonder Woman and the Justice Society, who ended the case believing he had plunged to his death (All-Star Comics #15). He appeared later than year and had developed a method a shrink ray which he used to reduce the JSAers to a few inches in size. They escaped and Brain Wave was again believed killed by an explosion in his hideout (All-Star Comics #17). Two lesser adversaries, the King Bee (All-Star Comics #18) and the Mad Maestro (All-Star Comics #19) were also defeated that year.
In 1944, the tide of war began to turn and America's role in world affairs swelled in the coming tide of victory. Early in 1944, the JSA met and defeated a Jekyll & Hyde type known as the Monster (All-Star Comics #20) and again assisted Professor Everson later that year (All-Star Comics #21). Late in 1944, the Justice Society encountered another significant adversary in the form of Charley Halstead, a linotyper for the Daily Courier newspaper. Halstead adopted the identity of the Psycho-Pirate and committed a series of crime based on emotions. Ultimately, he was exposed by the Atom, who he subsequently shot. He was shortly arrested by the Justice Society and sent to prison (All-Star Comics #23). Early in 1945, Mr. Terrific and Wildcat joined the Justice Society for a special case involving Richard Amber, a young man troubled by America's involvement in World War II (All-Star #24). The two became reserve members at some point explaining their full membership in later years.
The role of the Justice Society during the end of World War II has never been revealed. The Sphere of Influence presumably fell sometime after or shortly before the end of the war. Whether the JSA was able to reach Hitler before he killed himself is subject of speculation. The fate of the Dragon King who aided Hitler in maintaining the Sphere of Influence is also unknown. It is known that all war-time members of the JSA survived World War II, though several went into semi-retirement shortly thereafter.
The Post-War Years
The end of the war brought new challenges for the Justice Society. Post-War America experienced a boom in technological advances due, in part, to the war effort. As a result of this, criminals began to gain access to much greater technology in weapons generation and in biologic modification. These events led to the birth a new kind of criminal, the super-villain. Furthermore, the criminal element followed the example of the Justice Society and began to organize itself, notably as the Injustice Society of the World. In 1946, The Justice Society encountered bizarre menaces such as the "Paintings that Walked the Earth" (All-Star Comics #28) and Zor, an Energy-being from outer space (All-Star Comics #29). They also encountered two traditional adversaries when they were captured by Brain Wave that summer (All-Star Comics #30) and again confronted the Psycho-Pirate that winter (All-Star Comics #32). In early 1947, the swamp monster Solomon Grundy, long an adversary of Green Lantern, escaped his emerald prison and launched a campaign to kill Green Lantern and his JSA associates. Grundy was ultimately defeated and, on the suggestion of Johnny Thunder, imprisoned on the moon (All-Star Comics #33). Later that year, the JSA defeated a criminal magician known as the Wizard, who had become convinced that the JSA was a set of super-criminals and he intended to eliminate them as "competition". The Wizard was ultimately defeated and faked his own death to avoid capture (All-Star Comics #34).
In the late 1940's, the JSA had several run-ins with one of the most important set of adversaries, the Injustice Society of the World. The first incarnation consisted of Brain Wave (a traditional JSA foe), the Thinker (Flash), Vandal Savage (Green Lantern), the Gambler (Green Lantern), the Wizard (JSA) and Per Degaton (JSA). This group attempted to seize control of the United States by replacing key figures in American politics and business with android doubles. In the process they liberated several dozen convicts to serve as their operatives and also attempted to eliminate the Justice Society, whom they viewed as the key obstacle in their current and future endeavors (All-Star Comics #37). The group was ultimately defeated but re-grouped under the Wizard several months later. New members include the Huntress (a foe of Wildcat), the Sportsmaster (Green Lantern), the Fiddler (the Flash), the Icicle (Green Lantern) and the Harlequin (Green Lantern). The second incarnation of the Injustice Society managed to capture the JSA but was defeated internally when the Harlequin betrayed them and she and the Black Canary freed the captured heroes. The Black Canary, who had assisted the JSA previously (All-Star Comics #38), was invited to full membership in the JSA after this case (All-Star Comics #41). As the decade turned, the JSA began to explore new and more fantastic frontiers including time travel (All-Star Comics #56) and strange alien races (All-Star Comics #49 and #51). They also confronted more pedestrian threats in the form of the criminal Mr. Alpha (All-Star Comics #50) and a pair of identical twins running a criminal circus operation (All-Star Comics #54).
Late in 1951, the Justice Society was targeted by Eliminations, Inc, an agency in the employ of several prominent figures in organized crime. Lured by the promise of lavish gifts from a group of grateful citizens, the JSA was trapped in an orbital satellite with extremely advanced technology. Upon breaking free, they tracked their captor and his employers, arresting all of them. When the authorities recognized their captor, it caused repercussions to the highest level of government. The JSA was summoned before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs and questioned on their knowledge of and relation to the very man who captured them. The man was apparently an agent of unspecified foreign power and his resources with which he had obtained the satellite were unknown. The true origins of the man have never been revealed. Nonetheless, in the days of McCarthyism, nothing was sacred and the Justice Society was implied as having ties to foreign agencies with interests contrary to those of the United States. Accordingly, the Committee requested that the active JSA members surrender the knowledge of their true identities and submit to interrogation in order to maintain their status as legitimate legal organization. Shocked and incredulous, the JSA refused and, with a dramatic flash of Green Lantern's power ring, disappeared (Adventure Comics #466). With the exception of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, all abandoned their costumed identities. This event marked the official end of the Golden Age of the Justice Society.
Return to Prominence
Except for the aforementioned heroes, most members of the JSA remained in retirement for nearly a decade. In the early 1960's, some members again became active when the criminal activities of the Reaper, drew such attention that Alan Scott again assumed the mantle of the Green Lantern. Severely injured in the ensuing battle, Lantern was recovered by his JSA who comrades who again assumed their costumed identities to unsuccessfully track the Reaper (Secret Origins vol. 2, #50). Coincidentally, 3 arch-enemies of the Flash, the Thinker, The Fiddler and the Shade used a device constructed by the Fiddler to render the inhabitants of Keystone City comatose and to set up a resonant wave across the globe that caused the memory of Keystone to be eliminated. The Flash of Earth-1 (Barry Allen) followed the signal of the resonator to Earth-2 and following the revival of the Flash of Earth-2 (Jay Garrick), defeated the criminals and returned Keystone to normal (Flash #123, retconned in Secret Origins #50). In 1963, Vandal Savage, an immortal adversary of the JSA captured several active members. Again the Flash of Earth-1 intervened and with the aid of Jay Garrick, defeated Savage. The JSA members then decided that it would be wise to reform the JSA and hold regular meetings again (Flash #137).
Within a few months, the Justice Society had restored the full strength of its membership and was again battling crime on Earth-2. When criminal elements of both Earth-1 and Earth-2 combined to assault their heroic adversaries, the Justice League of America (JLA) combined forces with the JSA to defeat them (JLA #21, 22). This was the beginning of annual gatherings of the JLA and JSA. During these gatherings the two teams often explored the dimensional nature of the various earths over the years, discovering Earth-3 (home of the Crime Syndicate, JLA #29,30), Earth-X (home of the Freedom Fighters, JLA #107,108) Earth-Prime (home of "regular people", JLA #123,124) and Earth-S (home of the Marvel Family, JLA #135,136,137). The also joined forces with a number of other heroes through the travel of time and space, including the Seven Soldiers of Victory (JLA #100,101,102), the Legion of Super-Heroes (JLA #147,148), a gathering of American Historical Heroes (JLA #159,160), the New Gods of Genesis (JLA #183,184,185), and the All-Star Squadron (JLA #207,208,209).
The JSA also added 5 new members to its ranks over the years since its revival. During an early team-up, the adult Robin of Earth-2, former sidekick of Batman, joined the Justice Society as Batman had before him (JLA #55,56). A criminal from Earth-1, T.O. Morrow journeyed to Earth-2 and created a mechanical android to infiltrate and destroy the Justice Society and Justice League during one of their annual meetings. This android, the Red Tornado, rebelled and subsequently joined the JSA (JLA #64,65). During the 1970's, the JSA briefly entered an incarnation as the Super Squad. During this phase, Superman's Kryptonian cousin Power Girl and former Soldier of Victory Star Spangled Kid (a.k.a. Skyman) joined the ranks (All-Star Comics #58). Finally, following the death of her mother, Helena Wayne used her father's (Bruce Wayne - Batman) gear to form a costumed identity for herself as the Huntress. She joined the Justice Society shortly thereafter (All-Star Comics #70).
Sadly, a greater number of JSA members have fallen in the cause of justice. The first to do so was the Black Canary in a battle with an angry star-god, Aquarius (JLA #74, revealed in flashback of JLA #220). This story was later retconned such that Black Canary survived the initial battle but died years later of cancer from the radiation exposure. Later, Bill Jensen, empowered by the sorcerer Frederic Vaux, slew the Batman of Earth-Two (Adventure Comics #462) in a battle atop a Gotham skyscraper. Shortly thereafter, the Spirit King possessed the body of the Flash of Earth-Two and stowed away to a JLA/JSA meeting. Catching the hero alone, the Spirit King emerged from the Flash's body and strangled Mr. Terrific (JLA #171). During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, a compression emerged which appeared to wipe Earth-Two out of existance (Crisis on Infinite Earths #12). Subsequent crises (Infinite Crisis LS, Dark Knight: Death Metal) have revealed that Earth-Two indeed still exists or an identical timeline has been created (Justice Society of America #20, Annual #1). The full history of this timeline since the Crisis on Infinite Earths has not been revealed.