The Justice Society of America is the world’s first “super team,” banding together in All-Star Comics #3 (December 1940). They lasted in that book until issue #57 (March 1951) when the superhero comic book had lost favor (with a few notable exceptions like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Shazam), so the JSA faded away.
When DC expanded their superhero books in 1956 with a new Flash, a new Green Lantern, a new Atom, etc., they explained the similarity to previous heroes away as the JSA being on an alternate earth, called Earth-2 (don’t get me started on why the original heroes are delegated to Earth-2, while the new versions are on Earth-1). JSA member made a series of guest appearances in the 60s, including the beginning of an annual team-up with the JLA that started in Justice League of America #21 (August 1963).
The Justice Society had plenty of appearances through the early 2000s in a couple volumes of their own series and others. However, you could see the decades catching up to them. Gray hair was on their temples and age lines crept onto their faces. That was a problem. They had to eventually become too old to keep fighting crime in colorful costumes.
So, when DC rebooted their entire universe with The New 52 in 2011, they created new versions of the classic JSA characters that used the same names but had no connection to the original characters. The original Justice Society ceased to exist, and haven’t been seen since.
That was until DC Universe: Rebirth (May 2016).
An elderly Johnny Thunder, who is the only person on this earth that remembers that his JSA teammates existed, is visited in his nursing home by a universe-hopping Flash III (Wally West), who tells him that his mystical genie Thunderbolt has the power to return the JSA to existence. Wally tells Johnny, Their history may have been stolen, but your friends weren’t completely lost. Unfortunately, Thunder seemingly has lost his connection to T-Bolt.
Over the ensuing months, there have been other JSA members popping up. The original Flash, Jay Garrick, was seen trapped in the Speed Force in the Batman-Flash crossover “The Button” that started in Batman #21 (June 2017). Carter Hall, the original Hawkman, is integral in the current Dark Nights: Metal storyline.
Which brings us to Doomsday Clock #3 (March 2018), where we once again see Johnny Thunder in the retirement home. It is his first appearance since Rebirth, and he is still longingly trying to reconnect with his past. He is even wearing his trademark suit and bow tie, waiting for his granddaughter and great-grandson to pick him up to take him to dinner. Is it possible that these are the next two generations of his adopted daughter Kiku, who comes from the foreign land where his T-Bolt originated? Do they somehow hold the key to reconnecting Johnny and his Thunderbolt?
Hopefully, Johnny’s reappearance means that this series will finally bring back the Justice Society, and return them to the glory they deserve.
Post Script: For those of you who are fans of the JSA’s 1940s adventures as part of the All-Star Squadron (the Roy Thomas series that debuted in 1981 and ran through most of the 1980s, showing the World War II exploits of just about every one of DC’s characters of the time period), two key characters from that series also appeared in Doomsday Clock #3. Well, at least in text form.
Continuing the precedent that the Watchmen series set by including additional material at the end of every issue in the form of newspaper clippings, book excerpts, and the like, Doomsday Clock #3 shows a few pages from the magazine “Screenland Secrets.” In the Coast to Coast Secrets section of that trashy mag, screenwriter John Law is mentioned, as is his ex-wife, former Olympian Libby Lawrence. All-Star Squadron fans know them better as the heroes Tarantula and Liberty Belle, respectively. Could the return of the JSA also mean the return of ALL of DC’s 1940s heroes?
by Rob Otto