Justice Society of America by Alex Ross

The History of the Justice Society, Explained

Alan Scott: The Green Lantern has introduced a new origin story for the Justice Society of America. This was necessary, given how the team’s history has changed with every new version of DC‘s timeline.

Justice Society Was DC’s First Superhero Team

Justice Society in All Star Comics #3 Cover cropped

The JSA first appeared in 1940’s All-Star Comics #3. While most comics of the time were anthologies featuring several superheroes, they never interacted or joined forces until the Justice Society formed. The comic was also notable as a rare joint production between All-American Publications and National Periodical Publications. The two companies later merged to become DC Comics in 1946.

While the Justice Society inspired the formation of other superhero teams throughout the Golden Age, it lacked the longevity of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. Apart from the most popular heroes, superhero series in general saw slumping sales following World War II. All-Star Comics and the JSA’s adventures both came to a close with All-Star Comics #57 in 1951.

Enter Earth-Two and DC’s Multiverse

Flash of Two Worlds Cover

Starting with The Flash in 1956, DC began to reboot some of its unused characters with scientific backgrounds. This prompted readers to ask what happened to the original heroes from the Justice Society. The answer came in 1961’s Flash #123, in which Barry Allen ran between realities to meet the first Flash, Jay Garrick.

This “Flash of Two Worlds” story established that the JSA existed on the parallel Earth-Two, different than the Earth-One inhabited by the Justice League. The two teams would join forces to fight interdimensional threats many times over the next three decades. This tradition came to a close when Earth-One and Earth-Two merged during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

A New Golden Age

Golden Age DC Comics Elseworld

A new history was written for the Post-Crisis DC Universe, with the Justice Society firmly established as Earth’s first superhero team. Despite this, the team was inactive for several years, and DC did not publish any new JSA stories. There were two reasons for this.

Originally, the JSA was trapped in a simulation of Ragnarök for several years, returning to Earth unaged in the modern day. Later stories, loosely based on the Elseworlds tale The Golden Age, implied that most of the JSA’s members opted to retire instead of reveal their secret identities during the Red Scare. In both cases, most of the team died during the Zero Hour event in 1994.

A New Generation of the Justice Society

JSA 1999

In 1999, the surviving JSA members established a new Justice Society with the proteges of many of the original members. This new team became a major force for good in the Post-Crisis DC Universe. The team’s adventures continued across three series, until the second major overhaul of the DCU in 2011.

A New Earth 2

Earth 2 Justice Society JSA

The New 52 initiative established a new DC multiverse. This new multiverse included a new Earth 2, inspired by the original Justice Society and the Pre-Crisis Earth-Two. The new JSA included a mixture of original characters and revamps of classic concepts.

The new Jay Garrick, for instance, was given the power of the dying Greek god Mercury, rather than gaining his powers though a lab accident. Similarly, Alan Scott’s powers as the Green Lantern now came from the Green force that empowered Swamp Thing.

Doomsday Clock Brings the Justice Society Full Circle

Doomsday Clock #10 cover with Justice Society JSA

Despite the Justice Society apparently being reborn on another Earth, various comics in the New 52 era teased their presence on Earth-Prime. This was ultimately resolved in the Doomsday Clock event, which revealed that Doctor Manhattan had created the New 52 multiverse. The comic ended with the Justice Society restored its proper place in Earth-Prime’s past. It would take several years, however, before that past would be fully explored and defined.

Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #1 is now available at comic shops everywhere.