Published on May 31st, 2016 | by Mike Brown0
What is the ‘Justice Society of America?’
What is going on with the CW’s super heroes and the Justice Society of America?
SPOILERS FOR DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW AND THE FLASH FINALES
If you watched DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, as I did, you were treated to a who’s who of minor DC Comics characters: Firestorm, Jonah Hex, even Sergeant Rock showed up for a minute (and was killed!).
But one moment that probably meant absolutely nothing for most people, and was a disappointment to most comic fans, was at the very end of the season finale, when we were assured that a beloved DC icon would show up.
And it was Rex Tyler, Hourman.
Hourman is a minor DC Comics character who has a special serum that, when injected, gives him powers for 60 minutes. So, if nothing else, he has to wrap things up pretty quickly. Now, I wasn’t that interested in Hourman, frankly. I’m sure that this will change soon, but if you’re at a comic book convention, you’re never going to see a cosplay Hourman.
— Legends of Tomorrow (@TheCW_Legends) May 20, 2016
But there were a couple of interesting things about Hourman. For instance — and this doesn’t happen much on the CW — he was wearing, basically, his costume from the comics and he name-checked the “JSA,” the Justice Society of America. Now, even if you don’t know the name, you probably know the Justice League of America: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Martian Manhunter, and maybe a few other lessor heroes. But the Justice Society of America is, as far as I can tell, Geoff Johns super hero team, and I think they might be assembling them on the CW.
Who the hell is Geoff Johns?
He used to be Superman director Richard Donner’s assistant. He started writing comics— including the Justice Society of America— and is now one of the creative directors in charge of the DC Universe, including films, TV and comics. So he actually wrote the pilot of The Flash TV series and consults on the show with Greg Berlanti, who created Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Supergirl.
Geoff Johns used to write a JSA series with David Goyer, who wrote all the Dark Knight movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Hell, Goyer wrote the made-for-TV Nick Fury movie with David Hasselhoff! Anyway, my point is that there are a lot of power players in the current DC Universe who love the Justice Society of America. I don’t know if they’re working toward a made-for-TV movie or what, but I think something is happening.
By the way, I agree with Media Medusa’s evisceration of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for the most part, even though I still like the show. I thought the most interesting part of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was the broad strokes. For instance, the show was so dumb that I didn’t see its clever moments coming up, like Heat Wave turning out to be Chronos. But DC’s Legends of Tomorrow might be the only show I’ve ever seen where the studio interference, the broad strokes, turned out to be the best part.
There were a lot of fun moments on the show, but also a lot of missed opportunities.
Like, when Hawkgirl and the Atom were trapped in the ‘50s for over a year, I would have liked to have seen them have an adventure! And I love Captain Cold, but, man, the character choices made by the actor playing him are weird, weird, weird. And it seems like Heat Wave is taking acting lessons from him.
Rip Hunter, Captain Cold and Heat Wave on ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’
Anyway, Hourman shows up (it’s the guy from Suits) and I was thinking, oh, well, Hourman. Who knows? Maybe they’ll make it interesting. I certainly wasn’t a big Ant-Man fan and that movie was great. You never know what they’re going to do with second-tier characters.
But then, something else interesting happened.
If you watch The Flash, you know that they’ve been ruining the good name of one of my favorite characters of all time — Jay Garrick, the golden age Flash — by making him the bad guy, Zoom. At the end of the season, it came out that Zoom wasn’t Jay Garrick, and that Jay had been his prisoner all season. And then, Jay came out in full-on Flash costume and ran off to parts unknown on Earth 2! Jay Garrick, golden age Flash!
The Flash and Zoom
My Justice Society of America radar suddenly went bonkers. That’s two members of the Justice Society of America showing up in two different CW season finales! Now, I know that the CW is trying hard not to be “The Super Hero Network,” but let’s face it, they have a lot of super hero shows that are doing well for them.
(This doesn’t have to do with anything, but that golden age Flash outfit didn’t do John Wesley Shipp any favors. He’s in really great shape and that thing draped on him like he was hiding a beer gut. I hope that they work on that before the Justice Society of America tele-movie.)
Let’s talk about who the Justice Society of America are.
The Justice Society of America were the FIRST super hero team, and have literally been around since 1940, beating the Fantastic Four and Avengers into existence by more than 20 years. (Wonder Woman was introduced in one of their books!)
Obviously, with any super hero team that has been around for any length of time, there are going to be a lot of different iterations. So, basically, we have a lot of choices who could be on the Justice Society of America.
- Two obvious choices are Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who were both on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
- Jay Garrick Flash is sitting around the Justice round table in Issue #1; he was on The Flash.
- Hourman (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) has been in a lot of different iterations.
- Black Canary (who is currently dead on Arrow, as have been so many super heroes so many times before her) is a founding member of the Justice Society of America as Dinah Drake, who I think is related to current Black Canary, Dinah Lance. (Remember Silk Spectre from Watchmen? Her and her mother were very Black Canary-esque.)
- And Michael Holt, the other computer genius on Arrow, is Mr. Terrific, a fun member of the new Justice Society of America.
There are others I can think of, but the point is that it would not be difficult to build a reasonably decent Justice Society of America from the current CW roster. And you know who would be perfect for the Justice Society of America as a guest star? Supergirl. The JSA are all about hope.
Why does the JSA matter?
Well, it’s probably because I’m old and care about such things. But the thing that DC does better than Marvel is the idea of Legacy. Why does Batman train Robin? Because Batman is going to die someday and he’ll need someone to take over his legacy. I can count four different guys who have been Green Lantern without even thinking hard about it, and at least five different speedsters in the Flash family.
The Justice Society of America are the originals, the wise parents who give counsel and, when necessary, kick the asses of young people. If Matlock was a super hero, he would be in the JSA. One of my favorite characters in history is Wildcat from the Justice Society of America, a.k.a. Ted Grant, who trained just about every good fighter in the DC Universe, up to and including Batman. There was a Ted Grant on Arrow who never quite worked, but Wildcat Ted Grant, who is much older, could be his dad or something. Legacy!
I’m a little worried that Greg Berlanti is going to explode if he takes on any more responsibilities.
It’s time for him to find his David Greenwalt, a trusted confederate who can take over a show (Greenwalt took over Angel for Joss Whedon, to mixed reviews). I think that Arrow is really good, but is showing some signs that the mastermind isn’t really keeping his eye on the ball, like this season’s flashback story. If anything lifts right out, it’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. But I still think that they kind find something good in that show because, again, there were some great moments. And they have some amazing actors, like Victor Garber, who deserves better.
So who knows if there’s even room for another show? And this is all guesswork on my part. It just seems strange to me that they would take the final moments of the season finales of two CW shows to introduce two different Justice Society of America characters. It probably means something.