Special: Justice History of America

December 5, 2004

By Avi Green

This is a draft I once wrote for a Justice Fansite I once tried to build. Time-consuming matters prevented me from being able to really accomplish much, unfortunately. But as an article on the Justice History of America, and the first successful comic book superhero teams, it can have some great value to it, I once thought. And so, I thought ideally to publish it here, on my own main website of writings about comic books. I hope you'll enjoy my efforts in putting this together.

It all started with a comic book called All Star Comics in 1940. Not in the first issue, it was actually in the third in the winter of 1940 where they first debuted, since ASC was initially intended as an anthology series, although it's to be noted that a few of the characters who would eventually form the groundswork for the upcoming team appeared in the first two issues. But when it began, so very soon, it became known as the overall title for the Justice Society of America.  It was made up of several members, the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Black Canary, Dr. Mid-Nite, Red Tornado, Dr. Fate, Miss America, Mr. Terrific, Sandman, Starman, the Spectre, and several others. Superman also took part in the team, albeit he didn't actually join until some time later. They mostly fought crime across the United States, and also took part in WW2, albeit only on the sidelines, at least as told in post- Crisis  history. This initial series ran up until 1951, and was then cancelled, making way for...guess what? All Star Western, which continued the numbering from where All Star left off!

What's ironic in a way is that what would become known as the most famous team title incarnations in DC's history didn't actually begin under the name "Justice", and until the Silver Age of comics, didn't actually use that name. But when it did, it soon became one of the most popular comics in history.

It was sometime after the successful launches of the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern that the next incarnation of DC's Teams of Justice began in 1960, in the anthology series The Brave and the Bold, and was written by the legendary Gardner Fox. By then, it had been almost a decade since the Justice Society ended their run, and now, a new team had come into the spotlight. This next team, now titled Justice League of America, was made up of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Silver Age Flash and Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, the Atom, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and several others. This particular team was dedicated to battling crime and injustice not only in the world, but also menaces from outer space, and in other time zones.

The most amazing event was when, following events first set up in Flash #123 vol 1, in which it was then established that there were two dimensions of earth, or even two dimensions of the universe, the Justice League of Earth-1 met the Justice Society of Earth-2 in a spectacular 2-part landmark story called "Crisis on Earth One!" and "Crisis on Earth Two!" in 1962, in which several villians from both dimensions hatched an evil sceme against our Champions of Justice in both worlds of then. And then, for at least two decades, there would come some times when the heros of both worlds would team up in some exciting adventures to fight criminals who were invading both dimensions. Plus, All-Star Comics and the Justice Society as the stars were revived in the mid-1970's for a short amount of time.

But then, after two decades, it became harder and harder for many of the writers and editors to handle the concept of two alternate worlds, and so, in 1985-86, in Crisis on Infinite Earths, both worlds were merged together into one, with origins and backgrounds of a few of the characters being started over again, as in the case of Superman, Wonder Woman, and 3 or 4 other characters of note, and then, in 1987, Justice League of America was cancelled, following 27 successful years of entertainment, and new volumes were begun.
In the post-Crisis coming of Justice Entertainment for America and the World, the adventures were relaunched as simply Justice League, which ran for six issues before becoming Justice League International. Under the scripting and artistry of Keith Giffen and J.M. De Matties, who almost singlehandedly oversaw many of the Justice projects from the late 80's-early 90's, this new team lineup consisted of Batman, Black Canary, Guy Gardner, Captain Marvel of DC, the femme Doctor Light, Martian Manhunter, and several others. It's interesting to note that in the post-Crisis era, until then, Batman was written as having just worked with the Justice League of the yesteryear on the sidelines, and only after the Crisis did he become a full time member in the best world/universe defending team. As for Black Canary, it was revealed already in 1983 that she was the daughter of the first BC, that being Dinah Drake Lance, while as for the daughter, she was named Dinah Laurel Lance. Back in the pre-Crisis story that revealed this at first, the premise at the time was more sci-fi orientated, (BC junior had been accelerated in growth and implanted with memories that her mother initially held), but after the Crisis, it was told that she'd grown up normally, taking up her mother's baton at the age of 19, and her mother, who, along with her father, Larry Lance, had died off-panel years before, returned to life again, and died off-panel in 1999. Like her mother, Dinah was a brunette who wore a blonde wig when in battle, and one of the hottest outfits in comics too for femme crimefighters, those memorable fishnet stockings, but then, in the early 1990's, she changed costumes, and started dying her own hair blonde, although steps have recently been taken to have her wear those loveable fishnets again.

In 1989, Justice League of America came up again, this time without the "of" in the title, becoming simply Justice League America. This was the book where characters like Superman and Wonder Woman in their post-Crisis incarnations would mainly appear in, and it would continue that way until the mid-90's. Like JLI, that too de-facto split off from the series called Justice League like a fork in the road.

Until then, quite a lot of other spinoffs rose up in the wake of the other books, such as Justice League Europe, a book that was in turn a spinoff from JLI involving some funny moments for its members based in Europe at the time (their HQ was located on the outskirts of Paris, France) in the early issues of its 4-year run, Justice League Task Force, and even, believe it or not, Justice League Antarctica! Wow, what a lot of Justice titles for the world, eh?

By 1996, however, most of these titles had been cancelled, and new formings for the team were launched. In that year, there came JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare, and this led to the offical relaunching of the team books as simply an acronym, JLA. It was here that all the stalwarts of all time, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and even Plastic Man, the team's comedy relief character, were all grouped together as the main superhero team to defend the earth and the galaxy against evil whereever it may exist.

Then, three years after this, along came JSA, which brought back some of the stalwarts of the Golden Age out of retirement, mainly Jay Garrick, the first Flash, and Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern, who now goes under the codename Sentinel. With them this time were several new members, some of whom were replacing the old, such as the new Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, and the new Star Spangled Girl, Courtney Whitmore, replacing the original Star Spangled Kid, who, aside from being a guy, looked awfully ridiculous in that outfit of his, so to have a girl in the role, if you ask me, was more than an ideal choice. And, most notable within the team from an historical point of view, is Captain Marvel, alias Billy Batson, a most interesting choice of all, who also became Courtney's boyfriend!

Since then, not only has Justice Entertainment for the world been keeping on, but it's been getting a lot of miniserials as well, and more recently, even a special reunion for some of the members who took part in the JLI/JLE in the late 1980's-early-1990's, Formerly Known as the Justice League, reteaming the great duo of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatties for a great reunion of many of the members of that team who hadn't been seen in awhile, such as Elongated Man/Ralph Dibny and his wife Susan Dearborn-Dibny, and also Captain Atom.

What more can we expect from DC when it comes to team titles and their adventures together in the world and the galaxy? Only time will tell, and until then, I for one look forward to seeing many great times for all these great teams, their founders and their followers. Towards the future and excitement, I say! All together now!

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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