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DC Explained: Meet the Justice Society, the Original Super Hero Team

5 Minute Read
Jun 14 2022
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The first-ever superhero team to appear in comics will be on the big screen in Black Adam. Who are the members of the Justice Society?

The Justice Society was the first comic book superhero team of its time. While it’s not as well-known, these heroes paved the way for the Justice League to exist as we know it today. Since this summer’s Black Adam will bring this legendary team to the live-action DCEU, it’s a good time to brush up on your Golden Age history. Who is the Justice Society?

Courtesy of DC Comics

Created by: Sheldon Mayer & Gardner Fox

First appearance: All-Star Comics #3 (1940)

The Justice Society – First-Ever Super Team

The Justice Society was the first super team both for DC and major comic books. During the Golden Age, they were a team of heroes fighting with the allied forces in WWII. They originally appeared as a team in All-Star Comics, the flagship title of All-American Publications, one of DC Comics’ predecessors.

All-Star Comics #3 (1940), courtesy of DC Comics

Who’s on the Team?

The original team was comprised of eight members. It included first-generation iterations of many popular heroes including the Flash, Green Lantern, the Spectre, the Atom, and Doctor Fate. The team also included Golden Age heroes Hourman and the Sandman. And through its entire run, the team was led by the original (and still-standing) Hawkman, Katar Hol.

Lookin’ good, buddy. Panels courtesy of DC Comics

As the series grew in popularity, characters popular enough to get their own title would graduate and become “honorary members”. Over the years, various publishers merged to form what would eventually be known as DC Comics of today. Some iconic heroes under DC’s umbrella-like Batman and Superman were assumed honorary members despite not being seen on the team in All-Star Comics.

Wonder Woman Joins the Justice Society

The exception to this rule was Wonder Woman, who had her own title but was still offered a place on the team. Her role as the team’s secretary is a bit of a classic comics’ “LOL sexism” moment. However, Diana’s creator William Moulton Marston was insistent that he be the only creator to handle the character, and his hands were already full with three running Wonder Woman titles.

All-Star Comics #13, courtesy of DC Comics

Unfortunately, Marston was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away in 1947. But with Marston no longer at the helm, Wonder Woman was able to take a more active role in the Justice Society. She even introduced Black Canary to the team.

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All-Star Comics #38, courtesy of DC Comics

But this Golden Age team would only stay together for a handful more issues. The series ended with issue #57 in 1951. But we all know they weren’t DC’s last heavy-hitting superhero team.

Justices Society & League

In the dawn of the 1960s, Gardner Fox came back to work his team-building magic for DC Comics again in order to create the Justice League. The publisher was busy establishing new versions of previous characters like the Flash and Green Lantern. In stories like The Flash #123, current versions of heroes met their predecessors. These stories established that our Golden Age heroes now existed in a different dimension.

The Flash #123, courtesy of DC Comics

It’s Crisis Time!

DC Comics’ history after the 60s is just one crisis after another. Literally! During the Silver Age, DC started hosting an annual team-up of Earth 1’s Justice League and Earth 2’s Justice Society. This would go on well into the ’80s when the DC event Crisis on Infinite Earths rearranged and condensed the publisher’s multiverse.

The Justice Society: Next Generation

During the Bronze Age, the team’s title came back around. This time, the original members were showing their age. These heroes were in their senior years and were using their experience to mentor future generations of heroes. In 1976, DC published a new issue of All-Star Comics where #57 had left off – #58 introduced us to Power Girl.

All-Star Comics #58, courtesy of DC Comics

Over the years, the Justice Society became a team built on the themes of legacy heroes. It was about an older generation of heroes helping younger superpeople learn the ways of heroing. While the Justice League was a team full of perpetually mid-life adults, the Justice Society was a mix of bright eyes and lined eyes from across the DCU.

During the mid-80s, Crisis on Infinite Earths closed up shop on the Justice Society for a while. In 1999, the book was revamped, once again with a focus on intergenerational hero-ing, and once again in 2007. Since then, iterations of and members of the team across generations have appeared all throughout the DC universe.

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via Warner Bros.

The Justice Society Comes to the Big Screen

In the upcoming DCEU feature film Black Adam, it looks like the anti-hero with the magical powers will go head-to-head with a version of the Justice Society. This choice of heroes could go far in fleshing out a timeline for the DCEU that isn’t just focused on the Wonder/Supes/Bat triad.

The members of the team include Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate and Aldis Hodge as my guy Hawkman. The team also interestingly includes two younger members who are related to original team members.

Noah Centineo will play the Atom Smasher, who is the godson of the original Atom Al Pratt. Meanwhile, Quintessa Swindell plays Cyclone, the granddaughter of the first Red Tornado. So it’s pretty clear that the film’s creators are paying to their Justice Society lore and history.

‘Black Adam’ and the Justice Society hit theaters on October 21st.

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