Everyone knows the Justice League of America (JLA). Unfortunately, the movie did it no justice at all. Luckily the Snyder Cut is supposedly coming out on HBO Max in 2021. But did you know there was a team that came before them? That team was the Justice Society of America. A team with a Flash and a Green Lantern, but not the ones we love and know. Some may have seen glimpses of these heroes on the CW show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which explains some of the confusion. However, for those who don’t know who this magical team is or wants to know the difference between them and the JLA, Keep Reading!
In order to learn about this team, we must travel back in time to before 8-Tracks and the internet.
Welcome to the Golden Age of Comics
The 1940s saw World War II and the birth of a new superhero team. The Justice Society of America (JSA) was the first superhero team ever introduced into comic books. Making their debut in All-Star Comics #3, they set the precedence for all future superhero teams. These so-called “Mystery Men” (as they were known due to their disguises), joined forces during World War II to fight enemies in all shapes and sizes. Heroes from everywhere came to help and join the JSA. Batman and Black Canary are two such heroes that became honorary members. During this time, with so much death and destruction occurring people wanted and needed heroes. Unfortunately, comics started to see a decline, making All-Star Comics #57 the last time we would see the JSA, for now…
But if this team was so great, why don’t we hear more about them?
As I stated above, all of this was happening during the Second World War. Countries were sending men and children to fight in lands they have never seen before. Once the war was over people started to focus on rebuilding their lives. Comics and heroes started to fade away, including the Justice Society of America. Once life was somewhat back on track, comics started to see a rise again, and so did the need for a new team.
Enter the Silver Age of Comics
Bring forth the 1960’s and the Justice League of America, first introduced in The Brave and The Bold #28. Their initial roster included Flash, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Batman, Superman, and the king of the team, Aquaman! Sorry I couldn’t resist. In my opinion, Namor is the king of Atlantis, not Aquaman. But that’s all beside the point. DC took some members from the JSA and banded them together with the new JLA team. Although some members were kept like Flash and Green Lantern, their backstories were changed. For example, when you think of Flash you think of Barry Allen or Wally West right? Well before them, you had Jay Garrick, the original Flash.
Did you know…
Jay Garrick became the Flash after inhaling hard/heavy water vapors. Barry received his powers through a lightning bolt striking various chemicals. Although a small change to their backstory, it actually plays a larger role. When the Speed Force is lost and the speedsters lose their power, Jay keeps his. This is because unlike Barry and Wally, Jay was not imbued with the Speed Force, he tapped into it after becoming the Flash.
Another character to receive a makeover was Alan Scott known as Green Lantern. This Green Lantern was not part of a cosmic police force though. Thousands of years ago, a green flame fell to earth and landed in China. When found it stated that it will fulfill three prophecies: it will bring death, then life, and finally power. A village man found this cosmic metal and created a lamp. When the villagers found out about this sacrilegious act, they killed him. The lamp then fell into the hands of a patient in a mental asylum. He took the lamp and created a train lantern, which then restored his sanity and his life. Alan Scott would complete the last prophecy. During a bridge collapse, the lantern instructed Alan on how to shape it to a ring. With this ring, he became, the Green Lantern! Yeah, nothing like Hal Jordan. Although Scott did have a taxi-driving sidekick and trusty dog, Hal Jordan is still my favorite Green Lantern.
So how do you explain two teams with the same people?
Invent a Multiverse of course!
The Flash #123, Flash of Two Worlds, is where we learn what the heck is going on here. While the JLA is on Earth-One, the JSA exists on Earth-Two. The TV shows from the Arrowverse showcase this very well. They even brought the epic cross-over Crisis on Infinite Earths, to TV! I have to admit I actually liked it. This also is a call back to the comics. For some time DC had a yearly crossover called the JLA/JSA Crossovers, which the Arrowverse does as well every year.
“But the JSA and the JLA in the same universe now, explain that!”
I will! The legendary Marv Wolfman felt it was unfair to have such an elaborate universe for the fans. He felt it created a confusion (wonder why) between all of the characters. In order to fix this, the Crisis on Infinite Worlds was created. This story is about how the Anti-Monitor is destroying all of the Earths in the multiverse. All of the heroes join forces to stop him but its too late. All of the Earths have been destroyed, but in its place, a new Earth was created. This Earth combined many of our superheroes including the JSA and the JLA, placing all on one planet.
So….Having two of the same teams must make things boring right?
Wrong, Batman said it best in Justice Society of America #1 (2007), “The Justice League is a strike force. The Justice Society is a Family.” That’s just it. Those two things make the world of difference. The JSA had family members take up the mantel at times, keeping everything within their tight-knit group. The JLA accepted any hero deemed exceptional to their team. Allowing them to grow and have a reach far beyond the JSA.
I hope I didn’t take up too much of your time. I know I have asked this question in the past and wanted to help others who would have the same question. The Justice Society of America and the Justice League of America are both amazing teams, each with their own unique attributes. Like with everything in comics, what goes away always comes back. The New 52 saw Earth-2 make a come back. How long is it here for, who knows. But hopefully, the Rebirth Era of DC will bring in new heroes with even better stories!
I hope you enjoyed it! Please feel free to contact me or leave any comments!
As always, Happy Hunting!
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