JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA
Justice Society Elseworlds
This section covers JSA-related series which are (intentionally or not) "out of continuity." Listed alphabetically by title. Since the Infinite Crisis, some Elseworlds tales have been given their own Earth in the new multiverse. If so, this is noted in the header.
» SEE ALSO: JSA Fanfare
4-issue limited series (1993)
After successfully transferring his brain into the body of Mister America in 1945, the Ultra-Humanite rises in political power and develops a way to create a "superman." He transplants the brain of Adolf Hitler into Dan Dunbar, creating a new American hero, Dynaman. "Tex Thompson" is betrayed by his wife, Miss America, who finds his journals and gives them to her old All-Star friends. The story references January 1950, when Alan Scott is summoned to the HUAC hearings.
Although this was an "Elseworlds" series, it's themes were powerful enough to make it into mainstream comics as well. The most prominent of these is James Robinson's continued development of Starman, which began here in The Golden Age. Other things introduced include the potential evil in Captain Triumph (1st post-Crisis appearance) and the fall of the Tigress. It features first-time DC appearances by some Quality heroes—Joe Hercules, "Stormy" Foster, Wildfire, Madame Fatal, Doll Girl; plus Red Torpedo, Neon, the Spider, Firebrand and the Red Bee; and and other obscure "All-Stars" such as Captain X.
For more deatils on James Robinson's intent for this series, read my interview in The Quality Companion!
» SEE ALSO: The Golden Age Annotations
2-Issue Limited Series, Prestige format (Feb.-March 2000)
By Dan Jolley and Tony Harris
When narrated, the Liberty File stories are told by the Bat. You can read both series collected in one trade paperback.STORY: 1942: In the days of World War II, an albino psychopath, Jack the Grin (the Joker), intercepts knowledge of a Nazi secret weapon. When Jack is apprehended, he escapes, bringing the plane and its American Agents down in Egypt.
U.S. intelligence calls in their operative the Bat (replacing Ted Grant) to team with the Clock (Tyler) and the Owl (McNider). In Africa, the Owl meets up with another agent, Canary (Dinah), whose cover is a nightclub singer. The agents run afoul of two free agents (Whispering Pete and Bob), and the German S.S., who are looking to keep Jack quiet. The Bat ultimately catches Jack and injects him with truth serum. He discovers that the Nazi's secret weapon is not a long-range bomber, as the Americans had thought. Instead, they confirm that Adolf Hitler has indeed been harboring some kind of "super-mensch." (#1)
The Bat and Clock next meet another agent, Terry Sloane (Mister Terrific) in Bern, Switzerland. While recovering from injuries, the Owl is attacked and killed by a Nazi agent called the Scarecrow. In the ensuing firefight, Sloane's fiancee, Eva, is also killed.
Hitler's super-mensch is revealed as a Martian, J'onn J'onzz. The Nazis brought him to Earth in 1939 and named him Johann. The Americans make their way to Hitler's retreat and meet their mole, Robin. Robin sends them after Hitler to El Alamein, Egypt. At the Suez Canal, the Americans prepare reveal their own Super-Man, but the Bat manages to save the day by engaging Johann directly and feeding him his thoughts. This triggers Johann's suppressed memories and he turns on the Nazis. (#2)
The next series, The Unholy Three reveals that the Americans do not perfect the nuclear bomb until 1948. Instead of bombs, it is the super-men that win the war for the Allies.
ROLL CALL: The Clock, The Owl (deceased), The Bat, Mister Terrific, Canary, Ted Grant (deceased), Johann (the Martian), Robin, Super-Man.
2-issue limited series, Prestige format (2003)
By Dan Jolley and Tony Harris
STORY: In 1944, following their infamous mission, Terry Sloane's hatred for the Bat over his fiancee's death was so great, he nearly killed Wayne in revenge. He later went to work for Tyler Chemicals.
1948: In Berlin, a rogue KGB agent called the Parasite tortured and killed Sandy Hawkins and Johnny Thunder for information. J'onn J'onnz now worked on the moon helping NASA construct a base. In Gotham, the Bat pursued Harvey Dent, who had been transformed into a half-monster by Arcane's magic. When Bruce returned home, he found Gen. Maitland waiting to ask him to return to service. By this time, they have prepared Clark Kent, Super-Man, for service, too. Bruce recalled his old ally, Rick Tyler, who had been researching a way to duplicate Kent's powers.
They were briefed about the Parasite and another Russian agent, Stalnoivolk/Steelwolf. When they arrive in Berlin, finding the bodies and enlisted the aid of agent Shiera Saunders. The trail led to the Parasite, who killed Steelwolf. They apprehended him, but another agent, Pemberton, was murdered, leaving them at square one. Kent visited Shiera again, asking her to call him by another name: Zod. (#1)
Zod revealed that he was sentenced at age 11 to the Phantom Zone on Krypton. Later on Earth, American scientists in the "Wormhole Project" freed him. The boy lived with the Kents, under government supervision. When Zod rejoined his "allies," they met a deep cover agent, the Sandman. He told them the Soviets had a trigger that could detonate every nuclear weapon across the globe. They're to meet the Lantern later at a social event for more information. Zod intercepted the intel then killed the Lantern. He knew that the "trigger project" produced a kind of radiation that could cripple him.
Dodds warned the others, and the Bat called all available agents to stop Zod from finding the trigger. From across Eurasia, the Atom, Mercury, the Hawk, Tornado and the Huntress responded. They converged on the city of Chernobyl, where another deep cover agent, the Star, fought Super-Man. Zod killed the Atom and the Hawk before Terry Sloane arrived with Tyler's own experimental super-serum. The Bat injected the serum and was transformed into a powerhouse. He and the Star managed to unleash the project's radiation on Zod, but activated the reactor/trigger as well. Using the Star's cosmic rod, he, the Bat, and the Clock combined will power to contain Zod and the reactor, and sent them into space, where he exploded.
Afterwards, Bruce made amends with Sloane. He was unsure what the lingering effects of the serum would be. (#2)
ROLL CALL: The Bat, the Clock, Super-Man (turned), Johnny Thunder (deceased), Sandy Hawkins (deceased), Shiera Saunders (deceased), Pemberton (deceased), the Sandman, the Lantern (deceased), the Atom (deceased), Mercury, the Hawk (deceased), Tornado, the Huntress, the Star, Mr. Terrific.
» SEE ALSO: Unholy Three Microheroes by Jerome
4-issue limited series (2008)
The Bat's story continued when the evil Monarch collected warriors from across the multiverse. The Bat was chosen to do battle with counterparts from other Earths. He was bitten by the vampire Batman of Earth-43 (Arena #1) and turned into a vampire himself. (#2) Although he was reborn and attempted to lead the others to freedom, he was ultimately blasted and apparently killed by Monarch. (#4)
This particular interpretation of the 52 universes has been revised in the wake of DC's "New 52" relaunch. The fate of this Batman is uncertain.
6-issue limited series (2013)
By B. Clay Moore and Tony Harris
Introducing: The Whistling Skull VI (John Singleton, deceased) • The Whistling Skull VII (William Massey) • Knuckles (Nigel Singleton) • Johannes • Dr. Moon • Mr. Teagle • Mr. Nash • Michael Keene • The Cat (deceased) • Fahkri • (unnamed) agent
The Whistling Skull is an interesting anomaly in the JSA universe. The title began as a proposal for a series of mini-series (like Hellboy) by creators B. Clay Moore and Tony Harris. The pair had finished Ex Machina, published under Wildstorm, and their next project, the "Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull," was announced in April 2010. But when Wildstorm was shuttered in preparation for DC's "New 52" makeover, the Skull's future was uncertain. The pair repitched this series to DC editors (including Jim Lee, former head of Wildstorm), and miraculously, it was picked up. Harris credited DC with the "willingness to marry and ‘seat’ Skull firmly in the JSA: Liberty Files universe that I was a part of creating in years past.”
In this "universe," the Justice Society is a loose term used to describe a network of 52 groups of adventurers (whose missions sometimes intersect). Skull introduces a number of British heroes, both super-powered and non-, who work for a network called the Skeleton, an agency Teagle and Sons, run by Mr. Teagle and Dr. Archibald Moon. (#2) The Whistling Skull is a British operative who possesses the memories of his predecessors. His horrible visage is not supernatural, but a mask. (DC's original Dr. Moon first appeared in Batman #240, 1972).
Another group of the 52 is the Boy Commandos, who appear in issue #4; Brooklyn and Andre are named. The Boy Commandos were created by Simon and Kirby, all the way back in Boy Commandos #1, 1942. The trade paperback reveals, in a memo by John Thunder (U.S. federal liaison to the 52), that Capt. Hop Harrigan and his men were another cell.
The trade paperback of this series included new material from the creators which revealed additional secrets and clarified some things.
In 1940, the sixth Whistling Skull, John Singleton, worked with the Justice Society's Owl, Cat, and Clock, in Japan. In this mission, Singelton went missing and the Cat was killed (the last of his nine lives exhausted). All that is known is that Singleton was placed inside a wooden coffin where he encountered a monkey-like demon. His final fate is uncertain. (#1) Skeleton deployed their Bodysnatchers—agents Jenkins and Nash—to recover John Singleton's body but found his "coffin" empty. (#3) When Nash attempted to remove a coffin, the temple itself rose up to stop him and Nash disappeared. (#5)
On another mission in 1921, John Singleton was saved by another agent of Skeleton, the native mystery man called Fahkri. (#3)
Singleton's son, Nigel, first met young William Massey in London, in 1925. Being a rather "slow" child, Nigel had few friends. The boys' friendship became a brother-like bond, one noticed by Nigel's father. It moved John Singleton to name William Massey as his successor, the seventh Whistling Skull. What's more, Nigel Singleton possessed innate super-strength. When John went missing, Mr. Teagle recruited William for the Skull position. They told him that Singleton had died, a fact which Massey chose to withhold from Nigel. The Whistling Skull has no super-powers, but thanks to the mental abilities of Dr. Moon, he has all the memories of his predecessors. Nigel's fists are as tough as steel due to the ointment given to him by his father.
Three months later, Nigel had adopted his own codename: Knuckles (originally conceived by Harris as "Brickfist") and the pair were sent on a mission to Switzerland to investigate a rash of disappearances and mutilations. They met another mysterious operative, Johannes the semi-invisible man. (Johannes was partially transformed by an experimental gas in the first war; parts of him are still visible.) The trail led to a traveling circus, Der Karneval, which featured freaks Serpentina the snake woman; the Pocket, a knife thrower; the Boneless; Der Flock, a shadow wraith; and the Strong Man. (#2) Their leader was a former Nazi biologist Klaus Hellman. Agent Michael Keene provided the intel that Hellman was released by Hitler when his experiments went too far afield from the Führer's goals. (#4)
The boys found Hellman's laboratory but the villain escaped. In their inevitable clash, William took a knife to the chest and one of Hellmanm's monsters turns out to be Johannes's brother, Viktor. (#5) To help him win against Hellman, the Skull recieved help from another (unnamed) agent. From this agent's lab inside Big Ben, William was given a teleportation device in the form of a pocket watch. It could only use once, and the watch allowed the Skull to gain the upper hand against Hellman, who was finally captured. En route to his incarceration, Hellman's train was stopped by the Gestapo and he went with them.
The Clock and the Owl surprised Nigel and William by delivering a new wagon for the Skull, complements of the Society. William had been looking forward to returning to his sweetheart, Miss Judith Lightwood, but the Teagle had already made plans for him to pick up the case in Japan.(#6)
The series also featured the first appearance of an unnamed, multinational group of young soldiers (Brooklyn, Jan, and others).
» SEE ALSO:
- Comic Book Resources: Following "The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull" (19 April 2010)
- Newsarama: Classic JSA Returns in Whistling Skull (28 September 2012)
- USA Today: 'Whistling Skull' is a 'weird' exploration of pulp (18 February 2013)
- Generations II, 4-issue limited series (2001)
- Generations III, 12-issue limited series (2003)
In this tale, Superman and Batman, along with most other original Golden Age DC heroes, debut in the 1930s-40s and form the Justice Society. Their JSA lasts until the "Silver Age," adding members who normally would have founded the Justice League. The heroes who normally founded the Teen Titans become the Justice League instead.
The first Generations series did not deal with the super-groups, only the title characters.
ROLL CALL , JSA:
- 1942: Batman, Hawkman, Spectre, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman (all their traditional selves) (Generations II #1)
- 1953: Atom, Green Arrow, Wonder Girl (a magical clone), Flash (Jay Garrick, retired) (#1)
- 1964: Flash II (Barry Allen), Batman II (Dick Grayson) (#2)
ROLL CALL, JLA:
- 1964: Supergirl (Kara Kent), Robin II/Batman III (Bruce Wayne, Jr.), Kid Flash/Flash III (Wally West), Wonder Girl II/Wonder Woman II (Stephanie Trevor) (#2)
- 1986: Flash IV (Carrie Allen) (#3)
- 1997: Green Lantern II (Kyle Rayner), BlackHawk (Janet Hall; granddaughter of the Hall's and Janos Prohaska) (#3)
- 2008: Flash V (Jay West), Nightwing (Clark Wayne), Cyborg, Green Lantern III (Hal Jordan) (#4)
- 21st Century: — Superman I (Clark Kent), Batman I (Bruce Wayne), Flash V (Jay West), Wonder Woman II (Stephanie Trevor), Green Lantern III (Hal Jordan), Blackhawk. (Generations III #2)