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Friday, June 10, 2011

Okay, I AM Nervous About THIS:

They haven't announced anything about the Justice Society.

This makes me very nervous. I love the Justice Society.

I know there are some proponents of having an Earth-2/Earth-1 split again, but that's never worked for me. In my opinion, that completely loses what the Justice Society brings to the table in a modern DCU. An Earth-2 Justice Society is just another alternate universe Justice League, I think. We have PLENTY of alternate universe Justice League of Americas.

But what the Justice Society of America brings to the current DCU is so much more than that. The Justice Society brings history to the table. One of the weaker elements of superhero franchises is that, when not careful, you end up reading and thinking "Can these people do NOTHING without calling Superman/Batman/Miscellaneous Superhero A? How passive are these people? What did they DO before they showed up?"

The Justice Society shows that heroism is timeless. That even before our current guys decided to put on silly spandex, people were still going out there and doing what needs to be done. When you have the Justice Society and the Justice League in the same universe, you get the sense that no matter what era you're looking at, you'll probably find people ready to fight for what's right. The teams become a sample rather than something exclusive.

The Justice Society also brings a sense of perspective. These are the people that the current generation grew up idolizing. These are the heroes' heroes. It humanizes our current heroes too, because it shows that they too have people that they admire and want to follow. It means something for example that, for all that Batman gets really pissy about metahuman activity in Gotham City, he doesn't (to my knowledge anyway) try to pull that shit on Alan Scott.

The Justice Society brings a sense of wider community. The Justice League doesn't have a monopoly on heroism. You don't need to be on the A-list to save people. Groups like the Justice Society, the Teen Titans, and so on, show that there's more to DCU heroism than just the big names, and that they're all doing their own part, banding together and fighting for common causes. Heroism is bigger than just the Justice League.

The Justice Society fills a niche. One thing I've always liked about the modern DCU is how the teams don't really feel redundant. The Justice Society of America had its comic throughout the 2000s, just like the Justice League, but they handled different threats. The Justice League tended to handle the huge threats, the massive invasions, the grandscale things. The Justice Society tended to handle things a bit more street level. The Justice Society encountered magic more often, elder gods, misbehaving genies and the like. Of course sometimes the Justice League had something a bit more low key and the Justice Society had the big dramatic stuff, but in general, each had their role to play. And dude, the crossovers always meant something awesome was going to go down.

The Justice Society shows us that heroism doesn't die with age, or when someone younger comes around. Okay, granted, none of the JSA guys are really as old as they ought to be, but Jay, Ted, Alan, hell even Ma Hunkle show us that the drive to be a hero doesn't fade with time. Heck, Ma Hunkle's the best example since unlike the guys, she IS aging normally and really isn't physically capable of going out with her frying pan and whacking some sense into people. But she still finds her own way to help. Just because her capabilities have changed doesn't mean she has to go off and retire. The Justice Society shows us that there are some heroes that will still continue to act like heroes until they die.

The Justice Society brings a sense of generation. Not all of the team are old fogeys after all. There are children (i.e. Jade, Obsidian, Hourman), proteges grown into their own (i.e. Sand), there are people who were just inspired to take the name of folk they never personally knew and keep their legacy going (i.e. Mr. Terrific or Dr. Mid-Nite.) And this gives us much more fascinating group dynamics in the sense that we have generational gap conflict (young people struggling to prove themselves, old people learning to adapt), family conflict (would YOU want to be on the same team as your dad?), social progression and developing challenges (Consider: Jay, Alan, Ted predate Civil Rights, the Feminist Movement and the Sexual Revolution. Meanwhile, challenges faced by Mr. Terrific today are not the same as challenges faced by say Amazing Man in All Star Squadron.) The Justice Society can explore all of these elements and much much more in a way that the Justice League simply can't.

I'm not against the idea of an Earth-2 Justice Society (period heroism is fun!) but I am against the idea of removing the Justice Society from its place in modern, Earth-1 history. It brings so much more to the table than being yet another superteam, and I think the DCU would be far blander without them.


  • At June 11, 2011 6:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While I've loved the JSA since Roy Thomas' take on them, I'm not surprised we haven't heard from them. They are not the young, hip kids this effort seems to be pushing, redesigning their costumes would border on sacrilege (Alan Scott with color sense?), and they make it progressively harder every year to explain to new readers why they're not dead yet.

    A Justice Society has a place, being the society in which heroes mature, with elders to mentor them. It replaces the role sidekicking once played. But I don't think, beyond the obligatory Teen Titans, Johns & Lee think about that, or if they do it's not the kind of stories they're trying to retool the DCU to tell. But then, it looks increasingly like they don't want me as a reader.

    Unless Ragnel is right...

    – Jack of Spades

  • At June 11, 2011 6:42 AM, Blogger Seangreyson said…

    I've always liked the idea of having a team of superheroes who specialize in dealing with magic/demons/etc so I've always liked the JSA (also the old-school Defenders and Hank Pym's more recent Mighty Avengers team).

    I find it hard to believe that they'd put out 52 titles for the reboot and not involve the JSA in some form. There's too many important heroes on the team for that to happen.

  • At June 11, 2011 9:40 AM, Blogger snell said…

    Dan DiDio said “We have decided to rest this concept [ the JSA] while we devote our attention on the launch of the three new Justice League series. As for other characters and series not part of the initial 52, there are plenty of stories to be told, and we’re just getting started.”

  • At June 11, 2011 11:05 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I share your fears. I love the JSA...although I have to admit that I haven't been too enthralled with its latest stories. But the characters are beyond compare. I love the old farts and the kids. And you are the one who got me to realize that Sandy is just the bee's knees.

    Surely somewhere in this plethora of new books, there is one that can please the OLD fans.

  • At June 13, 2011 9:34 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I don't think explaining the JSA not being as old as they ought to be would be very difficult. The only ones active now have some sort of supernatural element that explains it: Carter's got reincarnation, Alan's merged with Green Lantern energy (kinda), Jay's a Flash, Sandy's a sand monster.

    Ian Karkull explains the rest, if they really need to. But the "why are they still young?" problem isn't exactly new, since the series STARTED in 2000, when most were seventy-ish.


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