As the summer begins to wind down all the big networks have started ramping up for the fall premieres. By this I of course mean that the small handful of networks to feature comic book adaptations or genre shows are prepping for the fall while everyone else continues to push their summer blockbuster shows like Tyrant, Under the Dome, or The Humans. Among the ramp up to the autumn of genre shows has been a ton of character reveals coming out of CW for their shared universe of superhero shows, which includes The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. There have been a bunch of reveals of ultimately obscure characters like Atom Smasher, Mr. Terrific, Hawkman, Baron Blitzkrieg, Vandal Savage, and Jay Garrick, to appear in the coming seasons. Individually these reveals wouldn’t really matter but taken as a whole they actually build up to a pretty startling picture, especially given statements by producers about Flash season 2’s emphasis on parallel realities and Legends of Tomorrow’s bent towards time travel. The big question I’ve ended up asking myself is…is CW planning to introduce the Justice Society of America?
If you don’t know the Justice Society that’s probably why you came to this blog so let’s get cracking. The JSA was a team of superheroes created in the ‘30s during what’s referred to as the Golden Age of comics. This was in the era when heroes mainly fought the Nazis and Nazi related foes though unlike similar team, The Invaders, the Justice Society remained thoroughly state side. Eventually they faded in popularity and were forgotten but when superhero comics regained purchase in the later ‘50s DC decided to revive a bunch of old JSA characters as new heroes with old names. This is where we get characters like Flash, Green Lantern, and the Atom; they were originally bizarre JSA mystery men who were retrofitted for the age of the superhero. However, this revival brought some old readers back to comics and made them wonder what happened to their old favorites so DC introduced a crazy idea that would revolutionize pretty much all of fiction: the Multiverse.
The multiverse is something that’s already been hinted at within The Flash but never fully explained in any live action adaptation. That’s probably because it’s a unique kind of comic book crazy that fits better in stuff oriented towards weirdness rather than palatability. Basically it’s that there are an infinite number of parallel universes that occupy the same space but vibrate at a different molecular frequency. These parallel worlds are similar to our own but with some variations, the best example of this being the Mirror Universe from Star Trek the original series or pretty much everything from Bioshock Infinite. DC introduced the idea that the Justice Society of America was actually still active only working in a different universe from the JLA ad the modern heroes, a universe dubbed Earth-2.
That weird and fractured history has always kind of kept the Justice Society out of most mainstream adaptations. They’ve only ever appeared in one DC animated series, the excellent Batman: Brave and the Bold show and even then this version wasn’t from an alternate universe. Their most public appearance is probably in Smallville, in which they were a team of heroes who fought in World War 2 but had retired for the most part save for a few surviving members and newer heroes who took up the mantel of their mentors.
As far as the modern CWverse goes I’d say it’s actually a pretty good bet they’re plotting a JSA revival of some kind. At time of writing they’ve already got 7 confirmed JSA members and 2 prominent JSA villains featured in their upcoming seasons of Flash and Arrow. The main question at hand is how the JSA will appear, whether it will be a time travel based adventure, in which case they’ll probably be confined to the realms of Legends of Tomorrow, or if they’ll arise from Earth-2 and the multiverse which would suggest a connection to The Flash.
My guess is it will actually be a sort of fusion of both. Most likely what will happen is that Flash season 2 will begin building up the existence of a previous JSA team and current heroes with relations to it like Atom Smasher or Hawkgirl. After this, events in Legends of Tomorrow will involve meeting the classic team that fought and died during world war 2, with the eventual realization that Earth-2 is a universe where the legacy of the JSA continued into the present with a vast roster of fellow heroes. Now as I mentioned previous Jay ‘The First Flash’ Garrick, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Mr. Terrific, Atom Smasher, Black Canary, and Wildcat are all confirmed JSA members that will appear on CW over the fall and spring but what other members might we see? Well I thought of 10.
Dr. Fate is one of the few golden age heroes whose only grown more important with time, a curious happenstance that’s most likely only the case because his costume actually looks pretty good without needing any changes. He was also one of the few JSA members to appear in the Smallville version; proving said costume looks solid in live action with very little effort. Character wise he’s a mystic lord of order tasked with defending reality using the helm of fate, a mystic helmet that contains ancient knowledge. Arrow has been jonesing to add a mystic element for awhile now, especially as we march towards the Lazarus Pits and resurrection so it’d make sense to do that through the JSA.
Another Smallville alumni, Sandman was in many ways a proto-Batman. He’s an easy stand in for the Bat as most of his stories involve gritty, sleazy crime fighting but his costume is infinitely simpler, basically just street clothes, a trench coat, and a gas mask. His origin is that he’s a wealthy World War 1 veteran who fights crime with fast acting knock out gas. I assume that if they go with the Sandman they’ll go with the newer iteration of the character where he had prophetic dreams of horrid violence and had limited geokinetic powers.
The biggest hindrance to doing this character is easily his costume. Citizen Steel is actually the 3rd incarnation of a golden age hero named Commander Steel who was part of the All-Star Squadron, a separate team of heroes that’s usually just lumped in with the JSA because no one really has the time. The 2nd incarnation of the character was just called Steel and actually served on the Justice League during the brief and regrettable time it was located in Detroit. Said membership actually gives him a connection to ‘Cisco Ramone on The Flash as he’s set to become the superhero Vibe, another Justice League Detroit Alumni. Commander Steel is a pretty easy character to realize, he’s super strong and invulnerable thanks to his skin being completely covered in metal. The biggest obstacle would be his kind of goofy costume but given we’re gearing up for a 3rd Captain America film with the classic costume I don’t really see the problem.
Okay this one really is reaching now. Amazing Man was another bizarre All-Star Squadron member from the series revival in the bronze age of comics. His power is that anything he touches his body becomes the material that composes the object, basically the same power as the Absorbing Man from the Season 2 premiere of Agents of SHIELD. That episode is part of why I don’t think Absorbing Man is that outlandish as it’s clear his powers are doable on a TV budget. The character was reinvented for the tail end of Geoff Johns’ phenomenal JSA run in the last days before the New 52 relaunch and enjoyed some solid popularity. Best of all he’d add a much needed black male hero to all the white guys on CW.
Hourman was a scientist named Rex Tyler who developed a pill that granted the taker super strength, speed, and agility for precisely 1 hour. He’s a solid character, a reliable powerhouse and bruiser and even has a legacy as his son Rick Tyler eventually became addicted to the super drug, miraclo, before becoming Hourman himself. However I think it’s equally likely that the Hourman we might see on CW is the 3rd incarnation of the character, a super powered robot from the DC One Million continuity. This robot has a slew of time manipulation related powers and even a ship that can chart the river of time so he’d be a perfect fit to show up in something like Legends of Tomorrow.
Dr. Mid-Nite is the kind of character I’m honestly shocked we haven’t seen already in the CW-verse, though that’s probably owed to their content initially being more grounded and Batman-ish as opposed to the more Marvel inspired order of the moment. Dr. Mid-Nite a superhero surgeon with the added bonus of being blind. All three versions of the character found a way around this but it’d essentially give CW a character with a similar origin to both Daredevil and Dr. Strange. They could easily go with the original Dr. Mid-Nite Charles McNider or his successor Peter Cross as their costume is fairly easy, just a vest, cape, and cowl. However, I’d like to see them adapt the 2nd and somewhat forgotten Dr. Mid-Nite Beth Chapel, who actually spelled the title as Midnight for no real reason. Chapel is sort of a forgotten hero but she’d be a great addition to CW’s roster as a black woman and a nice companion to Hawkgirl.
This is another issue of diversity and costume design and FX budget making the ultimate decision. Alan Scott was the original Green Lantern and a consistent member of pretty much every JSA revival as well as a key figure in the world of DC Comics espionage and spy stories. He makes sense as a casting addition but his classical costume looks pretty dopey and trying to realize the powers of Green Lantern seem fairly out of CW’s range. They could get around the costume issue by going with the New 52 Alan Scott who has a more sensible costume and is also gay to add some nice diversity to the team but the technical limitations of ability still exist. What I think we might see is the character’s son Obsidian showing. Before Alan Scott was reimagined he was actually straight and Obsidian was his gay son, in comics gayness is never destroyed only transferred from character to character. Obsidian’s costume is easier to pull off, just a cape and some inky blackness, and his powers are all shadow based so they wouldn’t be as hard to realize on a TV budget. This would allow CW to have an Alan Scott connection and some nice diversity without the budgetary issues of his powers or the powers of his daughter Jade.
These two are probably pretty unlikely all things considered but there’s enough evidence floating around to support a maybe. They’re a husband and wife superhero team, a unique function in and of itself. Silver Scarab is Hector Hall, the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl who built himself an super suit out of alien material. He’s the main reason these two seem possible, both his parents are already confirmed for the CWverse and he’d make a nice mech suit counterbalance to CW’s iteration of the Atom. Fury is less likely overall but the two often go together. She’s a female fury from the planet of Apocalypse, a home of incredibly powerful cosmic beings called the New Gods.
JESSE QUICK/LIBERTY BELL
These two aren’t actually conflicting characters but rather two versions of the same hero. Jesse Quick is the daughter of Johnny Quick, a golden age super speedster who ran with folks like Jay Garrick or Max Mercury (another hero who seems to be waiting in the wings on Flash.) Jesse started out following her father on the super speed track and often alongside Wally West, the third Flash, as a member of the Teen Titans. Later she abandoned that identity to pay homage to her mother by adopting the identity of Liberty Bell though she could still access her super speed should the situation require it. Jesse already has a ton of connections to elements introduced on the Flash and she’d be a good speedster to have around but if they wanted her to fit into the JSA that’d make sense too.
There are so many legacy claims and follow-ups to the title of Star Man it’s downright embarrassing. That’s probably because Star Man was one of the most popular original JSA members alongside Green Lantern, the other hero with a ton of follow-ups. Star Man’s whole thing was that he invented a device that stored and discharged cosmic energy, basically the same power as Green Lantern’s ring but more limited in what it could create. Arrow has already introduced Star Man’s home town of Opal City so it seems like a sure bet we’ll see A version of the character show up. It could be Jack Knight, the son of the original Star Man who was made famous during James Robinson’s career making take on the material in the ‘90s. I could also see it being Star Man IV, a member of the legion of superheroes who went back in time and joined the JSA in the same run that produced the new Amazing Man. Most likely however is Star Girl, a young woman who initially took up the mantel of Star Spangled Kid but inherited the Star Man legacy from Jack Knight when he retired. Star Girl is a favorite at DC and especially of Geoff Johns, he created the character and even modeled her after his sister who died in a plain crash. Of all these characters Star Girl seems most likely to appear given her prominence in the Smallville JSA episode and easily executed costume and powers.