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I can’t totally explain why, but I have been a big fan of the Justice Society of America (or JSA) for as long as I have liked comics. Maybe it is the throwback or historical element. It could be that they were lesser known than their sister team, the Justice League of America. Really, though, they are a great team. Likewise, DC Comics has published many excellent JSA series. As the Justice Society of America is set to make their debut in the CW-verse in tonight’s Legends of Tomorrow, let’s look at the best members of the JSA.
Al Pratt was noteworthy not just for his small stature. He was also the only original member of the Justice Society of America without powers. He was a fighter in every sense of the word, though. His determination and scrappy attitude became a hallmark for the characters. Well, that and his diminutive size. Atom was been reinvented as the shrinking character Atom (Ray Palmer), though there was not much connection between the two other than a blue mask.
The original human connection to the “genie in a bottle” was Johnny Thunder. Johnny Thunder was usually presented as a comic relief character, letting the powerful Thunderbolt do most of the work. However, when the legacy was reinvented in the 2000s version of the JSA, Jakeem was given more to do. Since he was young, Jakeem was often kept from battle. Yet he was one of the most powerful members of the team. Jakeem was also given more emotional range as a character.
There have been many versions of the Sandman. The JSA version is not really connected to the legendary Neil Gaiman series. Still, Sandman (and the later version known as Sand) were very interesting characters. The original Sandman’s costume is one of the best of the Golden Age. Despite wearing a suit, his creepy gas-mask makes Sandman a mysterious and intriguing hero. Additionally, Sandman was often haunted by bad dreams, making him a somewhat dark character too.
Although The Flash TV show brought in Jay Garrick last season, we didn’t really get much of a look at the real Jay. In the Justice Society of America, Jay has often played the role of elder statesman (along with the Alan Scott version of Green Lantern). His love for his wife has been a defining trait, as well as his resourcefulness and moral center. Created by comics legend Gardner Fox, Jay Garrick also played a central role in the link between the Golden and Silver Ages in the iconic “Flash of Two Worlds” story by Fox.
As with other characters on this list, there have been multiple versions of Dr. Mid-Nite, though the costume has generally stayed pretty similar. It’s a color scheme that seems like it should not work — black, red, green and brown. Yet on Dr. Mid-Nite, it somehow looks cool. The different Mid-Nites have had different roles. One was an actual doctor (and blind). The other had a cool “blackout” gun. I am excited that we will get to see a version of Dr. Mid-Nite on Legends of Tomorrow, and I am curious which parts of the character will make it to TV.
Okay, let’s get something out of the way — yes, Mr. Terrific may be the dumbest superhero name of all time. I mean, terrific isn’t even a word people use much today. Also, I don’t think the original Mr. Terrific (Terry Sloane) is all that great. However, Michael Holt has really been made a pretty compelling character since his introduction in Spectre #54 in 1997. He is frequently cited as the “third smartest man in the world.” He is an inventor as well as a world class athlete. Still, it’s very satisfying to see a black superhero whose power comes from his mind.
Imagine if Steve Rogers had to take a super soldier pill every time he wanted to be Captain America. That’s essentially Hourman. He takes a Miraclo pill and is granted super-strength and endurance for, you guessed it, one hour. While the power is somewhat gimmicky, it allows for a lot of story directions. The Rex Tyler (and later his son Rick) part of the hero is also pretty interesting. He’s another hero who is a CEO, and yet his work has been important to the JSA on numerous occasions.
Stargirl may be the best original character that Geoff Johns has ever created. Courtney Whitmore (named Courtney after Johns’ deceased sister) is in the legacy of both Starman and the Star-Spangled Kid. She has a cosmic staff that has immeasurable power, yet it is the unsure teenage girl side of the character that makes her relatable and enjoyable. Star Girl survived into the New 52, while most of the other Justice Society of America characters did not. She is another hero whose arrival on Legends has me excited.
Power Girl was created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood. Her first appearance was in All-Star Comics #58 in 1976. However, she quickly became a fixture with the Justice Society of America. From the beginning, she was powerful in every sense of the word. She has Kryptonian strength and her sense of self was just as strong. Power Girl assumed a leadership role on the JSA, and was frequently the first into battle. Although her temper could cause some arguments (and even physical fights) with some of her “more traditional” teammates, Power Girl has always stood up for herself — and her team.
In some ways, Wildcat is a goofy character. His costume is a leotard with a cat face. Somehow, though, Ted Grant makes it work. His background as a heavy-weight boxing champion gives him a lot of attitude. He can be hard on the younger members of the Justice Society of America. Still, he always has their back. He has the power of reincarnation, but he does not have super strength or speed, so when he is out there fighting super villains, his is literally doing it with just his fists. He has been one of the longest-tenured members of the team, which earns him the top spot on this list.