Last month one of the world’s biggest movie stars, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, confirmed for our good pals over at Screen Rant that plans were moving along rapidly for the DC Universe film Black Adam to begin shooting soon, with an eye on a 2021 release date. Johnson would star as the titular character, made famous over the decades as one of Captain Marvel’s chief arch-criminals.
Also confirmed as appearing in the upcoming film by Johnson was the DCEU debut of the fabled Justice Society of America, legendary for their place in comic book history as the very first superhero group to band together to fight crime.
This news made a splash in fan-boy circles, for the JSA has long been a much beloved and admired comic book staple ever since their official debut in November of 1940 in All-Star Comics #3 and the thought of seeing gaudy four colored gods with such exotic monikers as Hourman, Dr. Fate, Hawkman and Wildcat finally gracing the silver screen after nearly eighty years in existence was a cause for celebration.
Predictably, the comic book back issue market took a huge upward swing with this latest announcement of a comic book property transitioning from printed page to celluloid. The JSA have appeared in many comics in different iterations over their star-spangled career and a lot of those pivotal issues featuring the team saw increased scrutiny by fans and collectors alike, demonstrating a real interest in the venerable super-team that has fought everything from Nazi saboteurs to Crisis creating despots determined to rule or destroy the world(s).
Over at DC proper, where monthly comic book adventures of iconic characters such as Batman, Superman, the Justice League of America and Wonder Woman still thrills devoted audiences, the ongoing Justice Society of America title also saw a renewed interest, propelling the latest exploits of the group into the vaunted Top Ten of comic sales. Except it didn’t…Because there is no ongoing monthly venue where longtime fans or potential new fans can catch wind of what the JSA is up to. That title does not exist and, in point of fact, DC has not published a monthly JSA title since 2011, nearly a decade ago when they opted to write finis to the adventures of the original Flash, Green Lantern, Spectre and Johnny Thunder (more brightly garbed heroes that belonged the Society at one point or another) in favor of rebooting all of their properties for a newer audience in an initiative called The New 52. Suddenly, the long line of heroics dating back to the late 1930s was deemed never to have occurred by DC editorial. Instead of a comic book that celebrated the long and storied careers of their comic book universe’s history told in an entertaining fashion (as witnessed in various efforts ranging from legendary comic book writer Roy Thomas and his All-Star Squadron or James Robinson’s Starman or Robinson’s-David Goyer’s-Geoff Johns’ brilliant JSA series which kicked off in 1999 and had a long run until the aforementioned New 52 initiative), fans were given a title called Earth 2 which reimagined the companies Golden Age characters as young and edgy twenty-somethings on an alternate earth (superficial fan-service for the fans who recalled the original Earth Two where most of DC’s original characters used to hang out until 1986). The title got off to a good start under the auspices of writer James Robinson before completely falling off the tracks and being cancelled altogether in 2017.
In 2016, famed writer and longtime JSA proponent Geoff Johns attempted a back to basics approach with an eye to re-introducing the JSA and other properties which sustained harm after the company had rebooted in 2011. Going by the companywide name of Rebirth, this newest relaunch of DC’s core titles seemed poised to bring back not only the concept of the Justice Society, but also their long history dating back to 1940. And then…nothing.
The hit television series Legends of Tomorrow featured the JSA in a popular storyline. Similarly, the upcoming 13 episode television series Stargirl featuring a latter day member of the JSA has been all the rage in fan circles even as DC appears to have cut any ties to a regular monthly title for the group which, by this point, has been yoked up in the mysteries surrounding the Rebirth initiative. Geoff Johns began a twelve issue maxi-series which seemed to promise a return of the group, Doomsday Clock. As 2016 stretched on and gave way to 2017, 2018 and, finally, 2019, the twelve issue magnum opus, seen by many longtime fans as the last great chance to fold the companies older continuity back into the modern day DC comic book universe, suffered one delay after another. Circumnavigating these delays were the DC Powers That Be, who decided to allow writer Scott Snyder to tell a Justice League story with the JSA characters from the 1940s in what ultimately amounted to a glorified cameo appearance. Brief “teases” for the JSA from 2016 all the way through 2019 in titles such as The Flash and Hawkman also whet the appetite of many-a fan for an honest to gosh revival of the group. To date, none of these teases, or even Doomsday Clock itself seem to offer much hope for a monthly title return for DC’s oldest super-group.
Which is a shame; The Justice Society of America, rather than being their premiere group comic has instead taken on the red headed stepchild syndrome: Shunted from one title to another with teases of what might be if fandom just sits on its hands a little bit longer, relegated to a Where’s Waldo guest-starring role in the latest JLA story arc with very little of substance for longtime fans to thrill to and with even less for newer fans curious about the film and television treatments of these iconic and often abused characters and concepts to light onto (thus forfeiting an entirely new generation of JSA fans), the utter lack of direction for this legendary group defies explanation. Money, which stands to be made for quality JSA comic book material, is now either altogether lost or greatly compromised and diminished due to any clear direction DC may have for any hypothetical title.