The Golden Age
After their initial team-up, the Justice Society’s next gathering involved simply meeting for dinner and sharing stories. Their official HQ was in a hotel, first said to be located in Capitol City, later said to be in Gotham City. Jay Garrick was named the team’s first official chairman.
During their first gathering, the JSA were joined by Johnny Thunder, a young man who commanded a magical thunderbolt genie. Johnny became the JSA’s “mascot” and joined them on several adventures, eventually earning full membership and the respect of the other heroes. Abigail “Ma” Hunkel, the first hero to call herself Red Tornado, also crashed this first gathering. But when she accidentally tore her trousers, she made a quick exit rather than remain (ALL-STAR COMICS #3, 1940).
Other heroes came and went from the team as the years went on, such as Starman (Ted Knight), Dr. Mid-Nite (Charles McNider), Wildcat (Ted Grant), Wonder Woman, Black Canary (Dinah Lance), and Hawkgirl (Shiera Saunders).
After several adventures, Jay Garrick stepped down as chairman, turning leadership over to Alan Scott. Later on, Scott turned leadership over to Carter Hall, the Hawkman, and he retained that position until the group officially disbanded in 1951.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the US officially entered World War II. FDR temporarily rechristened the Justice Society as the Justice Battalion. He also activated “Article X” which drafted all American super heroes into service, including the JSA members. This wartime group that answered directly to the White House became known as the All-Star Squadron (ALL-STAR SQUADRON #1, 1981).
During and after the war, the JSA fought a variety of menaces, including the time traveler Per Degaton, the immortal Vandal Savage, the undead Solomon Grundy, the telepath Brainwave, the Injustice Society of the World, and sorcerers such as Wotan, Kulak and the Wizard. During one adventure against the villain Ian Karkull, the JSA and several friends of theirs were bombarded by temporal energies. As a result, they all now had extended lifespans and enhanced vitality (ALL-STAR SQUADRON ANNUAL #3, 1981).
By the late 1940s, super-villains became increasingly less active, and there seemed lesser need for the JSA to operate. In 1951, there was increased suspicion against anyone who might “undermine” American society and the Red Scare was in full effect. With some manipulation by Per Degaton, the US government quickly concluded that masked super heroes were a potential threat to the country. The House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) called the JSA to a hearing and demanded that they reveal their identities to the general public so they could be further investigated and proven to be loyal Americans. Unwilling to do anything that might make themselves and their loved ones targets for enemies old and new, and no longer trusting the government they had worked with years before, the JSA left and chose to disband instead (ADVENTURE COMICS #466, 1979).
Despite this retirement, the different members would occasionally return to action if they believed they were truly needed. Justice Society members Starman (Ted Knight) and Black Canary (Dinah Drake) acted together on several more cases before retiring.
Meeting the Next Generation (1963-1986)
In 1956, DC Comics had its first major reboot by introducing the Silver Age of comics with Barry Allen as the new version of the Flash, followed by new versions of Green Lantern, Hawkman, Atom, and others. In 1961, it was established that the Silver Age DC stories and its heroes, such as the Justice League, existed in one universe while the previously published Golden Age stories took place in a parallel universe.
In the landmark story “Flash of Two Worlds!” (THE FLASH #123, 1961), Barry Allen of the Justice League of America was demonstrating his Flash powers and accidentally altered his molecular vibrational frequency, causing him to transport to the parallel Earth of the Justice Society. He met Jay Garrick and explained his journey, referring to his world as Earth-1 and the JSA world as Earth-2. After the two Flashes teamed up against a group of villains, Barry Allen returned home.
Later on, villains of Earth-1 and Earth-2 joined forces. This led to the first team-up between the JLA and the JSA (JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21-22, 1963). This meeting with the Justice League, the different political times, and the resurgence of super-villains on Earth-2, inspired the JSA to resume semi-active duty. After a time, they gained new younger members: the Robin of Earth-2, the original Star-Spangled Kid, and Power Girl. These three became an auxiliary branch of the JSA, affectionately called the Super-Squad (ALL-STAR COMICS #58, 1976).
Some years later, several children of Golden Age heroes arrived at a JSA Christmas party and petitioned for membership. Though the youths were powerful, the Justice Society felt they needed more experience. In response, the young heroes formed their own team, Infinity, Inc. (INFINITY INC. #1, 1984).
Following 1985's history-altering event CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, the JSA were no longer inhabitants of Earth-2. Instead, they had lived on Earth-1 too, simply during an earlier era than the Justice League and other modern heroes. This meant that certain adventures they had were no removed from history, as were certain members.
After the Crisis ended, the JSA discovered that a spell cast by the Spear of Destiny had linked Earth’s fate to Ragnarok, the final battle of the Norse gods. To forestall Ragnarok and prevent Earth from being destroyed as a result, the Justice Society journeyed into the battle, joining forces with Norse gods such as Thor. Through a time loop they didn’t understand, they would fight, die, and then return to life to fight again (LAST DAYS OF THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, 1986).
It was later revealed that this was not the true Ragnarok or the true Norse gods. Rather, this was a simulation of Ragnarok that the real Odin had created in order to prepare for the real event in years to come. After spending a few years in this time loop battle, the JSA returned to Earth’s dimension (ARMAGEDDON: INFERNO #1-4, 1992). The Justice Society resumed semi-active duty until the events of 1994's ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME, during which some of them were killed and forcible aged by the villain Extant. The team was no more, though some of its members such as Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and Ted Grant stayed in active duty, helping out the younger, modern day heroes whenever they could (ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME #0-5, 1994).
The JSA Returns
When the villainous sorcerer Mordru sought out the next human who would be host to Dr. Fate, surviving members of the Justice Society joined forces with new, young heroes who followed in the footsteps of them and other 1940s heroes. A new, multi-generational Justice Society of America was formed that included Alan Scott, Ted Grant, Jay Garrick, the new Star-Spangled Kid (Courtney Whitmore, later named Star girl), Black Canary (Dinah Lance, daughter of the original), Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders), and Dr. Fate (Hector Hall). The new Starman Jack Knight and Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons helped them on their first adventure but didn’t remain for full membership of the new team.
The group converted the New York family mansion of the late Wesley Dodds into their new headquarters, also making it a museum to Golden Age heroes (JSA SECRETS AND FILES #1, JSA #1-4, 1999). Abigail “Ma” Hunkel was later hired as museum curator.
This version of the JSA became a formidable team, protecting Earth from the new Injustice Society, the sinister Johnny Sorrow and King of Tears, and traveling through time to protect history itself. The roster was in constant flux and differing opinions on ethics led to occasional splits between members. Some new members included familiar faces such as Carter Hall and Power Girl, or legacy heroes such as the new Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross), the new Amazing Man (Markus Clay), the new Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt), the new Hourman (Rick Tyler), Jesse Quick (who joined using her mother’s alias Liberty Belle) and others.
For a time, Black Adam sought to make up for his criminal actions by serving as a member, but he later decided the team was too soft on their enemies and left to become the protector and ruler of his home country Khandaq.
A similar membership split happened again years later after that incarnation of the team encountered the god called Magog. Several JSA members decided to leave the team and its “outdated” methods, forming a short-lived group called the All-Stars (JSA ALL-STARS #1, 2010). This group was led by Power Girl and included Anna Fortune, Atom-Smasher (Al Rothstein), Citizen Steel, Cyclone (Maxine Hunkel), Hourman (Rick Tyler), Judomaster (Sonia Sato), King Chimera, Sandman (Sand Hawkins), Stargirl and Tomcat. Eventually, these members returned to the fold of the main team.
Following the events of 2011's FLASHPOINT, much of DC History was reimagined. The JSA was apparently removed from Earth history. In the new parallel universe of Earth 2, younger, more contemporary versions of the Justice Society appeared, though they never officially formed into a team by that name. On this version of Earth, superheroes were generally called “Wonders.”
Following 2016's DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1, much of DC’s pre-New 52 history has been restored, while some New 52 stories have now been removed from continuity. In the Rebirth era it was revealed that the Justice Society did operate on Earth as a World War II team. But in this version of history they acted clandestinely and their exploits are still largely unknown to the public.