Thanks to Black Adam and the Stargirl series, the Justice Society Of America has seen quite a resurgence. Many tend to forget that they predate the Justice League by many years and were the main team of the DC universe, but ever since the Silver Age, the team lost their time in the spotlight.
Now with such a comeback, newfound fans are going to want to read comics based on the superhero team. There have been so many relaunches and revamps of the JSA that there are so many comics to collect and read to get a proper grasp on the team.
All-Star Comics #3 (1940)
There is no better place to start than with the comic that first introduced the Justice Society Of America twenty years before the Justice League. It’s the Golden Age Of Comics, so it’s not a deep book nor is it some epic event, but it is an important part of DC history.
Seeing characters such as Doctor Fate, Hawkman, Hourman, and Green Lantern first come together gives a sense of nostalgia. It’s a near-perfect time capsule of the early days of superheroes that paved the road that many DC characters walk today.
Justice Society Of America #1 (1990)
In 1990 just in time for the 50th anniversary of All-Star Comics #3, the JSA got its much-deserved relaunch after Crisis On Infinite Earths. Though this return would not last long, it would still prove to be pivotal to the iconic superhero team, bringing a then-modern spin on characters.
Any fan of the team should give this and the subsequent issues a proper read. Some characters got much-needed modern updates, including Hawkman and Hawkgirl with Jay Garrick providing old-school leadership in a time that needed a little old fashion.
Justice Society of America: Black Adam and Isis (2009)
Several comics acted as the inspiration for the Black Adam movie and this is one of them. This comic is why the Justice Society was featured so heavily in Black Adam, as it also depicts the heroes going up against one of DC’s famous anti-heroes, though, unlike the movie, this comic is mainly from the point of view of the heroes.
This five-issue series showcased the rivalry between the heroes and the villain and also harks back to the olden days of the Justice Society Of America while still adapting them to the modern era. On top of that, villains such as Felix Faust steal the stories throughout.
Crisis On Multiple Earths (2002)
Crisis On Earth-One, Crisis On Earth-Two, and Crisis On Earth-X are all important pieces of DC history. Seeing the Justice League and the Justice Society meet for the first time brings pure joy on its own. However, subsequent stories featured in the omnibus helped redefine the DC universe with multiverse travel.
Instead of trying to find all the individual stories, this Omnibus will not only save time but also money. These stories are all as fun as they are epic, showcasing what DC would end up evolving into. It’s impossible to not smile at least when seeing characters like Superman interact with the likes of Jay Garrick, both being the boy scouts of their teams.
JSA #54 (2004)
One of the greatest joys of crossovers is that not all of them are about fighting some universal threat. JSA #54, also known as Virtue, Vice, and Pumpkin Pie tells the simple concept of the Justice Society and the Justice League coming together to celebrate Thanksgiving which results in many hijinks.
For example, the comic ends with Batman and Mr. Terrific bringing stacks of pizzas for the two teams. The whole comic is filled with these adorable moments that show off the humanity of these characters; they may be powerful metahumans and vigilantes, but they are still people who want a nice relaxing holiday.
Justice Society Of America #27 (2009)
Mixing old and new generations of the JSA, this issue is the beginning of the Blackout storyline. There are many classic and powerful members of the JSA such as Alan Scott’s Green Lantern. With Obsidian at the center, the Blackout storyline brings a much darker story to what is usually a more intentionally cheesy and light-hearted superhero team.
As a bonus, there are several characters from the JSA spin-off known as Infinity Inc., allowing for the best of all worlds of this DC franchise. The darker elements of the Blackout storyline also bring the Golden Age superheroes into a tone that’s more akin to a then-modern Justice League story thus showing that these characters are more than Golden Age cheesiness.
Last Days of the Justice Society of America (1986)
It’s not often that DC or Marvel give characters an actual ending; typically, a character just seems to fade into obscurity or their comic series ends without a resolution. After Crisis On Infinite Earths, however, DC decided to let their first big team of superheroes of the Golden Age have a send-off.
This results in Last Days Of The Justice Society Of America, a story that some may find to be more somber since it is essentially a giant farewell to the characters. At the same time, there is a sense of the characters being honored; as if the reader is saluting a team of decorated veterans for their service which makes for a bittersweet story, even if the JSA would return later on.
JSA #1 (1999)
David S. Goyer brought the Justice Society back and rebooted them in a more modern fashion with JSA. In many ways, this comic proves that the Justice Society may be old school, but it could be portrayed in the same modern style as the Justice League. The stories were grittier, grander, and arguably greater than before without losing what made the JSA so iconic.
If someone does not like older comics in the way they are written and/or drawn, Johns’ JSA run is a good starting place for those looking for something more akin to what was on display in Black Adam. However, it does not alienate fans of the old comics either as characters such as Jay Garrick AKA the original Flash still feel right out of All-Star Comics.
JSA: All-Stars (2003)
Rather than one continuous story, JSA: All-Stars is an anthology of vignettes focusing on different members of the Justice Society. In a way, this is perfect for beginners because it gives just enough to satisfy readers and get them intrigued enough to pursue other JSA books by giving samples of so many heroes both old and new.
From Hawkgirl to Hourman to the original Green Lantern AKA Alan Scott, each character gets a chance to shine brightly and represent the Golden Age fun that the JSA has always been. These characters are up there with Superman as a prime example of the word: superhero.
Crisis On Infinite Earths (1985)
It’s easy to say that this is cheating since it’s about the entire DC universe, not just the Justice Society, but they do play a big part in this epic crossover and destruction of the Multiverse. At this point, Crisis On Infinite Earths speaks for itself because it created the whole concept of a “Post Crisis” universe.
This story changed everything and led to a more unified DC universe that had proper continuity and in many ways, it is the swan song for the JSA. It was meant to be their last big hurrah before DC would end its story the following year. Every newcomer to DC should read this comic, not just newfound JSA fans.