Wednesday, June 17, 2015

JSA Opposite: Injustice Society of the World Part 1

Every hero needs a villain....and even groups have their opposite number.

For the premiere super-team of the Justice Society of America, their evil counterpart came with All-Star Comics #37 (October-November, 1947, by Robert Kanigher and Irwin Hasen) with "The Injustice Society of the World"...a team made up of foes of the JSA!

This team was made of these members the first time around...

Vandal Savage

Starting with the oldest member of the team...the caveman, Vandar Adg was a caveman who killed his father to take over his tribe (and was exposed to the energy of a meteor, granting him an exceptionally long life, wherein he battled to control the world) and he first faced the original Green Lantern in Green Lantern Quarterly #10 (Winter, 1943 by Alfred Bester and Martin Nodell) with "The Man Who Wanted The World" (in his only Golden Age appearance besides the team adventure).

Vandal Savage was responsible for the return of the Justice Society, fighting the two Flashes in Flash #137 (June, 1963), and returned again and again, not only to face the JSA, but also the Flashes (Jay Garrick and Barry Allen in Flash #215 and #235 in the 1970s  and Wally West in Flash #1, #2, #13 to #16 and more in the 1980s and Flash #48 to #50 in the 1990s), Superman (Action Comics #515 #516, #542, #543 and #556 in the 1980s), Rip Hunter with the Forgotten Heroes (Action Comics #552 and #553 in February and March, 1984) and Time Masters (Time Masters 8 issue mini-series in 1990), the Martian Manhunter and his Justice League Task Force (including Gypsy in Justice League Task Force #17-#21, #25, #27, #28 and #37 and the Ray in Ray #14-#21 and #28), Hawkman (Hawkman #29 and #30 in February and March, 1996), Arsenal (in the four issue Arsenal mini-series of 1998) and the Titans (fronting their gathering of foes, Tartarus in Titans #5 to #12 in 1999), Resurrection Man (Resurrection Man #24 to #27 of 1999), and even his own daughter, Scandal Savage and her group, the Secret Six (Villains United #5 and #6 of November and December 2005, and Secret Six #3 to #6 of September to December, 2006), as well as being the driving force in getting the Justice Legion A to come back to the current time in DC One Million...

Someone worth more of a look in the future, especially as more tales from his past come to light as well, as it seems this villain has been fighting the JSA even before they became the JSA (in JSA #42 to #44 of January to March, 2003), and was instrumental in helping them end as well (mentioned in Justice Society of America #1 to #8 of 1991, and JLA: Year One #2 and #3 of February and March, 1998)...

...not bad for an old man around almost as long as the dinosaurs, eh?

The Gambler

Next up is another foe of the original Green Lantern, Steven Sharpe III premiered in Green Lantern Quarterly #12 (Summer, 1943 by Henry Kuttner and Martin Nodell) in "The Gambler".  Steven tried to marry his high school sweetheart right after graduation, but the girl, Helen, ran off with another local boy who won the lottery.  Then, Steven encountered an armored car that lost a bag of money, and he could see the writing on the was better to take a chance and hope for luck, and he became a Gambler, like his grandfather.

The Gambler picked up skills like mastering disguise, throwing knives and guns (his gimmicked to fire ammonia or blackout gas), and ran across Green Lantern (Alan Scott) next to his own wanted poster in Gotham City!  Gotham seemed to have a problem keeping criminals in jail, or maybe it was just luck...the Gambler returned again and again in the Golden Age, with Green Lantern #20 (June-July, 1946), Green Lantern #27 (August-September, 1947), joining the ISW, and coming back to face Green Lantern twice more, in Green Lantern #30 (February-March, 1948) and Green Lantern #35 (November-December, 1948), though as luck would have it, he didn't make it onto any of those covers.

The Gambler returned once more with the Injustice Society, facing off against the combined JLA and JSA in Justice League of America #123 and #124 (October and November, 1975) and surviving the Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 (December, 1985), before being cheated of his ill-gotten gains, and shooting himself in the head with his own derringer.  Still, his legacy continued with his granddaughter, Rebecca, who joined Injustice, Unlimited to face Infinity, Inc. with her own luck power (starting in Infinity, Inc. #34 of January, 1987), and his grandson, Steven Sharpe V, who became the new Gambler, to join with the Royal Flush Gang and face the New Teen Titans (in New Titans #68 and #69 of July and September, 1990).

The Thinker 

Clifford DeVoe first faced the original Flash in All-Flash #12 (Fall, 1943, by Gardner Fox and Everett Hibbard) in the "Tumble Inn to Trouble".  Clifford was a lawyer, who just couldn't make any money, failing in prosecuting mobster Hunk Norvock, and realized that criminals, who had the skills to make money, but not the smarts, just needed someone to lead them, to be their "Thinker", to find success.  The Thinker came to face the Flash, more than occasionally using the latest scientific devices, but failed again and again, in All-Flash #14 (Spring, 1944), All-Flash #27 (February-March, 1947), Comic Cavalcade #22 (August-September, 1947), Comic Cavalcade #23 (October-November, 1947), the team appearance, All-Flash #32 (December-January, 1947/1948) and one unpublished Golden Age adventure presented in Flash #214 (April, 1972).

The Thinker, along with the Fiddler and the Shade, kept Keystone City under their personal control, until defeated by the combined efforts of Flashes Barry Allen and Jay Garrick (Flash #123 of September, 1961), with Clifford now using the Thinking Cap of Dr. Hartford Jackson (from Flash Comics #65 of June, 1945), which gave the mob organizer amplified brain power, including projecting mental force.  Soon after being defeated by the two Flashes, the Thinker moved up to full super-villain mode, getting a costume and improving the helmet, facing off against the two Atoms in Atom #29 (February-March, 1967), then working with old Flash foe, the Rag Doll, in Flash #229 (September-October, 1974), rejoining the ISW in All-Star Comics #66 (May-June, 1977), and facing off against the Huntress and Power Girl in Wonder Woman #274 to #276 (December to February, 1980/1981)...all the while pretty much avoiding being on a comic cover!

The Thinker died when recruited for a mission for the Suicide Squad in Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad #1 (1988), but really thought his way out of this fighting mess, instead dying quietly from brain cancer in Flash #134 (February, 1998) even when Jay Garrick tried to revive him by finding his original thinking cap; Clifford still wanted to die as it was his time.

The Thinker continued, with Ronnie Raymond's high school nemesis, Cliff Carmichael, getting the Thinking Cap DeVoe left behind from Amanda Waller, and being the new Thinker for a time (starting in Firestorm #99, July, 1990)...and another version of the Thinker in an Artificial Intelligence that was part of a new Injustice Society of the World (starting in JSA #16, November, 2000) (that eventually went to work for Amanda Waller in Checkmate, no less).

Check back soon for the other 3 original members, Brain Wave, Per Degaton and The Wizard!

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