The Injustice Society and Beyond

The Injustice Society and Beyond

(pop culture)
Old habits and inflated egos usually lead supervillains to operate solo, but in All Star Comics #37 (1947) a sinful sextet redefined the term “organized crime,” pooling their resources to combat DC Comics' Justice Society of America (JSA). Artist Irwin Hasen's cover (which is duplicated inside as the splash page) to this milestone issue depicts a bloodcurdling spectacle: the newly formed Injustice Society of the World dragging knives through a map of North America, divvying up their shares of the continent, while the mighty members of the JSA are bound helplessly in the background. Written by Gardner Fox and drawn (in separate chapters) by Hasen, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, and Alex Toth, “The Injustice Society of the World!” combines returning JSA rogues the Wizard (acting as team leader), Brain Wave, and Per Degaton with Golden Age (1938–1954) Flash foe the Thinker and Golden Age Green Lantern nemeses the Gambler and Vandal Savage, for an unholy mission intoned by the egg-headed mastermind Brain Wave: “We must vow not to rest until truth and justice are driven from the earth and evil reigns supreme!” Operating from an opulent meeting chamber secreted underground, the Injustice Society manipulates the JSA to split up for individual missions, in which each hero is waylaid by one of the villains. The heroes are placed on trial by their foes, but are reprieved during a surprise attack by Green Lantern. The Wizard assembled another Injustice Society (alternately called the Injustice “Gang”)—the Fiddler, the Icicle, the Sportsmaster, the Huntress I, and the Harlequin—in All-Star #41 (1948). The halfhearted-villainess Harlequin joined the group as an undercover operative in an attempt to impress her heartthrob Green Lantern. When the Justice Society went into limbo at the close of the Golden Age, the Injustice Society retired with them. Once the JSA was reinvented in the Silver Age (1956–1969) as the Justice League of America, loosely knit villainous unions became commonplace in the JLA's series, in which insidious plans or happenstance brought together clusters of criminals, only to be vanquished by the League. Justice League of America #111–#112 (1974) introduced the JLA's version of the Injustice Society: the Injustice Gang of the World, a conglomerate of Silver Age foes: Batman's Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, the Atom's Chronos, the Flash's Mirror Master, Green Lantern's Tattooed Man, and Hawkman's Shadow-Thief. Like the original Injustice Society, the Gang held round-table meetings, in their case under the leadership of the inscrutable villain Libra. It was not until Justice League of America #123–#124 (1975) that the Injustice Society regrouped, in a JLA/JSA crossover. This incarnation was composed of veterans Wizard, Icicle, Sportsmaster, Huntress, and Gambler, plus the Shade and, in a tongue-in-cheek conclusion, JLA co-author Cary Bates as the “Plot-Twister.” During the mid- 1970s revival of All Star Comics, the Wizard once again revived the Injustice Society, with the swampcreature Solomon Grundy lumbering into the roster. The Society returned for the 1980 JLA/JSA teamup, which also involved the New Gods and Darkseid. In Infinity, Inc. in 1986, the Wizard pulled out of his hat yet another version of the Injustice Society— Injustice, Unlimited—including several Golden Age villains joined by the Gambler's daughter, the Hazard, and the Huntress' daughter, Artemis. In the post–Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985–1986) DC Comics continuity, iniquitous counterparts to both the Justice League and Society coexist. The first was not to be taken seriously, though: Major Disaster, Multi-Man, Clock King, Cluemaster, Big Sir, and “the Mighty” Bruce comically collided as the Injustice League in Justice League International #23 (1989), during the series' light-hearted era by the creative team of Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire. Lex Luthor organized a new Injustice Gang in JLA #9–#10 (1997), a deathly serious incarnation consisting of Dr. Light, the Joker, Mirror Master, and the Ocean Master, plus former hero J'emm, Son of Saturn, under Luthor's control. This group operated from a skull-shaped satellite base constructed by LexCorp's aerospace division and had the stated mission of world domination, but the Joker's lunacy continually interfered with Luthor's plans. Luthor organized the Injustice Gang version 2.0 in 1999, with the Queen Bee abetted by newer JLA menaces the General (formerly Shaggy Man) and Prometheus. Lastly, the team that started it all, the Injustice Society, was reborn in JSA #10 (2000). Coordinated by Johnny Sorrow, its founding lineup was Killer Wasp, the Icicle, Blackbriar Thorn, Geomancer, Count Vertigo, and the Tigress. The “strength in numbers” dictum proved inaccurate when a single superhero—Wildcat—stopped the cadre when they invaded the JSA's headquarters. This group has continued to fight the Justice Society, with Black Adam, the Thinker, and newer characters Shiv and Rival among the ranks. An animated version of the Injustice Gang, including Luthor, Joker, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, the Ultra-Humanite, Solomon Grundy, and Copperhead, appeared in episodes of the Cartoon Network's Justice League (2001–2004).