Justice Guild of America
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The Justice Guild of America is a superhero team featured in the Justice League animated series two-part episode Legends, a homage to the Golden Age Justice Society of America, and to a degree the Silver Age Justice League of America.
At the climax of a fight between the Justice League and a giant robot remote-controlled by Lex Luthor, it falls over, threatening to crush The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and J'onn J'onzz. The Flash tries to stop the damaged robot falling onto the other Leaguers by running so fast that he creates a tornado-like vortex just as the robot's energy core explodes. This causes them to accidentally end up on a parallel Earth existing in a different vibrational frequency from the Justice League's own. They end up in Seaboard City, an idyllic 1950s locale, that more than a little resembles Pleasantville or other such havens. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to The Village of The Prisoner and features an ice cream van which plays "Pop Goes the Weasel", a tune regularly employed on that show.
There they meet the Justice Guild of America members - Tom Turbine, The Streak, the Green Guardsman (not to be confused with Green Guardsman of Amalgam Comics), Black Siren, Catman, and their sidekick / mascot Ray Thompson. They first fight when Green Lantern and the Flash stop a robbery by Justice Guild enemy the Music Master, and the Guild mistakes them for the thieves. However, after the Streak sees Flash save Ray from pieces of a falling building, he realizes the League aren't criminals and stops the fight. The Guild were comic book characters on the Justice League's Earth about whom Green Lantern read as a child. He claims without them he may not have the ring today, as the comics taught him to be a hero. J'onn J'onzz hypothesizes that the JGA writers were psychically tuned in to their Earth during flashes of "inspiration"; this is a nod to the explanation Gardner Fox provided for the JSA/JLA link in his September 1961 story Flash of Two Worlds in which the Barry Allen Flash of Earth-One encounters Jay Garrick, his Earth-Two counterpart. They help the JGA fight a group of their enemies, the Injustice Guild of America, who are based on Golden Age DC supervillains. The IGA engage in a scheme to pull off a series of crimes based on the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire.
Probing deeper into inconsistencies found in the "perfect" Seaboard City, such as an ice cream van that never stops, seemingly random disasters that pop in out of nowhere, and gravestones of the Guild which Hawkgirl finds (Flash even questions at one point why there are only two police officers in the entire city), Hawkgirl and Lantern find an old newspaper in a derelict subway underneath a library that contains books with blank pages. The newspaper reveals that the JGA world's Cuban Missile Crisis escalated into World War III, and the heroes perished in the resultant U.S.-Soviet nuclear exchange, and Seaboard City was destroyed in the ensuing nuclear holocaust.
The JL confront the JGA with this knowledge; shocked, the JGA deny that their existence is a mere illusion. J'onn suspects that Ray Thompson is the key to the bizarre state of this reality. Ray denies knowing anything, but J'onn makes a telepathic link with him, causing him to reveal his true form: a disfigured mutant with the ability to warp reality and create psychic illusions. Ray's abilities were activated by the holocaust, and he created the false time warp as a consequence of their manifestation. With a distorted and nostalgic view of the past, he recreated the world of his childhood and resurrected the heroes he worshipped. Angrily, Ray goes on a rampage and tries to kill the JL, while distracting the JGA with a giant red robot. The Guild heroes are initially unsure of what to do, but eventually decide that they can forfeit their false lives to save the JL, reasoning that if they could sacrifice themselves once, they can do so again. They all attack Ray, overwhelming his mind and shattering the illusion. Lantern then watches in dismay as the JGA fade away with smiles on their faces.
The Justice League members return to their own Earth using a space-time machine Tom Turbine was working on before his death, powered by Green Lantern's ring; meanwhile, in Seaboard City, the inhabitants are freed from a web of lies, thank the League, and begin to rebuild their shattered world.
On his own Earth, John Stewart ponders on how much the JGA comics meant to him when he was young and the impact the comics' cancellation in 1962 (the year the actual Guild died) had on him. He remarks to Hawkgirl that the JGA taught him the meaning of the word hero, a commentary on the bright, optimistic Golden and Silver Age's contrast to the Modern Age's grittiness and angst.
- The Streak - The leader of the Guild who possesses super-speed. He is based on the Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick) and is voiced by David Naughton.
- Cat Man - A member of the Guild who is a master martial artist. He is based on both Wildcat and Batman and is often paired up with Black Siren (with whom he also apparently shares a romantic relationship) on missions. He has a Cat-Cycle and sidecar, and possesses a grappling hook and gauntlets with retractable claws. He is voiced by Stephen Root.
- Green Guardsman - a member of the Guild who is based on the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott). He wields a power ring which can create a variety of hard-light constructs but is ineffective against aluminum. He is voiced by William Katt.
- Tom Turbine - the team's brains, he is a genius intellect specializing in nuclear physics and meta-physics. He also has a mesomorphic build, making him naturally very strong as well. He possesses a belt (most likely of his own design) containing an advanced flat, circular push-button-activated turbine and thick ring-like metal wristlets and anklets. When the turbine that powers the wristlets and anklets is turned on, it grants him flight and super-strength. (It presumably also imbues him with great speed and agility, but not as fast as The Streak or as agile as Cat Man). He is based on Hourman (Rex Tyler), the Golden Age Atom (Al Pratt) and the Golden Age Superman, and is voiced by Ted McGinley.
- Black Siren - the only female member of the Justice Guild, while on a team of all males, she takes it upon herself to handle the household chores and duties. She is often paired with Cat Man on missions, and it is implied that they are also romantically engaged. She is based on the Golden Era version of Black Canary (Dinah Drake), and is voiced by Jennifer Hale.
- Ray Thompson - the team's mascot (like Golden Age Jimmy Olsen or Silver Age Snapper Carr). After the Justice Guild died during a nuclear war that destroyed his own world, Ray survived and became exposed to the radioactive fallout that mutated his D.N.A., giving him the psychic ability to mold his own fallen world to his choosing. Using his new powers, Ray chose to recreate what he had lost along with the heroes he grew fond of as a child. When the Justice Guild found out their existence was a fake, they fought back and overcame Ray's powers. When Ray was defeated, his powers of concentration weakened and so did his control over Seaboard City. He is voiced by Neil Patrick Harris.
A group of super-villains whose goal is to eliminate the Justice Guild and rule the world.
- Sir Swami- the leader of the Injustice Guild. He is a magician with limitless powers that comes from his magic wand. Swami proposed a contest to see who can pull off the perfect crime related to the four elements of nature. He tried to steal a jewel related to fire (Streak identified it as the "Flame of Rasputin") but was stopped by Green Lantern and The Streak. He escaped through a phone booth. He later assisted Dr. Blizzard in his scheme which also ended in failure. It is unknown if he is a projection of Ray's mind or a real person. It is also unknown if he survived the nuclear war. He is based on the villain, The Wizard. He is voiced by Jeffrey Jones.
- Music Master-a member of the Injustice Guild. He possesses an accordion that emits high intensity sound waves. He was the first member of the Injustice Guild to encounter the Justice League. He is based on The Fiddler. He tried to steal a priceless instrument but was defeated by the League. He escaped and told the Guild about the new heroes. Sir Swami proposed a contest to see who could pull off a crime related to the four elements. Music Master chose air and stole a replica of the Wright Brothers' glider plane. Hawkgirl and Green Guardsman gave chase but couldn't damage the plane. Music Master got away with the plane but lost the contest to Dr. Blizzard. He was eventually defeated by both The Justice League and Guild. It is unknown if he survived the war or if he's a projection of Ray's mind. He is voiced by Udo Kier.
- Sportsman-a member of the Injustice Guild who uses sports equipment to commit crimes. He is based on Sportsmaster. His voice, mannerisms, and appearance are based on Bob Hope. When Sir Swami proposed a contest to see who could pull off a crime related to the four elements, Sportsman chose earth and stole a tennis trophy. He escapes capture by J'onn Jonnz, Cat Man, and Ray Thompson. It is unknown if he survived the war or if he's a projection of Ray's mind. He is voiced by Michael McKean.
- Dr. Blizzard-a member of the Injustice Guild. He possesses a special headset that gives him ice powers. He also makes cheesy ice puns. When Sir Swami proposed a contest to see who could pull off a crime related to the four elements, Dr. Blizzard chose water and planned to steal a new fountain during its dedication by the mayor. The Flash and Black Siren intervened but Dr. Blizzard froze them and took them to his hideout where he won the contest. Since he won, he got to pick their next move. He chose to rob the Seaboard City mint, then escape by blimp with help from his teammates. Cat Man single-handedly took down the entire Injustice Guild, including Dr. Blizzard, and foiled their plot. It is unknown if he survived the war or if he's a projection of Ray's mind. He is voiced by Corey Burton.
- Bruce Timm has commented that Ray Thompson is based on both Roy Thomas, who collaborated on the animated series, due to his famous admiration of the Golden Age comics, and science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury, because many of Bradbury's stories deal with nostalgia compared to the harshness of the present. The original script of Legends had Ray calling himself Brainwave.
- The idea of Ray's special ability is based on Marvel Comics' Rick Jones summoning the Golden Age heroes in the Avengers' Kree-Skrull War, a story written by Roy Thomas.
- The Justice League staff originally intended to use the Golden Age Justice Society of America, but access to the characters was denied by DC Comics as Paul Levitz felt the story as written disrespected the JSA and the characters' portrayals clashed with the post-Crisis JSA's portrayal in current comics. However, Levitz agreed to a compromise: the producers could change the names and designs just enough to make the team not quite the JSA, but still get the point across.
- Members of the Justice Guild were intended to reflect:
- The Streak resembles the Golden Age Flash. His role as leader of the Justice Guild mirrors the Flash's role as the first chairman of the Justice Society. The Streak reflected his era's racism by telling John Stewart "you're a credit to your people, son".
- Tom Turbine is a combination of the Golden Age Atom and the Golden Age Superman.
- Green Guardsman resembles the Golden Age Green Lantern, with his weakness to aluminium a homage to Alan Scott's weakness to wood. His alter ego is given as Scott Mason.
- Catman is a combination of Wildcat and the Silver Age Batman; however, the Batman he resembles is closer to Adam West's over-the-top live-action series from the 1960s. He is not to be confused with the Batman villain Cat-Man, whose name was Thomas Blake. His real name is T. Blake.
- Black Siren resembles the Golden Age Black Canary. The name given on her tombstone, Donna Nance, is similar to that of the original Black Canary, Dinah Drake Lance. She reflects the sexism of early superhero comics (such as the fact that originally Wonder Woman was only the secretary for the Justice Society of America), when she asks Hawkgirl to join her in the kitchen so that "the men can talk."
- JGA enemies the Injustice Guild were modified versions of the Injustice Society:
- The episode ends with "Respectfully dedicated to the memory of Gardner F. Fox." Gardner Fox was a prominent writer of both the Golden and Silver Age era and co-created both the JSA and the JLA. Fox was also the creator of the concept of the DC Multiverse, and author of the first comic to feature the Multiverse, Flash #123, "The Flash of Two Worlds". This is among the DCAU episodes that pay homage to those writers, another being Superman: The Animated Series episode Apokolips... Now! which was dedicated to Jack Kirby.