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 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 evokes the traits of 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 Flash stop a robbery by Justice Guild enemy 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 Justice Guild were comic book characters on the Justice League's Earth about whom Green Lantern read as a child. He claims without the comics, 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 called the Injustice Guild of America, who are based on Golden Age DC supervillains, which consists of Music Master, Sportsman, Sir Swami, and Dr. Blizzard. The IGA engage in a scheme to pull off a series of crimes based on the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire as part of a contest to see who can pull off the best crime related to those elements. Dr. Blizzard won when he took Flash and Black Siren as hostages where he led the IGA in their next criminal activity: robbing the Seaboard City Mint and escaping by blimp. The IGA are defeated by the JL and the JGA and are handed over to the police.
Probing deeper into inconsistencies found in the "perfect" Seaboard City, such as an ice cream truck that never stops, dangers that just happen to spring up out of nowhere, and graves 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 (dated on the same day as the final Justice Guild comic) in a battle-scarred subway underneath a library that contains books with blank pages. The newspaper reveals that the JGA world's version of the 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, thus resulting in the Justice Guild comic book being cancelled in the Justice League’s world. The JL question the ice cream man to which he can only tell them that "he'll hear them" before driving off.
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 as a child. 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 because they know that if they defeat Ray, it will undo the illusion and everything in it, including themselves, but eventually decide that they can forfeit their false lives to save the JL, reasoning that if they could sacrifice themselves to save their world 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 inhabitants are freed from the illusion, and begin to rebuild their shattered world starting with Seaboard City, thanking the League for giving them a future. 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.
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.
Among the members of the Justice Guild are:
- Streak (voiced by David Naughton) — The leader of the Guild who possesses super-speed.
- Cat Man (voiced by Stephen Root) — A cat-themed member of the Guild who is a master martial artist. He is often paired up on missions with Black Siren (with whom he also apparently shares a romantic relationship). He has a Cat-Cycle and sidecar, and possesses a grappling hook and gauntlets with retractable claws.
- Green Guardsman (voiced by William Katt) — He wields a power ring which can create a variety of hard-light constructs but is ineffective against aluminum.
- Tom Turbine (voiced by Ted McGinley) — The team's brains, he is a genius intellect specializing in nuclear physics and meta-physics. Tom also has a mesomorphic build, making him naturally very strong as well. He possesses a belt 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.
- Black Siren (voiced by Jennifer Hale) — 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.
- Ray Thompson (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris) — The team's mascot. 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 DNA, giving him the psychic ability to mold the world to one of his own 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, undoing the illusion and everything in it.
A group of super-villains whose goal is to eliminate the Justice Guild and rule the world. They make their headquarters in a cave somewhere outside of Seaboard City. Among its members are:
- Sir Swami (voiced by Jeffrey Jones) — 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 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 or if he survived the nuclear war.
- Music Master (voiced by Udo Kier) — 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 tried to steal a priceless instrument, but was thwarted by the League. He escaped and told the rest of the Injustice Guild about the new heroes. When 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.
- Sportsman (voiced by Michael McKean) — A member of the Injustice Guild who uses sports equipment to commit crimes. His mannerisms mirror those of Bobe 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. He is 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.
- Dr. Blizzard (voiced by Corey Burton) — A member of the Injustice Guild. He possesses a special doctor's light-reflector that gives him ice ray powers and 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 of Seaboard City. 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 and foiled their plot. It is unknown if he survived the war or if he's a projection of Ray's mind.
- 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 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, Golden Age Superman, and the Golden Age Hourman (and, to a slightly lesser degree, the Golden Age Mr. Terrific).
- Green Guardsman resembles the Golden Age Green Lantern, with his weakness to aluminium an homage to Alan Scott's weakness to wood. His alter ego is given as Scott Mason.
- Catman is a combination of Wildcat and Golden Age Batman with the personality of Adam West's version of Batman from the 1960s live-action TV series. He is not to be confused with the Batman villain of the same name, whose alter ego was Thomas Blake. However, the real name of the Justice Guild of America's Catman is T. Blake which is an homage to the Batman villain.
- Black Siren resembles the Golden Age Black Canary. The name given on her tombstone, Donna Vance, 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 the Golden Age 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.
In other media
Elements of this concept are seen within the Arrowverse:
- Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was initially coined "The Streak" by Iris West in The Flash early in season one before officially being given The Flash codename.
- The Earth-Two metahuman version of Dinah Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) uses the "Black Siren" alias in Arrow.
- The Justice League Watchtower: The Justice Guild of America
- Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #102 | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources
- Abrams, Natalie (April 4, 2016). "Arrow's Katie Cassidy to appear on The Flash, Vixen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (25 January 2017). "Arrow Recap: Double Trouble — Plus, the Hunt for a New Canary Is Underway". TVLine.