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Comic Book / America vs. the Justice Society

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America vs. the Justice Society is a four-issue mini-series published in 1985 by DC Comics. It is written by Roy Thomas, with artwork by Rafael Kayanan, Rich Buckler, and Jerry Ordway, among others. It was considered canon up until Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was released that same year.

In the story, a secret diary published by the Earth-2 Batman sometime prior to his death accuses his former allies, the Justice Society of America, of being collaborators with the Nazis during World War II. With some help by the younger members of the team, the Justice Society go to court to determine the validity of this "diary" and what purpose it was actually created for.

This mini-series provides examples of:

  • Alternate History: On Earth-2, Senator Joseph McCarthy died in a car crash in 1951, and thus his place was taken by Senator O'Fallon, who focused his lens on the Justice Society and tried to force them to unmask publicly.
  • Cain and Abel: Not in potentially lethal terms, but Dick and Helena find themselves in opposing sides. Dick stands with Batman's accusation that the JSA were Nazis, even if it means condemning his teammates. Helena stands with the JSA and their innocence, even if it means condemning her father as a liar. Dick is Denying the Dead Parent's Sins, believing his late mentor was in the right, regardless of what he wrote, while Helena is Parents as People, knowing her father had flaws, such as an irrational hatred for the JSA near the end of his life. Fortunately, the revelations reconcile the two.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Superman is this in both versions of the JSA's first adventure. In the true event, he stops the Nazis from bombing the Capitol. In the Batman's Diary, his presence intimidates the Nazi-collaborating JSA into stopping their mission to kill the President.
    • The Justice Society near the end of the story, when Per Degaton is ready to shoot Dick Grayson to cover up the murder of Professor Zee.
  • Cool Old Guy: Starman tells the court about their 1940 battle against Ian Karkull, the foe's destruction causing the JSA to be bathed in his temporal energy, allowing them to maintain their prime stamina & vitality even as they age to their sixties.
  • Corrupt Politician:
    • Senator William Hopkins heads the Joint Committee. Despite his promises to keep an open mind, he has been paid by O'Fallon to find the JSA guilty.
    • When Doctor Mid-Nite makes a noble speech, his teammates whisper why he didn't go into politics. "Too Many Principles?"
  • Courtroom Episode: For the Justice Society in general.
  • Death of a Child: Green Lantern recalls the death of a child that took place during his battle of Wotan, an event that affected him so greatly that he resigned for several years as the Justice Society's chairman. The death, as it turns out, was that of a child that Ian Karkull realized would someday become a United States President.
  • Denying the Dead Parent's Sins: Robin's loyalty blinds him to questioning the reliability of his late mentor's accusation that the JSA were traitors.
  • Died on Their Birthday: Professor Zee arrives through time-travel on what would be his 100th Birthday. However, mortally wounded (by Per Degaton from his starting travel point in 1947), he collapses dead.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Brainwave almost does this, but ends up being saved by his robe being caught by a pole. He maintains the illusion that he has fallen to his death so he could set up his plan of revenge.
  • Driven to Suicide: Per Degaton, who was fingered for the murder of Professor Malachi Zee of the Brain Trust.
  • Evil Laugh: The Brainwave in a splash panel in the third issue.
  • Faking the Dead: The Wizard admits that he faked his own suicide via an illusion so he could escape from the Justice Society.
  • Grand Theft Me: Averted. One of the surprise witnesses is Dr. Robert Crane, whose brain (formerly inside Robotman) now lives inside the body of Dr. Charles Grayson. However, this was a legal transplant, as Grayson's will stated after his death from brain cancer, Crane will inherit his still healthy and functioning body. So, it is not a theft.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Brainwave mined the approaches to his lair with explosives to prevent the other Justice Society members from rescuing their companions. Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt gets through, though, and ends up replanting the explosives under the Brainwave's tower, so when he pushed the detonator plunger, he blew up his own lair instead.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Or in Sandman's case, he can still sit alongside his JSA teammates at the Hearing despite recovering from a heart attack.
  • I Reject Your Reality: O'Fallon is convinced beyond reason that the JSA murdered his father because he helped shut them down. Notably, even Degaton calls him out on "everyone knows it was an accident" and laughs at O'Fallon actually thinking the greatest heroes on Earth would murder anyone.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Wildcat in the third issue: "I'm a crime-buster, not a politician."
  • Kangaroo Court: Wildcat cynically believes the Hearing is just this. Secretly, Committee Judge Senator William Hopkins intends to treat it as such.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The arresting military forces come prepared with Kryptonite handcuffs to apprehend Superman.
  • Mind Wipe: Batman's fatal battle with Bill Jensen revealed his identity as Commissioner Bruce Wayne. Doctor Fate altered the public's memories so that two men were killed with Jensen: Batman and Commissioner Wayne.
  • Parents as People: Dick comes to terms that Batman wasn't perfect.
  • Police Are Useless: When Wonder Woman decides to leave the court, security block her way. It results in how one would expect.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In Universe. Senator Hopkins criticizes some of the JSA's cases as far-fetched (the JSA fought Fairies?), Wonder Woman counters if they are more ridiculous than an Amazon Princess like herself, an Extra-Terrestrial from a doomed planet (Superman), or a Ring giving magical powers (Green Lantern).
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: This was inspired by the discovery and publication of the so-called Hitler Diaries around that same time period.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Congressman Phillips remains reasonable and impartial throughout the hearings. Phillips' colleague Congresswoman Vasquez is more hostile toward the JSA. Still, she does ultimately agree that the hearings should be canceled after the star witness (an imprisoned super villain) demonstrates his untrustworthiness by trying to use the hearings as an opportunity to escape.
  • Running Gag: At least three times in Wonder Woman's retelling of Per Degaton's exploits, whenever he is made to forget those events, he ends up talking to Professor Zee about having dreams of being the ruler of the world, and Professor Zee responds by telling him to clean up his test tubes.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Emotionally overwhelmed over confirmation of both the innocence of the JSA of Treason and the truth behind Batman writing the diary, Dick Grayson hides his Manly Tears from the Huntress.
  • Secret Diary: The plotline centers on the Batman Diary, which accuses the JSA of following Adolf Hitler and spending World War II secretly helping the Third Reich.
  • Secretly Dying: At the end, Huntress reveals to Dick that Bruce had been suffering from cancer towards the end of his life, and had he not died in battle with Bill Jensen, he would have been dead within a year anyway.
  • Shrink Ray: The Brainwave subjected eight members of the Justice Society to one so he could hold them hostage.
  • Shout-Out: One of the observers of the Congressional hearing mentions the 1980s TV show V.
  • Spanner in the Works: Batman's journal ended up being this to Per Degaton; his plans hinged upon everyone forgetting about him until the time machine returned, but the inquiry drew so much attention that his name kept getting mentioned.
  • Spear of Destiny: This as well as the Grailstone is mentioned as one of the reasons the Justice Society couldn't stop World War II from happening, as both items in the hands of the Axis world power leaders created a sphere of influence that affected all magic-based heroes as well as Superman.
  • Split Personality: Evidently this is what happened to Commissioner Bruce Wayne in his final months. Dying of cancer, he learns of Per Degaton's future plans of world conquest on the 100th Birthday of the missing Professor Zee. Knowing he will die before that date happens, but still hostile to the JSA to inform them of his suspicions, Bruce's subconscious took over as the Batman, writing the Diary, giving it to Dr. Nichols under the promise that it will be released to the public near the Degaton's planned date.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: In his Diary, Batman admits to using a handgun in his early days.
  • Surprise Witness: Several witnesses arrive to either support the JSA's innocence (The Shining Knight, Bob Crane) or their guilt (The Wizard).
  • Taking the Bullet: In the JSA's first adventure, the Atom saves Franklin Roosevelt from the full brunt of Valkyrie's attack. According to the Batman's Diary, the complicit Atom accidentally stumbled in his ally's assassin attack.
  • Time Travel: An essential part of the story. Professor Zee intended to travel in time to the point of his 100th birthday and then return back to his own time in 1947, but Per Degaton shot the professor, intending to take his time machine so that he could conquer the world. However, the professor fell into the machine and inadvertently activated it, sending him into the future. Per Degaton was waiting for the moment that the professor would re-emerge from his time travel for years, still intending to use the machine for his evil purposes. Apparently Batman figured this out, and so he wrote the diary with the purpose of having the Justice Society apprehend Per Degaton at the moment Professor Zee would appear to finger his former assistant as his murderer.
  • Vigilante Man: The Batman Diary begins with a focus on the costumed crime-fighters taking the law into their own hands.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Batman's Diary accuses the Justice Society of America (with exception of Superman) as collaborators of Hitler and the Third Reich.
  • You Killed My Father: O'Fallon blames the JSA for the death of his father, the Senator who forced their retirement in 1951. Turns out the fire that caused his death was accidental.