WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #7 by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, in stores now.
The Justice Society of America has long been a fan-favorite super-team. Long before there was a Justice League, there was the JSA, a team comprised of such characters as Alan Scott’s Green Lantern, Jay Garrick’s Flash and Ted Grant’s Wildcat. The 1940s team has been ingrained in the history of DC Comics, and is a big part of the themes of legacy in its Universe. The JSA established a precedent of heroism and the Justice League followed it. However, all of that changed when DC streamlined its continuity in 2011 with the New 52 relaunch.
The New 52 instead positioned the Justice League as the first superhero team to unite in the DC Universe, something that happened only five years prior to the events of the present. Naturally, longtime DC fans were quick to wonder what had happened to the JSA, and why they had been essentially erased from DC continuity.
With the arrival of DC Rebirth in 2016, we finally learned that Doctor Manhattan was somehow responsible for the changes in the timeline, but there were still a lot of questions left to be answered — mainly, whatever happened to the JSA? Well, Doomsday Clock #7 may finally give us the answer we’ve all been waiting for.
Doomsday Clock #7 opens with a familiar story. Well, familiar to fans of the Golden Age of DC Comics, anyway. The opening page of the issue re-tells the origin story of Alan Scott’s magical Green Lantern (not to be confused with the Power Batteries of the members of the cosmic Green Lanterns Corps). It basically recaps the story seen in All-American Comics #16 by Bill Finger and Martin Nodell.
If you don’t know the story of Scott’s Green Lantern, it goes a little something like this: A green meteor fell to Earth thousands of years ago, where it was found by an older Chinese man. The meteor came with a voice, which told a prophecy of death, life and power. The green rock would first be molded into a lamp before being turned into a lantern centuries later. Then, it would save the life of one Alan Scott, bestowing great power upon him when he found himself in a train crash.
With this power, Scott would become the first Green Lantern of Earth, and later a founding member of the Justice Society of America, predecessors to the Justice League.
That’s how events unfolded in All-American Comics #16, and this is exactly the story told in the form of Doctor Manhattan’s narration in the opening page of Doomsday Clock #7. In true Manhattan fashion, the narration jumps backwards and forwards in time, given that, to the omniscient blue character, all events unfold at the same time.
However, history is altered in the third panel of the page. In the past, Manhattan moves the emerald Lantern six inches, now positioning it out of Alan Scott’s reach. Suddenly, the train crash that results in Scott becoming the Green Lantern ends with a different outcome: The wreck has now killed the future superhero.
The change happens quite rapidly, but this tells us that Doctor Manhattan just altered the past of the DC Universe, the first manipulation of what we assume will end up being many. We don’t yet know why Manhattan has chosen to get rid of Alan Scott. Was it random, or purposeful? Since Manhattan sees all events at once, he knows that Alan Scott would become a founding member of the JSA. In fact, Manhattan sees the first ever meeting of the JSA in the second panel of the page. Perhaps he knew that killing Alan Scott would create a ripple effect that would result in the JSA never coming together at all. Either that or he systematically killed all of the members of the team throughout the timeline.
Right now, it’s difficult to say why Doctor Manhattan would choose to get rid of the DCU’s JSA. Perhaps he knew that, unlike the Justice League, they would overcome whatever manipulations he has planned. Or, perhaps, he saw them as too similar to the Minutemen and the Watchmen, the superhero groups of his own universe. Perhaps, for his latest experiment, Doctor Manhattan needed a clean slate. But… why? What is he after?
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