WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #30 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, and Francis Manapul, on sale Aug. 28.
After years of being conspicuously absent from the DC Universe, the Justice Society of America make their grand return in the final page of Justice League #30, the opening chapter of the climactic "Justice/Doom War." The original DC Comics superteam, which were created during World War II, are revealed as several members of the Justice League find themselves transported back to the 1940s in the JSA's headquarters.
With the nature of the team's disappearance serving as one of the main driving questions in the comic book event Doomsday Clock, the JSA's appearance in the original, classic incarnation begs the question when exactly does the current Justice League story arc take place?
The Justice Society, in its classic, Golden Age form, has been largely absent since the start of the New 52 publishing initiative in 2011; with a younger, reimagined version relegated to Earth-2 before being dropped entirely by the start the current DC Rebirth era over three years ago.
Apart from brief appearances by Johnny Thunder and the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick, the various members of the JSA have remained missing, with Jay alluding to a mysterious force removing him from the DCU. Doomsday Clock reveals the culprit to be Doctor Manhattan, having arrived in the DC Metaverse to witness the multiple histories of the main DCU. Upon his entry from the Watchmen universe, Manhattan kills Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott before he becomes a superhero resulting in the JSA never forming.
Alan Scott seen alive and well and in his iconic appearance as Green Lantern, along the rest of his JSA comrades, not as the New 52 versions from Earth-2, but as the team's original roster -- albeit replacing the Spectre with the Golden Age Starman Ted Knight. With the JSA still not having been restored as readers await the final two issues of Doomsday Clock, this indicates that "Justice/Doom War" may, in fact, be the first DCU story to take place after the Watchmen/DC crossover event.
Doomsday Clock, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, had first launched in November 2017, with the intention of concluding its 12-issue run in December 2018. The series was intended to have far-reaching implications for the DCU and set approximately a year into the future of then-current state of the shared universe, with the rest of the publishing line planned to build up to it by the series' eventual conclusion.
Small hints at the storyline would surface periodically across the publishing line, from Reverse-Flash encountering Manhattan off-panel to rumblings of the Supermen Theory that set global tensions regarding superheroes in Doomsday Clock to an all time high. However, the series was repeatedly hit with delays causing DC to shift the release schedule to bi-monthly before dropping a regular release schedule altogether for its final two issues.
With Snyder and Tynion having planned for "Justice/Doom War" and its preceding buildup throughout 2018 as mentioned in an exclusive interview with CBR, there is a strong possibility that the creative team anticipated Doomsday Clock and its likely restoration for the classic JSA into the DCU to occur before "Justice/Doom War" even began. The Justice League is confused by the JSA headquarters upon their arrival in Justice League #30 as a sort of museum whereas Lois Lane in Doomsday Clock has never even heard of the JSA or their founding members until she receives a flash drive providing their history.
With Doomsday Clock tentatively expected to release its final two issues before the end of the year, the epic crossover will end a full year after its initially planned conclusion date. While most of the publishing line has steered clear of the crossover story for now, Justice League may be the first series to take place afterwards by showing heroes from the eponymous team finally encounter the Justice Society of America.
Much of Doomsday Clock's story details remain guarded, including the inevitable confrontation between Superman and Doctor Manhattan but "Justice/Doom War" may have just become the furthest point forward in the current chronology of the DC Universe.