Axis Amerika + The Fourth Reich

Axis created by Roy and Dann Thomas and ??
The Fourth Reich created by Geoff Johns and ??

First appearance: Gudra (as Gundra): Comic Cavalcade #17 (Oct./Nov. 1946).
Original team: Young All-Stars #1 (June 1987).
Kamikaze: Young All-Stars #5 (Oct. 1987).
Modern team: JLA #81 (July 2003).
Fourth Reich: Justice Society of America v.3 #2 (Feb. 2007)

History

...

Golden Age
      

Übermensch • Gudra •  Grösshorn Eule •  Fledermaus • Usil • Sea Wolf •  Kamikaze

Axis Amerika was a team of costumed agents who engaged in subversive activities in the United States during World War II on behalf of the Axis powers (Nazi Germany, fascist Italy ,and imperial Japan). Their principal adversaries were the All-Star Squadron, a wartime group of American costumed adventurers.

From Young All-Stars (1987).

Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany, conceived the idea of Axis Amerika, and it was intended that the team would include members from each of the three Axis powers. Axis Amerika's first known mission was to strike at American morale by assassinating American "mystery-men." Gudra succeeded in capturing the soul of one such hero, T.N.T. Soon however, Tsunami, who was intended to be Japan's representative in Axis Amerika, changed sides and became a member of the All-Star Squadron (Young All-Stars #1-3). Japan soon replaced Tsunami with Kamikaze (#5). In the grueling battle that followed, the Fledermaus was killed by Fury's while she was possessed by the god, Tisiphone. (#6) Though the villains were defeated, they returned once again. (#22-25) This time the All-Stars were aided by a similar group of international good guys: the Allies (Fireball, Kuei, Phantasmo, and the Squire). Their postwar history is unknown.

As of April 1942, the membership of Axis Amerika consisted of the following individuals:

  • The team's leader was Übermensch, whose name translates into English as "Overman (Superman)." Übermensch possessed superhuman strength and speed, though he was by no means as fast as the Flash or Johnny Quick. Übermensch could leap about one-eighth of a mile in a single jump, and his skin was impervious to small arms fire; it would take a bursting shell to penetrate his skin.
  • Der Grösshorn Eule (German for "horned owl") partnered with his own son, Fledermaus ("bat"). The Horned Owl and Fledermaus had no superhuman powers, but were highly trained athletes and superb hand-to-hand combatants. They swung from ropes and carried small weaponry in their costumes. They were analogs to Batman and Robin.
  • Gudra (aka Gundra) was a true Valkyrie of Norse folklore, brought to Earth by Hitler and the mystical Spear of Destiny. She possessed superhuman strength and rode a winged horse, Stormwind. As a Valkyrie she has the power to remove the soul from a dead person's body. (The Valkyries of Norse legend were "choosers of the slain," who brought the souls of heroic warriors slain in battle to the other-dimensional realm of Valhalla.) Gudra carried a shield and was a master swordsman. The touch of her lance could kill—and did; she slayed the Tigress (Young All-Stars #23)
  • The Sea Wolf was a werewolf who could breathe underwater. The Sea Wolf could survive out of water for an unspecified period of time. He possessed superhuman strength, and possibly other unrevealed powers. A second, modern Sea Wolf (Lawrence Huff) battled Aquaman. His connection, if any, is unknown. (Aquaman v.5 #42)

Except for Gudra, all of the above members were humans trained by Nazi Germany. Übermensch and Sea Wolf were given their superpowers by Nazi scientists.

  • Usil, from Italy, was a brilliant archer who employed specially designed arrows. The name is a ?? representation of the god Apollo. Usil was depicted in ancient times with a bow and arrows.
  • Kamikaze, from Japan, possessed the power of great speed in flight.

Notes

This team was created by Roy Thomas as his way of illustrating the "cosmic re-balancing" in the wake of the Crisis. In his reasoning, the absence of the Golden Age Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Robin, Green Arrow and Aquaman manifested the members of Axis Amerika. Axis Amerika could also be thought of as counterparts to the pre-Crisis Crime Syndicate of America. Gudra was among the Justice Society's very first foes (DC Special #29).

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Gudra (unnamed): DC Special #29. Team: Young All-Stars #1 (June 1987). Kamikaze: Young All-Stars #5.

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

Young All-Stars #1-3, 5-6, 22-25

The Modern-Day Axis

Cover art for JLA #82 (1997); art by Doug Mahnke

The modern team called "Axis America" was brought together by a power broker named Manson and his organization, the Clockwatchers. Axis were disguised behind a commune called Safe Haven which was run by a married couple named Shepherd and Vela. Manson decided to activate the Axis in response to the defection of one of his prized operative: Faith, who had left his service and joined the JLA. Safe Haven was used as the catalyst to draw the JLA in for destruction (and to coerce Faith into returning to Manson). Manson used Axis America to rig a false explosion and gave the illusion that Safe Haven had been recklessly destroyed by the JLA. Then Manson used a "mnemonic conjurer" called the Mouth to make the JLA members believe in their guilt. Meanwhile, the remaining JLA member engaged in combat with Axis, who were led by Shepherd (now Übermensch II). His wife took the name Hel, and they were joined by Great White, Zaladin and Fleshburn. (JLA #81-82) Unlike their predecessors, this team appeared to be American natives, but held the Nazi ideals of "purity, cleanliness and order" …

  • Übermensch possesses great strength and invulnerability
  • Hel is a winged warrior with a sword, much in the manner of a Norse Valkyrie
  • Great White carries an energized bull whip
  • Zaladin is a scimitar-weilding mystic who serves the gods of ancient Mesopotamia.
  • Fleshburn creates fire and appears with a flaming skull

» FIRST APPEARANCE: JLA #81 (July 2003)

» FEATURED APPEARANCES: JLA #81-82

The Fourth Reich

  baroness capt nazi rebel reichsmark 
Vandal Savage • Baroness Blitzkreig •  Captain Nazi •  Rebel • Reichsmark •  Swastika
From Justice Society of America v.3 #36 (2010); art by Jesus Merino and Jesse Delperdang.

The Fourth Reich are a supremacist group assembled by Vandal Savage. Their initial mission was to wage war against heroes whose legacy relied upon American iconography: the flag, eagles, red, white and blue, etc. Their first attacks came at a time when the Justice Society was only loosely formed following the second "crisis." Many of the Reich's targets were ill-equipped to defend themselves. The villains managed to execute the families of General Glory and the Minute-Man before the JSA even learned of their existence.

Their members included:

Vandal Savage, the immortal mastermind, hell-bent on a mission to destroy the Justice Society.

Baroness Blitzkrieg, a new speedster taking up the mantle of Baron Blitzkrieg, a WWII Nazi.

Captain Nazi (Albrecht Krieger), another seemingly unkillable Nazi superman. He murdered Captain Marvel Jr.'s grandfather. NOTE: Captain Nazi's first historical appearance was Master Comics #21 (1941); current in Power of Shazam! #5 (1995).

Rebel, a racist operating out of Detroit, clad in Confederate symbolism. Rebel may or may not have been a member of the Reich, but his activities were concurrent. NOTE: Rebel resembles Von Bach, a villain from Kingdom Come #1.

Reichsmark, a German man encased in the same biometal as Commander Steel.

Swastika, a neo-Nazi with his namesake tattooed over his entire torso. NOTE: Swastika first appeared in Kingdom Come #1 (now Earth-22).

White Dragon (William Heller) once stirred race riots in Central City and clashed with the Suicide Squad (Suicide Squad #4). Then as White Dragon, he fought Hawkman. (Hawkworld v.2 #27)

These attacks provided an impetus for the estranged members of the JSA to reform. Just as the Reich's mission was to destroy heroic legacies, the JSA's new mission was to protect and foster them to reassemble. One of their first encounters with the new Reich was in Philadelphia, whereHourman and Liberty Belle and Damage collared a new villain called Rebel. The JSA's first solid lead on the Reich fell from the sky, literally. After the Reich murdered his family, the new Mr. America tracked them via a hired hand called Catalyst. Mr. America was badly injured, and sought help from the JSA, but died while crashing through their skylight. (JSA #1)

While the JSA investigated the circumstances of Mr. America's death, the Reich moved against the family of Commander Steel. Captain Nazi, White Dragon, Reichsmark, Swastika and Baroness Blitzkrieg attacked a Heywood family reunion, killing nearly all of Hank Heywood's descendants. But for the intervention of Hawkman, a number of children were saved. (#2)

Young Nathan Heywood found himself in hand-to-hand combat with Reichsmark, who claimed that his metallic body was related to the metal which powered Nathan's grandfather, the original Commander Steel. During the fight, Nathan stabbed Reichsmark's with a sword and the villain's blood ran over Nathan's body and absorbed into his skin. These more public skirmishes gave the JSA all the information they needed to declare war on the Fourth Reich. They moved to protect other potential targets: S.T.R.I.P.E. and Liberty Belle. Meanwhile, their leader, Vandal Savage., attacked Wildcat and his son, Tom. (#3)

The JSA were successful in stopping the Reich's attacks in Blue Valley and Philadelphia and they wasted no time taking most of the Reich members into custody. (#4) Captain Nazi and some fringe members escaped. Liberty Belle captured him with the help of Damage. (#8)

Vandal Savage's motives in creating this team are mysterious. He has never demonstrated any racial bias, and admitted to having manipulated the sentiments of so-called "fascists" who made up the Fourth Reich. His ultimate goal, as always, was the destruction of the Justice Society.

» FIRST APPEARANCE:  Justice Society of America v.3 #2 (February 2007)

» FEATURED APPEARANCES: Justice Society of America v.3 #2-6

» SEE ALSO: Other racist villain groups: Axis AmerikaAryan Nation

 

Appearances + References

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