JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA

The Supernatural World of DC Comics' Golden Age

Super-Heroes and Supernatural Features

intro

Presented in order of first appearance.

Bobby and Binks New Fun Comics #1 (February 1935) "Magic Crystal of History" Bobby is a school boy and Binks is a school girl who together make the mistake of looking into a magic crystal. This sends them hurtling through time and they have adventures in the time of the Pharaohs among other eras. They have no superpowers and besides being plucky and resourceful and not easily cowed are not special in any way.

Doctor Occult

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

First appearance: New Fun Comics #6 (Oct. 1935)

Magic and super-herodom in the DC Universe began with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's creations. Their first was Dr. Occult, published several years before Superman. Occult used an external talisman for power but also exhibited his own innate abilities.

READ MORE »Doctor Occult

Nadir, Master of Magic

Created by Will Ely

First appearance: New Adventure Comics #17 (July 1937)

Featured appearances: New Adventure Comics #17–30 (July 1937–Sept. 1938)

After Dr. Occult, the next original mystic to appear in the DC universe was Nadir, an exotic prince from the East who wore a traditional turban and black suit. The feature lasted a mere 14 issues and was created by Will Ely, who worked on other DC features through 1940. The first storyline was strung through eleven parts, not unusual for New Adventure Comics, which featured serials such as "The Golden Dragon," "She," and "The Monastery of the Blue God."

Nadir, the "Master of Magic" was a prince of India whose parents had died. This made him want to fight crime using "long-forgotten secrets of the Far East." He installed himself in luxury in New York City with his servant, Arcot. His associate, Sir Thomas Ellsworth, called upon him when a prized pearl was stolen. Nadir narrowly dodged a dagger en route, but used that knife in a magical rite to find the thief's location. (New Adventure Comics #17)

Nadir bathed the dagger in a special bath then placed the liquid in a ring that powered his crystal ball. At precisely 3 a.m., the ball divined the location of the thief, Henri Duprez. At Duprez's apartment, the prince used his "gleaming eyes," to compel Duprez to produce the pearl. (#18)

Nadir and Arcot use ancient forgotten techniques to find a thief. From New Adventure Comics #25 (1938); art by Will Ely.
Time for the whammy! From New Adventure Comics #30 (1938); art by Will Ely.

Duprez was double-crossed by his own bodyguard, Job, who locked Nadir in a stone cell. (#19) Arcot rescued his master and they used the crystal again. (#20) Their chase took them onto the seas, (#21) where Nadir was forced to swim to safety (he doffed his turban in order to "avoid questioning"). (#22)

Eventually Job was killed by the ship's greedy captain, (#24) and the captain was killed by the jewel fence. (#26) Nadir ju-jitsued his way back to the pearl and returned it to Sir Thomas. (#27)

Back home, Nadir used his mental powers to save movie star Marion Carver from an unwanted suitor. (#28) When Nadir concentrated, he produced a vision of Marion from within the man's mind. (#29)

In his final adventure, Nadir set out on a cruise vacation, but the ship was attacked by pirates. Nadir was strangled into unconsiousness and loaded into a car. The final panel promised, "To be continued." (#30)

This character made no further DC Comics apperances.

Zatara

First appearance: Action Comics #1 (June 1938)

Series:

  • Action Comics #1-138, 141 (June 1938–Feb. 1950)
  • World's Best/World's Finest Comics #1–7, 10, 12, 15-16, 19, 23-33 (Spring 1941–Mar./Apr. 1948)

Zatara might have languished in obscurity if his daughter, Zatanna, hadn't been become a staple of the Justice League in the 1970s. When Zatara's creator, Fred Guardineer, moved to Quality Comics, he worked on two other suited magicians, Merlin and Tor. Both of these characters also spoke their spells in backwards English. Quality characters are now part of the DC universe and this "brotherhood" was referenced when all three appeared in All-Star Comics v.2 #1 (1999).

READ MORE »Zatara + Zatanna

Johnny Thunder

First appearance: Flash Comics #1 (Jan. 1940)

This Justice Society member and comedic character commanded the mystic Thunderbolt. In modern tales, that entity was classified as a genie originating from the 5th dimension.

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The Spectre + Doctor Fate

First appearance, the Spectre: More Fun Comics #52 (Feb. 1940). Dr. Fate: More Fun Comics #55 (May 1940)

This serious pair of supernatural adepts debuted around the same time in More Fun Comics, and both have lengthy histories in the DC Universe. They were both founding members of the Justice Society and their legacies have been carried on multiple times.

READ MORE »The SpectreDoctor Fate

Lando, Man of Magic

Created by Howard Purcell

First appearance: World's Best Comics #1 (Spring 1941)

Featured appearances: World's Best/Finest Comics #1–7 (Spring 1941–Fall 1942)

Created in the wake of super-hero Superman and super-magician Zatara (both of whom also appeared in World's Finest), there was little that "Lando, Man of Magic" could not do. This feature in World's Finest suffered from constant creative turnover and lasted for only seven installments. Penciller Howard Purcell drew the first three. Most stories were loaded with incredible feats, many of which might be explained as illusions (which was common for this time).

"Lando the Unknown" was a touring magician who possessed legitimate supernatural powers. When he went on vacation, he was approached by a woman who had news of spy activity on a nearby mountain top. The next day they both embarked for the mountain. When Lando was double-crossed by their guide, he effortlessly floated into the air to avoid harm. He flew to the summit then instead, and engaged with an Asian man, turning him into a duck. Lando also made himself invisible, immobilized a guard, and ultimately transformed all the enemy planes into junk. (World's Best Comics #1

Lando quiets skeptics and gets to the business of finding the Hood. From World's Finest Comics #3 (1941); art by Howard Purcell.
Lando fights the monstrous Gargoyle. From World's Finest Comics #4 (1941); art by Chad Grothkopf.

At the end of a large and successful performance, Lando disappeared in a cloud of vapor. During his downtime he was summoned to help a circus owner root out some saboteurs. Lando confounded them by walking upside down, manifesting water to quell a fire, and commanding an elephant to round up the bad men. (World's Finest Comics #2)

On an adventure to Central America, Lando took on foreign interests that sought to seize the Panama Canal. Their leader, the Hood, sicced his own witch doctor on Lando. The two used their powers to shrink each other, and produce snakes and lions, but Lando won out by trapping the Hood's boat in frozen water. (#3)

As artists changed each issue, Lando's suit and cape were also altered in ways, and sometimes he bore a goatee. In the Mexican jungle, he and fellow plane passengers fell prey to a giant monster called the Gargoyle. (#4)

Lando also used the power of a magic crystal, changed his appearance, transmuted elements, (#5) conjured money, and turned men into animals. (#6)

The last panel of his final apperance promised another installment, but the hero was never seen again. (#7)

Sargon the Sorcerer

Name: John Sargent

First appearance: All-American Comics #26 (May 1941)

Maximillian O'Leary: All-American Comics #70 (Nov. 1944)

Series: All-American Comics #26-50, 70 (May 1941–June 1943) • Comic Cavalcade #3-16 • Sensation Comics #34-36, 52-83

Featured Appearances: Flash v.1 #186 • Green Lantern #37 • Justice League of America #98 • Swamp Thing v.2 #49–50, 148–150

The name Sargon was not original...

John Sargent's father found an ancient Aztec(?) talisman called the Ruby of Life on an archaeological expedition. Little John touched the Ruby and bonded with it for life. This granted him formidable mystic abilities. He became a stage magician, Sargon (named after the first king of Assyria), thus hiding his powers in plain sight. The Ruby of Life often times moved Sargent to commit criminal acts.

Post-Golden Age

Following World War II, he came up against Dr. Fate, Dr. Occult and Zatara when he tried to enter the vaults of the Vatican City. Eventually, he succeeded and obtained the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Swamp Thing #148) He planted this apple in the Black Forest (Freiburg, Germany) and let a tree grow for thirty years. In the meantime, he became more aware of the Ruby's evil influence and acted both as hero and villain. (Flash #186, DC Comics Presents #26) He even aided and became an honorary member of the Justice League. (Justice League of America #97-99)

He died nobly alongside Zatara (Swamp Thing #50), but his soul was restless and hovered in limbo. Eventually, he found a way into the body of a comatose man and summoned his niece, Grace Brady to him. As she arrived in Germany with his Ruby, so did the Swamp Thing. (Swamp Thing #148) Sargon used his influence over the people of Freiburg and made them commit suicide to feed the Tree of Knowledge with blood. (#149) Sargon then entered the light of the tree, but when the Swamp Thing cleansed the tree, he was trapped inside it — between heaven and hell. His Ruby of Life was claimed by a man called "the Traveler." He claimed that the Ruby was to await the coming of a "star-child." (#150) He also appeared as a spirit to Tim Hunter. (Books of Magic #1)

His grip on magic is so strong that he appears able to thwart death anytime. He returned again to vex the Swamp Thing. (Swamp Thing v.4 #2-4) Apparently, the Spectre put the final nail in Sargon's coffin. The next time he appeared, the Ruby of Life was shattered.

Sargon II

From the realm of death, Sargent reached out to his only remaining relative, his grandson David Sargent. He bound David to the Ruby and bade him to find the missing shards. (Helmet of Fate: Sargon)

The Gay Ghost

Created by

First appearance: Sensation Comics #1 (Jan. 1942)

Featured appearances: Sensation Comics #1–38 (Jan. 1942–Feb. 1945)

The ghost of Keith Everet, Earl of Strethmere, using the corpse of Charles Collins.

The Gay Ghost is reputed to have shared one adventure with the Justice Society. (Starman v.2 #62)

The Ghost Patrol

First appearance: Flash Comics #29 (May 1942)

Featured appearances: Flash Comics #29–104 (May 1942–Feb. 1949) • The Big All-American Comic Book (1944) • Comic Cavalcade #1–2 (Winter 1942–Spring 1943) • World's Finest Comics #208 (Dec. 1971)

Dr. 13, the Ghost-Breaker

Name: Dr. Terrence Thirteen

First appearance: Star-Spangled Comics #122 (Nov. 1951)

Series, Pre-Crisis: Star-Spangled Comics #122–130 (Nov. 1951–July 1952) • Ghosts #95–102 (Dec. 1980–July 1981) Post-Crisis: Tales of the Unexpected v.2 #1–8 (2006–07)

Featured appearances, Pre-Crisis: Mr. District Attorney #24 (Nov./Dec. 1951) • The Phantom Stranger v.1 #2, 3, 7, 15, 17 (1969–71) • Showcase #80 (Feb. 1969). Post-Crisis:  Vertigo Visions: Dr. Thirteen #1 (1998)

The term "ghost breaker" goes back to the early 20th century, in literature and film. Doctor Thirteen was preceded in comics by "Dr. Neff, the Original Ghost-Breaker," who first appeared in Street and Smith's Red Dragon Comics v.1 #3 (May 1948).

A sort of skeptical psychic detective. He worked with the Spectre and the Phantom Stranger. Has was reinterpreted in Vertigo Visions: Dr. Thirteen (Sept. 1998). This led to other appearances including the critically-acclaimed Tales of the Unexpected series (2007) by Brian Azzarello.

In 2003 girl sorceress, Traci 13 (Superman #189)

Mr. Magik aka The White Magician

Name: Dr. Asquith Randolph

First appearance: Wonder Woman Annual v.2 #3 (1992)

Wartime hero created in 1992.

Super-Villains

Mysto fought Slam Bradley in Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)

Brad Hardy New Fun Comics #3 Brad is a two-fisted explorer and adventurer who explores underground kingdoms and fights Rat Men and Snake Men as well as evil Black Magicians.