If there’s one thing we know about the Golden Age, it’s that publishers chased trends even more than they do now. Superman spawned more superheroes. Batman bred an endless string of idle playboys with secret identities, not to mention masked vigilantes with a boy sidekick. When Archie became a hit, everyone tried a knockoff. Everyone had a red, white and blue-clad patriotic hero, most companies had a crime-fighting bowman.
So how come it didn’t happen with the superhero teams?
The Justice Society of America debuted in 1940 and lasted until 1951, a very respectable run. The only super-teams that followed were DC’s own Seven Soldiers of Victory (fourteen issues) and Timely’s half-hearted All-Winners Squad, which got two post-war issues of All-Winners before that book became a teen comic. It’s not like other companies didn’t have plenty of superheroes they could have combined, and it’s not as if they didn’t crossover. The original Human Torch fought Namor; Quality’s Spider Widow and Phantom Lady locked horns over their mutual interest in fellow superhero Raven. Fawcett Comics had the Marvel Family (I don’t think of them as a “team” any more than I do Batman and Robin) and several crossovers between characters, but no JSA equivalent.It seems such a logical option, it’s puzzling why nobody took it.
The Silver Age was a lot less inhibited. Aside from DC’s adventure teams (Challs, Sea Devils, Rip Hunter’s crew) we got the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1958, followed by the JLA in 1960. Then came the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Doom Patrol, the Teen Titans and the reactivated Justice Society. It would only grow from then on, especially when the Big Two started adding multiple Leagues, mutant teams, etc. down the road.
I’m just surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
#SFWApro. Cover top to bottom by Everett E. Hibbard, Al Avison, CC Beck and Curt Swan.