American Justice Coalition (Silver Age)

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This article is about the Silver Age retcon of the American Justice Coalition. For the original Golden Age version of the team see American Justice Coalition (Golden Age)
The American Justice Coaltion.

The American Justice Coalition, often called the Justice Coalition or AJC for short, was a team of superheroes during the late 1700s and early 1800s, which included in its membership many of the "founding fathers" of the United States, including John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and the first four Presidents. At times other notable super-beings fought along side these members.

Each member of the AJC arose independently in the days before the Revolution, in which America was filled with crime, villainy and expensive stamps. Each fought separately against injustice until 1776, when the nation finally broke the chains of King George, and these individual heroes united to form the American Justice Coalition. The team of superheroes fought valiantly against the redcoats during the Revolutionary War and nurtured the new Republic through its infancy, coming to its aid again in times of war or crisis.

The correspondence between the membership of the Justice Coalition and the identities of America's first Presidents is not thought to be a coincidence, and after 28 years with a superhero serving as President, Americans began to associate executive power with superpowers, eventually leading to efforts in the 19th and 20th centuries to technologically imbue the nation's leaders with superpowers.

Members[edit | edit source]

Each member of the American Justice Coalition was a superhero in his or her own right, each with a different origin, set of powers, and disposition toward fighting for justice.

Action Comics #1, the first appearance of George Washington.

George Washington[edit | edit source]

Main article: George Washington

The Commander of the Colonial Army, first President of the United States, and the leader of the American Justice Coalition, George Washington was one of the mightiest heroes ever to walk the earth. Possessing super-strength, near-invulnerability, X-ray vision and flight, Washington was born on the alien planet of Krypton, which was then about to explode. Failing to warn his civilization of the dangers it faced, Washington's father launched the infant off to Earth in a rocketship so that his son might survive.

When the infant landed on Earth, it was at the Mount Vernon estate of Augustine and Mary Washington, who adopted him and raised him as their own — fortunately for young Washington, the people of Krypton are light-skinned, because if they weren't, then things would have worked out quite differently. Augustine and Mary named the boy George and raised him as a human child, but as George grew into adulthood he learned that he had special powers unlike those around him. As a boy, he was able to toss a silver dollar all the way across the Potomac, which is a mile wide at Mount Vernon. As a young man, he earned distinction in the French and Indian War, in which he had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullets pierced his coat — yet he sustained no injuries. [1]

In addition to his super-strength and invulnerability to bullets, Washington eventually discovered his other powers and resolved to use them to make the world a better place. Acting the part of a mild-mannered aristocrat with thick glasses and wooden teeth, Washington led a double life acting as a normal man in everyday affairs, but also fighting crime in a brightly colored costume. When America declared independence, Washington shed his double identity to simultaneously become Commander in Chief of the Colonial Army and the leader of the newly formed team of superheroes known as the American Justice Coalition.

Benjamin Franklin[edit | edit source]

Main article: Benjamin Franklin
Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Benjamin Franklin.

Ben Franklin, the oldest member of the American Justice Coalition, was born into a family of means and was among seventeen children. When Franklin was only 12 years old, however, his parents were killed by a fire started under suspicious circumstances. Once orphaned, Franklin lived with his brother and worked as an apprentice at his newspaper, New England Courant, until he was 17. While working as a reporter for the paper, however, Franklin uncovered evidence that the fire which had killed his parents was no accident, but was the result of arson ordered by a prominent crime lord.

Upon learning this truth, Franklin ran away from his apprenticeship — technically becoming a fugitive — so that he could train himself to fight crime. He went to Philadelphia to train under various martial arts masters, build up his physical strength, infiltrate the criminal underground and train himself as a detective.

Following his training, Franklin adopted the public persona of a well-to-do folksy newspaper publisher and statesman, while as a crime-fighter, he donned a bat-costume and a dark persona intended to frighten criminals. As a crime-fighter, Franklin occupied a morally gray area, often feeling no remorse at the death of his adversaries and building the legend of a dark vigilante. Franklin's considerable talents as a scientist also allowed him to build various devices to help him in his crime-fighting. This was important because, unlike later heroes, including his Justice Coalition teammates, Franklin had no inherent super-powers, only his intelligence, training and athletic prowess.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, Franklin joined with the other heroes of America to form the American Justice Coalition, but his morally gray vigilantism conflicted with Washington's rigid morality, and so Franklin was sent to France in order to use his guile to convince the French crown to ally itself with the Colonialists. This historical arc in the narrative conflicts with the Golden Age version of Franklin, who fought with the Justice Coalition throughout the Revolutionary War, not just after it. Other differences between Golden and Silver Age versions of Franklin include his wealth, which in the original version was so great that Franklin would dress in golden chains and a pimp hat when not assuming his bat-man identity.

The first appearance of John Adams in Detective Comics.

John Adams[edit | edit source]

Main article: John Adams

John Adams (born J'onn A'damzz) was an alien from the planet Mars who was accidentally teleported to Earth by a Native American Shaman intending to channel an ancestral spirit. Immediately after transporting him to Earth, the shaman died of shock, leaving the Martian trapped on Earth. Since he naturally had the ability to shapeshift, Adams initially spent time living under the care of a radioactive buffalo while adjusting to his new home. Because he spent this early time in the form of a buffalo, Adams is sometimes referred to as Bison Man.

Eventually, however, Adams decided to live among the dominant species of Earth and went where he might give the greatest contribution. He adopted the form of a slightly-green human and went to fight injustice by practicing constitutional law and serving as a defense attorney. Adams's willingness to defend unpopular clients raised his status and soon he became a statesman, taking a lead role in the Continental Congress that declared independence. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Adams decided to stop hiding his true form and use his telepathic and shapeshifting powers openly as part of the Justice Coalition.

Thomas Jefferson[edit | edit source]

Main article: Thomas Jefferson
Flash Comics #1 not only featured Jefferson, but in its backpages introduced John Hancock, Paul Revere, Benadict Arnold and Elbridge "The Salamander" Gerry.

Born into the Virginia aristocracy and becoming a statesman, Jefferson did not attain superpowers until later in his life when in 1774 he visited Boston Harbor, the site of the Boston Tea Party, in response to the Intolerable Acts. While he was there, a great burst of energy welled up in the water and caused a mass of superheated tea-heavy water to explode from the sea as a gas. Jefferson accidentally inhaled the super-tea gas and it transformed him, granting him a single super-power, the ability to move and react at immense speeds.

Jefferson made some small use of these powers in fighting minor criminals, but he had already chosen to be a statesman, not a crime-fighter, so he did not seriously pursue life as a superhero at first. In fact, his first major use of his power was employed when, while writing the Declaration of Independence, the document mysteriously vanished. In order to complete it in time, Jefferson thus had to use his super-speed to quickly redraft it and pen it nicely. As such, the document is unique in that all of the ink on the current version of the Declaration dried at the exact same time.

Following the Declaration incident and Jefferson's realization of his power's potential, he agreed to join the newly forming Justice Coalition.

James Madison[edit | edit source]

The story of Madison's superpower begins not with Madison himself, but with the midnight ride of Paul Revere on April 18th, 1775, when Robert Newman and Captain John Pulling held up two lanterns in the Boston Old North Church to indicate that the British were coming by sea.

All-American Comics #16, the first of many times an American superhero saved the Earth from a space-borne threat.

Captain Pulling's lantern, however, would not light because its wick was damaged and its fuel had been accidentally drained. Unless Pulling could find a way to light it, Revere would tell the Colonials that the British were coming by land. Fortunately, as if by magic, a green flame descended upon the lantern, saving the plan.

Captain Pulling recognized the potential power of this lantern and sent it to the Continental Congress's team of scientists, who created from the lantern a magical ring that gave the wielder awesome powers over everything that was not yellow, but which had to be recharged with the lantern once a day. To wield this weapon, they chose the young statesman James Madison, who designed a green costume and learned to use the ring to control green things and create green objects and forcefields.

Guided by the Guardians of the Universe, the aliens who had sent the magic of the lantern to Earth, Madison honed his abilities fighting for justice alone until a year later, when the American Justice Coalition was formed and, on the advice of his mentor Thomas Jefferson, he joined their ranks.

John Hancock[edit | edit source]

Betsy Ross shown making the American Flag, which may have been based on her costume.

A wealthy Bostonian merchant, Hancock was the reincarnation of an Egyptian Prince, and also of an alien from a Hawk-planet. It's complicated, so just don't ask where he was in the 1760s. Because of his Egypto-Alien past lives, he was able to discover a magical "ninth metal" called Suspendium, which allowed him to defy gravity. With this metal and a pair of artificial wings for maneuverability, Hancock became the Cockman, the first super-powered superhero in the colonies.

Cockman's abilities allowed him to become a key leader in the growing independence movement, so that by 1776, he was the president of the Continental Congress and the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. Subsequently, he was one of the key figures who worked to assemble the Justice Coalition under the leadership of George Washington.

Betsy Ross[edit | edit source]

Betsy Ross was one of the heirs to the great Amazon tribe of Greek mythology, granted immense power by the gods, including the beauty of Aphrodite, the wisdom of Athena, the strength of Demeter, the flame of Hestia, and the skills of Artemis. So when she joined the American Justice Coalition, they made her the secretary, and sometimes the seamstress. Times were hard and they needed all the power they could get, but hey, fighting is for men, what are you gonna do? It was only after much persistence on the part of Abigail Adams that John Adams finally suggested she be allowed to fight with the team, and only then if she would take that little flag number she'd whipped up and make a skimpy costume out of it.

Notable Adventures[edit | edit source]

Each member of the Justice Coalition fought evil every day, and as a team the Coalition saved the world at least half a dozen times, so no complete account of their exploits can be given here, but the following are some of their famous plot arcs.

The Revolutionary War[edit | edit source]

Main article: American Revolution

By the time the Justice Coalition was formed in 1776, fighting had already broken out across the nation with local militias taking on the British in many battles with the help of George Washington's Continental Army. These battles had been a mix of good and bad news, and at first it was decided that the members of the Coalition would each assign themselves to a regiment or region and supplement efforts there on a local basis. They could all be coordinated by Washington using the super-swift Thomas Jefferson as messenger.

Crossing the Delaware[edit | edit source]

But by late 1776, it was clear that this strategy was not working. The revolutionaries had suffered a series of demoralizing defeats and had been put on the defensive. In late December, the British retired into winter quarters and Washington decided that the opportunity must be seized lest all hope of victory fade. Calling together the members of the Justice Coalition, he planned a daring attack on December 25th, crossing the Delaware river with not only his army, but also the greatest team of superheroes ever assembled. Surprising the British, Washington attacked on two fronts, driving the British out with his regular army while simultaneously capturing a thousand of their Hessian mercenaries using the Justice Coalition.

In response, British General Cornwallis marched to retake Trenton, but Thomas Jefferson used his super-speed to conduct recon on the British, allowing Washington to anticipate the move. When Cornwallis arrived he met not the Colonial army, but James Madison, who erected a giant barrier of green force which blocked the British troops just long enough for Washington to outflank the army and attack the rearguard at Princeton instead. The Americans had secured two important victories with which to keep hope alive.

AJC vs. The Mohawk[edit | edit source]

The AJC battle Joseph Brant.

Following the thaw in 1777, hostilities resumed and the British attempted to cut the colonies in two by blocking the Champlain-Hudson River corridor. General Burgoyne retook Fort Ticonderoga in July, but would not rest secure. Aware of the new threat posed by the American Justice Coalition, he ordered Barry Ledger to take a second garrison at Fort Stanwix and to take the army of Joseph Brant with him.

Brant, better known as Thayendanegea or simply "The Mohawk," commanded a force of Iroquois warriors and white loyalists, but he was also a powerful priest, inhabited by many spirits of nature, possibly even the All-Father. Brant had never faced an enemy who could defeat him and the British hoped that this super-being could defeat the superpowered heroes of the Justice Coalition. The plan was successful at first as the British ambushed the militiamen sent to retake the fort, along with their allies among the two Iroquois tribes which sided with the colonials.

In response, General Arnold marched for the fort and was joined by members of the Justice Coalition, who went to face The Mohawk before the start of the battle. Our heroes, who had come only as a partial team, leaving Washington to command his own army, had underestimated their foe, however, and soon found themselves surrounded. Determined not to give up, our heroes struggled relentlessly until two simultaneous events intervened to secure their victory: General Arnold's men reach the Fort ready for battle just as Brant's powers were interrupted by the mystical assault waged upon him by one of the Iroquois captured with the American militia. Seeing the coming army and unsure of Brant's powers, Ledger ordered a retreat, taking Brant with him.

Heroes Divided[edit | edit source]

After the fall of The Mohawk, General Burgoyne was put on the defensive and by September he was driven to Saratoga, New York. Forces under Benedict Arnold and Horatio Gates hammered away at the British until finally the Justice Coalition arrived on October 7th and proceeded to defeat the British in the second battle of Saratoga. This was a great turning point in the war, and subsequently Ben Franklin was successful in his bid to bring the French into the war.

But with portions of the Justice Coalition engaging the British on these other fronts, Washington's army was left in a reduced position and in September of 1777, the British were able to outflank Washington and take Philadelphia. Fortunately, the British victory would be hollow, as the British command structure was soon reorganized, and, following the French entrance into the war, the British were forced to abandon Philadelphia to fortify New York against the French Navy.

Heroes Reunited[edit | edit source]

While the war went well in the northern theater with the help of the various members of the Justice Coalition, the war in the south fared poorly. Bloody Tarleton wrecked havoc in the Carolinas and in 1781 Richmond was burned by Benedict Arnold, who had turned a traitor. Several members of the Justice Coalition rushed to the defense of their native Virginia, but they soon realized that victory would not come with a divided Coalition, so a new plan was hatched.

Gradually the members of the Coalition steered all of the war's fronts — northern, southern and naval — into one location, where they could use the united forces of the American Justice Coalition to finally destroy the British cause as a whole. By the Fall of 1781 they had boxed General Cornwallis into Yorktown. The French Navy defeated the British at the Battle of Chesapeake, cutting off the British's supplies, and Washington engaged Cornwallis in Yorktown, wowing him so completely with the effectiveness of the Justice Coalition that the British General surrendered on October 19th. Soon after, the British Parliament voted to end the war and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783.

The Battle of Edo[edit | edit source]

The monster that arose during the Boston Tea Party.

The Revolutionary War was barely over when the Justice Coalition had to attend to its next task, which was to take care of an old mess. During the buildup to the Revolutionary War, colonists had protested the taxes on tea by dumping it into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party. This event sparked not only the Intolerable Acts and Thomas Jefferson's superpower, but had also created another threat.

Following the dumping, a giant monster arose from the sea, possibly created from all of the tea-pollution. Fortunately the monster did not then attack Boston but instead went out to sea. But nevertheless, the Justice Coalition felt that America was responsible for the monster and should find and keep track of it, lest it cause anyone harm. In 1782, the monster was spotted by Dutch traders in the Pacific heading toward Japan. Unless the American Justice Coalition immediately went off to face the monster, it could wreak unimaginable havoc on the sequestered society.

Taking Action[edit | edit source]

Using their powers of flight, Washington, Adams, Madison, Ross, and Hancock went to search the Pacific for the monster, while Jefferson used his super-speed to run across the Pacific Ocean to warn the Japanese. As fortune would have it, however, the Justice Coalition was unable to locate the giant creature until it emerged from the sea at Japan's capital city and began to cause massive destruction. Many samurai rushed to the defense of the city and tried to stop the monster, but it only grew in size, crushing them and spewing its fiery breath over the city.

Jefferson was able to use his super-speed to distract and confuse the creature, minimizing the damage it could do, but real help had to wait until the entire Justice Coalition arrived, and even then the task proved difficult. Washington attempted to use his super-strength to drive the creature into the sea, but it seemed able to match his own strength and could alter its size at will, making any sustained push against it difficult. Betsy Ross also tried to use her magical lasso to capture the creature and drag it away from the heavily populated city, but amazingly the creature was able to break the restraint while simultaneously swatting away John Hancock and John Adams. James Madison had greater luck, using his ring to form a force shield blocking the monster from going further inland, but even that did not stop further parts of the city from being drenched in the creature's flaming breath.

Adams's Plan[edit | edit source]

With the giant reptile's progress halted, it was the shape-changing John Adams who came up with an idea. During the fight, Adams had caught a glimpse of the creature's mind with his telepathic powers and believed he could reason with it. Madison proceeded to mold his force shield so that Adams could get as close as possible, and Adams reached out into the creature's mind, coaxing it to use its shape and size changing abilities to assume a normal-sized and human form.

Against all probability, the plan worked and the monster stopped its rampage, whereupon Adams projected into him the knowledge of English speech in order to converse with it. Upon talking to the Justice Coalition, the monster agreed to stop its rampage and settled into society, becoming not only a valuable ally of the Justice Coalition, but the renowned writer and quote-smith Oscar Wilde. Wilde would fight for justice himself, occasionally beside the AJC, until he disappeared in 1900 after a great battle with the Evil Wallpaper.

The First Barbary War[edit | edit source]

The American Justice Coalition continued to be a major force in American foreign policy throughout its formative years, but by the turn of the century its membership was much diminished. Ben Franklin and John Hancock, the eldest members of the team, were essentially human, aided only by training and technology, and so in 1790 and 1793, respectively, old age claimed two members of the Justice Coalition. The seemingly immortal George Washington was next to go when, in 1799, the doctors who were treating him for illness unknowingly bled him using leaches that had consumed Kryptonite. Thus, when the Barbary War broke out in 1801, the Justice Coalition was only four strong. Seeking to bolster national unity by creating mortal war-heroes, Jefferson decided that it would be better to send the Naval and Marine forces rather than call upon the Justice Coalition, half of which had official government duties to fill anyway.

Early War[edit | edit source]

From Independence up until the Jefferson administration, the United States had allocated money to pay as tribute to various pirate states in northern Africa in order to have free access to Mediterranean waters, but when Jefferson came into office, he refused to pay the ransom these nations demanded in order to abstain from kidnapping American sailors, and war broke out. Anticipating the favored tool of many future presidents, Jefferson responded by sending the Marines. Things went well at first: two of the Barbary Coast states backed down upon the arrival of U.S. ships and the Navy successfully blockaded the port of Tripoli, one of the pirate nations. In 1803, however, the Tripolitan force captured the U.S.S. Philadelphia and it was only the actions of one Lieutenant Decatur, who slipped up to the ship and torched it, that kept the ship from being used by the enemy.

Enter the Coalition[edit | edit source]

In the aftermath of this embarrassing development, Jefferson decided that the rescue of the U.S. personnel and the quick defeat of the enemy could only be accomplished using the Justice Coalition. Joined by Madison, Adams and Ross, Jefferson went to Libya and led a force of Marines which captured several Tripolitan cities and freed the American hostages. The show of force was enough to make the Tripolitan Pasha agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities for fear that Tripoli itself would be taken.

War of 1812[edit | edit source]

Main article: War of 1812

By the time of the War of 1812, it was clear that the series of events that had produced the American Justice Coalition would not be replicated, and with several of its members dead or in ailing health, the team had to prepare the nation for a day when there would be no Justice Coalition. Thus the War of 1812 was fought primarily by mortal men, who could become war heroes. Instead of fighting in the major battles of the war, the members of Justice Coalition fought injustice at home just as they did in times of peace.

The one major aspect of the war that the Justice Coalition did involve itself in was the defense of Washington, D.C. when British troops launched an attack on the city. Despite their attempts to put out the fires started by the British, much of the city was burned, because firefighting had always been Ben Franklin's specialty and no one in the Coalition had learned it from him before he passed away.

Even more notably, however, the British destroyed the original White House, which had served as both the President's home and the AJC's headquarters. Subsequently, the members of the Justice Coalition created a replacement using Madison's green ring and a lot of white paint. (see main article: White House)

See Also[edit | edit source]