The Legends discover a time abberation that threatens the existence of The Justice Society of America - a secret team of superheroes, who worked during World War II. The mission requires that they journey to Nazi-occupied Paris, to prevent the delivery of a magic amulet into Adolph Hitler's hands. Unbeknownst to them, however, The Reverse Flash has taken a hand in helping the Nazis to build their own army of superhumans.
The Godfather (Jax's line about Stein not being a wartime consigliere), Back To The Future (Stein's performing a song years before it is meant to be introduced), the JSA run of Geoff Johns, David Goyer and James Robinson, the All-Star Squadron comics of Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and various comics by Gerry Conway (creator of Vixen & Baron Blitzkreig)
If the JSA is meant to be a secret organization, why do their members wear such colorful and flashy costumes?
The CGI for the Super-Kreiger is perhaps the worst ever seen in any DCTVU show ever.
As Martin Stein notes, Sara Lance is the heart and steady hand of The Legends. By the same token, Caity Lotz is the heart and soul of the cast. From her delivery as an actress to her physical subtlety in scenes like Sara's reaction to a Nazi General question Stein's bluff to her skill as a trained fighter, she gives everything her all in this episode and one can see why the writers gave her all the heavy-lifting in this episode.
The interaction and one-sided antagonism between Atom and Vixen is well-played by both Brandon Routh and Maisie Richardson-Sellers.
The fight scene between the JSA and the Legends is perfect on every level.
Bravo to the costume designers and prop-makers, for managing to bring several JSA members to life.
It's a small thing, but I love Caity Lotz ducking down trying to look shorter than Victor Garber when the Nazi General questions why Stein isn't over six feet tall when Max Lorenz was famously tall.
Victor Garber is a damn good singer. (His first film credit was playing Jesus in Godspell.)
Trivia Of Tomorrow
The episode opens with another new voice-over - this one by Sara Lance.
The Justice Society of America were the first superhero team in American comics history and first appeared in All-Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940-41). Made up of the most popular heroes published by All-American Comics - one of the companies that later merged to form DC Comics - the original idea behind the JSA was to boost comics sales by offering readers a chance to see all of their favorite heroes in a single title, fighting together.
Of the eight heroes who formed the first line-up of the JSA in the original comics, only Hourman is part of the JSA line-up in the DCTVU.
Unlike the JSA in the comics, the DCTVU Justice Society of America are a covert group kept secret from the public at large.
Rex Tyler a.k.a. Hourman first appeared in Adventure Comics #48 (March 1940). A chemist by trade, Tyler developed a formula which could temporarily give a person superhuman strength, speed, endurance and durability for one hour.. Tyler dubbed this vitamin Miraclo and used it to fight crime and help the needy as Hourman.
Rex Tyler's costume on the show resembles that of the second Hourman, Rex's son Rick Tyler.
Commander Steel first appeared in Steel: The Indestructible Man #1 (March 1978). Henry Heywood was a member of the United States Marine Corps. during World War II. A student of biology before enlisting, Heywood turned to his old professor after he was injured by saboteurs lead by the man who would become the Nazi super-villain Baron Blitzkerig. His professor performed several experimental surgeries on Heywood, replacing portions of his body with mechanical parts that gave him superhuman strength, speed, endurance and stamina. Heywood kept his newfound powers a secret, taking a desk job but secretly defending the homefront as the masked hero Steel. He was later given a commission as Commander by Winston Churchill and joined the Nazi-fighting superhero team known as The All-Star Squadron.
As in the comics, The DCTVU version of Nate Heywood is the grandson of Commander Steel.
The Vixen we see here - Amaya Jiwe - is the grandmother of Mari McCabe - the Vixen who stars in The CW Seed animated series, and was last seen in Arrow Episode 415.
Wielder of The Tantu Totem, Vixen has the power to access The Ashe - the life force or power - of the animal kingdom. The Totem allows her to access the special abilities of any animal on the face of the Earth, replicating the strength of a rhino, the speed of a cheetah, etc.
An interesting note about Vixen is that she was originally slated to be the first African-American heroine to star in her own solo-series. Unfortunately, her book was one of several to fall victim to the incident known as The DC Implosion, where multiple series were canceled as a cost-saving measure - some before they were published!. Her first story was printed in Canceled Comics Cavalcade #2 (September 1978) but Mari did not officially appear in the DC Comics Universe until Action Comics #521 (July 1981).
Obsidian first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 (September 1983). Todd Rice was one of the twin children of Alan Scott (The original Green Lantern) and Rose Canton (the villain known as Thorn). Put up for adoption by his mentally-ill mother, Todd was adopted into an abusive foster home while his sister - Jenny-Lynn - was adopted into a loving home. The two discovered each other years later along with the truth of their parentage.
Obsidian's powers came from a connection to a mystic realm known as The Shadow-Lands -a realm of darkness and fear, which his father had been exposed to during his adventures as Green Lantern. Much as his father had the power to create objects made of green fire and light, Obsidian had the power to manipulate shadows into solid forms. He could transform himself into a living shadow, becoming stronger and capable of flight and intangibility. He could teleport himself and other objects through portals leading through The Shadow-Lands. He could blind people temporarily. He also had weak telepathic abilities that allowed him to influence the dark-sides of people's souls, driving them crazy or trapping them within their worst nightmares.
Obsidian was one of the first openly gay superheroes in comics, confessing his love of his best friend, Nuklon during their time together in the mid-1990s Justice League.
Obsidian's costume here is a perfect adaptation of his costume form the original comics. He is not identified by name, but he displays the abilities of shadow creation, teleportation and intangibility.
Dr. Mid-Nite first appeared in All-American Comics #25 (April 1941). A physician by trade, Charles McNider was blinded forever after being injured by a grenade while treating an important witness who was due to testify against a local mob boss. Dr. McNider quickly discovered that while he was blind in the light, he could see in perfect darkness. McNider decided to devote his life to fighting the criminals responsible for his condition. By day he worked as a newspaper columnist, striking against corruption through columns dictated to his former nurse,Myra Mason. By night, he fought against crime directly as Dr. Mid--Nite, armed with a pair of goggles that allowed him to see into the infrared spectrum and "Black Out Bombs" that allowed him to block all the light in an enclosed space.
It is worth noting that the first Dr. Mid-Nite was a Caucasian male whereas the DCTVU version of Dr. Mid-Nite is an African-American male. The second Dr. Midnight in the comics was an African-American woman named Dr. Beth Chapel.
Dr. Midnite's costume here greatly resembles that of his comic-book counterpart. We are not given his full-name, but he is shown to have the special vision powers of his comic-book countepart, being able to see through Obsidian's darkness.
The girl who would become Stargirl first appeared in DCU Heroes Secret Files #1 (February 1999). Courtney Whitmore was an ordinary teenage girl, who was less than thrilled with her mother's choice of a second husband. A mechanic by trade, his name was Pat Dugan and he had been - unknown to Courtney or her mother - the mystery man called Stripsey, who was the adult sidekick of a teen superhero known as The Star Spangled Kid. Finding The Kid's Cosmic Belt among Pat's belongings, Courtney decided to become a costumed hero to annoy Pat. To her surprise, he had built a suit of mechanical armor to get back into the crime-fighting game and began chasing after her under the new identity of S.T.R.I.P.E. Collectively they became known as Stars and STRIPE.
Despite this ignoble start, Courtney proved to have the right stuff to be a hero. She was invited into the modern incarnation of the Justice Society of America. Later, after the retirement of Jack Knight (the seventh hero to use the name Starman) Courtney was given his Cosmic Staff and took on the name Stargirl.
The Cosmic Belt gave Courtney enhanced strength, agility and invulnerability as well as the power of flight and the ability to fire electrical "shooting stars" from her hands. The shooting stars acted like a taser on humans and could short-circuit electronics. The Cosmic Staff granted Courtney the power to manipulate a unique form of cosmic energy, channeling it into energy blasts, force-fields and hard-light constructs. She could also use the staff to alter other energy forms and increase or decrease the effects of gravity around her. The staff was also attuned to her brainwaves, allowing her to control the Cosmic Staff telepathically.
Stargirl's costume here is a perfect adaptation of her costume from the comics. She is not identified by name but wields a cosmic staff that releases focused blasts of light and energy capable of stunning night-club full of Nazis.
There are a surprising number of Nazi-themed villains in the DC Comics Universe with the surname Kreiger, who may have served as the inspiration for Baron Krieger. The mostly likely candidate is Albrecht Krieger a.k.a. Captain Nazi, who first appeared in Power of Shazam #5 (July 1995). Genetically altered by his scientist father, Kieger was created to be the ultimate super-soldier for the Third Reich. He had the powers of enhanced strength, speed, invulnerability and flight in addition to enhanced senses.
Another likely candidate is Baron Blitzkreig, who first appeared in World's Finest Comics #246 (August 1977). A frequent foe of the All-Star Squadron, he was a Nazi soldier who was experimented upon and given the powers of super-strength, invulnerability, flight and heat vision.
Baron Reiter - the main villain of the flashback sequences in Season Four of Arrow - was also based upon Baron Blitzkerig.
One of the items on display in the Waverider library is the helmet of the original Red Tornado.
Nate says that Baron Krieger and his men frequented a Paris nightclub called Folies Bergère. This is a real-world cabaret music hall, which has been in existence in some form or fashion since 1869. The hall has played host to numerous legendary performers in its time, including W.C. Fields, Marcel Marceau, Ginger Rogers and Josephine Baker.
Martin elects to infiltrate the club by impersonating singer Max Lorenz. Lorenz was widely known as Adolf Hitler's favorite singer, due to his performances of various Richard Wagner operas. Ironically, despite being a favorite of Hitler (and, by proxy, the rest of The Third Reich), Lorenz was homosexual and married to a Jewish woman. Strangely enough, it was this later point that caused him more trouble when he refused to denounce his wife and it took a phone call from Hermann Göring himself to prevent his wife and her mother from being taken away by the SS.
Stein's line to his accompanist about trying to keep up with him is a direct quote from Back To The Future. Specifically, the moment when Marty McFly plays Johnny B. Goode before Chuck Berry did.
The song Martin Stein sings to entertain the club is Edelweiss from the 1959 musical The Sound of Music. He claims that it is an original work but very popular in Austria. This may be a nod to the fact that Max Lorenz moved to Austria following World War II and was buried in a cemetery for those who had been declared honorary Austrians.
Raymond Palmer's difficulty in saying "Heil Hitler" to maintain his cover may have less to do with good taste and more to do with a popular fan-theory that Ray (in the comics, at least) was of Jewish heritage, if not a practicing member of the Jewish faith. The main basis for this theory comes from a DC Comics Presents: JLA special which revealed that Ray Palmer's mother was Jewish and Justice League #188, where Ray visited a Jewish friend during Hanukkah and Ray asked about the story, specifically noting that he was not religious. This would be an odd thing to note if Ray were not of Jewish heritage.
In the comics, Black Canary has considerable experience in leading a team. While Barry Allen took on official leader duties in Mark Waid's JLA: Year One, Dinah was clearly the team's battle-field strategist, drawing upon her own knowledge of superhero tactics from studying the JSA for years. Dinah Lance was the field commander for the Birds of Prey after the team expanded during Gail Simone's run on the book. And Dinah was the official JLA leader during the Brad Meltzer and Dwayne McDuffie runs on Justice League of America.
When time changes, physical artifacts are altered faster than personal memories. This is why Nate Heywood's notes regarding the JSA change and why his grandfather's dog-tags disappear but his memories of what the notes said and his owning the dog-tags don't.
Sara gives Nate an ingestible translator - a device that, once swallowed, enables a person to speak and understand any language.
Ray notes that the "Super-Serum" is a bio-molecular enhancer - not a serum.
Sara (Voice-Over): My name is Sara Lance. Last year, a former Time Master named Rip Hunter recruited a team of heroes and villains to save the world. And we did. But in the process we destroyed The Time Masters. Now, we've taken up their mantle of protecting the timeline from time criminals. We are no longer saving the world. We are saving history. But don't call us heroes - we are Legends.
Hourman: My name is Rex Tyler and I'm a member of the Justice Society of America.
Rory: Never heard of them, pal.
Hourman: That's because I'm from 1942. The same year in which all of you will-
Ray: Bite the bullet? So if we don't go back to 1942 we're safe, right?
Stein: Not to be rude, but how do we know you are who you say you are?
Hourman: You all have no idea what you're up against!
(Hourman begins to fade and fizzle.)
Hourman: If you return to 1942, the consequences will be catastrophic!
(Hourman disappears completely as the Legends just look to one another.)
(Ray is gushing about how amazing the JSA are.)
Rory: Awwwww. Haircut's in love.
Ray: C'mon! Those guys are precise, professional and in constant agreement. We can't even agree on who's turn it is to make dinner.
Sara: Not it!
Stein: You disapprove of my plan?
Jax: I'm just saying we're dropping into the middle of World War II here and you're not exactly a wartime consigliere.
Stein: And let me guess - you are? Or perhaps you'd prefer the arsonist, the assassin or The Incredible Shrinking Man?
Jax: I'm just saying you're smart and analytical and stuff and real deliberate, but when bullets start flying, analytical's not going to cut it.
Stein: Well, thank you for pointing out my inadequacies.
Jax: C'mon, Grey-
Stein: That's -Captain- Grey now. (turns to exit)
Jax: (sarcastically) Well, I'm glad it hasn't gone to your head.
Sara: I'm just trying to make sure you get home safe and sound.
Nate: So the lady does have a heart.
Sara: Don't tell anyone.
(Jax is upset after the Nazi General makes a request for no Negro music. Ray holds him back.)
Ray: It's not worth it.
Jax: It would be a little worth it.
(After Ray blows their cover by refusing to salute Hitler and punching the Nazi general.)
Jax: Why do you get to punch him?!
Stein: I think what's important now is for all of us to stop arguing.
Hourman: Does your team ever stop arguing?
Stein: Fair point.
Commander Steel: I do what I do, so that others don't have to. So you wouldn't have to.
Nate: My whole life people have been trying to protect me from the world. Your son included. Meanwhile, all I've ever wanted was to be a soldier like you.
Commander Steel: It's a parents job to protect their child. But it's a child's obligation to themselves to live their own life. You can - and should - do whatever you set your mind to. But you should know, you don't have to be a soldier to be a hero.
(As he tries to examine the super-serum through a microscope.)
Ray: This would go a lot faster if I wasn't handcuffed, I mean, what do you think - I'm going to escape using a microscope?
Vixen: How can you do this?! No member of the JSA would ever help the Nazis!
Ray: Neither would a Legend.
(Ray strikes one of the guards with the microscope as Vixen stands, still tied to her chair, and hits the other guard with it, breaking the chair. The two look at each other, surprised.)
Ray: Damn! I really wanted to do it with just the microscope.
Stargirl's energy blast is capable of separating Firestorm.
Rex Tyler has no memory of ever meeting The Legends and doesn't belive in time travel.
The numbers on Commander Steel's dogtags are 070323. Those numbers are not recorded on any document, military or civilian. The tags have a dent from an assassin's bullet when Commander Steel saved President Roosevelt's life in 1939. He gave them to his wife upon the birth of his son in 1955. His son they gave the tags to his grandson, Nate Heywood.
We see the entirety of Rex Tyler's appearing to The Legends at the end of 116.
Eobard Thawne is responsible for giving the super-serum to Baron Kreiger.
Nate Heywood speaks German, French, Japanese, Italian, Latin and English.
Martin Stein is a competent singer and knows the lyrics to Edelweiss by heart.
The item that The Reverse Flash wishes to trade for the super-serum is an artifact known as The Askaran Amulet.
Nate Heywood is a hemophiliac.
Vixen is a fifth-degree black-belt and trained in edged weapons combat.
Sara Lance becomes The Legends official leader.
Ray injects Nate with the adjusted super-serum. It improves his vitals and stabilizes his condition.
The Reverse Flash steals The Askaran Amulet and kills Hourman.
New York City 1942
JSA Headquarters 1942
Fontainebleau Forest 1942
Hourman and The Reverse Flash apparently encountered one another several times. It was during their last encounter (from Thawne's perspective) that Hourman learned of their plans and went forward in time to warn The Legends.
The Bottom Line
Honestly, the only bad parts of this episode are the CGI for the super-soldier Baron and that for an episode named for The Justice Society of America, they barely feature into the episode at all. We don't get to see Hourman use his powers and Obsidian, Stargirl and Dr. Mid-Nite don't get much in the way of definition. Still, the action sequences are amazing and the script offers up a lot of witty brick jokes, with seemingly throw-away lines leading to bigger pay-offs later. The production team did a fantastic job on sets and costumes and the ensemble cast are all firing on all eight cylinders.