Now THIS makes up for that unfortunate instance several years ago when first came on the air and, due to editorial/licensing issues, they were forced to introduce the Justice Society of America for the first time ever to television instead as an homage, the Justice "Guild." Granted, the powers-that-be turned things around later when the League went "Unlimited," presenting many original members in their true comic book form. But here the JSA is shown as many a fan have known and loved them: as THE original super-team that all other heroes aspire to be like.
But before we even get to the goodness that is "The Golden Age of Justice," kicks off with a crime scene at a remote mansion on a stormy night. Gathering an assembly of suspects like something out of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clue_(film)"></a>, Batman is conducting an investigation to find the stolen Golden Skull. Not getting anyone to come clean, the Dark Knight unveils his secret weapon, his partner on this case, Detective Chimp. The chimp grills the suspects even harder than Batman and in most instances getting the supposedly distinguished guests to reveal their deepest secrets. No coincidence that a would-be colonel is actually a phony, and a city hot dog vendor at that! "Colonel Mustard," get it? Down to their last suspect, the elderly Mrs. Gatsby tries to sneak out, but not before Batman corners her and reveals to all that it's none other than the villainous False-Face! He makes a break for it, but is thwarted by a discarded banana peel, thanks to Detective Chimp. On his rear and fumbling the golden skull, the crime-stopping duo knock False-Face out once and for all. Case closed, Batman offers his congratulations to his furry friend with a banana, but he's slightly rebuffed, in the process revealing that he can speak perfectly good English ("Don't patronize me!"). A cute prelude to the bigger story ahead.
"The Golden Age of Justice" kicks off with World War II news footage showing the Allied troops storming an enemy beach but being subdued by Per Dagaton and Professor Zee with an age-powering spear that turns the young soldiers into feeble old men. Guided by the news footage narration, we're introduced to the earliest version of the Justice Society, comprised of the Flash (Jay Garrick, whom we've seen prior), Dr. Mid-Nite, Black Canary, Hourman, Wildcat (younger than the old drill sergeant we've seen over several episodes, voiced by the peerless R. Lee Ermey), and the original Hawkman. All are shown taking their shots at Degaton's troops and weaponry, the narration throwing out every patriotic bit of wordplay you can imagine as they emerge victorious and Degaton vanquished. Fade to the present day and the old team is reunited for a special event honoring them. Ribbing each other over how much older they are now, the JSA is greeted by Batman and Black Canary, though it's clear by the way Bats brings up them being students of these heroes that this is a younger Canary acoompanying him. The elders give Batman some grief about recently allowing some henchmen of Mirror Master and Captain Cold to get away despite having saved the city, and they coddle Canary somewhat as being their "little girl." Clearly she's the daughter of the original Black Canary and none too happy with not being treated as an equal.
Wildcat's offer on a refresher course on wrestling techniques prompts a flashback to when the two younger heroes were trained by the JSA (a cool nod to an even younger Batman is his costume being the original design from his debut in #27). BC, however, is relegated to target practice using her canary cry while the men roughhouse. As it's revealed that it's Canary's own recollection of the past we were witnessing, Wildcat approaches her and she vents on how she's always treated like a kid by her mentors. Wildcat does little to alleviate her concerns when he dismisses her once he's noticed that someone suspicious has entered their trophy room. Batman follows soon after and they find that it's their old foe Professor Zee. The old professor keeps them at bay long enough to fire up the relic he was looking for, the aging spear that has housed Degaton's life force for decades. Quickly brought back to life, this Degaton is tan, rested and ready (and voiced by Clancy Brown!), and the muscle of Batman and Wildcat is no match for his firepower. The fight spills out into the common area, and that's when the rest of the heroes get in the mix. Both heroes and villains get their licks in -- and Wildcat takes another opportunity to put "Baby" Canary in a corner, much to her dismay -- but Degaton ultimately gets the drop on all the heroes, bringing the proverbial house down on them.
After commercial, the team finally gathers themselves long after Degaton's made a break for it. They clean their wounds soon after and bandage up in the team infirmary, the JSA disheartened over the way Father Time has caught up to them and contributed to their defeat. Batman indicates that he's been able to trace Degaton's energy signature, but when Canary gets fired up to go after the bad guys, her mentors collectively hold her off from doing anything other than recover from the bump on her head. It's at this point where I started to wonder when the hell Batman was going to stand up for her. Wildcat offers to stay behind with Canary, but she calls him out for coddling her and she walks away. Batman's actually having his own issues at that time elsewhere as he works on his tracking instruments out of the back of the Batmobile and the other JSAers all have to chime in over his shoulder on how he can make everything work better. It prompts a flashback of his own as he recalls handling a late-night bank robbery when he was first serving as a masked hero. One by one he takes out the robbers and when he's done the Flash steps up with a stopwatch, having timed the whole sequence. It was really in fact a training exercise and Batman's given a failing grade for not being quicker and relying on his weaponry too much. Salting the wound, the JSA then heaps praise on their "star pupil," Black Canary who's lighting up targets with her canary cry. Apparently Batman thought he was the one who could never please the JSA while BC earned all the props. Perspective is everything...
Brought back to the present, Batman nails Degaton's position and leads the JSA to their next stop. Cut to an abandoned warehouse, and Professor Zee shows Degaton just what he's been putting together all these years. Thinking he lacks a proper army and pitching an angry fit, Degaton is shown just how wrong he is when Zee unveils a super-robot corps -- dozens, if not hundreds of them! Back at the the Justice Society headquarters, Black Canary peruses the old pictures and mementos aroung the place and Wildcat decides that it's time to tell the young lady why she's received such preferential treatment over the years. Decades before, the JSA handled the rescue of a building fire. The original Canary died in a blast there, and her dying wish to Wildcat was that he protect her daughter, the Black Canary we now know. Getting this off his chest, Wildcat finally comes to grips with the fact that she's not a little girl anymore and the time has come to crack skulls... together!!
Elsewhere in the downtown city streets, Degaton goes public with his army and they are promptly confronted by Batman and the JSA (worth noting that Batman's clever quip is Hourman-approved). Only problem is that the team doesn't get much of a jump on the mechanized horde of troops before Degaton starts to dispatch them one by one with his aging spear, making all of them older than ever. A geriatric Batman doesn't go down so easy, but the rest do when they're made even older. Before Degaton can take them out once and for all, Black Canary and Wildcat show up just then on a motorcycle, taking robots out along the way. Degaton is separated from the spear by Canary and Wildcat quickly gets it to Batman who reverts himself and the JSA back to normal -- actually the old veterans brought temporarily back to their WWII fighting day condition! But there's simply too many robots an an almost endless rate, though when Batman takes out Degaton, Canary uses her cry to wipe out the troops in one fell swoop. The army now taken out, Degaton makes one last gasp to use the spear on the heroes, but it's damaged so badly that it backfires on him, turning him decrepit and Zee into a newborn infant. Both of them at this point could use diapers! The day saved, Batman, Black Canary and the Justice Society reconcile their internal differences and come to the terms with the fact that not only are they peers as heroes, but family.
So was this episode as "golden" for you as it was me? Did the producers do a respectable job giving all the JSAers proper screen time? Were they depicted as you would expect in this context? Are you even MORE PSYCHED for <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATt_jYt3_AY">their live-action debut</a> in a couple weeks? Were you surprised to see Batman in the role of an eager-to-please up & coming hero? Was the Black Canary subplot commpelling? Does Detective Chimp wash himself regularly?