Stargirl Villains: A Guide to the Injustice Society
Get too close for comfort with the villains of DC Universe's dynamic new series Stargirl.
This article contains Stargirl spoilers.
The Injustice Society has been terrorizing the heroes of the DC Universe for over 70 years. Although they might not be as well known as their more famous counterparts, the Injustice League, and definitely aren’t as criminally insane as their predecessors, Shazam villains the Monster Society of Evil, the members of the Injustice Society have made their stamp on comics history. They’re also about to be discovered by a much wider audience as they’ve been revealed as the dangerous rogues in the new Stargirl TV series, which is airing on both DC Universe and The CW.
Created by Sheldon Mayer and Bob Kanigher, DC’s maniacal supervillain super-team debuted in 1947’s All Star Comics #37. This makes them one of the earliest supervillain teams in comicdom, though they were beaten out by Mister Mind’s Monster Society four years earlier. Seeing as we’re having fun with comic book history here, I’m going to point out that the Injustice Society and Monster Society were both predated by another team of bad guys who were the first ever super-villain team, and the reason they’re relevant is that they faced off with the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy too!
In 1941’s Leading Comics #1, Green Arrow, Speedy, Shining Knight, Star-Spangled Kid (and his striped sidekick), Vigilante, and Crimson Avenger took on a group of villains collected by a man known only as the Hand, introducing the first real supervillain team! Alas, the gathering of villains was never named. Although the heroes who fought them would unite to become the Seven Soldiers of Victory, this original evil team of foes was forgotten.
But evil cannot be defeated so easily and seven years later the Injustice Society would be born. Why were they created? Well, that’s still unclear. But when All Star Comics #37 hit shelves, they were already trying to take over the world. On a striking cover that showcased the villainous team portioning out a map of the United States with knives, the famed heroes of the JSA were shackled to the walls behind the Injustice Society. In some classic Golden Age shenanigans the team was assembled by the Wizard, who utilized them to capture the Justice Society of America.
The original lineup differed pretty significantly from the antagonists of Stargirl, with the Wizard joined by Brain Wave (both of whom have made their way to the show), Vandal Savage, and lesser knowns like the Gambler (he’s here too), the Thinker (who you may remember from The Flash season 4), and Per Degaton.
With all of that history dug up, let’s get to the matter at hand: the Injustice League as they exist in the world of Stargirl. The most interesting thing is that just like the series is re-imagining their own Justice Society they’re also setting up the legacy versions of some of the Injustice Society’s villains too. Most of this section will be focused on the original versions, but as we’ve seen, the series is seeding new versions of these characters as well.
The leader of Stargirl‘s Injustice Society is Joar Mahkent (Neil Jackson). In the show we know little about the character except that he killed Starman, he’s European like his comics counterpart, and he has recently moved back to Blue Valley at the behest of Brain Wave.
Despite the fact that he wasn’t in the first comics iteration of the team, he was introduced in the same year in All-American Comics #90. In the pages of that book he uses a Cold Gun similar to the weapons that Mr. Freeze and Captain Cold use, but in the show he seems to have powers more like those of his son, Cameron.
The only child of Joar Mahkent, Cameron takes on the mantle of Icicle. But due to his father’s excessive exposure to his own Cold Gun, Cameron’s genetics enable him to turn to ice without any aid.
Speaking of Cameron (Hunter Sansone), he’s already been introduced to viewers of Stargirl, so it’s possible that he’ll be heading up the young Injustice Society when they inevitably assemble.
Henry King Sr. is the ginger telekinetic who spent the first few episodes causing havoc for the familial super team. First introduced in 1943’s All-Star Comics #15, Henry has long been battling the Justice Society of America. He’s also one of the founding members of the original comic book Injustice Society.
But there’s also the matter of his son Henry King Jr. (Jake Austin Walker). During his stint as Brain Wave in the comics, Jr. tried to reinvent himself as a hero only to lose his mind when his father died, eventually becoming a villain. Could we possibly see him develop powers here? The show seems to be hinting at this in recent episodes. If we’re going by comic book history it’s not the craziest leap.
William Asmodeus Zard (Joe Knezevich) is a genius. He’s also a talented magician who trained under a mystic in Tibet who he later murdered. Like the Injustice Society he debuted in 1947, just three issues before his team in All Star Comics #34. We saw him briefly in the opening battle, but he was properly introduced in Stargirl episode 2 (before being dispatched in episode 3)
Probably the most famous rogue in Stargirl is the iconic Green Lantern villain Solomon Grundy. Over the years the character has shifted–most recently into an anti-hero in the DCAU–but from what we’ve seen in the show he’s a stone cold killer. He also seems to have been controlled and imprisoned by Icicle.
Grundy first popped up in 1944’s All-American Comics #61 as the resurrected corpse of a wealthy businessman who was killed in the idyllically named Slaughter Swamp, located just outside of Gotham. Like his namesake, he lives a cyclical life of deaths and rebirths. Post-Crisis he’s mostly a Batman villain, and his resurrection ability is connected to the Elemental Plant magic of Swamp Thing. Here all we know is he’s big, bad, and an impressive digital creation. With Icicle back in the picture, Grundy’s ready to wreak havoc again.
Easily beating out her other team members here for longest running rogue is Tigress (Joy Osmanski). The first iteration of the character appeared alongside Krypton’s blue eyed boy in Action Comics #1 as a foe for Zatara. However, the version we see in Stargirl is Paula Brooks. In the comics she was originally a heroine but Roy Thomas turned her into a criminal mastermind.
During her stint in the comics she married fellow bad guy Sportsmaster and they had a daughter named Artemis. She did eventually become the third Tigress, so we could see her on-screen iteration (Stella Smith) suit up. Tigress and Sportsmaster are a delight on the show as over-achieving sports helicopter parents.
Speaking of Sportsmaster, Blue Valley’s favorite muscle hungry dad is Laurence “Crusher” Crock. In a hilarious turn of events he runs the town’s gym and goes by his Golden Age nickname Crusher.
Sportmaster first showed up in 1947’s All-American Comics #85 as an antagonist for the original Green Lantern. We’ve covered his familial ties in our Tigress entry, so what about this for a cool twist… could Artemis actually follow in her father’s footsteps and become the next Sportsmaster? It actually makes a lot of sense. In Stargirl episode 2 we see Paula boasting about her daughter’s athletic prowess and her hopes that she’ll be the first woman drafted into the NBA, and later episodes established that she’s the best player on the Blue Valley High football team. Could that dream not come true, leading to her disenchantment and villainy just like her father?
There’s also the chance that the American Dream project the Society has been working on is just a way to channel their children into super-villainy? This seems like a particularly likely route for Artemis as Stargirl seems interested in upending expectations, plus Sportsmaster had a rivalry with Wildcat who has established herself as a member of the new JSA.
A classic Star-Spangled Kid villain who was first introduced during the Bronze Age of superhero comics–1981, to be precise–Dragon King was a WW2 era Japanese spy. Here it looks like we’re getting a comics accurate version of the villain, who spliced his genes with that of a lizard becoming a man-monster in the process (notice how his eyes blink behind that creepy hood!).
Something that’s made the early episodes of Stargirl so special is the way the show embraces the colorful chaos of comics. The Injustice Society is a truly great representation of that, and if the show sticks to these outrageous origins, crazy costumes, and strange stories, then the Injustice Society could become a super-villain team for the history books.