The Secret Origin Of
The Justice Experience
by Alan Kistler
TEAM STATUS: Inactive (almost all the members are now deceased)
FOUNDING ROSTER: The Acro-Bat; Song Bird; Major Flashback; Mr. Action; The Manx
LATER MEMBERS: The Bronze Wraith (known years later as the Martian Manhunter)
FIRST APPEARANCE: CHASE #6
During the McCarthy Era, the House of Un-American Activities Committee investigated many whom they believed to be suspect, possibly having ties to communist powers. In 1951, one of their targets was the Justice Society of America, the first super-hero team in history. The HUAC demanded that the JSA members unmask themselves before Congress. Rather than put their loved ones at risk, the JSA instead chose to retire and vanish into anonymity. Their absence began to affect those few active heroes who had not been JSA members. And so, soon, mystery-men were no longer a regular thing. The only heroes we know of who remained active were Johnny Quick and Max Mercury (who went by the name of Blue streak and didn't show up until the early sixties anyway). And it is believed that Ted Knight, the original Starman, also continued working on a semi-regular basis.
Almost twenty years after the JSA had retired, the void left by the costumed heroes began to fill. A new, smaller breed of masked men began to appear on the East Coast. But they played by different rules. They were not crime-fighters with a strong sense of justice, necessarily. They were adventurers, seeking thrill and excitement. Some of these thrill-seekers decided to seek adventure by being a "hero." And some decided to find glory by being a "villain."
These heroes and villains came into conflict, but (with some few exceptions) the stakes were not as high as they had been for the Justice Society. These villains were more interested in capers than in crimes, using ridiculous gadgets and gimmicks that were more trouble than they were worth. It wasn't about defeating the heroes and getting away with crimes so much as it was about upstaging the competition.
Soon, a team of adventurers formed. They called themselves the Justice Experience, in homage to the Justice Society. The leader of the team was Walter Chase also hailed as the hero "Acro-Bat". It has been implied that he was a metahuman, though his exact powers are not known to us. It is known that he was somehow able to glide through the air, aided by wing extensions on his costume, and he was a superb acrobat and gymnast. He operated for some brief period in New York and later for a brief time in Gotham City.
The other members of the Justice Experience were the Manx, Mr. Action, Major Flashback and Songbird. The exact nature, abilities and powers of these individuals is unknown.
At about the same time, another new adventurer emerged, this one calling himself the Bronze Wraith. The Bronze Wraith was a mysterious crime-fighter, who wielded an extraordinary array of abilities. After some time in operation, he was recruited by the Justice Experience in New York City.
Unbeknownst to the Experience members, the Bronze Wraith was actually J'onn J'onzz, a green Martian who had been stranded on Earth for a few years already. He had assumed a few human identities in order to learn about different aspects of humanity. The "Bronze Wraith" was merely another one of these identities. J'onn never revealed his true nature to his teammates.
A group of villains formed, calling itself the "House of Pain". This group became the arch-nemesis of the Justice Experience. At first, this was still not as serious as many of the battles the JSA had faced. Until a particular battle at the Washington Square subway station. A woman named Caroline Anders, while fleeing away from the scene of the battle, fell and was electrocuted on the third rail. For the first time, an innocent had paid the cost of the Justice Experience's "games".
Caroline's boyfriend was an eccentric and somewhat deformed inventor named Larry Trapp. Caroline's death tormented Larry so much. He blamed it on all costumed individuals who considered themselves heroes or villains. Vowing revenge, he systematically tracked down the various heroes, discovering their secret lives and identities. As these heroes were not as cautious about such things as the JSA had been, it was not a task of great difficulty.
Larry Trapp's first target was Walter Chase, the Acro-Bat. He killed Walter within his own kitchen. The only witness was the unfortunate young daughter of Walter, a girl named Cameron. On that night, Cameron discovered the secret of her father's double life and why he was never home. She also saw that this double life had ended in his murder. As the years went on, Cameron Chase grew a great distaste for all costumed heroes and villains.
Over the course of the next two years, Larry Trapp hunted down all of the Justice Experience and House of Pain members. He even murdered those few adventurers who were part of neither group. The only one who escaped his grasp was J'onn J'onzz. Although he was not killed, J'onn did reveal that he was "incapacitated" somehow.
The murders totaled over 35 in the New York, Gotham and Metropolis areas. Because almost all his murder scenes and hidden lairs had been surrounded with booby-traps left for the police, Larry Trapp gained the media label "Doctor Trap".
Deciding that it was time this lunatic was caught, some former JSA members joined forces and resurfaced from retirement to catch the fiend. Jay Garrick (Flash I), Chuck McNider (Dr. Mid-Nite I) and Alan Scott (the Golden Age Green Lantern) all pooled their efforts until they finally caught Dr. Trapp and brought him to justice.
The JSA members then went back into retirement. And although Dr. Trapp had been caught, the memory of his killing spree lingered. Even J'onn J'onzz retired as a public hero, fearing that another Trapp would come and reveal him as an alien to the world.
It wasn't until over fifteen years later that Superman debuted and thus inspired a new surge of costume heroes. Seeing this new wave of heroes as somewhat more accepting, J'onn decided to not just return to life as a hero but in a form that displayed his true heritage. Thus, J'onn J'onzz also returned to the arena under the title of "the Martian Manhunter."
Few remember the Justice Experience nowadays. However, Acro-Bat's daughter Cameron Chase now works for the Department of Extra-Normal Operations and thus often comes into contact with many costumed heroes (whom she dislikes for the most part). It is believed she may be a mutant with latent abilities. Recently, Cameron discovered that the Martian Manhunter was a teammate of her father's.
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