Have Jade and Obsidian Been Eliminated from Continuity?

by Matthew Lloyd
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In preparing the review for Justice Society of America #7, I had cause to go back through The New Golden Age #1 and the first six issues of the current Justice Society of America series.  In none of these stories have Jade or Obsidian made an appearance or been referenced. This is particularly relevant as the event of Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #1 go in depth with his history and in this era of DC Comics it’s hard to imagine this Alan Scott marrying once, let alone twice. Furthermore, Molly Mayne, Alan’s second wife has a new child, Michael who is known as The Harlequin’s Son. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and unfortunately, the initial calculations seem to add up to Obsidian and Jade no longer existing in continuity.

Who are Jade and Obsidian?

Jennie-Lynn (Jade) Hayden and Todd (Obsidian) Rice first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 cover dated September 1983 as part of a time travelling team of Justice Society of America characters who were mid controlled by the Ultra-Humanite to interfere with events during World War II.  Jade and Obsidian are twins and they make their most important entrance in Infinity, Inc. #1 when they along with other sons, daughters and proteges of the Justice Society burst in on the team and petition them for admission.  The pair believe that Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern is their father.  This storyline plays out over the first year and a half of Infinity, Inc. with the full story revealed in Infinity, Inc, Annual #1 from December 1985.

Alan Scott had married Rose Canton, the Golden Age Thorn who was operating under an alias.  On their wedding night the personality of The Thorn took over.  She disappeared that night not knowing she had become pregnant.  When Canton realized that The Thorn was a threat she put the twins up for adoption.  Alan Scott never knew what happened, including that the woman he married was in reality one of Jay (The Flash) Garrick’s adversaries.  The twins were adopted separately and each developed powers. Jade had a similar power set to the Green Lantern except that the green energy manifested directly from her body without the need for a ring or lantern for recharging.  It also caused her flesh to turn green when using the power.  Obsidian had the power of shadows and darkness much like The Shade.  He could engulf an opponent in the darkness terrorizing the individual.  He could also manifest a shadow self which was intangible.  

Jade and her father hit it off right away.  Obsidian and Alan Scott had a difficult relationship right out of the gate.  Marc Andreyko utilized this friction to expand on Todd’s character revealing him to be gay in the pages of Manhunter #18 in 2006.  The relationship between Alan Scott and his children was a long running subplot throughout Infinity, Inc. and subsequent JSA titles all the way up to the relaunch of the entire DC publishing line in September 2011 with the New 52 initiative. 

Where did they go?

At this point, Jade and Obsidian ceased to exist as there was no Justice Society in the New 52 and when the Earth 2 comic launched it was with new versions of Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and such on a new parallel Earth.  In this reality, because the elimination of Todd Rice as a representative of the LGBT community no longer existed, writer James Robinson wrote the Alan Scott of Earth 2 as gay in order to maintain representation.

At the end of Doomsday Clock the pre-New 52 JSA returned to continuity.  Around the same time, James Tynion IV penned a story for the Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100 Page Super Spectacular.  This story recounted Alan Scott’s origin from All-American Comics #16, but with a twist- he wasn’t just on the train when it crashed, he was hidden away in a car with another man having a romantic encounter and subsequently blamed himself for the man’s death.  This led to Alan Scott coming out to Jade and Obsidian in the pages of Infinite Frontier.  However, it did not address any other aspect of Scott’s past including his marriage to Rose Canton, or his second marriage, this time to Molly Mayne in the pages of the aforementioned Infinity, Inc. Annual #1.  It now seemed incongruous that Scott as a man in his ’60’s would enter into a second marriage when he married Molly Mayne if he was indeed, gay.   It raises lots of questions about Scott’s integrity and honesty.  It’s certainly believable that Scott would have tried to live as straight and marry Canton earlier in his life, but a second marriage as an older man when no one would have any expectations of him to marry at that age doesn’t really make sense.  Nor does it make sense that he would have finally come out at over 100 years of age, which is what we see in Infinite Frontier.

The New Golden Age

In November of 2022,  DC Comics finally brought the JSA back in a big way.  Under a banner of “The New Golden Age,” a mini-series, Stargirl and the Lost Children and the current Justice Society of America series were launched along with The New Golden Age #1 one-shot that served as an introduction to both titles.  Writer Geoff Johns introduced a number of new characters including a number of “forgotten” Golden Age sidekicks.  He also reintroduced the Golden Age Aquaman who hadn’t been seen since two brief appearance in All-Star Squadron #59 and #60.

Two of Johns creations were The Harlequin’s Son and the Red Lantern.  The Harlequin’s Son is exactly who he sounds like he is, the son of Molly Mayne, the Golden Age Harlequin.  Nothing has been revealed about his father yet, but some of the pertinent facts we have are that Michael Mayne is gay and that he used his mother’s gagets and he started out as a villain.  We also know that Sylvester Pemberton attempted to recruit him to Infinity, Inc. when he was forming the team.  This is not how it happened back in Infinity, Inc. #1, however, as that team was formed by Hector Hall and Lyta Trevor.  Pemberton was a member of the JSA at the time and sitting at the table when the youngsters broke in on the JSA meeting.  It’s not clear who else was recruited to this team now, but if Pemberton was doing the recruiting, it seems that Hector Hall and Lyta Trevor may not have been there at all.  The Harlequin’s Son’s Who’s Who entry in The Golden Age #1 also indicates that his relationship with his mother remains complicated.  

Johns also introduces readers to a new Golden Age arch-nemesis for Alan Scott- The Red Lantern.  In the early ’50’s the Red Lantern would have a daughter who would go missing.  This daughter is Ruby Sokov.  In Justice Society of America #1 we see that in the future, Helena Wayne as the Huntress along with Power Girl have resorted to recruiting villains to join the JSA due to dire circumstances.  We see Ruby and she appears much like Jade, only red instead of green.  Like Jade, Ruby manifests her power directly from her body.  Both she and her father are powered by the Crimson Flame, something similar to the Starheart which powered Alan and Jade.

As I wrote the review for the forthcoming Justice Society of America #7, I realized that Johns was playing with an element associated with Jade back in Infinity, Inc.  In this new comic, Johns is associating this relationship with a different character.  It got me thinking, and I realized Jade and Obsidian haven’t been seen for a while.  In fact, despite all the JSA characters that have been seen in this new series, Jade and Obsidian haven’t been seen at all.  I went back through The New Golden Age #1 and the first 6 issues of Justice Society of America to determine if I had missed a background appearance.  I  hadn’t.

post-Crisis– Iron Munro, Helena Kosmatos Fury, Flying Fox and…Helena Bertinelli

If they weren’t there, where were they?  As I pondered, it occurred to me that Michael Mayne and Ruby Sokov have some of the same energy as Obsidian and Jade.  Obsidian and Michael are both gay and both have had difficult relationships with the one parent they know.  Jade and Ruby are both powered organically though their respective father’s used a ring to direct their energy powers.  Also, both characters skin color is affected by the energy they wield.  Ruby and Jade are also names of precious stones that suggest the colors associated with their powers.

It struck me at this point that these new characters may have been designed to replace Jade and Obsidian in continuity, much like what was done with the Earth-Two Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and original Helena Wayne after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  After all timelines were merged into one single Earth at the end of the Crisis on Infinite Earths,  some characters were deemed redundant and others simply couldn’t exist.  For doppelgangers, characters who were identical to their Earth-One counterparts like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Arrow, the Earth-One versions were retained.  Characters with unique identities like Jay Garrick and Alan Scott who didn’t resemble their Earth-One counterparts Barry Allen and Hal Jordan remained as the first generation of heroes from the 1940’s.  Helena Wayne could no longer exist because her father the Golden Age Batman no longer existed.  Helena’s best friend, Power Girl, was unique in her identity as to be unrecognizable as Supergirl and remained though she was given a new back story and origin unrelated to Superman (this truly is a separate story for another time!).

With these characters gone, there was an in-story void and energy that needed to be filled.  Roy Thomas came up with most of these replacement characters inserting Iron Munro for Superman, Flying Fox for Batman and Helena Kosmatos who would be the Golden Age Fury.  Helena Wayne was reimagined as Helena Bertinelli and retained the Huntress identity as well as a tenuous connection to the Bat-family.  Having thought it through, it seems like Michael Mayne and Ruby Sokov are taking the place of Obsidian and Jade in the new timeline.`

Despite the Pain…It Makes Sense

One of the biggest questions about the retcon of Alan Scott being gay was how it would affect his children and his history and his marriage to Molly Mayne.  It hurts to see Jade and Obsidian go, but in this new history with a gay Alan Scott it makes sense.  One can imagine that this time around Alan Scott has never been married.  This means he didn’t misrepresent himself and marry two different women under false pretenses.  The exact nature of his relationship with Molly in the Golden Age is still in question, but we do know that she still had a career as the Harlequin.  A close reading of the Harlequin’s Son’s Who’s Who page indicates she wound up on the side of the law eventually.

Eliminating Jade and Obsidian clears Alan’s past of any inconsistencies so that it is free to be explored without having to over explain what happened.  This has always been an issue in retconning Alan Scott’s sexuality.  It truly makes no sense if you keep his history, but you also lose what was there with the character if you rewrite the entirety of his history.  You lose Obsidian and the dynamic between father and son with whom through difficult years searched for common ground and a positive relationship.  It leaves Alan Scott as mostly a blank slate as all the character work done with him through the Bronze Age up to the New 52 just isn’t.  Without it, though- Who really is Alan Scott?  We get some glimpses in Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #1 and his inclusion as a gay man is driving that series as even his membership in the JSA if forced by blackmail.  It’s certainly a different vibe than what Johns shows of the first JSA meeting in The New Golden Age #1 which while referencing Alan’s concerns subtly also shows him to be involved and cognizant of the magnitude of the event with no apparent misgivings.

I could be wrong.  I could be seeing things that aren’t there.  But, I don’t think I am.  

One clue that points in the opposite direction is the image on the Who’s Who page for The Harlequin’s Son.  One of the background images shows Michael Mayne in combat against Jade and Obsidian.  However,  when reading the page, it’s clear this could never happen.  The text explains that after being cleared of murder, he turned to acting and refused to join Sylvester Pemberton on Infinity, Inc. when Pemberton was putting the team together. Jade and Obsidian would have debuted at that time, so there couldn’t be an era in which Mayne was active as a villain and Jade and Obsidian were operating.  It’s not a friendly fight either as Jade and Obsidian are clearly interrupting him as he commits some sort of crime.  

RIP Jade and Obsidian.  Comic book limbo welcomes you.  

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