Chloe is leaving a coffee café and trying to call Clark. She leaves him a message saying that she's trying to set up a meeting of heroes. Suddenly all the power in the area goes out. Chloe looks around sees a figure glowing with electricity. Running to him, she finds a man wielding an energy rod. He introduces himself as Sylvester Pemberton and says that they're both trying to put a team together. He knows all about Watchtower and notes that his friends did it first. Suddenly the temperature drops and Pemberton throws Chloe into a garbage dumpster. He tells her to stay down and closes the lid. Titanic forces are unleashed and shafts of ice slash through the sides of the dumpster. Chloe looks out and sees Pemberton fighting an ice-wielding figure.
When the battle ends, Chloe emerges from the dumpster and finds Pemberton, mortally wounded. She yells for help but Pemberton warns that whoever attacked him will come after the others.
Clark meets Chloe at the hospital where she is being treated for frostbite. Clark explains that he's been helping the Kandorians integrate into mortal society, but Chloe doesn't believe that's likely. She notices the police officers collecting Pemberton's gear and clone the calls on Pemberton's phone. A young girl, Courtney, comes in and is shocked that Pemberton is dead. Clark approaches her but Courtney reacts badly when she sees that he's with the press. As she walks off, Chloe asks Clark to help and sends him to talk to Wesley Dodds, the last man that Pemberton called.
In a Metropolis apartment, Dodds is dozing off in front of a television despite the cups of coffee he's drank. As he sleeps, he dreams of Pemberton and his opponent in their battle. Dodds wakes up and contemplates a gas mask that is part of a costume. He dons the costume, and then turns to see Pemberton's killer in the apartment with him. The killer refers to him as Sandman, concentrates, and Dodds freeze solid.
Oliver meets Chloe at the Watchtower and realizes that she's tapping into his e-mail while trying to reassemble the scattered heroes. She explains that Sylvester Pemberton had a long criminal record of fraud and embezzlement. Courtney Whitmore is a sophomore at Blue Valley High who hasn't been to school in weeks. Chloe tells Oliver they need to get Pemberton's energy staff and she needs his help.
Clark arrives at Dodds' apartment and finds Dodds dead, skewered by ice. Written nearby in blood are three letters: J – S – A.
Chloe goes to the hospital and meets with Dr. Hamilton, who is examining Dodds' corpse. He confirms that Dodds died the same way as Pemberton, and the ice had human DNA. They realize that they're up against a metahuman with power over cold. Chloe notices Dodds' mask while Hamilton asks her what "JSA" means. She figures that the killer has a score to settle, and tells Hamilton that Clark is going through the newspaper archives. She leaves to help him.
In an isolated room, the killer tosses out photos of a number of individuals. Among them are Courtney and J'onn. He crosses off the photos of Pemberton and Dodds and then picks up the photo of Courtney. He then looks up at the wall, which is decorated with a chess symbol.
At the Daily Planet, Clark and Chloe go through the older records and discover that Pemberton worked with twelve other criminals, including Dodds. They also find an old film. Playing it, they watch as the criminals were caught one at a time by the police. Pemberton is one of the criminals, accused of embezzling from his own company. Dodds is also in the footage, holding a young woman. However, he had no prior criminal record prior to being arrested at a student demonstration. Another criminal is listed as Al Pratt, a physics professor arrested for participating in the protest.
Other men in the film is Ted Grant, a heavyweight champion, and Jay Garrick, a research scientist. Alan Scott, a broadcast CEO, and Abigail Hunkel, an elderly woman, are also arrested. According to the files, they all tried to take the blame and exonerate the others. There's evidence of jury tampering and missing witnesses, and eventually none of the convictions held up. Clark admits that he admired their loyalty. Chloe tells Clark to go warn Carter Hall, the next man on Pemberton's call list, while she continues the research. As the film runs out, Chloe wonders what brought all the criminals together.
Clark goes to the museum where Carter works. Everything is covered with plastic sheets and Carter arrives to tell Clark that the museum is closed, permanently. The curator demands to know why Clark is there, and Clark explains that Pemberton and Dodds were murdered. They're interrupted when a man in the next room clutches at a bowling bag and mutters to himself. The man says that he's Dr. Kent Nelson, and Carter says that he's very sick. The curator denies talking to either of the dead men, and says he refused Pemberton's calls. Clark uses his x-ray on the bowling bag and sees a golden helmet inside. It turns on its own and faces Clark. Carter tells Clark they have nothing more to say and Clark leaves. Once he's gone, Nelson tells Carter that the voices want to help, but Carter says that they'll have to help themselves. Nelson wonders if there is someone else to help them.
Oliver discovers that Pemberton's energy rod is missing. He spots Courtney walking down the street, carrying the rod. He approaches her and warns that breaking and entering is a crime. She points the rod at him but Oliver warns that two men have died and he needs answers. Nelson arrives, grabs the rod, and triggers it, saying they help themselves. Oliver is blinded by the flare, and when he recovers, Nelson and Courtney have disappeared.
Oliver finds Chloe and they track down Pemberton's car from the parking tickets filed against it. The car has a stars and stripes motif and is labeled "Star Rocket Racer." They figure Pemberton was living in his car and was on the run. Inside the glove compartment is a journal with entries on all of the heroes, including their true identities. Chloe figures that Courtney knows who they are.
At the museum, Carter objects to Nelson bringing Pemberton's protégé there. She insists that they know who the killer is, and that they have to do something. Carter points out that Nelson is deranged, and Courtney admits that Dr. Fate may be incapacitated. However, Dodds and Pemberton are dead, and Carter needs to lead them. She wonders if she has to go to another team, but Carter dismisses them as amateurs. As Carter walks away, Courtney asks him what Shiera would have done, and Carter stops in shock.
Clark meets with Chloe, who has located a former metahuman villain named Joar Mahkent, Icicle, who is now in a psych ward.
Carter leads Nelson and Courtney to a conference room and tells Nelson that they're going to need "him." Nelson hesitates but Carter insists that Nelson's morality never wavered. The homeless man hesitantly approaches the bag, and admits that he wishes he could remember what his life was before Dr. Fate. He had a wife, Inza, and a family. However, Nelson doesn't know where they are since he scared them away. Carter assures him that some of his family is still there. Nelson opens the bag and the helmet glows with a golden light. He calls it Nabu and tells it not to show him the past or present. The helmet wraps itself around Nelson's head and a blue and golden costume forms around him. Dr. Fate turns and greets the others. Carter then goes to a compartment and reveals a winged harness, a mace, and a hawk mask. Carter takes the mace and says it's time to go hunting.
At the psych ward, Clark and Chloe arrive and Clark figures that Carter is hiding something at the museum. They learn that Mahkent is in a vegetative state. However, when they enter, they find Dr. Fate holding Mahkent's head. Clark touches him, and Fate warns him that he is of value and his fate is binding. He notes that Chloe walks the same path that he does. Clark asks who he is, and Dr. Fate teleports himself and Clark away with a gesture.
Chloe goes to Watchtower and calls Green Arrow to update him on the situation. Green Arrow is following the glow of the staff and has spotted Courtney, wearing a red, white, and blue costume. She's in Suicide Slum, standing under a spotlight, and Green Arrow realizes she's revealing herself as a bait. He calls down to her and she tells him to leave. Green Arrow drops down to the street, but she dismisses him as arrogant. Before he can get answers, the killer arrives. Courtney expands the rod, says that she's Stargirl, and attacks the killer. He lunges at he with an ice spear and the two spar. They thrust their rods together and the energy backlash knocks them both down. The killer throws ice missiles at her but Green Arrow fires and deflects them. When the killer flees, Stargirl complains that Green Arrow has ruined her chance at the killer. A figure descends from the skies, picks up Green Arrow, and flies away.
At Watchtower, Chloe is trying to contact Green Arrow when he comes flying through the window. A winged figure, Hawkman, tells them to stay out of his business and flies away.
As Chloe tends to Oliver's wound, he figures they have Clark locked up somewhere and they know what they're doing. Chloe worries that these retired criminals were so easily able to defeat them, and wonders if pulling the other heroes together is worth it. Oliver insists that they'll pull together, and reveals that he pulled a shuriken off of Hawkman. Chloe realizes that it came from a museum, and Oliver suggests they get some reinforcements of their own.
Detective John Jones is working when he receives a phone call.
Clark wakes up in the conference room. Cases of relics holds a pair of boxing gloves, a green lantern, a helmet with the wings of Mercury, a belt marked "Fair Play," an hourglass, and medieval weaponry. Another case holds a woman's hawk mask, cracked on the top. Each one is labeled with a heroic name. Clark pulls aside the cloth on the table to reveal the words "Justice Society of America" emblazoned on it. On the wall is a portrait of fifteen costumed individuals, and Clark realizes that among them are the twelve crimefighters from the newsreel film.
Hawkman flies in and says that he doesn't understand why Clark is so important. Dr. Fate and Stargirl arrive, and Dr. Fate says that Clark is important, and different from the others. Stargirl explains that Pemberton wanted to bring together the old and new heroes into a new team. When Hawkman notes that Clark doesn't know who they are, Clark says that he doesn't know who they are, either.
Green Arrow arrives, firing an arrow into the portrait. He and Hawkman are immediately at each other's throats, and John Jones arrives and wonders if it's too late to work together peacefully. The two teams square off and Green Arrow points out that the JSA are criminals. Stargirl doesn't believe it, and John says that he stayed on Earth because of humanity's capacity for hope. Clark warns that they're not going anywhere as long as there is a killer on the loose.
Lois arrives at the office and tells Clark about her day. However, she discovers she's talking to another reporter and wonders where Clark is. A package with a chess motif arrives for Lois. Inside is a note saying "The truth will set you free." There are numerous files with pictures of the various JSA members. Tess comes in and Lois hastily hides the photos and asks why Tess is there. Tess notices the package and says it was for her, but Lois shows her that it's addressed to her. Tess walks off, thwarted… for the moment.
The killer goes to see Mahkent and calls him "Dad," and swears vengeance for the JSA taking his family. He vows to take away their family… and their lives.
At the JSA headquarters, Carter explains that his group was cleaning up the streets until a government taskforce learned of them. They wanted the JSA to unmask and work for them, and the heroes refused. The government then uncovered their identities and had them arrested and institutionalized, ripping them away from their families. Dr. Fate notes that they did fight back, and Carter admits he made too many mistakes. When Clark says he's made mistakes but hasn't quit, Carter says that he hasn't even started yet. Stargirl says that they need to team up and stop the killer from going after the remaining JSA members. Clark points out that Carter still cares and has kept everything of the JSA, and Carter reluctantly agrees to work together. Chloe arrives and says that there are several possibilities for Icicle's location. One is the hospital, and another is a nitrogen storage facility where the villain can recharge his abilities. Chloe goes to work on the JSA's antiquated computer.
Tess returns to the Planet that night and discovers someone has placed a white queen chess piece on her desk.
Courtney goes to Watchtower with Chloe and admires the hardware. However, she wonders where the furnishings are that would make it a home. The JSA brownstone was used for family gatherings. Courtney explains that her stepfather Pat was Pemberton's original sidekick. She found her stepfather's equipment and enjoyed the feeling of using it to help people. Courtney suggests that Chloe's team might be more effective if they got together occasionally when there wasn't an emergency. Chloe considers what she's said and then receives a message from Green Arrow. Chloe tells him that she's created a false emergency alert on Mahkent to lure his son in.
As Hawkman and Green Arrow wait atop the hospital, Hawkman explains that he's watching over Green Arrow. Green Arrow wonders why the killer is avenging his father after all these years, and figures something else is going on. Hawkman dismisses his concerns.
At the museum, Dr. Fate talks with Clark and explains that Clark is the hope that John spoke of. He explains that he sees everyone's fate except for his own, and that seeing Clark's future has given him hope as well. Clark will lead the present generation of heroes, like Hawkman led the JSA. When Clark notes that the Legion spoke similarly about his fate and how they were vague, Dr. Fate gives him specifics and says he will one day triumph over Lex Luthor, and will help everyone embrace a new age.
Lois arrives at the museum and Dr. Fate explains that she's the key. Dr. Fate unlocks the door and Clark is forced to flee before Lois can see him. Dr. Fate greets her and Lois explains that she's looking for Carter Hall. He tells her that he knows her fate, and she will need the "savior" and he will need her. Lois backs out and Dr. Fate closes the door behind her.
A woman walks into the room where the young Icicle is waiting, and warns him that he's taking it too personally. He calls her Agent Waller and tells her that it is personal. Waller says that his mother died during his birth, but the killer freezes her still and tells her that he's only helping her to get revenge. Waller, unimpressed, refuses to back down. Icicle says that he killed everyone she asked him too, and it's his father's fault that he has blood on his hands. He tells Waller to clean up her own mess, and Waller admits that it's a black mark on Checkmate's board. Icicle demands to finish it, and Waller walks away.
Clark goes to the Planet and checks in with Chloe. He figures that someone directed Lois to the museum. He discovers Tess going through Lois' files and tells her to hand them over. She notes that he thought that it would be tough for him to have a nosy girlfriend, and warns that Lois is in over her head. As she leaves, Clark looks over the photos of the dead Sandman. Lois comes in and she shows him the classified intelligence that she's gathered that relates to the two murders. Clark tries to get a look at the files and offers to help, but Lois wants to keep the information to herself. She explains that according to her source, the two dead men were vigilantes like the Blur. Further, Carter Hall injured Mahkent, and someone high up got Mahkent's son out of juvie. There were other bad guys that the JSA fought, and they have all been released from prison and their records purged. Clark realizes that someone is collecting them.
John and Dr. Fate check out the nitrogen storage facility. Dr. Fate is curious why John is there and what he does, and notes that John sees the same thing in Clark that he does. Fate explains that he can see the future and see what might be. However, eventually he saw too much. Fate asks about John's family, and John admits that he misses his wife and daughter. Fate suddenly says that they're in danger. They hear a noise and go to investigate. They find two security guards, frozen dead. Fate says that it isn't John's fate to die and then strikes him with a glowing hand. John briefly transforms into a green-skinned Martian form before falling back. Icicle stabs Dr. Fate in the chest and says that he's in his prime. As Dr. Fate collapses, the helmet falls off of him, leaving Nelson behind. Icicle picks up the helmet and smiles in triumph.
Hamilton gets word of the incident and finds Fate and John. Hawkman flies off after Icicle and Green Arrow goes after him. Clark and Courtney go to the hospital, and Hamilton explains that John is undergoing some kind of incubation. Courtney wonders if it's wrong to hope that Hawkman finds Icicle first and kills him. Clark says that it is and Courtney says that Pemberton told her the same thing. She explains that Hawkman crossed the line too many times, and Clark says that it's up to her to make things right as the next generation. He tells her to keep Pemberton's legacy alive and she'll keep him alive as well.
Lois is going through old files at the Planet. Waller comes up behind her and says that they're classified, and she left them for Lois. Lois wonders why she was chosen, and Waller says that Lois is good at digging out secrets and embracing the truth. She hands Lois a cell phone with a chess motif and says that they'll be in touch.
Icicle goes to see his comatose father and boasts that Fate's helmet will help him finish off the other heroes. He takes his father's hand and says that he's ready, and then says goodbye. He pulls the plug on his father's respirator and then dons the helmet. The helmet glows red and Icicle screams in agony.
Hawkman goes to the museum to get his weapons and refuses to listen to Oliver's advice to get the others. Oliver looks at the case with the Hawkgirl mace and asks who she was. Carter admits that Hawkgirl was his wife and that love has always ended in his past lives. Oliver is skeptical and Carter explains that he and Shiera were born a thousand years ago, and then cursed to fall in love, die, and repeat the cycle lifetime after lifetime. Carter figures that the sooner his current life is over, the sooner he sees his wife again. Oliver admits he's never had a connection like that, and Carter says that he hides how important others are to him by acting like a jackass. Oliver admits that he knows what it feels like to want to throw one's life, but points out that Carter stayed for Nelson, and he needs to put his death wish aside and help his team. He hands Carter his mace, and Hawkman flies him across the city to Watchtower. Clark and Stargirl arrive, and Chloe says that they'll have to wait. Carter says they should have stayed together from the beginning.
Icicle teleports into the Watchtower and suspends Chloe within an ice field. All four heroes attack but Fate's helmet protects Icicle against the brunt of their attack. Hawkman knocks him down but Icicle unleashes a mystical blast that sends them flying. He advances on Stargirl but John arrives to save her, and deflects the next ice blast with his newly recovered powers. The heroes close in and Hawkman smashes the helmet loose with his mace. He catches it and Clark expresses his condolences about Nelson, and Carter admits that he's sorry too.
Later, Hawkman returns to the museum with Clark, and notes that he isn't a hero because of a desire for glory or vengeance. Carter admits that Clark's team is better than he thought, but Clark notes that his team isn't like the JSA. He isn't sure if his friends will ever be what the JSA is. Carter tells him to trust them, and that he has to remember that they're people and will make mistakes. All they can do is keep trying. Carter explains that he learned to fly after his kingdom was attacked and he realized that his people were what are important. He considers Shiera's mask, and says that if Clark overcomes his own chains, he'll soar higher than any of them. Carter says that with Chloe's help, he and Courtney will find the protégés of the JSA and help them on their path. Stargirl comes in and says that some of them have already done so. She asks Clark what he calls his team, and Clark admits that they're a work in progress.
Chloe is working at Watchtower when John arrives at superspeed. He explains that Fate restored his Martian powers at the cost of his own life, and someone will be drawn to the helmet to become the next Dr. Fate. John plans to continue protecting and servicing. Chloe says that she will do the same, and John notes that there is a limit to how much knowledge someone can have. It drove Fate insane, and John worries that Chloe is in similar danger. She insists she can handle it and John assures her that he care for them as his new family. Oliver arrives and suggests they go out for dinner. John agrees and after a few seconds, Chloe agrees as well.
At the Planet, Lois shows Clark her front page article about the JSA. He hopes they'll be seeing more of them. She points out that he could have had a byline with her, and mentions what Dr. Fate said about her destiny. Clark asks what she was told, and Lois says it about a mysterious savior. Clark asks if she believes in fate, and Lois says she believes in the fate you make happen.
Icicle is confined in a heated cell and demands to see Waller. She comes in and he explains that the helmet messed with his mind. He wants another chance to finish what he started, but she congratulates him on bringing the JSA back into the spotlight. Waller tells him that he's done what she needed, and she'll need the assembled heroes to survive the coming apocalypse. She then draws a gun on him and welcomes him to the Suicide Squad. Waller shoots him in the head and walks outside… where Tess is waiting for her. Waller calls her Agent Mercer and says they have a lot to catch up on.
The Justice Society of America is the DC Universe's premiere superhero team, having been active prior to World War Two. They first appeared as a team in All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940), and were assembled by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Mayer. The team consisted of the premiere heroes of that era, uniting at the beginning and end of cases while splitting up on their own or into small teams to take on various cases. The primary members of the Golden Age include: Dr. Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific, Wonder Woman, Johnny Thunder, Hourman, and the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman. They later went into retirement when accused of being Communist dupes by Joe McCarthy, but emerged later to fight alongside many modern-day heroes, including the Justice League. Many of their members have died and they have taken on many "legacy" heroes: heroes embracing the names of the heroes of the bygone days, often with similar abilities and/or a blood relationship to an original JSA member.
There have been a number of different characters bearing the name "Hawkman." The original Golden Age Hawkman was Carter Hall, the reincarnation of Egyptian Prince Khufu, fighting evil in the 1940s (in Flash Comics #1 - January 1940). He used ancient weaponry and a belt made of nth metal to fly. With the new scientifically-based Silver Age, Hawkman was redone (in Brave & The Bold #34 - Feb-March 1961) as an alien policeman (a "Wingman") named Katar Hol, from the planet Thanagar, who used ancient weaponry and an anti-gravity belt made out of nth metal to fly. He and his wife Shiera came to Earth tracking down a criminal and stayed, becoming the museum curators at Midway City in their secret identities. Through an elaborate series of events he eventually became the "Hawk Avatar" then banished off to another dimension. The next incarnation of the Golden Age Hawkman eventually "merged" with the Silver Age one and was reborn, gaining Kaytar's memories as he had those of his other incarnations, and is currently a member in good standing of the Justice Society.
Dr. Fate (first appearance - More Fun Comics #45, May 1940 - origin revealed in #67, April 1941) was created by Gardner Fox and originally Kent Nelson, the 12-year-old son of archaeologists who were killed while unearthing an ancient sorcerer, Nabu. Nabu taught the boy vast magicks, gave him a golden helm and amulet, and matured him to adulthood, then "died" and apparently merged with Fate's golden helmet. Fate's powers have varied over the years and on occasion he wore a non-mystical golden helmet without the bottom half. Not one of the more popular Golden Age heroes despite his Justice Society membership, he was brought into the Silver Age as an "Earth-2" hero (as were most of the Golden Age heroes). His popularity grew substantially upon his "return" and he had several mini-series and played a substantial role in various crossovers. It was later revealed that the helmet held the spirit of Nabu, who could take over Nelson and/or make him less human. Through an elaborate series of rewritings and retcons, Nelson later died and has several successors since then.
Courtney Whitmore first appeared in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 and got a taste for the superhero life when her mother remarried Pat Dugan, who was the World War II hero and temporally relocated Stripesy. She got hold of her stepfather's deceased partner's cosmic converter belt and used it to become a superhero. Calling herself the Star-Spangled Kid after her predecessor, Courtney originally used her powers to annoy her stepfather but soon became a hero in her own right. She joined the JSA and although initially viewed as a mascot at best, she has since become a full member. She has also become the designated successor of the Golden Age Starman (after his son the superhero retired), and wields both the converter belt and Starmans' cosmic rod while now using the name Stargirl. Courtney is a skilled acrobat and competent fighter, but her converter belt and rod boost her strength, let her fly, fire energy beams, and short-circuit an opponent's neural system.
Sylvester Pendleton the 3rd first appeared in Action Comics #40 (Sept. 1941). He fought crime with the aid of his partner and chauffeur, Pat Dugan, who took the role of Stripesy, partner to the original Star-Spangled Kid. A member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, he was lost in time and brought back to the late 20th century with the other Soldiers. Another Golden Age hero, Starman, chose Pemberton as his successor and gave him the Cosmic Rod. Pemberton made it over into a belt and fought crime first as the Star-Spangled Kid and then as Skyman. he was killed by Solomon Grundy and Stargirl has since become his successor.
Wesley Dodds first appeared in Adventure Comics #40 (July 1939) and was created by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman. Donning a business suit, cape, slouch hat, and gas mask, Dodds used a gas gun to fight crime. He later took on a partner, Sandy the Golden Boy, and changed his costume to a more heroic skintight outfit. He fought crime on and off throughout the decades, both on his own and as a member of the Justice Society. Dodds eventually went into semi-retirement but donned his costume once more to sacrifice his life to prevent the sorcerer Mordru from learning of the Fate Child.
The modern-era Icicle, Cameron Mahkent, first appeared in Infinity, Inc. #34 (January 1987) and was created by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, and Todd McFarlane. His father, Joar, was a supervillain in the 40s who used a cold gun. Radiation from the weapon altered his DNA, giving his son Cameron an innate ability to project ice and cold.
Amanda Waller first appeared in Legends #1 (November 1986) and was created by John Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne. A widow who grew up in Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood, Amanda gained a doctorate in political science and then became a congressional aide. She eventually used her connections to form the Suicide Squad, an organization that put heroes and villains to work directly for the government. After using the Squad for her own aims, she was tried and convicted, but managed to negotiate a pardon and return to lead the Suicide Squad yet again. She later became the Secretary of Metahuman Affairs under Lex Luthor. As of the time this episode aired, Amanda was once again leading the Suicide Squad.