This is where we exit polar opposites, because the polar opposite of the JSA/ISA would be the Order of the Cruciform Sword turning out to be a global terrorist group, and I can neither confirm nor deny that’s what happens.
So where they differ is overt villainy vs covert villainy.
There’s no question that the Injustice Society are bad people. The cold open of the entire series is them killing a bunch of superheroes. They are more than willing to kill children. And not just the ones putting on costumes and getting up in their business. Icicle will kill an innocent kid, one he knows, one he has presumably watched grow up, just to prove a point. Their scheme will kill millions and they are fine with it. Most of them enjoy murder. So… bad guys. Right?
But it’s not entirely that cut and dry. Late in the season, we find out what exactly they’re up to, and more importantly why… and they’re not out to steal the world’s gold reserves or control freshwater rights or nuke the world to ash while forming a new society in a bunker. They want… good things? Sure they’re willing to do terrible, cruel, objectively bad things to accomplish this, but their end goal is a legitimately better world. Sure we’re not supposed to root for them, because they’re going to kill five million people right off the bat and more when the rest of the country takes offense, but if killing five million red-staters would mean nobody politicized wearing a mask during a pandemic anymore, or acted like saying “Maybe seeing a doctor shouldn’t be a luxury expense” is radical leftism… if a few million deaths meant that nobody was trying to burn the world to ash just to “own the libs…” look they have some points is all.
Look at Icicle. The chairman. The man with the plan and the will to bring it home. What’s driving him? What’s making him willing to kill whoever he sees fit to make his plan work? His wife died of cancer because a chemical company was careless about dumping. That’s not a typical supervillain origin, that’s the cold open of a Leverage episode. He’s tired of corporate greed destroying the world and is willing to hit back to avenge his wife and make a better world for his son, who he genuinely loves (and who is a little sweet on Court, that could be a problem).
In fact, most of them are parents, often loving parents. Of the current line-up (The Shade having left the band some time ago), the only ones who don’t have a kid are The Gambler and the barely-sentient undead swamp monster. I don’t know that I could call any of them great parents; Sportsmaster and Tigress encourage their athlete daughter’s aggression more than they should; Fiddler isn’t exactly teaching her son to turn the other cheek against bullies; and hoo golly that’s not even getting into what a piece of work Brainwave is… but the Bad Daddy Award has to go to mad scientist and literal war criminal Dragon King, whose experiments turned his daughter, Cindy, into perhaps the most purely villainous character on the entire show. Cindy (remember her? Alpha Mean Girl and the one who really destroyed Yolanda’s life?) is so cruel and rage-filled that the ISA won’t give her a seat at the table because even this bunch feels she’s a little much. Cindy, aka Shiv, is clearly set up to be Courtney’s true nemesis.
On the other side, over in Warrior Nun… how do you tell who’s good, who’s bad, who’s worth trusting when everything anyone knows about what’s going on is buried in 1000 years of oral history?
Sure Jillian Salvius doesn’t seem trustworthy in the first act, and a corporate CEO trying to punch a hole in the fabric of existence to invade heaven is… ethically questionable (take everything I just said and picture Elon Musk doing it, does it seem a good idea?), but she’s just trying to keep her chronically ill son (who she might have used Divinium to help conceive) alive, and what’s more relatable than “I don’t want my young son to die?” What tech billionaire wouldn’t defy the laws of God and man to save their child? Other than Zuckerberg?
Cardinal Francisco Duretti doesn’t seem trustworthy at all, especially when he’s subtly giving Lilith the green light to bump off Ava or trying to scatter the Order and replace them with more obedient but also more violent replacements. Also, we are decades and a staggering number of child abuse scandals separated from just trusting Catholic officials about anything. In pop culture, if someone’s a favourite to be the next pope, it is not a comforting sign. But really, doesn’t… actually I don’t have a good counterpoint, he is so shady….
And Sister Lilith doesn’t endear herself to us trying to hunt and murder our protagonist, that’s a tricky thing to make endearing, but she has trained her whole life to wield the halo, and now some random dead atheist has run off with it to go on a global bar-hop, you’d be mad too.
Turns out good and bad aren’t the easiest thing to parse on Warrior Nun. The bad guys of Stargirl let their villain flags fly high and proud, but on Warrior Nun… well, be careful who you root for. Or against.
Not my strongest point which means it’s time to tie a bow on this thing.
Next Page: Let’s wrap this up