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Justice #1

Posted: Monday, August 8, 2005
By: Michael Deeley



Writers: Jim Krueger & Alex Ross
Artists: Doug Braithwaite & Alex Ross

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99


I reserve the ranking only for those rare works that I feel you must read. You must read Watchmen, Maus, Concrete, and The Essential Howard the Duck. These works demonstrate the best qualities of the comic book medium. Reading them is an enriching experience that changes the way you perceive comics and may affect you as a person.

Justice is such an experience.

The world is destroyed by unknown means. The Justice League of America is powerless to save a single life. Fortunately, itís all a dream. Unfortunately, itís shared by Earthís supervillains. Lex Luthor begins gathering these villains in an undersea dome. Aquaman is the first to fall in their plan to save the world.

The only thing more impressive than Alex Rossís art is how the villains are cast as humanityís saviors. The mysterious narrator portrays Earthís heroes as a negative influence keeping mankind lazy and weak. Not an original idea, per se, but itís presented with such passion and conviction you believe it. And Earthís villains come together for the express purpose of preventing an unknown tragedy. Not for conquest, revenge, or riches-to save lives.

This could easily turn into a silly nostalgic trip inspired by the Challenge of the Super-Friends cartoon. Instead, Krueger and Ross create a situation to unite criminals in a plausible way. While few of these men and women (and aliens and other lifeforms) possess any nobility, they are motivated by a strong need for survival and self-preservation. When they think they are all that stands between the life and death of the entire Earth, they quickly organize.

Of course, the true nature of this threat isnít revealed. Nor do we learn exactly who is narrating the story. It could be Luthor. It could also be Batman. Maybe itís Dr. Destiny, the villain with power over dreams. And how do we know this dream is accurate? Maybe someone is manipulating Earthís most dangerous villains for their own ends. But who would be so powerful and bold to toy with such murderers, thieves, and madmen?

In addition to the story, we also get short biographies/sketches of the characters featured in this issue: Aquaman, Black Manta, and Lex Luthor. The biographies come from Batmanís files and are written from his perspective. Heís sympathetic towards Luthor, and questions Aquamanís loyalties in regards to his family.

This comic has ads for the new Supergirl series with art by Michael Turner, and a new Batman maxi-series. They look like crap next to Justice! An ad for the Identity Crisis hardcover made me compare that story to this one. Justice displays an understanding of the personalities of the heroes and villains in the DC comics universe. Krueger and Ross can get ďinside their heads." They understand how they think and how they work together. Identity Crisis did not. Justice promises an exciting epic tale of superheroes and supervillains in unexpected roles. We may be rooting for the bad guys in this one.



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