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Justice #5

Posted: Saturday, April 22, 2006
By: Ray Tate



Writer: Jim Krueger & Alex Ross
Artists: Alex Ross & Dougie Braithwaite
Publisher: DC

Justice presents the heroes that we know at their best facing their worst. There are no gimmicks in this story. There's no mind-wiping to contrive plot devices that make absolutely no sense. The heroes know each other. They respect each other. They are mutually dedicated to fight for truth and justice. Fighting for such things just became harder. Lex Luthor has aligned arch villains dedicated to destroying the heroes. His is a Legion of Doom like no other.

Comic book fans are familiar with super-villain team-ups, yet Ross, Krueger and Braithwaite make this origin of the Legion of Doom fresh, original and far removed from the more familiar trappings of The Challenge of the Super-Friends. Despite the innocent source material, Ross' latest work is his most sophisticated. He and his team of creators do not once treat these heroes and villains as child like. He reveres the heroes. He makes the villains more dangerous than ever have they been. It's almost as if he's tapped the potential of all the characters taking part in his apocalyptic play. This potential was always there bubbling below the stupid continuity weight and the infantile writing. Ross simply draws the potential to painted pages suitable for a gallery showing.

The book opens with Sue Dibney and Elongated Man trying to understand why the League is out of commission and why the Legion of Doom offers the world a seemingly Utopian future. This scene as with the scene shared between Ray Palmer and Jean Loring, without fannish whim, sheds the neglect of postmodern designs and returns to the characters their dignity. It's all good guys versus bad guys, love and hate, raised to the highest power.

The villains beat the heroes badly, but Ross does not make these beatings contrived. He does not create a being specifically to destroy these heroes in an event. The ingenious way he attempts to have the villains destroy Superman relies upon an unprecedented villainous team-up. Ross uses what's in the DCU already, and as a result each scene comes as a genuine surprise.

The title battle between the Cheetah and Wonder Woman generates a fierceness from the former never before seen and a psychological insight from the latter that offers the reader unexplored territory in the lore. These insights also arise in the Secret Files already built into the book. Comprised of fully painted illustrations and sketches of the stars as well as Bruce Wayne's stream of consciousness regarding the subjects, the Files act as an extra rather than merely a guide.

Understated emotions give characters new facets for the reader to appreciate. We know that Black Canary for some reason loves Green Arrow, but as the reader watches tears stream down her cheeks when the Scarecrow's fear gas takes hold, we actually feel her concern over him. Likewise, we see the bond between Katar and Shayera Hol as they survive the Toyman's effective attack from last issue.

In Justice, myth becomes reality. Two dimensional figures seem to grow thirds, and the storycraft behind the artwork is just as powerful and oh so fitting for the Justice League of America.



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