Writers: Alex Ross and Jim Krueger
Artists: Doug Braithwaite and Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics
A few years ago, Wizard published a news item about an upcoming Alex Ross project that would be based on the Super Friends cartoons from the 1970s and 1980s. If I remember correctly, the image accompanying the news item was a painted picture of the Wonder Twins, Jan and Zayna, by Ross.
I thought it was a pretty cool idea, and I was disappointed to learn that it was Wizard’s idea of an April Fools’ joke. You see, this erroneous news item appeared in an issue with an April cover date and came out in March. (Rolls eyes)
However, Alex Ross must have thought it was a pretty cool idea, too. He has essentially taken that approach with Justice—albeit without either the Wonder Twins or Wendy and Marvin (and/or Wonder Dog and Gleek).
Essentially, Justice is the concept of the 1978 animated series Challenge of the Super Friends, but approached with an eye toward verisimilitude as the “Legion of Doom” squares off against Earth’s collected super heroes. As a result of this approach, Justice has been one of the best stories that DC has published in the 67 years of the concept of “super team” books.
Oddly, the same creative team (essentially) produced Earth X for Marvel seven years ago. I gave up on that series after the first two or three issues because I found the story unreadable (though the art was nice). I’ve since heard from people who stuck with the entire Earth X trilogy of series that the story greatly improved after Krueger and Ross worked on their writing skills. Based on how much I’m enjoying Justice, I think I might have to give Earth X another try when my budget allows.
However, Justice is not a flawless masterpiece worthy of five bullets. There are times when some of the problems I had with Earth X crop up here as well—specifically, there are some action scenes that are difficult to follow. This problem primarily occurs in fight scenes in which the perspective varies wildly from one panel to the next.
The result of this wildly changing perspective is to either diminish or eliminate any sense of continuity from one panel to the next—a problem that is compounded by the use of disjointed dialogue.
Of course, it could be argued that the resulting “chaos” of shifting perspectives and disjointed dialogue simply helps to create the verisimilitude of a chaotic conflict between super powered beings who are slugging it out at near-lightning speed, and I accept that argument to some extent. Still, it gets frustrating to not be able to understand exactly what happened in a scene, especially after studying the panels for a while.
Such is the case for me in Justice #10, page 19, panels one and two. The Metal Man known as Gold is wrapping up the Parasite in his malleable body while his fellow Metal Man known as Platinum (Tina) attempts to wrap up Metallo in her own malleable form.
As they battle their respective antagonists, Gold says to Tina, “This is all part of the plan, Tina. I’m going to give Parasite more gold than he’s ever dreamed of.” Obviously, Gold’s statement is an idiotic thing to say in the middle of a fight—and Platinum seems to respond appropriately when she asks, “Gold?”
Was she questioning what Gold meant by his claim that he was going to give “more gold” to the Parasite? Was she trying to get Gold’s attention by phrasing her need for assistance from him in the form of a question? Or was there some other reason she suddenly spoke Gold’s name in the form of a question?
The next panel begins with Gold replying, “I’m sorry, Tina. I’m sorry, baby” as Metallo holds a misshapen Platinum over his head. Of course I know that Gold is apologizing for his inability to save Tina from Metallo holding her over his head. However, I really don’t understand the problem here.
After all, Tina is a malleable robot who can reconstitute her form—yet she screams, “Gold!” as if it’s her final word before she dies. The next panel shifts to Brainiac running toward a row of teleportation tubes with Arthur Curry Jr. in his arms as he orders, “The transports. Your cities. Now”—which elicits a response from an armored Arthur Curry Sr. in the next panel, “Noooo!!”
Similar problems appear in other panels in which the characters are either fighting or running. As I mentioned, the perspective in these panels often changes drastically from one panel to the next—making it all too confusing for this Old School reader who prefers to be able to figure out what’s going on—if not initially, then later after a careful study of the panels in question.
Still, despite Ross and Krueger’s problems in handling fight scenes (problems that are not as numerous as they were in the few Earth X issues I read seven years ago), this conflict between the Legion of Doom and the Super Friends is handled effectively and with an obvious respect for the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths history of the characters. Though individual fight scenes may be difficult to follow, the story as a whole is completely engaging.
When I think back in ten or twenty years to this period in DC’s history, I’m going to fondly remember Justice. I can’t currently make that statement about DC’s new Justice League of America series, and I sincerely hope that I will be able to say that I have completely forgotten last year’s Infinite Crisis debacle.
Unfortunately, I know that the worst experiences are often remembered in as much detail as the best—so at least Justice will balance that scale for me.
What did you think of this book?
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