Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Justice Vol.1

(2006) Jim Krueger, Alex Ross and Doug Braithwaite, Titan Books, 12.99, hrdbk, 160pp, ISBN 1-84576-350-5

This is a hardback collection of the first four issues of the 12-part maxi-series, Justice, written by Jim Krueger and featuring the painted art of the wonderful Alex Ross over the dynamic pencils of Doug Braithwaite. It is a tale of the Justice League of old, eg. the Flash is Barry Allan, which can either be considered an "Elseworlds" story, or as simply pre-dating 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths (not that it matters either way...). In addition to the covers and story as originally printed, there is also extensive character bios, sketches and pencil art, as well as a couple more pieces of Alex Ross' art. The story (so far) is that the world's super-villains, including Lex Luthor, the Riddler, Brainiac, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, Bizarro, Black Manta, Poison Ivy, the Scarecrow and Captain Cold, have been experiencing apocalyptic dreams in which the Justice League are unable to prevent the destruction of the world, or even to save a single human life. Spurred by these nightmares the villains have, seemingly, turned over a new leaf and have started to perform heroic acts of noble intent, including Captain Cold and Poison Ivy re-fertilising a desert, the Scarecrow curing patients' paralysis and the Toyman providing state of the art prostheses to war victims. Of course, Luthor makes sure to make the heroes look bad in a public broadcast questioning why the heroes have never performed similar feats. But the heroes themselves are under attack. Aquaman is defeated by Black Manta and delivered to the tender mercies of Brainiac, Wonder Woman is assaulted by Cheetah, the Riddler attempts to download the contents of the Batman's computer, Gorilla Grodd telepathically attacks the Martian Manhunter, Sinestro uses Boom Tube technology to remove Green Lantern, The Scarecrow attacks Green Arrow and Black Canary, and Superman is assaulted by Bizarro, Solomon Grundy, the Parasite and Metallo. What is going on, and can the Justice League survive both the physical attacks and the damage to their reputations caused by the 'heroic' villains? Needless to say, all this is absolutely beautifully rendered with Alex Ross' best work since Kingdom Come over the dramatic pencils of Doug Braithwaite, and Jim Krueger catching all the nuances of the JLA of old. Extremely highly recommended, with the further two volumes awaited eagerly. If any comic proves that there is no need of a Crisis of any sort, this is the one...

Tony Chester

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