Summary: The Justice League of America is reimagined by fan-favorite painter Alex Ross (JLA: LIBERTY and JUSTICE, KINGDOM COME) and writer Jim Krueger (Earth X, Universe X) with pencil art by Doug Braithwaite (Paradise X) painted by Ross in this fantastic new hardcover collecting the first four issues of the best-selling maxiseries! The members of the fabled Justice League of America are about to learn they aren’t the only ones who can band together toward a common goal. The greatest criminal masterminds of our time appear to be acting in concert — but with a surprising plan that seeks to achieve more good than the JLA ever could! This first volume of three contains expanded character bios and sketches.
Justice, vol. 1, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite 8.5
Alex Ross is a demi-God. I’ve read that there are other painters in the comic book business, but I have seen very few artists who could challenge him. There’s Blacksad’s Juanjo Guarnido, when he applies himself, but I honestly can’t think of another – and even then, Ross and Guarnido have very different styles.
I first took notice of Ross when I read the critically-acclaimed graphic novel ‘Kingdom Come’. I don’t remember much of it now, but I recall how bowled over I was by the artwork: every single page was painted. Not inked or airbrushed. Hand-painted. The skill and effort required must have been astounding.
But it certainly paid off. Ross is so meticulous in his work that he can breathe life into the worlds he creates. We’re looking at art, and one can’t help but be impressed with the realism he brings to everything he touches, down to the hairs on his subjects’ heads, to the lines on their faces, the folds in their clothing.
Oh, sure, he has a penchant for posing his characters, but that’s forgiven when one considers that he’s just indulging us – and himself, in the process. The rest of the time he makes everything move, makes everything vibrant, so those moments of artificiality are mere blips, moments of portraiture by a well-rounded, masterful artist.
Gosh… the amount of time that I spent poring over the details of every page, of every panel, in ‘Justice’! I just couldn’t help myself. I felt compelled to look at how he blended colours to create texture and depth, how his characters move and inhabit their space, the facial expressions and all the detail he puts into the settings. I just lost it.
And his renditions of these iconic characters is nothing short of brilliant! While they’re rooted in the golden age era, and some people may not enjoy this, I totally relished his take on them. Oh, sure, Batman looks less menacing wearing tights, but he’s still awesome. But wait until you check out his Superman and Wonder Woman: they’re absolutely phenomenal!
‘Justice’ was published as a bimonthly series, running for twelve issues from 2005 to 2007. It must have been unbearable to have to wait for the next issue, but there was no other way – I can’t fathom Alex Ross producing so much detailed work in less time. In my estimation, it must have been worth the wait. And now, they’re collected – so no wait is needed.
Of course, I’ve been raving about the art, which is pencilled by Doug Braithwaite, b-t-w, but the plot and its development are equally masterful. Alex Ross is joined by Jim Krueger in writing this four-issue set, which centers around DC’s villains joining forces in a coordinated effort to take down the superheroes, presenting themselves as humanity’s saviours.
It’s a twisted tale in that they find ways to whisk our heroes out of the public view and then disingenuously tell the world that the reason they won’t show their faces is because they can’t bear to face the truth, now unveiled: that they have, for years, purposely been letting humanity struggle, have let the hungry starve, the sick die, when they could easily have solved the world’s problems.
As they, the villains, have.
Because, you see, these villains have not only conspired to slander the heroes and then destroy them, they have actually begun to do charitable acts around the globe, making life not just bearable but fruitful for countless people. Their aim is to stake a claim as humanity’s saviours, in the heroes’ stead, to replace them entirely and to make themselves indispensable to humanity.
But something is obvious amiss, some other -likely more sinister- motive has yet to be explored…
And that’s why I can’t wait to read the next volume! Not only is the set-up utterly gripping, but there is promise of so much more in the next books. Already, the Justice League is in such danger that I wonder how they will pull through. And, given that this book is out of the DC continuity, I wonder if they all will. Who knows what will happen to them, and what sort of battle scars the survivors will have.
This volume of ‘Justice’ is a phenomenal book. It finds a comfortable middle-ground between story and art (i.e. it could have been shorter, or could have seen more development in its spare pages, but it did well to give room for the artists to give their all) and delivers what is by far one of the finest DC books in recent memory. Even if the others fail to deliver this is an utterly engrossing book that’s well worth reading.