uncas007's Justice #1 - TPB review

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Pacing, pacing.

This is a pretty good yarn. Alex Ross's painting is a real highlight, as it usually is. The "story" is admittedly thin: the super-villains get the super-heroes out of the way and pretend to be humanity's saviors, but then the super-heroes regroup and save the day for real (I hope that didn't spoil anything, saying "the good guys win in the end"). Thus it's not a complicated story with layers on layers, but after reading a couple of collections that tried to hard to be multilayered and failed (Before Watchmen and Batman: Odyssey), this was a nice relief. The notion of "justice" is, naturally, the general thesis of the story, though it is only mentioned a few times,and Krueger and Ross don't exactly draw that thread to a finished, coherent whole. One of the major problems with this 12-part story is the pacing: one suspects the good guys will recover about halfway through, then slowly figure out the real plan behind the plan and regain the world's confidence and whatnot. But that doesn't happen. The bad guys dominate until about issue 9, leaving the good guys a rapidly-paced 3 issues to recover, tie up all the loose ends, save the day, and the rest of the usual things they do. As such, as you can probably suspect, it gets resolved rather quickly and easily (a little bit of magic, a lot bit of Oa power). Because of the pacing problem (and the need to cram so many heroes and villains in this mega-story), other little confusing things happen: what is going on with Joker? Is he really there, or is it all his imagination? I don't get what's going on with him. Also, when the super-villains start to realize what is going on, they are a bit quick to help switch sides and fix things and what not (trying not to spoil things for you), which is a bit of a stretch - again, the pacing forces this. It's a better pace than Kingdom Come, I'd say, but it also shows how superior of a well-paced story Operation: Galactic Storm is (different company, I know - no inter-company antagonism is implied). Other than these easily overlookable things, it's a good yarn. The hardcover collection gets in the way, though, as the binding prevents us from seeing many of the fairly important scenes/artwork in the center of the pages, but perhaps the Absolute edition overcomes that frustration. There are enough good character moments, especially for characters that don't always get much screen time in these "the gang's all here" stories, to make it worthwhile, especially for the knowledgeable fan (it's not really for the casual DC fan, though Kingdom Come is, as it expects you to be able to recognize a lot of the supporting characters). Fine work all around (except for the binding).

Additional: after further reflection, I am a bit puzzled by something significant left out of the conclusion. Much of the tension of the story was built on the idea the superheroes had lost the confidence of the regular people. It wasn't so much the supervillains were replacing the superheroes as much as the regular people could now be getting along just fine without them, and the absence of the superheroes was just fine. That provides some decently strong emotional moments in the first half of the story, yet it disappears as soon as the superheroes start their comeback. Even at the end, in the hasty conclusion, when Batman (who is essentially wholly culpable for all the bad stuff that happens to the JLA and never apologize to anyone, even Wonder Woman) gives his "I'll get by with a little help from my friends" epilogue (as if these people are really his "friends"!?), nothing is addressed about the opinion of the regular person, whether the return of the superheroes is welcome or not. True, this is a more major aspect of Kingdom Come, but neither series gives us a meaningful conclusion to this question - perhaps that is even more disappointing in KC than here, but since Justice is a kind of spiritual sequel, the absence of a proper conclusion to one of the central ideas of the story is frustrating.

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