Absolute Justice
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
Since bursting onto the comics scene in the early 1990s with "Marvels", Alex Ross has come to be associated heavily with a nostalgic style of writing that focusses heavily on the Golden, Silver, and early Bronze Ages of comics (roughly, 1938 to the mid-1970s). He's also been a vocal fan of the classic 1970s DC animated series "Superfriends", and has worked elements of that into his past projects. "Justice", a twelve-part maxiseries co-written with Jim Krueger and illustrated with the assistance of Doug Braithwaite, represents this love taken to the logical extreme: a twelve-issue alternate continuity story that more or less plays out the story of "Challenge of the Superfriends", pitting the Justice League against the Legion of Doom, albeit in a more mature storytelling format, and with many, many more characters. Originally collected in four small hardcovers, something of a ripoff, this is the first time the entire story can be found in one place. Some spoilers follow.

Broadly speaking, "Challenge of the Superfriends" pitted at the title characters against an array of their rogues organized into a nefarious organization known as the Legion of Doom, episode after episode. Ross takes this basic setup, and expands on it; the League (going by its proper name here) has a considerably larger membership than it did in that period, including the Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, and longtime Ross favourite Captain Marvel - and the heroic cast just grows and grows the longer the story goes on, bringing in, among others, the Metal Men, the Teen Titans, and the Doom Patrol. The villains, too, have extended their numbers, bringing in characters like Poison Ivy and Vandal Savage. Roughly divided into three acts, the first, which, to my mind, remains the best, sees the Legion mount a carefully-orchestrated strategic attack against the JLA, first ascertaining their identities and then using this to surprise the membership with overwhelming force when they least expect it. Some of the strongest sequences come here, such as Superman's sudden ambush at the hands of a squad of the DCU's strongest villains. From there, as one might expect, the League members slowly begin to extricate themselves from their predicament (having either survived the seemingly unsurvivable or just been left for dead), and hastily try to reorganize as the Legion puts its master plan into motion. At the same time, frictions grow between the masterminds behind the plot, Lex Luthor and Brainiac.

Frankly, I think the plot loses something as it goes along. The Legion's opening moves are excellently-depicted, and the issues that they broadcast to the world (as well as the motive implied in their opening dreams) seems to suggest a somewhat different story than we are used to. However, gradually it just becomes yet an other iteration of Brainiac's schemes; a well-done one, no doubt, but nonetheless very familiar. Likewise, the ballooning cast eventually leads to a feeling of clutter; anyone lacking an encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe might feel a bit lost as the parade of minor figures increases, resulting in a final battle that involves, to one extent or another, probably around three-score individuals.

Where the book always shines, though, is in its characterization; Krueger, handling the dialogue, has a way with summing up a character's core personality in the space of a monologue (Superman's discussion near the end about how he always worries about bullets bouncing off him and hitting someone else, for example, is a novel idea). And the writers, while clearly fans of "Superfriends", are clearly working to undo some of the characterization flaws of that series, most notably in the case of Aquaman, a character to popcultural farce status by that series. Aquaman's plot there, essentially a rerun of an infamous 1970s story where he failed to save the life of his son Arthur Jr., is one of his strongest portrayals in memory. Ross and Krueger also deliver a strong Wonder Woman (who, almost alone among the cast, seems much more the post-Crisis version of the character, albeit at pre-Crisis power levels and trappings), though her plot has a rather abrupt ending that left me scratching my head a bit.

Artwise, the Absolute format is most certainly the way to read an Alex Ross story. His intricate panels, often hard to fully appreciate at normal page-size, look fabulous in the larger size. Ross can deliver iconography like few other artists in the business, even if his work could be said to lack a certain amount of dynamism (though this book delivers some good fight scenes, better than some of his past work. His Superman, in particular, is to die for.

Recommended.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2014
A look inside the Absolute edition as well as a review of the story itself. It's a powerful combination of Alex Ross and the worlds most powerful heroes in a story that challenges them physically, mentally and emotionally.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2010
Physically, this book is a masterpiece. You probably already know it's an oversized hardcover with a dust jacket and a slipcase. What you might not know--and what DC should be trumpeting from every hill--is that the binding is sewn, not glued, meaning the book will lie flat at almost any page and you'll rarely struggle with text or art slipping into the gutter. It is a real joy to set a book down, walk away from it, and find the book still open to the same page. In the event that you are compelled to close the book, DC has even helpfully included a ribbon marker.

The art needs no comment. Alex Ross paints over Doug Braithwaite's pencils. You either like Alex Ross, or you don't. I think most people fall into the first camp.

The writing does need a comment or two. The script could've used another rewrite. Scenes occasionally occur with little context, leaving one scratching one's head. Sometimes this is for dramatic effect, and sometimes it even works. Dialogue can be unnaturally terse, including one exchange where a cryptic one-word question required a response that explained the question. Things are told, after the fact, instead of shown. And there are more dei ex machinis than I am comfortable with, even if some of the characters are actually blessed and watched over by the dei. The story starts out with some pretty head ideas, but abandons them in favor of a pretty generic bad-guys-team-up-and-fight-good-guys tale, the kind that leaves you scratching your head and wondering why, given a world of despots, maniacs, and evil geniuses, the Guild--er, League of Supervillains chose third-stringers like "the guy who asks questions" and "the crazy lady who dresses in dead cats" to sit at the big boys' table.

I've only skimmed the back matter. It's honestly rather unimpressing. There are some short character biographies which, I must admit, do sometimes add a bit of depth to the characters. There are some sketches, some pencilled artwork, and some character portraits by Braithwaite and Ross.

Whatever problems I had with the story and dialogue, the artwork and the physical quality of the book compelled me to read it in one setting. And I gotta admit, I really did want to know how they were going to defeat the bad guys. Sometimes you don't want grim-n-gritty, or morally gray, or abstract personifications bickering at each other. Sometimes you just want superheroes. This may be the best presentation of pure, distilled superhero comic there is.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2011
This is a hard book for me to review. I had high expectations with Alex Ross being so intimately involved with it's production. However I feel the story fell completely flat. A year later I can't remember a thing about the story. The art as always with Alex Ross is absolutely (pun intended as you'll see in a moment) gorgeous. Alex always produces beautiful stuff and having it in oversized format is a huge treat.

I give this book three stars as it is an average between the art and the story. I'll have to revisit it soon and see if my expectations were too high on my first reading. I had waited through the hardcover and then the softcover releases knowing that it would eventually get the Absolute treatment. So my long wait didn't have much of a payoff.

I would love to be able to give Amazon 5 stars on the service involved in getting this book. The copy I received had pages stuck together during the printing and binding process. Subsequently I damaged the book prying the pages apart. Amazon sent me a new copy that had the same issue. Needless to say Amazon did right by the second copy too. Kudos to the folks at Amazon and their great return policies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2010
I began reading comics about a year ago and decided that this type of colected format was best sutted for boeth my reading style (which falls more in line with novel length books rather than the short story format a regular comic strip provides). Wanting to get some super hero stuff I decided that the JLA was probably a safe bet and this ark sounded boeth interesting and fun. I was right on all accounts. Once I began reading this, I couldnt stop. The story is really fun (if you like super hero stuff), the art is awe inspiring and the plot felt rewarding. Those first few pages set the tone for an awsome super hero ride.

The Book it self was... waaaay bigger than I expected, check the size detail before you purchase!, so it doesnt happen to you too. But its a beatifull, elegant book. The large printing really helps to showcase the awsome art style and the slip case helps with the bookself placement. As I said, take mind of the size and weight of this because its a big heavy print.

I recomend this tittle to anyone interested in getting to know the DC universe, which can be a little daring to get in to, because it gives a good overall book of all the major heroes and villains of the universe as well as some insight on some of the lesser known characters. The story spotlights the bad guys quite a bit but every major name has its moment to shine. If you are new to super hero comics this is a good place to begin.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2009
This was an amazing twelve issue run on the Justice League. At first I was worried about Alex Ross collaborating with another artist on this but it turned out beautifully. Doug did an amazing job on this and deserves credit along with Alex. I found myself each month waiting for the next issue; the story had me wanting more. The classic use of old villains and their original looks worked perfectly.

This book turned out beautifully and as soon as I can dig myself out of poverty I will be getting a copy of the Absolute edition of "Justice." Pick this up if you loved "Kingdom Come."

Five stars people!

p.s. my favorite part is when Superman is torn from his apartment by Bizarro!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
great art, OK story. Would buy if you're a fan of Alex Ross + Super friends. To me, it was worth the extra $ over the regular size, mainly cuz the art really stands out at this size
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2011
While "Justice" is a very good story presented in excellent fashion, "Absolute Justice" adds nothing to what you can get in the individual hardback compilations.

While the size of the illustrations is larger, the pages themselves are so shiny that almost any light source is reflected very harshly -- the glare makes reading a chore and greatly diminishes one's ability to enjoy the impressive art. The smaller hardback volumes are not printed on such glossy paper, and therefore are much easier on the eyes.

There is no new content in the form of extras (or if there is, the additional content is minimal) and I suspect much of what could've been added was published in "Rough Justice."

Bottom line: if you already own "Justice," this product isn't worth the hefty price.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
I had never been able to find all of the volumes of "Justice" to be able to sit down and read the whole thing. Then, I found this special edition. It is similar to the Kingdom Come special edition in a lot of ways. Both books are about the same size. You can get a really good look at Ross' artwork. Sometimes, it's hard to keep reading the text because the images are so mesmerizing. There are lots of goodies and bonuses in the back, too. Tons of Ross' sketches and anecdotes from the creators fill a good 20 pages or so. For the true DC fan, this is a must.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2009
This book is awesome. The silver age was the coolest age in comics. This book is a love letter to that age in comics before it got all dark and complicated. You cant beat the Amazon Price. I love Amazon.com.
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