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'Justice' takes League back to comics' silver age

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"Justice," a new 12-part series from DC Comics, is for anyone who relishes an epic battle of good vs. evil - or has fond memories of TV's "The Challenge of the Superfriends."

The Saturday-morning cartoon, which aired in the 1970s and has been collected on DVD, pitted the Justice League of America against the villainous Legion of Doom.

"Justice," which finds the Justice League under attack by DC's top villains, is artist Alex Ross's tribute to the Superfriends days.

Ross is co-plotting the series with writer Jim Krueger and is providing his extraordinary paintings over pencils by Doug Braithwaite.

The bimonthly series portrays the Justice League from the 1970s, part of comics' so-called Silver Age.

That's the Justice League Ross grew up with, but as he notes, "it's also what much of the world grew up with."

Telling a timeless story from the Justice League's past rather than a story plugged into the current DC universe gives him greater creative freedom, Ross says.

It also marks a return to what the Chicago-area artist sees as a simpler, purer era - a time when Dick Grayson was still Robin, a time before Aquaman's infant son was killed.

The series will focus at first on individual members of the Justice League as they're targeted by the baddies.

The seafaring Aquaman takes center stage in the first issue, in comic-book shops now.

A recent article in Entertainment Weekly called Aquaman the Rodney Dangerfield of comics, pointing to the Aquaman action figure revered by the title character in the movie "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

"I really wanted to show attention toward a character like Aquaman because I think he's much maligned in the world view," Ross says.

"Here's this character who's world famous and we all think of as a primary superhero, but nobody seems to think he's cool, at least not today in our jaded culture."

Expect other superhero groups, including the Teen Titans and the Doom Patrol, to show up during the course of the series.

On the bad-guy side, look for most of the villains that made up the Legion of Doom, such as Lex Luthor, the Riddler and Bizarro, along with other top-tier bad guys such as the Joker.

In the first issue, the bad guys' mission appears to a noble one: saving the world. But, Ross says, there are machinations behind the scenes that will become clearer as the series goes on.

"You've got to figure that everybody's got their own motivations."

Boiled down, it seems to be a superpowered fight against good and evil. But, Ross says, "I've got 12 issues to prove it's more nuanced than that."

"Justice" is a spinoff in a way from the oversized "JLA: Liberty and Justice" book that Ross and writer Paul Dini produced a couple of years ago. At first, Ross didn't see himself as part of the art team on "Justice."

"But," he says, "I started to look upon the idea of what the story could be very jealously and thinking I don't want it to be just drawn by somebody else. I want to actually get my hands on this thing."


(Bill Radford writes for the Colorado Gazette. Contact him at comics(AT)


(c) 2005, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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