Page 45 Review by Stephen
With its constituent three softcovers out of print, this entire epic has been collected into a single mighty volume.
Superior to anything I was expecting, Braithwaite and Ross combine their singular skills to greater effect than the economy of having Ross paint over someone else's art would suggest. Braithwaite has a different eye to Ross' when it comes to layouts, so his pencils - including some epic double-page spreads that fully convey the awe of finding yourself for the first time inside or outside The Fortress Of Solitude - often come with angles that Ross wouldn't ordinarily have considered. Ross remains on top translucent form while his pairing with Krueger on writing duties has produced a seasoned classic.
Lex Luthor has assembled a rogues' gallery of supervillains plagued by the same nightmare of a Justice League defeated and their world ton apart. Individually they have incapacitated each key member of the team simultaneously to silence them, then together they have set about curing diseases, irrigating the deserts to form fertile land, and performing other acts of uncharacteristic benevolence like building utopian cities - doing things the supposed heroes had never even attempted before, and succeeding. Naturally Luthor is far from backwards in coming forwards.
"I know what you're thinking. What can Lex Luthor of all people say to me? And is it true what I'm hearing? Are the world's ills and humanity's sicknesses being addressed and cured by known criminals and super-powered terrorists? This is being broadcast around the world, in every city, to every race, in every language. We know you're wondering where the Justice League of America is right now. And so are we. But we're also wondering why they never tried to do what we've been doing. Why they never attempted to use their powers and abilities to make this world a better place. I believe that their inaction is as criminal as those felonies we went to prison for. Preserving the world and not daring to change it means keeping food from the hungry. Keeping the crippled in wheelchairs. Bowing to the status quo of human suffering. And still they call us the villains."
But there's a slight chill in the air - in the Arabic deserts of all places - when Poison Ivy grants it the bounty of fresh fruit:
"Let spring come. Let the richness of summer reign... Until the arrival of the fall."
You can safely assume that all is not what it seems and slowly the threads come together, but not in a linear fashion. What impressed me no end was how few of the Justice League's predicaments are immediately solved. Instead they have to be revisited depending on which tools (knowledge, skill sets and powers) are available at any given time. In terms of superhero logic, it's been very well thought through. I can't give you specific examples without spoiling your fun, but some of those tools include Superman, Wonderwoman, his X-ray vision, her lasso; the sun, Shazam, and Batman.
You'll see what I mean when they leave Batman where he is until one of those tools becomes available and why, later on, when Batman's interrogating a prisoner he cannot be bluffing - indeed has no option to bluff - when he threatens to chop some of the guy's fingers off. Also, lesser writers would have left Hal Jordan stranded on the outer reaches of space (so far out there are no stars to navigate home by) until the plot required his return, but as he retreats into his Green Lantern ring, its energy depleting, we're constantly returned to his thoughts.
It seems I never reviewed the third and final segment but by the end of the second, things were looking rather worse than they did when it started. Each was substantial enough that I felt I'd read double the pages on offer and I - constantly carping, cynical old me - thoroughly enjoyed myself.