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Dan Versus Nature
Don Calame
The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness
Jason Marsh, Jeremy Adam Smith, Dacher Keltner
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Justice - Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, Doug Braithwaite Justice is a return to old school DC, where the original vanguard face off against some of their most memorable foes. The plot is an old concept turned on its head. What if their dangerous villains banded together like the Justice League, forming a coallition that rivals or even surpasses their heroic counterparts. The really interesting set up is that they initially seem altruistic in their motives to cooperate and become greater heroes than their old foes. The villains have received distressing nightmares of the end of the world, mass destruction that not even the world's superheroes are able to circumvent.

This plot entanglement of supervillains who turn over a new leaf is discovered to be part ruse and part mind control scheme between Brainiac and Luthor, who need the other villains to agree to their schemes. It's really a way for a fascinating character study on how the villains are the heroes of their own stories, but sadly Justice is not that story. Instead it is still a highly engaging work that discusses how the heroes are initially beaten and then return and fight back from this villain conspiracy.

The artwork in here is nearly flawless. Anyone who has seen Alex Ross's art in Kingdom Come or the Astro City covers knows the attention to detail and realism found in here. The full painted spreads really are eye-catchers here, detailed and understandable in each spread. If I could name any moment something appeared off it would be Arthur Jr.'s baby face was sometimes awkward looking and some of the fight panels, while gorgeously rendered, weren't always clear in the scene. Still, where his work in Kingdom Come felt more like a humanized story of people, the artwork here is bright and larger than life and breathes a sense of believability to the Silver Age conceit.

Jim Krueger's story is well constructed, with twists and moments of humanity that keep people interested even when the epic scope of the story threatens to overwhelm. If I thought there was some untapped potential in having a story be about villains outdoing the heroes in their deeds, he still provides a great plot for people to read through. I think I was most impressed with the throwaway moments, such as Joker's true monsterous insanity that his mind couldn't be swayed to altruism even with the promise of the whole world's destruction, or the opening in one chapter where a cured inhabitant of the city writes to explain her decision to her parents.

Some moments do provide wallbangers of suspension of belief, such as Zatanna being able to survive being dropped in space simply because she held her breath, or the fact that these exceedingly organized supervillains only carried out an assult on a select group of superheroes, leaving heavyweights like Captain Marvel to retaliate. But as a whole you don't question the logic. It makes perfect sense in the realm of demigods and aliens parading around in costume. And the best part about Justice is that it embraces that atmosphere. There's no sly winking or trying to hide it between some metatextual commentary on superheroes. It's just a damn good superhero story. Funnily enough that seems to be in short supply right now, so I'm all the more grateful for Justice being what it is.