Justice League: The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes by Alex Ross and Paul Dini (graphic novel review).

Anything with the art of Alex Ross in is always a worth a look. ‘Justice League: The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes’ is the collected work he did with writer Paul Dini looking at individual JLA members handle some of the world’s crisis back around 2007. In Superman’s case, it’s feeding the starving of the world and rather potent when one military might standing between him and a group of starving people that he can’t be there forever.

For Batman, we see him working as both his caped disguise and as Bruce Wayne, swiftly curtailing a redevelopment plan in the Bay area when he sees it removing its local inhabitants. The choice of dark and sepia washes for night makes this story contrast more potent.

The ‘Shazam!’ tale where Captain Marvel visits a hospital of sick children is truly one of the best I’ve read in a long time and Alex Ross coveys a lot of powerful emotions without getting over-sentimentalised. A lot of these stories have been released in smaller but over-sized books and this one should be on your shopping list.

The Wonder Woman tale is more about Diana finding her place in the world and is even feared by those she saves across the world. Superman explaining to her that his civil identity keeps him rooted in normality is something she tries, although you do have to wonder why her own civilian period as Diana Prince was ignored.

Oddly, the weakest part is two page stories about the origins of some of the key members of the Justice League, although the single colour panels shows you don’t have to be multi-coloured to paint a story. From the afterword, Alex Ross explains he wanted to get the same feel as the original two-page origins but I think we’ve grown used to expecting a bit more depth these days.

The finale is a long Justice League story where the team are asked to go to South Africa and investigate what appears to be killing off large numbers of humans. What they find is an impact crater of an alien meteorite, the humans comatose than dead and even human member of the team slowly succumb. Obviously, they find a solution but the world is in panic and they have to take extreme measures to hold things in check until things die down, as well as getting some flak from the media. A strong story with a telling message that the JLA hold back much of the time.

The last section of the book looks at how Alex Ross develops his art. He does fine pencil layouts and then gets models dressed in the appropriate JLA costumes to match the poses. From an art point of view, this sorts out the costume creases and gets the colour tonal levels right for what you finally see. Oh, there’s a multi-page spread right at the end of the book, so be careful opening it.

Of course, the main selling point is the art of Alex Ross but don’t forget that Paul Dini’s script helped the chemistry. If you haven’t bought this book by now, then its about time. A great collection.

GF Willmetts

January 2020

(pub: DC Comics, 2018. 400 graphic novel large softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for £16.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4012-8554-8)

check out website: www.dccomics.com

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