One of the longer-running New Universe titles, Justice was created by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson.

Justice tells the story of Tensen, a Justice Warrior from the besieged Land of Spring, who finds himself exiled on Earth, where agents of Winterland are deriving some sort of spiritual anti-matter weapon from the souls of crack addicts.

Midway through the series, Peter David ret-cons the fantasy elements. Tensen becomes John Tensen, a federal agent who fell victim to a drug dealer who, in the aftermath of the White Event, gained the superhuman power to trigger hallucinations in others. The mythological elements of the series are in fact Tensen's psychotic delusions. Tensen partially recovers his sanity, and despite murdering several people with his own disintegration ray super power, resumes working for the government.

James's Comments

(need to collapse this)

My first issue of Justice was #10 (Gerry Conway/Keith Giffen). It may be the single best comic book of 1987. Giffen's art in the "real world" is haunted and apocalyptic, and his illustrations of Winterland are absolutely terrifying. I was scared of this comic book. I hid it in the closet so I wouldn't have to think about it.

When I got older, I was still enormously impressed by this single issue, and only managed to track down the earlier issues in the past year or so.

What a let down.

I don't want to say too many mean things about Steve Englehart, so let me instead talk about how ambitiously this title tried to straddle genre lines. Before Peter David ret-conned pretty much the entire series, Justice was …

  • A downbeat story of a merciless vigilante who roamed a drug-drenched urban hellscape disintegrating anyone who looked evil (which was pretty much everybody)
  • An Arthurian fairy tale about a knight-errant whose love for the Queen compromises his honor, and his quest to redeem himself
  • A fish-out-of-water comedy as a fairy tale knight struggles to understand our world
  • A tragic love story as Tensen falls for a beautiful, tough-as-nails DEA Agent sworn to bring him down

Got all that? It's basically Charles Bronson's Death Wish married to Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King. You would have to be a genius to make that all fit together harmoniously. I think the kindest thing you can say about Steve Englehart is that, in the mid-1980's, he wasn't a genius. Keith Giffen, on the other hand, was, and for three issues (#9-#11) the series actually delivered on its promise.

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