This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
There was no word for justice on my planet. The closest was the symbol on this table. It meant going beyond what was supposed to be possible, the natural laws. Imposing on the universe a higher standard. An ideal.
Martian Manhunter, Justice League 1
Our conceptions of justice hinge on fairness and impartiality — the notion that we are all held to the same standards of behavior (and face the same punishment for flaunting those standards). We understand how that can break down in practice (humans aren’t great at partiality), but we can imagine justice as a kind of platonic ideal we can strive towards. And that may be the best way to think about it, but closer inspection reminds us that, if it’s a platonic ideal, it’s one that varies from society to society and changes over time. We might reflect on the “justice” of the past (or of other cultures) and find it to be decidedly unjust, but that’s not how justice works — it’s not an objective monolith, but a deeply subjective, dynamic concept. That is, justice is a moral construct that only makes sense in light of the values of the society that construct it. Martian Manhunter’s approximation of justice reflects that idea, adding no moral spin to the “ideal” he mentions — in J’onn’s estimation, any ideologically motivated action “beyond what was supposed to be possible” is justice. In short, J’onn’s brief for the Justice League works just as well for the Legion of Doom. Continue reading →
Taylor: We like to think of our world as being made up of opposites. There is always a yin to a yang, there is always a cat to a dog. It’s a convenient way of looking at the world and it helps us make sense of a lot of what we see in our everyday lives. But as we grow older we come to realize that maybe the world isn’t so black and white. Maybe there isn’t an absolute good and maybe there isn’t an absolute evil. Despite this, we tend to think of comic book characters as falling in either the spectrum of evil or good. However, when Superman, supposedly a hero of pure heart, opened Pandora’s Box we realized that not even the best of our heroes is totally without a certain darkness in his heart. But if we flip the tables, is it possible we’ll find a super villain who is totally evil of heart? Pandora wants to find out and in the second issue of her stand alone series, we see that the Trinity War is becoming even more complicated than we thought.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing All-Star Western 18, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Patrick: You could make the argument that All-Star Western is anti-intellectual. All of the more affluent and educated residents of 1890s Gotham City are ineffectual or massively corrupt. The possible sole exception to this rule is Amadeus Arkham, but he is routinely upstaged by his savage brute of a partner. Even when you think “oh, now it’s time for Arkham to use science or some detective work,” it’s Hex’ anecdotal crime solvery that saves the day. And if we apply a little bit of outside information, we know that Arkham will eventually turn his focus back to his true passion — the real focus of his lifetime of study — and found a hospital for the criminally insane. Arkham Asylum is a failure, a permanent stain on his family name. This is the turn of the century we’re talking about here, so why is every progressive thinker made out to be evil, a dandy, or both? Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing All-Star Western 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Drew: For all of the subtle differences fans can talk about in DC’s current publishing lineup, the fact is: they publish A LOT of superhero comics. A simple lack of capes and tights is enough to make a title like All-Star Western stand out, but writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti aren’t content to rest on those laurels. Indeed, recent issues have cribbed stylistic elements form the likes of parlor dramas and Victorian novellas, in addition to the old Westerns that inspired the characters in the first place, all while seamlessly folding in elements of DC’s own fictional universe. It’s a tonal chameleon, taking on whatever style best fits the material at hand. Continue reading →