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JSA: Liberty Files
Review by Bruce Bachand

I have been very fortunate the past couple of months. After almost a year of not buying comics I have been able to buy some stuff that I have really wanted to get. Some are neo- classics (a hardcover of Ronin by Frank Miller still sealed in the plastic wrap), others are "hot" reads (e.g. the Stormwatch TPB's), and then there is some newer stuff as well. One stunning gem in the batch was both issues of the JSA: The Liberty Files graphic novel. Maybe I am clued out or whatnot but this was one of the best and most interesting comic reads for me in the past years. The whole project just seemed first-rate all the way.

It is WWII and the Allies are in conflict with the Axis powers. The entire world has been engulfed in the matter. And in the midst of this Elseworld tale we are introduced to a different take on Batman, Hourman, and Dr. Midnite (as well as a few other surprise guests). Now you have to understand that this isn't a blatant "superhero thing" happenin' as we understand it. It is a realistic take on the superhero genre from a somewhat ASTRO CITY kinda perspective. It is also a period piece from the 30's that captured my attention and nailed it firmly in the characters and story. I lapped it up and enjoyed seeing Bruce Wayne as a detective again. A real detective!

The art hooked me as well. I am not really into the minimalist thing or the "Image school of boobs galore" thing. I like Neary, Perez, Miller, and others of that vibe. The stuff in these two issues was solid and made me believe that the artist knew something about clothing and gadgetry of that era. Batman has very real garb (I loved the goggles as an added touch) as do Midnite and Hourman. And while mentioning him, one almost has the sense that Hourman is a Miraclo pill addict. The writing is beefy and well-paced. The reader is quickly drawn into a window that gives glimpses of what WWII would have been like with guy like Batman acting in stealth for the Allies. He is cosmopolitan, brilliant, focused, and determined that what he is fighting for is worthy of all his "style" of values. We also meet a Joker who varies much from the one in current DC continuity. Rather than ruin it for you I simply want to say that he is as cunning as he is wormy… heh, heh, heh.

You know what grabbed me on a emotional level? The return of the Batman to a DC universe where he was alive in WWII and fighting evil. The whole Crisis On Infinite Earths deconstructed the original Batman (from Earth 2) and completely erased him from having ever existed in the first place. This is the Batman we all know would have been fighting the Nazis during WWII. And he gathered a couple of valuable colleagues to assist him in his war. This is no Tim Burton Batman in molded latex with rubber nipples on his costume. This is a Batman who is feared because his presence clearly communicates who and what he is. No B.S. or postmodern-political correctness to castrate him. Just moral certitude, physical conditioning, and enough of his dark side tapped into to realize his cause.

Go buy these issues! If you love Marvels, The Golden Age, or Astro City then this is what you have a hankering' fer, chimp. Mystery, delight, evil, a zombie, and lots more. Trust me. From one chimp to another. :-)

 
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