Novelist Mark Ellis just doesn’t know when to give up the ghost, and a good thing too, for if he had, we’d never just have had the enjoyable experience we just had, that is to say, to read the first new The Justice Machine story that has been published in some 22 years (The New Justice Machine: High Gear Edition, Volume One that was released by in 2009 notwithstanding). Ellis — who started writing the comic in ‘89 — eventually purchased the property from series owner Mike Gustovich, and went on to script the book until its demise in 1992. Well, Ellis never quite got over the Machine and penned a 100 page full color graphic novel entitled Object of Power which is just now being released through Bluewater Productions. According to Ellis, he is taking somewhat of a new approach with this graphic novel. “The characters are the same, but the conflicts and even the costumes are different. This is a retooled Machine,” He told us.
Ellis went on to tell us that this graphic novel was initially intended as a miniseries published by Moonstone Books, but the project was delayed numerous times for a variety of reasons and the contract eventually expired. Rather than renew the contract, Ellis attempted to self-publish the series as a graphic novel via a Kickstarter, only he didn’t reach goal, and now has wound up at Bluewater. Needless to say, even with the long delays, and setbacks, we now have a brand new Justice Machine book, that not only re-launches the book, but re-tools the characters and concepts, blending together many of the elements of the characters throughout their checkered publishing history.
The upcoming graphic novel, The Justice Machine: Object of Power, has this very popular super team leaping into the nightmarish dystopian landscape of twin realities which are sparring for ascendancy. The story, has the Machine facing off against a dark Orwellian destiny that awaits all of humanity if they should lose this new battle to stop one of their deadliest foes from regaining a foothold to the future. The graphic novel showcases the exciting return of these very popular superheroes from the dawn of the Independent Age of comics as they re-enter the present age of comics.
Given that most of the modern-day comicbook reading audience probably never heard of the Justice Machine, Ellis has done a very commendable job of bringing in all the elements of the team’s past and woven it into a very cohesive tale that is both highly readable, and very entertaining. Even as someone who was a fan of the series during their heyday, we had honestly forgotten much of their past, but upon reading The Object of Power we found ourself remembering Various elements of their history, and cheering them on in their present struggle to rise above the various elements thrown in their path to victory.
(As an unavoidable aside, one of our fondest memories of the original team was its 1983Annual from Texas Comics, that featured a crossover with John Carbonaro’s incarnation of Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents; written by William Messner-Loebs and penciled Bill Reinhold. In a text afterwards, Ellis talks about the team’s history, and alludes to the Texas Comics Annual, but never quite speaks directly about the fact that it co-starred the Agents. Hopefully, now that the Agents have found their way back into print — first with DC Comics and now with IDW — Ellis will be able to work out a deal that will allow him to reprint that classic tale. He tells us that it is his intention to reprint all of the other Machine works, so hopefully the fates will align in order for this one to see print as well.)
Meanwhile, we do have this most excellent Bluewater graphic novel where we can travel back to those halcyon days of the ‘80s & ‘90s when non-corporate superheroes ruled the comics market, and we got to read stories that weren’t dictated by the needs of marketing and media tie-ins. Back when wen comics were fun.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.