JUSTICE #15 - 'Rude Awakening'
January, 1988
(24 Pages)

Cover Artist: Lee Weeks
Plotter: Mark Gruenwald
Scripter: Peter David
Artist: Lee Weeks
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Nel Yomtov
Editor: Howard Mackie
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco


Justice dreams of a man who looks exactly like him, dressed in a white jacket, slacks and blue shirt, being forced into a portal that opens into Darquill's throne room. The man enters and flees, escaping Darquill's grasp and running into the night. Justice wakes up to hear a cabbie demand $17.80 for his fare, dropping him off in front of an ordinary looking brownstone which houses the Ballad Clinic of Dream Research. There he meets Keith Remsen, a.k.a. Nightmask, and his sister, Teddy. He asks them for their help in understanding the dreams he's been having. Justice immediately falls asleep as Keith and his sister who argues that they should wait until Dr. Ballad returns. Keith reassures her that there is nothing to worry about, and slips into sleep.

Keith, now in his Nightmask persona, is stunned by all of the bodies and carnage strewn around. He calls out for Justice, alarmed because usually he can enter a dream and immediately find the dreamer -- but not this time. He finds Darquill listening to the report from Malakite of how the warriors of Spring were easily defeated using the power they stole from Justice (see Justice #14). All were killed except for twenty concubines and Queen Endolina, who are presents for Damon Conquest and Darquill himself.

Darquill then sends Becky Chambers to kill Justice, having been brainwashed months ago (see Justice #5). He teleports her to the Ballad Clinic, where Justice lies asleep, with Teddy the only one awake. Becky holds a submachine gun to Justice's head, as Teddy throws a lamp into her back, causing her to miss. She turns, intent on killing Teddy, when Justice awakens. Telling Becky that he loves her, Justice puts his shields in front of Teddy just as she fires. The bullets ricochet and hit Becky instead. She lies on the floor, bleeding profusely, still trying to kill Justice. Justice again says he loves her, and because of that, he must let her go. He abruptly snaps her neck.

Teddy calls for Keith, not knowing he is still asleep, and argues with Justice about how it is possible that her brother can be in another's dream while that person is awake. Meanwhile, Nightmask, thinking that perhaps Justice is in a nearby tower in the dream realm, sneaks inside the tower and encounters a small number of Hounds.

Justice goes back to sleep, and sees more memories of a person who is him and yet who is not. At the same time Nightmask is captured and carried to Darquill, hands and feet tied around a post like a fresh kill. Darquill removes his mask and blasts him, believing him to be an ally of Spring.

Keith's body disappears from the Clinic, and Justice awakens again, telling Teddy to leave the building and take everyone with her. The Hounds from earlier leap through a portal into the Clinic, with Malakite close behind. Justice then discovers that his shields can be used as stepping stones, and dives through the portal, finding himself inside Darquill's throne room. There, he and Damon Conquest, Darquill's lackey, fight. Their blasts connect, neither able to push past the other's, until Justice painfully switches his "sword" ability to his left arm and blows a hole through Damon's chest. Darquill realizes that his son his dead, and transforms into a large, hideous beast (seen before in Justice #5) and attacks. Justice is too weak, as Darquill easily smashes his shields and shrugs off his sword arm. Darquill finally blasts Justice, which teleports him to an estate.

It is here that Justice meets Nightmask, and tells him that he recognizes the location -- it's Darquill's estate in Baja. They head upstairs and find "Dad" asleep, a dream portal open, hovering above his bed. They argue about the Farside, and Keith explains that the dream he was inside -- he and Justice both -- was that of Darquill himself. Darquill, it seemed, was a powerful paranormal with the ability to give substance to his fantasies, which included the creation of the entire Winterland/Farside, as well as the apparent alien natures of Darquill, Conquest, the Hounds and Justice himself. Nightmask warns Justice that if he were to kill Darquill, such is his intention, it is unknown what could result. Justice says he must be just, no matter the consequence, and disintegrates Darquill's body with his sword hand. Suddenly, Justice then finds his clothing changed, and Keith has returned to normal. While Keith is left ill by the rash actions, Justice finds himself faced with an interesting dilemma: If he is not a Justice Warrior, then who, really, is he?

Summary written by Rod Myers Jr.
This Issue's Review
JUSTICE #15 is rated Best of Series!"Everything you know is wrong!" Like the cover says, Peter David and Mark Gruenwald come around to clean house and renovate the Justice storyline, and they do it in grand fashion! Easily the best story so far in the book's run, and still one of the best after the series' conclusion. Sure, there are things that go unexplained for some time, but the beginning of the new, great era for Justice is right here. Nightmask's appearance is probably the best I've ever seen him handled, and the fact that he's facing Darquill, a paranormal with much the same, yet far advanced powers as he, is poetic justice. He and Tensen form a bond here that lasts much beyond this story, as elaborated later, and the two make a great team as they battle Damon Conquest, Becky Chambers, and Darquill for the final time. This, and the classic ending ("No, I am not a Justice. But...but then... who am I?") makes it all the more a tale to remember. Lastly, I have to comment on the truly fantastic penciling ability of then-newcomer Lee Weeks--it really is out of this world at times, and yet, it conforms perfectly in later issues to the new status quo started between this and the next two stories. This is JUSTICE at its absolute best.

Rating: 5 Bolts (out of 5)

The Best Quotes from JUSTICE #15
Justice (upon seeing Darquill, asleep, in the Baja house):"Dad?"

Nightmask: "Your father's behind this?"

Justice: "No. Someone else's."

Justice (to Nightmask, noting Darquill): "Are you saying I'm a figment of his imagination?"

Justice: "I'm still alive. How about that? You were right, Keith."

Nightmask: "That's what you say. I feel sick. And you call yourself a Justice."

Justice: "No. I am not a Justice. But... but then... who am I?"

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