JUSTICE #17 - 'Spirit Against the Flesh'
March, 1988
(22 Pages)

Cover Artist: Lee Weeks
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Lee Weeks
Inker: Tony DeZuniga
Letterer: Agustin Mas
Colorist: Janet Jackson
Editor: Howard Mackie
Editor-in-Chief: Tom DeFalco

From "Universe News," March 1988.


 The scene opens on a wrecked apartment, the result of a brutal fight. Through the eyes of the man who owns the apartment, named Eric Quinn, he tries to make sense of the whole situation. He came to believe that he had been dream walking, and trashed the apartment himself, trying to convince himself that the "white-haired man" was just a very bad dream. A stench assaults his nose, and the man peers over the chair that the ashes lie behind and screams, seeing his own body laying there. Then it hits him; that voice wasn't his. Terrified, he stumbles to the bathroom mirror, the reflection telling him the truth he feared; he is Justice. Then he remembers the fight, Justice kicking in the door; Eric, scrambling for his gun, firing it several times, running for the window; and then nothing but light and pain. Justice's memories flooded him for a moment before he fainted.

Justice awakens, saying: "Did someone get the license number of that paranormal?" He picks himself up off the floor, and heads out as two officers barge in, the neighbors having reported a disturbance. He creates a flash with his sword hand before jumping through the window and using his shields to walk on before he loses conciousness and Eric comes back into play.

Eric awakens to find himself sitting on a meadow, wondering where he is and what the heck the strange glow is. Justice steps forth, informing him that they are in his mind, and asking him to ignore the changing background before sitting down and talking to him. He calls him a paranormal and knows of his ability to leave his physical body and project his consciousness into another, with the limitation that he must be relaxed to do so. This surprised Justice because he managed to project his consciousness into his mind before dying. Eric rushes Justice, intent on taking over his body, and fails. Justice reviews the reason why he had to "deter" him.

In a bar, at a table, sat Eric and his girlfriend Kelly, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike. She said it's been fun, and that maybe some day he'd find the real thing like she did, a guy named Hugo. Eric slammed his fist down on the table, swearing he'd kill Hugo, even as Kelly walked out. On a bar stool several feet away sat Justice. Eric headed home, downed three more drinks, and cursed himself. Projecting his consciousness into Hugo, he screamed at Kelly and made Hugo do a swan dive off his apartment balcony.

Eric tells Justice that it isn't fair that he knows almost nothing of Justice, while Justice knows everything about him, so he agrees to tell him. At this point, Justice reveals his true name, John Roger Tensen. All his life he wanted to be a good guy, the man in the white hat (a picture of the young Justice is shown, wearing a white cowboy hat and brandishing two toy six-shooters). He goes on to talk about his high school days of having almost no friends stemming from an incident where some guys offered him drugs and he said no. "A rather emphatic 'no'." He beat the pushers and was called a narc, which he took as a compliment. He tells Eric of Irene, girlfriend in high school and wife after graduation. A year later they had little Angela. They juggled the responsibility of raising a daughter, Tensen with college, and Irene with her work. After he graduated, they moved to Washington, D.C. and he landed a job in the Justice Department. Narcotics, of course. Irene became restless with her job, and began studying to become a teacher. One fateful morning, her car wouldn't start and Tensen told her to take his. With the turn of the key, the car bomb planted by a vengeful criminal took her life, and with it, Justice's compassion. He withdrew into himself, even after catching the scum who did it.

At this time Darquill came under the Department's attention, and Tensen volunteered to go deep undercover. Right around this time the "White Event" took place, with Justice staring straight up into the sky at the time. Fierce migraines incapacitated him for two weeks before he got them under control and started his undercover work. A month after he went under, he met Darquill, who had created a fantasy world for himself, and could force this fantasy world on others. In Justice's words: "It was insane, like something dreamt up by Willard Scott on acid." With the aid of Nightmask (see Justice #15), he finally broke free of Darquill's influence and became a judge of paranormals, so that others wouldn't have to suffer as he did.

Eric asks one more thing to fully balance the scales: to be able to take over his body and to tell "Cookie" (his pet name for Kelly) what he had done. He tells her, and she flees and falls over the balcony rail, saved by Justice's shields. Kelly slaps him across the face, right before Eric's spirit (?) fades away completely.

Summary written by Rod Myers Jr.

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