- Justice (New Universe)
caption=Cover to "Justice" #32. Art by
real_name=John Roger Tensen
debut="Justice" #1 (1986)
Walt Simonson Geof Isherwood
aliases=Net Prophet, the Prophet of Thor, the Justice Killer, Justice Warrior Tensen
powers=Ability to create psionic "shields" and psionic "swords",
Ability to read auras |
Justice (John Tensen) is a character from the
New Universeimprint of Marvel Comics, the protagonist of a 32-issue comic bookseries of the same name published from 1986 to 1989. The title was notable for featuring the early work of Peter Davidand Lee Weeksas well as rare 1980s Marvel work from Keith Giffen. Despite uneven writing and a drastic change in concept mid-run, "Justice" was the only title in the failed New Universe imprint featuring a solo character to maintain a monthly release schedule until the fall of the franchise. Writer Peter David later reintroduced Justice as a supporting character in Spider-Man 2099, a series with a very different setting. This version of the character, also known as the Net Prophet, was older and had different powers.
In 2007, the New Universe concepts were also revived, in a modified form, as a single-title ongoing series, "
newuniversal". A new version of John Tensen is one of the main characters featured in that series and two other characters with 'Justice' powers have also appeared.
Note that this is a different character than the identically named Justice of Marvel's standard, "616" continuity, belonging instead as per the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Alternate Universes 2005" to Earth-148611 (the New Universe).
Initially, the comic was one of several New Universe concepts that didn't fit well with the central premise of the shared universe, which was that the New Universe had been "The World Outside Your Window" until the mysterious White Event occurred. Justice, as a visitor from another dimension, seemed to contradict the rule that there had been no superhumans before the White Event.
Justice was one of four New Universe titles (along with Psi-Force, DP7 and Star Brand) to survive until the New Universe line was cancelled. For the last year that they were published, the New Universe comics switched to a different format rather than the standard Marvel format.
In early 1994, Mark Gruenwald created a link between the New Universe concepts and the larger Marvel Universe, sending the Marvel superhero Quasar for a single-issue trip into the New Universe. Although Justice did not feature in the initial crossover story, he later appeared (in his original costume) in the "Quasar" and
Starblastcomic book series, whose storyline centered around the attempts of a cyborg named Skeletron and his band of "Starblasters" to procure the nearly unlimited power of the Star Brand.
Several Marvel Universe characters banded together with a handful of representatives from the New Universe Earth, including Justice, to defeat the Starblasters. Through a twist of fate, the planet was thrust through a dimensional breach and arrived in the
Marvel 616Universe. It currently orbits the Stranger's laboratory world, its inhabitants quarantined behind a force shield devised by the Living Tribunal.
Fictional character biography
Justice (his given name initially only "Tensen") first appeared in contemporary New York City in the year 1986, claiming to be a law-enforcing knight from another dimension, the "Far Place," although his recollections were vague. Compelled to use his preternatural abilities to fight criminals, he acted as a vigilante against street hoods, drug dealers and gangsters while trying to recall more of where he came from and how he ended up on Earth.
The character was distinctive for his self-assured but merciless, literally black-and-white, sense of right and wrong: he frequently executed the criminals he caught, even if they surrendered. In this manner Justice recalled the old
Charlton Comicscharacter The Question created by Steve Ditko. He was also visually striking, wearing a decidedly New Wave costume: a grey trenchcoat, silver-white shirt and slacks featureless except for a rainbow-thunderbolt insignia crossing the front torso, grey boots with thick rings encircling the ankles, a pair of narrow visor sunglasses (though these glasses disappeared after the first few issues) and grey-white hair cut into a flattop-mullet. Physically, Justice was lean rather than muscular and middle-aged rather than youthful. An early story described him as "talking like a preacher, but dressed like a rockstar." His look was primarily designed by Walt Simonson.
Justice began as an alien warrior (called a "Justice Warrior") in the employ of King Therion and Queen Endolana of the Land of Spring in the Far Place. After having an illicit affair with the queen, he was exiled to Earth by the king's wizard, Webstral. On Earth, he took on the mission to stop the series' central villain, Daedalus Darquill, and his son, Damon Conquest, evil wizards from the Land of Winter, the royals' opposition. Arriving around the same time as the "
White Event" that gave humans paranormal abilities, he learned Earth's ways while befriending DEA agent Rebecca Chambers, a black woman with a "golden aura" denoting utmost purity, and Arnie, a cab driver. He battled Hounds, soulless creatures created by Darquill, and hordes of drug addicts and common criminals. Eventually, Becky was brainwashed by the Wizards of Winter against Justice, who was framed for her murder (a body faked by the Wizards). Corrupted from the brief loss of his arm in battle, Justice briefly resorted to using a gun to kill criminals, but abandoned the idea shortly after implementation. Justice subsequently battled and savagely killed Black Justice, a "Justice Warrior" like Tensen who had succumbed to his darker natures. His dire emotional state fed a machine constructed by the Wizards that helped them to destroy Spring. Webstral escaped to Earth and, as he told of Spring's fall and the king's death, healed Justice of the impurity caused by his earlier injuries before perishing.
After a few more adventures that had no or little alien elements, Justice's origin was significantly
retconned with the ostensible goal of making it more compliant with the originally stated premise of the New Universe line - a "realistic" setting devoid of the cliched aliens and alternate dimensions of traditional superherostories. The series was handed off to writer Peter Davidwho along with one issue's co-plotter, Mark Gruenwald, transformed the character into an obsessive, sociopathicvigilante with a quasi-religious fixation. All of Tensen's memories and activities in his "home" dimension were revealed to have been a delusion induced by Darquill. He was a DEA agent named John Tensen, a family man whose wife had been killed by vengeful members of organized crime. He was undercover at the time of the "White Event," investigating Darquill and Conquest, who were running drugs out of their front company, Conquest Dynamics. Soon after, he began experiencing headaches as his psionic powers manifested. Eventually his cover was blown, and Darquill used his own newfound parability to convince himself, Tensen, and the others around him that they were all alien players in a fantasy scenario. Justice went to his fellow hero Keith Remsen, a.k.a. Nightmask, and the two of them defeated Darquill, after which Keith spent months honing Tensen's mental defenses so that he could never again be enthralled as Darquill had done. Still, whenever Tensen was excessively drugged, he once again retreated into his "Justice Warrior" persona, suffering severe audiovisual hallucinations.
Following the status-quo-changing issue #15 and Darquill's death therein, Tensen re-evaluated his existence. He changed his costume, keeping the trenchcoat he often wore, now accompanied by a purple-and-white outfit with a modified lightning-bolt insignia on the chest. He decided to continue punishing the guilty, only now he turned his sights squarely on paranormals who abused their abilities. Using his aura-reading abilities to detect paranormals, he immolated those he deemed unfit, leaving only his victims' heads and hands intact and drawing the scales of justice in their ashes. In this way he became known as "The Justice Killer" by newspapers. During this time, he befriended Miriam Morse, a.k.a. [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/playback.htm Playback] , a psychic who could replay images of crime scenes. Strangely, when she replayed the scenes, Tensen could detect her presence there, even though no time-travel was involved. Also, his behavior encouraged a gang of vigilantes to emulate him (leading to a humorous sequence in which the gang, trying to name themselves after their inspiration, considered such titles as the
Justice League, the Justice Societyand other allusions to DC Comicsgroups), culminating in a disturbing finale where, after Justice told them to cease their activities, they committed group suicide in an explosion.
In March 2006, Marvel Comics released a "Justice" special as part of an "Untold Tales of the New Universe" event. This issue took place in the pre-Pitt period (as did all the specials), directly following the dispelling of Darquill's illusions (sometime after #15 but before #18). Former series writer David penned the book, Carmine Di Giandomenico drew it, and Eric Canete drew the cover.
Tensen and the NSA
The authorities, including the
National Security Agency, pursued and caught Justice at Pitt-Aid, a concert to benefit the victims of the Black Event(the destruction of Pittsburgh due to a paranormal catastrophe). Remembering his roots as an agent for the Department of Justice, Tensen agreed to serve as a special operative of the NSA. Around this time, he also was reintroduced to his estranged daughter, Angela, who had the paranormal ability to reanimate the dead (such as she did with her cat, Figaro). In addition, he fought criminals including the assassin [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/quillnuj.htm Quill] ; [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/judgmenu.htm Judge Mental] , leader of the [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/judgmenu.htm Forsaken] , a group of freakish paranormals hiding at Coney Island; and Mental's right-hand man, [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/seraphnu.htm Seraph] . He also encountered the group Psi-Force, both during the battle in Washington where the Psi-Hawkwas killed, and afterward, in Russia.
By the series' end, Justice had shed his government ties, and, along with [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/tensenan.htm his daughter Angie] and her boyfriend, [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/kleenexn.htm Victor "Kleenex" Pasko] (so named because he was allergic to paranormals), left to preside over the Forsaken after he killed Judge Mental and Seraph.
Powers and abilities
Justice was able to create a personal force-field with his left hand (which he referred to as his "shield"), and fire a deadly blast of energy with his right hand (his "sword"). Furthermore, he was able to see people's auras and thereby judge instantly whether they were inherently good or evil (this being the primary reason for his draconian morality, though later it was said he could mainly read paranormals). In addition, he was a master of hand-to-hand combat and could apparently heal severe injuries by concentrating. (At one point, he apparently regenerated his right hand over a period of one month after it had been lost in a fight with one of Darquill's creatures; however, for a time his "sword" no longer functioned reliably. Since Justice never performed such a feat after his illusions were dispelled [see below] , and since these events happened during the period Justice had trouble differentiating fantasy from reality, it is unknown whether this power, too, was an illusion.)
Later, when Justice surfaced in the Marvel Universe of 2099, his powers changed drastically (see below).
The "newuniversal" version of Justice also has different abilities - although their extent is as yet unrevealed, he appears to possess a limited form of telepathy, allowing him to read misdeeds from someone else's mind. He also manifests solid constructs made from glowing energy; these appear as either flat, rectangular panels which he uses as shields or platforms, or angular shapes which he uses as cutting blades.
Despite the collapse of the New Universe, Peter David retained a fondness for the character, and in late 1993 re-introduced a version of Justice in the
Marvel 2099line's " Spider-Man 2099" comic-book as the "Net Prophet," a.k.a. the Prophet of Thor. He appeared from a portal into a dimension 2099 scientist Jordan Boone dubbed "Virtual Unreality," from whence also came Thanatos, an alternate-timeline version of Rick Jones in search of powerful relics from other worlds. Although Tensen claimed to remember Thanatos, the events surrounding any such encounter are unclear. (It could be the object of power in question from Tensen's universe was the Star Brand.) Tensen began his life in 2099 as an amnesiac, and with altered powers. (Gone were his trademark psionic "sword" and "shield," replaced by laser eyebeams, and teleportation powers that required his hands be freed.) He and Spider-Man defeated Thanatos, then Tensen had adventures of his own, confronting similar themes of hero worship as on his Earth. Keeping near the Church of St. Patrick in New York's Downtown area, he befriended and later romanced Jennifer D'Angelo, a priest at the church and sister to Spider-Man's fiancee, Dana. When last seen in 2099, Tensen had remembered his real name and met Spider-Man's former girlfriend, Xina Kwan, who was then leaving New York City for parts unknown. He joined her, and in that particular timeline, neither was seen again.
A version of Justice, along with many other characters from the New Universe, has appeared in "Exiles" as part of their "World Tour" story arc. The Justice depicted in this storyline is as the character originally appeared, ignoring the later changes by David, indicating a previous divergent point in continuity (perhaps as early as "Justice" #1 or 2). In this story, Justice battled Kevin MacTaggert, the mutant called Proteus (possessing the body of Mimic), in order to thwart his attempts to possess the Star Brand. He lost the battle, and Proteus possessed him. In a scenario similar to the events which brought Tensen to 2099 on Earth-928 (see above), Proteus and Justice arrived via Alchemax scientist Jordan Boone's Virtual Unreality portal. His body degenerating due to Proteus' abilities, he allied himself with Boone long enough to find a suitable replacement host: John Eisenhart, the Hulk of 2099. The Tensen of this divergent timeline apparently perished, his life force spent by the powerful mutant.
newuniversal - John Tensen
In honor of The 20th Anniversary of the New Universe, Marvel writer
Warren Ellisand illustrator Salvador Larrocaare currently working on a single-title re-imagining of New Universe concepts called " newuniversal". The first issue premiered in the United States on December 6, 2006. In this universe, designated Earth-555 by Ellis himself, John Tensen, who has no family, is an NYPDdetective who barely survives a shootout. Declared "98% dead," a bullet still lodged in his brain, he lies in a hospital bed, monitored by a male nurse. When the White Event occurs, the unconscious Tensen floats in midair, a lightning bolt scar glowing to life on his chest. He awakens, immediately aware of the nurse's name and able to read the memories of previous "mercy killings" in his mind. Sickened, he kills the nurse with a large knife, then writes "JUSTICE" on the wall with his blood.
Later John Tensen ponders over the changes in his life. Once a police officer, John has become a criminal and continues to see things people have done, good and bad. He decides to find and kill the people who shot him before turning himself in, choosing to find justice. A beat cop finds and recognises him, mistakenly assuming that he is reaching for a
gunwhen he reaches for his notepad. Tensen instinctively throws up a transparent blue shield which deflects the bullet, then throws the cop to the ground, using his powers for the first time. Later John Tensen finds the gang members who killed him and uses his ability to create light constructs to brutally execute them.
In issue 6, John appears again, now clearly mentally unbalanced and talking to himself. His ability to view the sins of all he sees is slowly convincing him that the world is full of guilty people. From the top of a building looking down on people in the street, he can see the sins and repressed guilt of each and every one. Determining that their sins outweigh the values of their lives, Tensen conjures several dozen of his solid-light "blades" and hurls them into the crowded street, slaughtering all present. He expresses no remorse, stating "I'm not sorry." He carves the word "Justice" into the pavement with a blade before ascending a staircase in the sky created by several of his conjured shields. The
spree killingis later determined to be the work of a rooftop sniper.
The second printing of "newuniversal" #1 featured a new cover image painted by Esad Ribic, a homage to the cover of the original "Justice" #1.
newuniversal - Veronica Kelly
Another version of Justice is introduced in the "newuniversal: 1959" one-shot. Veronica Kelly is a resident of Kansas City, the widow of a police officer who was killed by a corrupt colleague. Veronica is one of three people who become superhuman as a result of the Fireworks in April 1953, acquiring similar powers to John Tensen.
Kelly is found the following month, "in hysterics", along with the body of her husband's murderer, and is committed to a psychiatric institution. She is released shortly thereafter, apparently making a full recovery.
Project Spitfiremonitors Kansas City for the next few years, noting that the homicide rate increases but the general crime rate falls drastically - their suspicion is that Veronica has been using her powers to police the city.
She first encounters another superhuman, the teleporter Lester Robbins, in 1956. The two clash repeatedly, with Kelly confronting Robbins every time he returns to North America. Eventually, in 1957, the conflict ends - by 1959, the two of them are in a romantic relationship and have a son.
The birth of a second-generation superhuman provokes Project Spitfire into action. On April 8th 1959, Robbins is seduced by a Spitfire agent, something which Kelly's powers immediately inform her about when she next sees him - she then manifests her powers in anger and he flees, teleporting away. Two days later, on April 10th, Kelly's lunch is poisoned by Project Spitfire. She realises what has happened and kills a number of Spitfire agents before succumbing. After her death, Robbins is also killed - as is their son, who has been seized by the project, but is considered too dangerous to liveComic book reference | Writer =
Kieron Gillen| Artist = Greg Scott, Kody Chamberlain| Title = newuniversal: 1959 | Issue = 1 | Date = September 2008| Publisher = Marvel Comics| ] .
Kelly's powers were portrayed slightly differently to Tensen's, forming energy blades in the shape of scissors and knives. Although she evidently had similar telepathic abilities, "newuniversal: 1959" does not show her manifesting any energy shields.
newuniversal - Ukru
The "newuniversal: conqueror" one-shot, set in 2689BCE (some years after the first failed White Event), includes another version of Justice. Ukru is one of four superhumans gathered within the Latvian city of Zardath, which is ruled by Starr the Slayer, bearer of the Starbrand.
Ukru is described as an old friend of Starr, but by the time of "newuniversal: conqueror" his mind has collapsed and he is being used as a hunting animal - drugged on 'poppybrew', chained, controlled by handlers and left to sleep in an 'ice-engine' device when he is not required. It is later revealed that his mind has been deliberately destroyed by the city's Nightmask, Trull, who has been using Ukru to locate and abduct other superhumans before they can join Zardath.
Eventually, Ukru realises what Trull has done and turns upon him, attempting to save the mute girl Gila. However, Trull easily defeats him and states that it may now be time to erase the rest of Ukru's mind. Trull is finally exposed as a traitor shortly thereafter, but Ukru is not seen again and his fate is unclear.Comic book reference | Writer =
Simon Spurrier| Artist = Eric Nguyen| Title = newuniversal: conqueror | Issue = 1 | Date = October 2008| Publisher = Marvel Comics]
Ukru is a giant of a man, far taller than the other inhabitants of Zardath - large enough to grasp someone around the waist with one hand. It is never explicitly stated that this is due to the damage that Trull has done to his mind, but Trull's other superhuman victims are physically mutated by their uncontrolled powers after their minds are drained and Ukru is the only Justice to be transformed in this way.It is possible that Ukru is meant to be similar to Mastodon, the giant muscular team-mate of New Universe's DP7.
In other media
A version of Justice's story completed itself in the 1992 novel, "
Psi-Man, Book 6: Haven", published by Diamond Books. Original "Justice" series writer Peter David wrote the novel under the pseudonym of David Peters. The novel's protagonist, Chuck Simon, possessed superhuman mental powers; as such, he was constantly chased by government operatives. In the finale of the six-book series, Simon arrived at Coney Islandfor a final showdown. Due to legal reasons, David could not use the name or likeness of Tensen, so instead he tweaked the character's name and role, inventing the character of Tom Jensen, a.k.a. The Magistrate, who presided over freakish superhuman beings at the former Coney Island amusement park circa 2021. With some deviations, Jensen shared most of the abilities and some history with his Marvel Comics counterpart. Jensen allied himself with Simon and saved his life, dying in the process.
The entire "Psi-Man" novel series was rereleased in 2000 by Ace Books in new editions under David's real name.
* Archie Goodwin - "Justice" #1 (November 1986)
Steve Englehart- "Justice" #2-5, 7 (December 1986-March 1987, May 1987)
Geof Isherwood- "Justice" #6, 8 (April 1987, June 1987)
Gerry Conway- "Justice" #9-11, 13 (July 1987-September 1987, November 1987)
Dan Chichester- "Justice" #12 (October 1987)
Margaret Clark- "Justice" #12 (October 1987)
Sandy Plunkett- "Justice" #14 (December 1987)
Mark Gruenwald- "Justice" #15 (January 1988)
Peter David- "Justice" #15-32 (January 1988-June 1989), "Untold Tales of the New Universe: Justice" #1 (May 2006)
Gregory Wright- "Madman II" in "The Star Brand" #18 (March 1989) [back-up story]
Geof Isherwood- "Justice" #1-3, 6-8 (November 1986-January 1987, April 1987-June 1987)
Joe Staton- "Justice" #4 (February 1987)
* Tom Morgan - "Justice" #5 (March 1987)
Tony Salmons- "Justice" #5 (March 1987)
Keith Giffen- "Justice" #9-11, 13 (July 1987-September 1987, November 1987)
Tom Grindberg- "Justice" #12 (October 1987)
Dave Hoover- "Justice" #14 (December 1987)
Lee Weeks- "Justice" #15-23, 25-27, 29-31 (January 1988-September 1988, November 1988-January 1989, March 1989-May 1989)
Michael Gustovich- "Justice" #24, 28 (October 1988, February 1989)
Alan Kupperberg- "Justice" #32 (June 1989)
Kieron Dwyer- "Madman II" in "The Star Brand" #18 (March 1989) [back-up story]
Carmine Di Giandomenico- "Untold Tales of the New Universe: Justice" #1 (May 2006)
John Stanisci- "Untold Tales of the New Universe: Justice" #1 (May 2006)
Geof Isherwood- "Justice" #1-2, 4-9 (November 1986-December 1986, February 1987-July 1987)
Javier Saltares- "Justice" #3 (January 1987)
Tom Grindberg- "Justice" #10-12 (August 1987-October 1987)
* Tom Morgan - "Justice" #13 (November 1987)
Sandy Plunkett- "Justice" #14 (December 1987)
Lee Weeks- "Justice" #15-25, 27-32 (January 1988-November 1988, January 1989-June 1989)
* [http://www.geocities.com/tensen2099/index.html Tensen 2099: No Justice, a fan page dedicated to the series, with summaries and fan fiction]
* [http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/justicet.htm Justice profile at Marvel Appendix]
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