I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
So, first of all, this is an Elseworlds story. I'm familiar with the concept, although being a Marvel fangirl, I think of them as 'What Ifs?' What If? is the line of Marvel comics that asks, well, what if? Usually 'what if someone had made a different decision.' I'm less familiar with the Noir stories, although those are more comparable: it shifts the whole Marvel Universe into the past.
Justice Riders is similar to that. What if the DC universe took place in the time of the Westerns, a time full of sheriffs and hangings and... western-y stuff. (Look, I don't read that many DC comics or Westerns. I've had this book forever, and I probably got it on sale, or someone gave it to me, or something.)
I wasn't sure what I would think, but I picked it up, because for some reason, I've been really into starting DC titles but not having a great track record finishing them. Go figure. I figured at a little over sixty pages I wouldn't have trouble finishing this. I didn't, and page count had nothing to do with it. It's a sleek retelling that manages to introduce a whole slew of characters, situate them into their new time period, and give a couple nods to continuity that even I couldn't miss. I bet there were plenty more that I did.
I knew enough about the universe to skate by on said limited knowledge, too. And the author left a lot of blanks, like Diana Prince's background, or John Jones'. It was actually good, and refreshing: trying to tell too much here would have cluttered this up and potentially made it confusing. Trying to explain some powers and how they popped up in a world that wasn't ready to explain them away, even with shaky science, would have been distracting and potentially very confusing. Dixon went with less is more, and it worked out perfectly.
It also gave him leeway to focus on the characters and the story they were telling together. It was a smart move, leaving this free of subplots that would have distracted from the main story, and leaving me wanting more. Those unanswered questions? I would buy another book at full price to have them answered!
Also, I think this might have been a palate cleanser. I was having trouble with the main DC universe, and I think even with the suggestions, I might be feeling overwhelmed, especially as I realize how little I get these characters at all and how much history they have. It's daunting, even for someone who knows how comics work, and this whet my appetite for the characters. It was a nice little bubble world, an alternate universe that expands no further than this, and it gave me a taste of the characters. I think I can move on a little now.
Beautiful artwork. Compelling story and fully fleshed out characters make this worth reading.