The Justice Machine Source book came out in 1985 and clocked in at 144 pages of pure role playing goodness. Within its pages are wall to wall artwork and the usual Palladium attention to detail especially of the world of the Machine.
Within its pages are in depth bios of the each and every member of the Machine along with a report about the then current state of the JM's various members, equipment, and tactics.
The artwork is pure 80's and includes most of the antagonists of the supers group along with their various tactics and what have you. The Justice Machine is from a different dimensional Earth called Georwell a Marxist Orwellian nightmare regime. This government that has more politic and in fighting then many of the comics of the time. The Justice Machine is only one of the super teams that Georwell uses in its fight to own citizen's resistance bands and their "super villain" leaders.
Much of the artwork is from the original run of the Machine and its great. The source book is for the original 1984 edition of Heroes Unlimited (q.v.). However, by ignoring a few out-dated sections (4 or 5 pages total), it is fully compatible with all the other Palladium material.
It was finally nice to see some of the details of life on Georwell that were only hinted about in the comics. The technology level is incredibly high compared to the Earth of 1985. It loved the idea of lesser super human teams from Georwell hunting down the Justice Machine. It was fairly obvious that there were several homages to various Marvel and DC superheroes lurking between the pages.
We get large details on another organization such as Sea Haven - A secret group that takes in the Justice Machine. Sea Haven is incredible and we are given in depth details about it. Its actually a pretty good book for low powered supers game using the Heroes Unlimited rules. Sea Haven reminds me of the Krell Underworld from "Forbidden Planet"movie and the Time Tunnel television show.
We even get a copy of a piece by "Jack King Kirby" himself and its right out of the golden age of comic books.
So what about the Villains? Well we get a large cross section of some very interesting and troubled characters. Their origins, tactics, and motives are all given center stage. There is also the fact that there are plenty and I do mean plenty of robots, guards, and monsters to give a beat down on in this source book.
The adventure section features two "complete" adventures featuring the Lavamen and the Mechaniods. These are very open ended in the usual Palladium style. The type of thing that can get a supers team in over their heads fast. They're interesting and at the time, Palladium was trying to get the Mechanoids into the main stream rpg players hands.
Its very low level stuff and the remainder of the book is taken up by rules and techno know how for the old Heroes Unlimited system.
All in all is the book useful? For me yes but your mileage may vary. The Justice Machine sourcebook has served as the foundation to any number of one shots and campaigns over the years. I've used several public domain super hero teams from Georwell. My best advice is don't pay a lot for this one if possible. My fiance got me this for a birthday present for about four pounds and its been worth it to me.