David Loses His Shit on Justice League: Cry For Justice #7

[This is a reconstructed post from Google Cache; originally posted by David!] “Cry for Justice is a singular work,” said James Robinson in the backup prose section of the sixth issue. I can only hope this will forever be the case.

This series has been getting negative reviews from the beginning, for a bunch of reasons – stiff art, stiff dialogue, a somewhat cliched premise – all of which made for a fairly silly comic that could be accurately titled Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen’s Act Like Jack Bauer Day. Still, it was buoyed by Robinson’s enthusiasm for its self-aware campiness, and while it wasn’t anything I’d call high art it was at least entertaining.

And then, the conclusion came out this morning. SPOILERS behind the jump.

From a pure technical standpoint, there’s a lot wrong with “Cry for Justice” #7. It’s got three inconsistent artists – up and coming DC/Marvel artist Ibraim Roberson (who’s got the Second Coming issues of “New Mutants” coming up), regular miniseries artist/painter Mauro Cascioli and the rather awful Scott Clark, who combines an incongruous chickenscratch style alongside a complete inability to write a comprehensible double-page spread (check out these pages from the preview to see an example). And on top of that, a character says “we’re loosing” instead of “we’re losing,” once again demonstrating DC’s mystifying inability to properly spell-, grammar- and logic-check a title’s lettering. Or at least, if they do, I’d hate to see the first pass before their corrections.

The real problem here, though, is a story. This continues the Identity Crisis paradigm of cheerfully sacrificing civilians and supporting characters on the pyre of cheap, maudlin drama. For those of you who haven’t read this comic, and I don’t blame you: the villain Prometheus, from Grant Morrison’s JLA run, has basically tricked Ira “I.Q.” Quimby into building a machine that’ll ostensibly transport the area around it (in Prometheus’s design, a city) to an unknown location in spacetime. His big master plan is that he’s going to send all the heroes’ cities to these unknown locations, and therefore TORTURE THEIR SOULS by forcing them to forever comb space and time for their loved ones! MUA HA HA! This was revealed around issue #6, and while it’s still throwing civilians onto the sacrificial pyre, it’s at least comic book supervillain ridiculous rather than real world mass murderer ridiculous, and it leaves the option open for them to come back.

And then I read #7.

You see, the device malfunctions, and a few panels later we end up with people carrying Lian Harper – the, like, eight-year-old, adorable daughter of Red Arrow/Arsenal -’s bloody corpse out of the ruins of Ollie’s house. We end up with tons of panels of people carrying bloody bodies out of wreckage, and once again a cityload of civilians are mercilessly slaughtered just to send two characters down the tired, boring, cliched THEY’RE TURNING INTO DARK KILLERS path.

Robinson then goes on to render the heroes in this story completely ineffectual, if not downright accomplices to Prometheus, by having them completely give in and let Prometheus go in exchange for not blowing up the similar devices he has in every other city. This allows Prometheus to… I don’t know what, make a point that the Justice League won’t sacrifice people over a grudge? They don’t foil him, they aren’t useful in any way, they’re just a reason for Prometheus to commit an epic case of domestic terrorism.

In the end, the only person who does anything proactive is Green Arrow, who, in the last few pages, just straight-up murders Prometheus in his Phantom Zone crib. FOR JUSTICE. (Which he says, after shooting an arrow through his head.)

Now, I don’t know whether to throw all the blame on James Robinson for this. It was long ago referenced that the book would have a shocking ending, one suggested by Dan DiDio and Eddie Berganza. But the fact remains that this comic destroyed a city, cynically slaughtered a young girl, maimed a hero and ruined the moral track record of another just to… I don’t know, to turn Ollie back into the ruthless street vigilante of the Mike Grell run, maybe? To break up the “Arrow Family”? To… God, I don’t know.

I guess all of this comes back to a question: why does THIS bother me? I didn’t really have a problem with the mass murder in Siege, or in Civil War, or with Superboy-Prime ripping peoples’ arms off, or the Sentry opening Ares up like a kid with no hand-eye coordination getting frustrated with a pinata. Those were casualties in stories that could only be told in a superhero universe; they were instigating elements, not finales, and the heroes had some sort of win at the end.

Cry for Justice, though? It’s just a really shitty season of 24. Let me rephrase the entire series’ plot this way:

Some terrorist makes a call to the President, saying he’s going to blow up six different cities. One blows up in the first two-hour premiere episode, just to make his point that the bombs are real. The President calls on CTU to save America – but it turns out the terrorist has actually already infiltrated that organization! When he’s finally found out, he says he’ll give them the deactivation codes for the other bombs if they let him go, which they do. Then, in the last episode, Jack finds him at his house and shoots him in the head.

Does that sound like a superhero comic you want to read?