Friday, March 5, 2010

Review: Cry For Justice #7

Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 came out this week, marking the conclusion of the mini-series. The word that best sums up my feelings for it overall is disappointed. I don't mean to sound harsh. And I will probably be long-winded. So bear with me.

When this mini-series was announced way back when, I was excited to read it. While the idea of a pro-active League isn't 100% innovative, the roster was. There was a mix of old school JLAers (GA and GL), legacy characters (Supergirl and Batwoman), and B-listers (Congorilla and Starman). Prometheus, one of my favorite Grant Morrison characters, was going to be villain, brought back to place of villainous prominence. Art was going to be done exclusively by Mauro Cascioli. And James Robinson said the series would impact the entire DCU. On paper it all sounded great.

But then the series release was delayed. And delayed. And delayed.

I assumed that when the first issue was released that the series was in the can and so no further delays would happen. But then there were more delays. And now we have even seen guest artists on the book. Those sort of problems never make me happy as a consumer.

And from a story point of view, there were some cringe worthy moments as well. The dialogue occasionally sounded clunky or overly ham-handed. The heroes sometimes acted in ways I would not expect them to. (Would the Atom really crawl around people's brains after what his wife did to Sue Dibny?) There were pages devoted to scenes that seemed superfluous. It just never seemed to exactly gel.

But most importantly, and before I even get to the final issue review, I never felt like the team came together. Scenes where the initial intriguing roster were all in the same room are few and far between. And while the initial impetus for them each to join was a 'cry for justice', it felt like outside of Green Lantern and Green Arrow, none of the characters really needed to be there. Let me phrase it a different way ... you could remove Supergirl and replace her with Wonder Girl seamlessly. You could remove Congorilla and put in Freedom Beast. You could replace Starman with the Prince Gavyn Starman. In other words, I never felt like a particular character (outside of GL and GA) was crucial for the plot from a back story point of view; I never felt that one character's viewpoint was so unique to the story that they were indispensable.

On top of that, this really became a whole DCU story with Starfire, Donna Troy, Jay Garrick, Animal Man, Vixen, Black Canary all starring; you name it ... everyone was there. I mean, Donna Troy is the one who actually defeated Prometheus! And so I don't know if I ever saw Robinson's vision for the team he created and how they would interact with each other. It was that mesh of characters that got me interested in the first place.

All right, on to the issue.

Last issue, a captured Prometheus revealed his grand plan to teleport several cities around the world into another dimension as a way to emotionally torture his super-hero enemies. Despite being captured, the devices activate.

Without being granted his freedom, Prometheus won't tell the Justice League the codes to deactivate the devices. Unclear of the next best step, the bulk of the JLA teleport to Earth on a rescue mission. Others stay back to continue the interrogation.

Ominously dripping with foreshadowing, Green Arrow vows to Prometheus that the two of them aren't done dealing with each other.

For some reason, Prometheus' devices aren't working as designed. Rather than simply teleporting the cities away, the devices seem to be imploding the cities, destroying them.

Star City is shaking itself apart. One of the casualties is Roy Harper's daughter Lian.

I know this is supposed to be shocking. I mean a child was just killed. But again, the feeling here was disappointed. Did Lian really have to die here? Did we really need to see a child get killed to move this plot along? Haven't I seen enough death and maiming in comics recently? I suppose I should at least be happy that the point of view is from behind Ollie so I am not luridly looking right at Lian's corpse.

Still, a child was killed in this book as a plot device. It just felt unnecessary. Have we really reached a point in story-telling that we need to kill kids to try to get a response out of readers? And I didn't have much time in the issue to really have the death resonate with me because we were already moving on.




While the Earth's heroes scatter themselves to the effected cities, trying to slow down the carnage, the Atom tries to talk Prometheus into willingly giving up the codes. He even brings up the fact that Prometheus has really upset Green Arrow, killing Ollie's 'grand daughter' and maiming his 'son'.

Prometheus refuses to give up the codes unless he gets his freedom in return. At least he confesses that his machines aren't working as planned. Remember they were supposed to just make the cities disappear.

It all seems a bit contrived. Everything that Prometheus has planned in this book, every theft and counterattack and defense, has worked perfectly. Of course, if his machines worked as planned, the cities would just blip away and we wouldn't have the devastation and death we have been treated to. We wouldn't have Lian's death. It just seemed like an easy out to get to that point.


Because absolutely everything else Prometheus has planned is working like a charm. He has a defense against telepathy. Miss Martian feels some sort of backlash when she tries to mentally pry to codes from his mind.


And he has planned against magic. First he has sewn Freddy Freeman's mouth shut to keep him from saying his magic word. Again, this seems a bit off to me. We are talking about a man who skinned the Tasmanian Devil and used the pelt as a rug. Would he really stitch Freddy's lips? Wouldn't he just kill him? Of course, killing Captain Marvel would be too big a deal for this book. And besides we wouldn't see this gory shot of his sutures being removed. And that is all this is good for in my mind, something gruesome to try to get a response from me as a reader.

What's more, even when freed, Captain Marvel can't do anything to the device in Fawcett City because Prometheus made it impervious to magic!

In fact, all the devices seem impervious to any super-hero interference. Prometheus has covered all the contingencies.


There was a sequence I did enjoy in the book. With Star City crumbling around them, with the death tolls growing, the heroes have a quick discussion about what to do.

Do they deal with Prometheus and end the disasters? Do they keep him in custody and hold him responsible for this tragedy? It is an interesting 2 page spread (of which this is one corner). There is some disagreement amongst the group. Some say no deal. Some say deal for the greater good.

As always, small editorial errors bother me. So when the Flash says they need to decide quickly because 'they're loosing' (instead of losing) I had to roll my eyes.



Finally, Green Arrow cuts through the chatter. The heroes need to save people. And in this instance the best way to do that is to release Prometheus and have him turn over the codes.

He states it simply: 'we have to think of the living'. On first reading, I thought this was a nice moment. After all, Arrow lost the most here. Since the beginning, I thought he was going to be the moral compass for the team, joining it to keep Hal in line. So to have him take 'the high road' made some initial sense to me. He could look past his own tragedies and think about others ... that's sort of what heroes do, right?

Of course, it is one thing to say that happened. It is another thing to write it. Here we see the aftermath of the scene where a disgusted Vixen walks Prometheus to the teleporter.

But how did it play out? If Prometheus gave the codes and they worked, would Vixen really let him just walk away because she 'gave her word'? I don't think so. And would they ever let Prometheus walk without giving them the codes and trying them first? In other words, I can't play out the actual scene in my head in a satisfactory way. Maybe that is why we only see the conclusion ... because the scene can't be written well.

I figured I'd throw in the second panel because it the only shot of Supergirl in the book. Wasn't she supposed to be one of the key characters in this book? And she isn't even in the finale. This is what I was trying to get at earlier. This really wasn't a team book the way it was advertised. The characters we were told would 'star' were really just part of a cast of thousands.

And so we finally get to the 'big ending'. Despite his speech about the greater good, Ollie needs 'justice' and he thinks murder is the way to get it.

But even this scene ... the dramatic last page of the series ... fell flat.

From a story point of view, I can't get around the fact that Prometheus dies this way. Here is a villain so prepared that he has a defense against everything ... including having nanites to defeat the Atom in his blood. He had shown himself to be protected against telepathy and magic. But his helmet isn't arrow proof? Just a plain old steel-tipped arrow is what brings him down? Really?

Really?

And that is without my asking just how the hell Green Arrow got into the Ghost Zone and walked into Prometheus' stronghold. Are you telling me Prometheus doesn't have any defense systems there? Prometheus had just walked through the JLA satellite and defeated almost the entire team and he allows a hero to simply walk into his home and shoot him in the head with an arrow?

But even more than that, I am just sick of seeing heroes kill people. I don't think I need to see my heroes fall and go through a moral crisis and then reinvent themselves any more. I think I just want to see them be heroes again. As readers, we keep hearing that comics will try to move away from 'dark' and 'grim and gritty' but we see this the month after The Sentry literally rips Ares apart over in the Avengers.

And the fact that we see it over and over means that I have become somewhat inured to it. Maybe 10 years ago this would be shocking. Now I just sighed and thought 'here we go again ... another hero who crossed the line.' And that truly is a whimper for an ending, not the bang I think Robinson was going for.

Overall grade (issue): D+
Overall grade (series): C-

30 comments:

Manu Mane said...

Always a great pleasure to see Mr Cascioli's work ! :) )

Mauricio said...

I'm very happy that I DIDN'T got this series.

There are soem very neat images of Supergirl in there but I can get them from online galleries and print them if I want to.

From your reviews, my fears were confirmed, the mini-series was not what it promised to be and Prometheus is just a too convinient villain in every aspect which makes the story dull.

It's almost like giving Superman and Supergirl all her pre-crisis power levels and then giving them as their main and constant arch villain and kriptonite man and a kriptonite girl, so they can stop them with ease.

I feel the same way about The Spectre, for a character labeled as the 'Fist of God' he ha always been very USELESS against the big threats.


Even Maelstrom was better as far as Supergirl goes since Maelstrom problem was that it depicted a Supergirl that was already pass the lack of experience she showed in that mini.

Very happy I didn't bough this.

TalOs said...

OMG, epic fail! I truly can't believe that I bought this on account of Supergirl being featured in it only to see this later devolve in to such a horrific mess where the writer apparently felt the only way to make sure it kept on selling to the last issue was to pointlessly dismember Roy followed with the killing off his poor innocent daughter Lian! Seriously WTF?? *shakes head in absolute revolt* You're a true sicko, Robinson!!!

colsmi said...

I enjoyed reading you staying calm and reasonable while you detailed one more daft plot development after one more morally questionable plot development. I'm afraid I just couldn't stay that critically detached myself; from poor Lian's death to the fact that the big bad failed to spot that Green Arrow might carry ... er ... arrows ... it's just poor, poor stuff.

Brainflash! Do you think it might be a clever ironic comment on modern comics rather than being badly-written, tacky exploitative rubbish?

Saranga said...

This was absolute crap.

Dave M said...

It was never a good series but the art to start with was magnificent!
What can I say about this mess... there was no plot to speak of really though i suppose you could argue we see two or three characters go on a journey of sorts in the form of 'Starman' and Congorilla. Other than that this really screwed the reader as everything in it will have to be picked up elsewhere in the DCU, in the Titans or the JLA or Green Arrow. We don't see how any of this affects Green Lantern or Supergil or anyone really, it just sort of wanders about from set piece to set piece and I really did rate James Robinson better. I think the fact is he's a writer who just can't plot short runs, seriously, he needs at least a year to be sure of anything actually reaching a conclusion that is satisfactory for him and this mentality is a hangover from his Starman series where plots were long ranged and wound down in their own time...

TalOs said...

@colsmi: was your post intended for Anj or me instead? :-/

Gene said...

TalOS wrote:
"OMG, epic fail!"

Indeed, COLASSAL FAIL!

Anj wrote:
"Let me phrase it a different way ... you could remove Supergirl and replace her with Wonder Girl seamlessly."

Agreed. This series did not advance Supergirl's character at all.

The death of Lian was absolutely disgusting.

See Black Canary with her hand to her face? That is her expressing disbelief on how bad this series got.

I liked Green Arrow ever since Justice League Unlimited. His relationship with Supergirl on that show was classic. I had hoped that we would see some of that in this series, especially since his regular comic has been one train wreck after another. So what do we get with "Cry for Justice?" The Titanic, the Hindenburg, and the Towering Inferno all rolled up into one.

colsmi said...

TalOS: It IS true that your response was as calm & considered as Anj's was. So why not? I enjoyed reading both of your detached judgements on this dreadful shameful comic book.

(Was that the right answer?)

Anonymous said...

What an unmitigated disaster, not as bad as "Amazons Attack" but just as witless and inept. As Anj said so well you could've removed Supergirl with an exacto knife and interposed Wondergirl, Batgirl or Ma Hunkle and not altered the "plotline" in any manner shape or form.
Oh and killing the kid to make Green Arrow all-badass...CLASSIC BAD THINKING from DC's creative hierarchy.
And another thing, you mean Prometheus can send Supergirl to the JLA Trauma center and yet the stupid porch climber can't dodge a freaking arrow??
Honestly I feel used.
Seven issues later and Supergirl is no closer to a team affiliation than when CIR EL was the next big thing.
If "Cry for Justice" is the baseline on DC team book writing then maybe Supergirl shouldn't have a team affiliation at all.
Better NOTHING than the WRONG thing.
Enough is enough or to quote Johnny Rotten, "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

John Feer

TalOs said...

@colsmi: heh, thanks but was just confused as to who you intended your original post for. :-)

Question: (and this is aimed at any fellow Supergirl fan) exactly HOW did Prometheus know that the Supergirl he actually ended up encountering was specifically Superman's Kryptonian cousin when it could very well had been Mae/Linda Danvers instead (just in a more updated look upon last seeing her)? I mean, the last thing Prometheus had remembered about the Superman family was when Superman was in his "electric ice skater" phase in the JLA so Mae/Linda was still Supergirl in his mind so how could he possibly have know about the existence of a KRYPTONIAN Supergirl?? It just doesn't add up. :-/

This is how I personally believe it should've played out like instead:

[Prometheus encounters Supergirl]

PM: "Heh you? Oh please, what snow ball chance in hell do you think you could have when I've bested Superman an actual Kryptonian, blondie?"

SG: *POW!* [Prometheus has suddenly found himslelf just being super-punched at super-speed in to one of the JLA's quarter's wall followed by falling flat to the ground]

SG: [places a foot strongly on his back followed by leaning in to whisper in his ear] "Guess you didn't get the memo, there's a new "blondie" in town."

[Rest of JLA arrives]

BC (Black Canary): "What hap..." [looks at Supergirl triumphantly keeping Prometheus helpless like]
SG: "I believe this is who you've been looking for?"

PM: "Ugh...the hell...??"

BC: "At a girl Kara!"

PM: ""Kara"...?" [Falls unconcious]

If anyone could've hoped to have successfully taken down Prometheus it would've been Supergirl due to the fact that Prometheus's helmet intel wouldn't have had known that the Supergirl he was actually facing off against was not Mae/Linda as it would've scanned her as being as because that's who the helmet tech info would've remembered upon last seeing Superman and his family.

Ignacio said...

I have been reading this series in the comic store, and am glad that I made an early decision (mostly driven by my meagre finances) against purchasing it. It was, in my opinion, so horribly dreadful that it appeared to have been purposefully designed to be so.

Tho' I'm trying not to, part of me sees a connection between this failed series and the lack of imagination + ideas in the offices of DC's editorial hierarchy.

My fantasy is that perhaps Apple's iPad will 'save' comics by enabling them to be more widely read by a more diverse audience. (Age/race/gender/etc.)

Anj said...

Always a great pleasure to see Mr Cascioli's work ! :) )

His art is spectacular. But he only gave us 3 pages in this finale. Too bad.

Anj said...

From your reviews, my fears were confirmed, the mini-series was not what it promised to be and Prometheus is just a too convinient villain in every aspect which makes the story dull.

I think it is tough to write someone that tough and prepared. When he pulls out something designed to stop a foe (like a magic bullet to shoot Supergirl) it can seem convenient rather than cunning.

Worse, you have to eventually have them lose. So how you write the defeat has to make some sense. This one didn't.

Anj said...

Brainflash! Do you think it might be a clever ironic comment on modern comics rather than being badly-written, tacky exploitative rubbish?

Thanks for the post.

I don't think this was supposed to be irony or a comment on comics.

Anj said...

Other than that this really screwed the reader as everything in it will have to be picked up elsewhere in the DCU, in the Titans or the JLA or Green Arrow. We don't see how any of this affects Green Lantern or Supergil or anyone really, it just sort of wanders about from set piece to set piece and I really did rate James Robinson better.

I agree that the ramifications will be a bit far reaching in the first books you mentioned. But I still don;t know if this was pre- or post- or intra- Blackest Night. So that doesn't help.

He has slowly built up Superman over his time there and we are finally seeing that come to fruition. That smolder may be better suited for his writing style.

Anj said...

Oh and killing the kid to make Green Arrow all-badass...CLASSIC BAD THINKING from DC's creative hierarchy.
And another thing, you mean Prometheus can send Supergirl to the JLA Trauma center and yet the stupid porch climber can't dodge a freaking arrow??


Both of these issues really bothered me too.

I am glad I'm not alone.

Anj said...

Question: (and this is aimed at any fellow Supergirl fan) exactly HOW did Prometheus know that the Supergirl he actually ended up encountering was specifically Superman's Kryptonian cousin when it could very well had been Mae/Linda Danvers instead (just in a more updated look upon last seeing her)?

Well, we still haven;t seen Linda back yet really.

Also, he knew it was the current Supergirl when he was on the team as 'Freddy'.

TalOs said...

Your reply makes sense come him pretending to be Cap Marvel 2.0.

Another thing, Trials of Shazam's outcome claimed Freddy doesn't need to utter the magic word (Shazam) to change in to Cap so why does Robinson gloss over this fact and act like he has to regardless? :-/

Heath Edwards said...

i'm with you, anj. a disappointing series. after hearing about big repercussions in the dcu, i think this story will only have ramifications in green arrow. *sigh*
i don't know what robinson was up to with this series, but i didn't find any of the characters to be in character ;). and, i think he's even undone himself in the latest issue of jla, from the little chat green arrow had with the shade. also, loss of a great villain by killing prometheus. *sigh*
this won't be joining my dcu history collection...

Eric said...

While I agree with a lot of your comments, I did like Cry For Justice (although I am in minority I guess). For all the disjointed story lines that never actually wove together in a clever or interesting fashion, I did like moments such as everyone fighting Prometheus and him doing his best Batman "I'm prepared for everything" routine.

I do think the title suffered from an identity crisis and there were just so many threads that were started but never completed. I initially had envisioned a sort of Avengers-esque coming together of the team and them working as a unit. Instead, they sort of meandered in and out and in between until everybody in the DC Universe was involved...

At least the art was very very pretty!

Anj said...

i don't know what robinson was up to with this series, but i didn't find any of the characters to be in character ;). and, i think he's even undone himself in the latest issue of jla, from the little chat green arrow had with the shade. also, loss of a great villain by killing prometheus.

good point about the way the characters were acting. they did seem a bit off.

and I also like Prometheus and was glad they 'restored' him. But then they killed him off. Odd.

Anj said...

I initially had envisioned a sort of Avengers-esque coming together of the team and them working as a unit. Instead, they sort of meandered in and out and in between until everybody in the DC Universe was involved...

At least the art was very very pretty!


yeah. They never really acted as a team anywhere in the series. Too bad because the proposed roster had some potential.

And I agree, the art was for the most part beautiful and lifted the series a bit.

Bubbly Bunny said...

The ONLY good thing about this series is the art. EVERYTHING else was terrible. Why! WHY!Did Robinson feel the need to kill Lian. Hasn't Roy had it bad enough. Then the worst part he didn't even get to avenge it. The man that kicked him out for being a druggy killed Prometheous. In the stupidest way ever to. Lian did not need to die. Jeez lets hope Dick never has kids because no kid of a Titan has lived except Wally West...but one of his kids is hinted to become a villian so...But lets see Donna's son step daughter dead. Tempest son dead. Roy's daughter dead. Worst part is the kids are never going to come back. Only heroes ever come back. Robinson was great on Superman what the hell happened. Shame on you Robinson for killing a child and having a hero kill a villian because you thought it would make a great story line. Maybe in the 90's but now not so much. I seriously am sick of seeing heroes kill. That is not what they do. They protect the citizens and deliver Justice fairly. Not just loose canon killing. Stupid Stupid Stupid. This series made me so mad.

Anonymous said...

If this is the sort of cheap-heat audience effect heavy writing DC is willing to countenance on a JLA miniseries then I have to seriously re-evaluate my push to get Kara a team affiliation.


JohnFeer

Anj said...

Maybe in the 90's but now not so much. I seriously am sick of seeing heroes kill. That is not what they do. They protect the citizens and deliver Justice fairly. Not just loose canon killing. Stupid Stupid Stupid. This series made me so mad.

I am sensing a theme among posters here.

I agree I am sick of heroes that kill.

Anj said...

If this is the sort of cheap-heat audience effect heavy writing DC is willing to countenance on a JLA miniseries then I have to seriously re-evaluate my push to get Kara a team affiliation.

Well, we get her 'joining the JLA' in May. We'll see how that plays out.

Saranga said...

Kara joins the JLA? with robinson writing, I hope that's just a one off appearence.

(anj: I hope you know my first comment was about the comic, not about your review? looking back on it I don't think I was very clear)

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"Well, we get her 'joining the JLA' in May. We'll see how that plays out."

On the cover they already have Supergirl slugging it out with Power Girl. *ROLLS EYES*

Anj said...

Kara joins the JLA? with robinson writing, I hope that's just a one off appearence.

(anj: I hope you know my first comment was about the comic, not about your review? looking back on it I don't think I was very clear)


I don't know if it'll be one appearance or not. Maybe it's a CFJ epilogue of some sort.

And I knew you were talking about the book. :)