Thursday, October 8, 2009

Review: Cry For Justice #4

So far Cry For Justice has been an interesting mix of beautiful art and somewhat overdone dramatics. It sort of reminds me of John Boorman's Excalibur movie. It was beautifully shot and had a lot of Arthurian drama ... but was a bit ham-fisted with acting and dialogue. Still I love Excalibur. I haven't loved Cry For Justice but I have been entertained, although sometimes more at its unintentional humor than the story itself.

Surprisingly, Justice League: Cry For Justice #4 was a decent issue without as much heavy dialogue and overly dramatic moments. Supergirl has some nice moments. And we finally have a Batwoman sighting.

As usual, Mauro Cascioli's art stands out as being spectacular.

As we saw a while back in the preview of the issue, Shazam was able to use a 'lightning flash' to disperse the force of the Clayface bomb leaving the Justice League alive and well. The League realizes that Prometheus probably has some sort of hold over some of the villains working for him explaining why Clayface would commit suicide.

And, as mentioned before, Supergirl appears attracted to Freddy as he explains how he saved the League.

Over in Paris, Congorilla and Starman have stumbled onto a couple of Prometheus' lackeys - Arak and Penny Dreadful (from the group Helix). Initially, the four skirmish but the heroes get the upper hand and have the villains down for the count.

Unfortunately, Congorilla flies into a rage and moves in for the kill. These villains slaughtered his people and he wants blood. It is only with great effort that Starman is able to stop Bill from killing the two villains in cold blood. Starman finally says the line that we all have been thinking ... vengeance does not equal justice. The heroes have captured these C-listers. That is enough.
Surprisingly, Arak does not seem to have the loyalty to Prometheus as others have. He starts telling Congorilla what he knows. Prometheus killed the majority of the ape tribe. Malavar was the target all along. Penny Dreadful was involved in the killing of Tony, Starman's boyfriend.

Before Arak can say anything else, Penny Dreadful lashes out at him, killing him.

As she aims her powers at Congorilla, Starman strikes. His energy immolates Penny Dreadful, killing her. Within seconds, both villains are dead on the floor.

Starman feels remorse for his killing and fears he is losing his humanity. Regardless, the trail to Prometheus for these two has suddenly gone cold.

It is an interesting scene. To see Starman want to do the right thing and bring the villains to the authorities only to lash out and kill one immediately afterwards shows just how hard it is to draw a firm ethical line. Things happen and snap decisions need to be made.

In the meantime, the golden age Flash continues to try to figure out exactly what overall plot is forming around the world. There is an excellent page of Jay touring the DC America and talking to the various heroes he runs into.

I really like that Jay is emerging as a major hero in the title. He almost could be looked on as the moral heart of the title as he from the beginning has been looking for the root of this evil the 'right way'.

His scene is immediately contrasted to another scene of the Atom torturing another villain. As he crawls around Deadline's mind, Green Arrow finally takes a stand. This torture has to stop. It isn't getting the League any closer to Prometheus. It isn't getting them justice.

How interesting that 'Gitmo' is thrown into Arrow's discussion. It is a jab at the current US military and implies that the military is as bad as the inquisition. I don't know if I quite agree with that. I also don't know if 'real world' politics should be inserted in comics like this. The discussion of the ethics and utility of torture could have been done as a metaphor for current practices without hammering home the US attempts to keep their borders safe. And to make this transparent, I agree that torture is reprehensible in the real world.

Green Lantern and the Atom still feel it is the right thing to do, to get information in any way possible.

Saying that torture is what villains do, Green Arrow decides to take matters into his own hands. Turning on some type of sonic arrow, Ollie incapacitates Hal and Ray. Luckily the two younger heroes, Captain Marvel and Supergirl know that infighting amongst heroes does nobody any good. They seperate the feuding heroes, Supergirl melting the sonic arrow with her heat vision.

The dialogue about torture needed to happen. We needed someone to finally stand up and say that the practice was wrong. So I am glad we saw it. What surprises me is that Supergirl and Shazam initially took more passive roles, watching the torture happen without comment. Maybe they felt that they were out of their league (no pun intended) and really couldn't state their opinions to the more veteran heroes.

Once again, Captain Marvel shows how handy the wisdom of Solomon is. Prometheus is probably setting up all these events as a way to psychologically break down the heroes, to force them to do unsavory things, to make them afraid. If Prometheus wants to be a villainous Batman then he would use tactics like that to make his enemies weaker.

If Jay is the moral heart of the story, Freddy is the moral compass of the League. Throughout this story he has been the one to point out what is right and just. He points out that this Prometheus plot has grown to big to be handled by this group alone. They need the help of the whole Justice League.

You almost feel like Freddy is growing into his role. He isn't pretending to be Captain Marvel, or filling in for Billy anymore. He is Captain Marvel.

And Supergirl can't seem to take her eyes off him. Good looks and brains! It is obvious to Green Arrow that Supergirl has a little crush on the World's Mightiest Mortal. And Supergirl doesn't deny it.

The group leaves Gotham but not before they are spotted and observed by Batwoman. Until this point I had forgotten that Batwoman was supposed to be in this book.

As for Kara, she decides to get to know Freddy a little more and he doesn't seem to mind the attention.

Back at home, Jay bemoans the fact that he can only sense that something large is looming. He hasn't been able to find out much. And he fears that the heroes haven't rebounded yet from Final Crisis.

Before he can even rest, The Shade shows up and tells Jay that he has information for the speedster. I thought the Shade saying he took his coffee black was amusing.

My best guess is the Shade was offered a place in this plot by Prometheus and turned it down. He now has information the heroes can use. Why he would help out them out is a question I need answers for.

Finally, the Cry For Justice group head back to the JLA satellite to fill their friends in on what they have learned.

The League doesn't seem to happy with what Hal's group has been doing. The shot of the League is quite stunning, although I don't recall Zatanna ever looking that much like a stripper.

With three issues to go we still don't know much of what Prometheus is planning. But this issue was much more character-driven than the others. This was about Hal coming to grip with the futility of what he was doing. He was losing sight of the forest (some major plot by Prometheus) for the trees (torturing a foot soldier like Deadline). While I think that the 'hero fighting hero' plot device is cliche, it was good to see the torture issue at least brought up. Hal never admits he was wrong but his silent acceptance of Captain Marvel's advice spoke volumes.

And unlike the last issues, there weren't many 'cringe moments' here. The issue didn't seem overdone. Add to that the burgeoning Supergirl romance and I was pretty pleased. This was the best issue of this mini-series so far.

Overall grade: B/B+


Kandou Erik said...

Anyone notice Firestorm was inacurately colored white, instead of black? (In that finale page) Someone at DC is really sloppy with coloring these days. (They couldn't get Mr. Miracle right in Final Crisis, and when fixing it for the HC, they then mis-colored Sonny Sumo as black in one panel. Someone just isn't actually reading the issue to make sure things are correct)

Anj said...

Anyone notice Firestorm was inacurately colored white, instead of black? (In that finale page) Someone at DC is really sloppy with coloring these days.

Things like that and typos really burn me.