Or – “AARGH!  I AM CRYING FOR JUSTICE, PERHAPS!”

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Y’ever read a comic and think to yourself, “I’ve already READ this one!”  Not in the sense that the book takes on familiar themes, or that it rips off something else, but that you have physically held and processed the comic in question at some point in your life? 

Imagine how odd that sensation must be when the book is brand-new.

JLC1.jpgPreviously, on Justice League – A Cry For Justice:  The Justice League of America has been through some sincerely rough days lately, with two founding members taking a Final Crisis dirtnap, the chairperson discovering that some of the members have been secretly meeting as a cabal, undermining her authority, and most of the membership in disarray.  Battle after battle has left them scarred, tired and cranky, and most of the members are questioning what the Justice League really is and exactly what the organization stands for.  (Anybody who has been reading the book might have similar questions, at the risk of sounding a bit snarky…)  The various stressors have officially reached a breaking point, and the volatile personalities of the League are about to make things even worse…

So.  First question: When does this take place?  Answer:  Got no idea, except “After Final Crisis, before Blackest Night, and a while ago.”  We open with a multi-page sequence that is the center of the series’ premise, but comes across as very stilted, with Hal Jordan confronting his teammates (who, for some reason, include the presumed-dead Hawkgirl, not-a-member Supergirl and hasn’t-been-a-member-in-years Plastic Man) about the recent events.  Hal is tired of waiting for the bad guys to make their move, and demandsthat the League become proactive and “hurt [the villains] back.”  Hal’s defiance comes up against the natural resistance of Superman, who responds calmly and reasonably which has the unintended effect making Hal look like a stubborn, snarling madman in comparison.  Finding little support amongst his peers, Green Lantern takes his leave, and Green Arrow backs his play against the protestations of his wife, (A real rookie mistake there.  You hate to see that.) and they stomp off in a huff.  Well, technically, they fly off in a big green force bubble, but the effect is the same.  Meanwhile, the genesis of the coming super-team is simultaneously taking place all over the globe, starting as the pair of tiny titans called The Atom take down a nest of criminals led by Killer Moth.  (Isn’t he dead and/or transformed into a Kafka-esque horror?)  Atom I and Atom II have come in search of the criminals who murdered one of Ray Palmer’s (The original Atom’s) friends in search of something called a ‘Time Pool.’  Ray goes all grim and gritty, torturing Killer Moth for information and literally yelling out that he wants “JUSTICE!” 

Far away, in the art deco paradise called Opal City, we find a sad-faced funeral director telling a mysterious someone how sorry he is for his loss.  We see a man in the casket, and his bereaved partner takes his leave, blows up a car in blind rage at (presumably) whatever or whomever killed his boyfriend.  The display of power is accompanied by a scream as the man cries out something in the lost alien language of Talok III, a scream that translates to “JUSTICE!”  (I believe I am sensing a theme.)  Mikaal Thomas, the Starman of the 1970’s stalks away from the burning wreckage to find his fate.  On the plains of Africa, a lone golden gorilla sits alone, surrounded by the bodies of his dead…  Hmm.  What does one call a group of gorillas, anyway?  A herd?  A clan?  A flock?  (“Have you heard my new band, ‘A Flock of Gorillas?’)  The ape with the mind of a man seeks out his host, finding his human body dead, and then witnesses the death of his friend, the superhero Freedom Beast.  (I am saddened at the death of an interesting minor-leaguer, and the loss of another of DC’s heroes of color.)  Congorilla’s rage bursts open like a blister in the sun, and he leaps away screaming “I want JUSTICE!”  That’s a gorilla who knows what he wants.   The issues finished up with a short origin, explaining how Congo Bill, the great white hunter, magically became able to switch bodies with the legendary golden ape.  As origins go, it’s no “rocketed from a dead planet,” but it’s a fun piece of Golden Age frippery.

In his text piece for this issue, James Robinson inadvertently points out the biggest problem with this book when he opens with “It’s hard sometimes to know if a miniseries is going to matter or not…”  My associate Joshua said something that really resonates with me, pegging this issue by arguing that the plot threads “are so old, they feel dusty.”  Sadly,Josh is exactly right.  The issue of JLA that name-checked this series came out several months ago, and the setups for parts of the plot date back to 52.  That’s THREE big crossover thingammies ago (four if you count Trinity) which in comic terms might as well have happened during the Ming Dynasty.  I don’t know if the series took longer because of the admittedly wonderful fully-painted art or other issues, but there’s nothing here that feels timely, from the appearance of Leaguers who are no longer Leaguers (or are dead) to the references to the now-forty-year-old ‘Hard Traveling Heroes’ arc.  Don’t get me wrong, I love comic history and sweeping timelines, but in a series that is trying to reinvent a brand-new future-facing League, I’m disappointed.  Hardest to process for me is the intense melodrama from Ray Palmer and Hal Jordan, two of the resolute pillars of DC’s Silver Age, which feels very forced.  Still, though, there are bright spots on the horizon that give me hope for this book.  I like the appearance of The Atoms, I LOVE the return of the Mikaal Tomas Starman, and am intrigued to see how Congorilla is going to fit into a new Justice League incarnation.  Mauro Cascioli’s art is very well-done, and the knowledge that the writer of this limited series will be taking over the JLA title give me hope that this book will matter in the long run.  The aforementioned text piece shows that Robinson has great enthusiasm and plans for the League, but it doesn’t change the unfortunate fact that this book has been undermined by timing, by sweeping change at DC, and most of all by the preview of nearly 1/3 of the issue in other DCU titles in the last couple of months.  It all combines to give us a comic that shows promise, but already feels dated.  Justice League – Cry For Justice #1 earns 2 out of 5 stars overall, but I still want to make it clear that I do recommend the issue.  There’s a lot of good stuff in the mix here, and a fascinating cast of characters coming together, and I have faith that Robinson (one of my favorite writers) will put it all together in the long run.

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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25 Comments

  1. Jacin B
    July 8, 2009 at 4:12 pm — Reply

    JUSTICE!

    Sorry. Just had to cry that out.

  2. Ricco
    July 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm — Reply

    The literal cries for justice were painful to read, I get it’s the title of the book haha can we move to the story now? The art was kick-ass thou, I think this takes place right before Canary “disbands” the league this miniseries was mentioned in that issue if i’m not wrong.

  3. David
    July 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm — Reply

    Yeah, I’ll stick around and see what Robinson is going to do too, but this issue was a mess. The whole “Justice” thing was boring and predicable.

    The lack of continuity too was shocking for a Robinson comic. I mean, no acknowledgement that anyone would take what Hal has to say at face value – given the fact that he’s oh so recently gone off the deep end and killed an entire city. You’d think they’d hear him go off on this and immediately have him go sleep it off in a padded cell, just in case. And – just 24 issues or so ago wasn’t the League in exactly the place they are in now? Disarray? A joke? You talk about stale stories – this book could come after the Detroit league – with minimum script changes.

  4. Josh P.
    July 8, 2009 at 5:12 pm — Reply

    I believe I read this when it was called Justice League Elite.

  5. Ricco
    July 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm — Reply

    Wait a second, wanting to be more then first responders, taking the fight to the bad guys, isn’t that The Outsiders gig?

  6. Salieri
    July 8, 2009 at 5:21 pm — Reply

    The recognized collective term is a Band of Gorillas.

    If I ever get to DC, I’m writing a book called “Injustice Society: Yell For Science”. A Teenaged Dr. Trapp, The Invisible Destroyer, The original Reaper, The Bride Of Amazo, Giganta, Maxie Zeus, Livewire, Frank-Gorshin-era Riddler, Angle Man II and a LoSH-era Solomon Grundy are forcibly assembled by Chronos and made to crash numerous famous heists throughout time while being pursued by the Resurrection Man. As a courtesy detail, each member is allowed to shout out a safeword which will wipe their memories and return them to the place from which they came, memories erased, that word is “SCIENCE!”, because Chronos is that screwy. Plus, allows for a fair rotating cast.

    Are you sold yet?

  7. July 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm — Reply

    Okay, this has been bothering me since the preview came out a few weeks back — What is up with Wonder Woman’s trunks on the bottom of page 5????? The first thing I thought when I saw it was that she was dangerously close to showing her junk. I started wondering what kind of bikini wax she had to get just to fight crime!

    I know the trunks on women’s costumes have been getting skimpier and skimpier (the thong-butt design really disturbs me), but this may be the first time I worried about any of them pulling a Britney Spears!

  8. July 8, 2009 at 7:31 pm — Reply

    If I ever get to DC, I’m writing a book called “Injustice Society: Yell For Science”. A Teenaged Dr. Trapp, The Invisible Destroyer, The original Reaper, The Bride Of Amazo, Giganta, Maxie Zeus, Livewire, Frank-Gorshin-era Riddler, Angle Man II and a LoSH-era Solomon Grundy are forcibly assembled by Chronos and made to crash numerous famous heists throughout time while being pursued by the Resurrection Man. As a courtesy detail, each member is allowed to shout out a safeword which will wipe their memories and return them to the place from which they came, memories erased, that word is “SCIENCE!”, because Chronos is that screwy. Plus, allows for a fair rotating cast.

    SCIENCE!!!!

    Good heavens, Miss Takamoto! You’re BEAUTIFUL!

  9. July 8, 2009 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    I believe I read this when it was called Justice League Elite.

    Young whippersnapper… I read it when it was called Extreme Justice! Uphill, both ways!

    Wait a second, wanting to be more then first responders, taking the fight to the bad guys, isn’t that The Outsiders gig?

    Also Force Works, X-Force, the original New Warriors, and half a dozen other groups. :) But nobody is doing it right this very instant. Well, nobody except for the Outsiders, the new X-Force, the Secret Warriors…

  10. July 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm — Reply

    You forgot Justice League Task Force.

    How could you forget Justice League Task Force? It was such a seminal piece of work that no one mentions it.

    Ever.

  11. JB
    July 9, 2009 at 3:44 am — Reply

    SCIENCE !!

    (Am I dreaming, or is this a Dr. Insano reference ? Maybe I don’t get it the way it’s supposed to be…)

    Anyway, it did feel a bit forced for me too…I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of Robinson’s recent work in the DCU. I’ve been told that his Starman is a thing of wonder (shame on me for not having read it yet), but his run on Superman doesn’t seem that great to me…maybe it’s Renato Guedes’ art, idk.

    Personnally, I’m just waiting for Freddy Freeman to appear : the Marvel family has always been among my favorites, and I’m looking forward to seeing one of them handled by such a famous artist. Hopefully, it’ll be good after the disastrous, under-developped mess they’ve been into since Infinite Crisis.

  12. Brian
    July 9, 2009 at 7:20 am — Reply

    I actually really enjoyed it … but to be honest … only for the scenes at the watchtower and Ray Palmer. I have no idea who this Starman is and could really care less about Congorilla. I think the mini should be good but my biggest problem is, like you said, having had read all the good pages already in the back of other comics. DC really needs to stop teasing other comics like Powergirl and Animalman and THIS! By the time i actually buy the issue, i feel like i’ve only got about 6 new pages and makes it hardly worth the money.

    I’m sticking with the series … but DC better not give away any more sneak previews …

  13. Jen
    July 9, 2009 at 7:38 am — Reply

    A bunch of gorillas is call a “troupe”.

  14. Jen
    July 9, 2009 at 7:57 am — Reply

    My bad, as stated by Salieri it’s a “band” of gorillas. Chimps are the ones that have “troops.” D’oh!

  15. crood
    July 9, 2009 at 8:10 am — Reply

    Justice League Task Force wasn’t a “proactive” team. It started as more of a Mission: Impossible team of heroes specifically gathered together for a mission. Yeah, I know MI always used the same team, but the scenes where Phelps goes through the photos implies he makes other choices for non-televised missions.

    Later, JLTF became a training ground for young heroes with J’onn as the teacher.

    The whole “proactive” thing never works in the long run because to be truly proactive they’d have to:

    1. Actually take the fight to guys like Luthor and Joker, who don’t belong to them.

    2. Take out the villain before he actually does anything villainous. That kind of reduces the drama and sense of urgency.

    3. Question people, follow leads, etc. to actually find the villain, since they’re not doing anything at the moment.

  16. applejack1310
    July 9, 2009 at 8:29 am — Reply

    1. I’m on board with Wonder Woman’s trunks. But I likes me some cheesecake!
    2. Did anyone notice that the way Firestorm is drawn (painted?) in that opening scene makes him look like Ronnie Raymond? Am I wrong?
    3. This issue did feel dated, but I trust Robinson, so I’m gonna ride it out.

  17. Katzedecimal
    July 9, 2009 at 11:47 am — Reply

    SPOON! (sorry, had to get that out)

    DESTROY! (does anybody even remember that?)

    Somebody needs to get Hal (and the writers) a dictionary. The word “justice” does not mean “revenge”, which is what he’s *really* crying for. And now he wants the Justice League of America to become the Roving Gang of Thugs, narrowing the already-narrow gap of Good Guy and Bad Guy to the point of indistinguishability.

    Of course, we know *why* he’s doing this. As someone else pointed out, Hal’s already tried the “proactive approach”: He called himself Parallax, set himself up as the universe’s Mr. Fixit, and it went over so well they had to claim he was infected with a viral meme to cover up the gaffe (yes I’m being facetious here.)

    Meh. But I see potential in Cry for Science I mean Justice. Potential to become another Major Spoilers in-joke, that is….

  18. brainypirate
    July 9, 2009 at 12:57 pm — Reply

    Re: Freedom Beast — I too was bothered that they killed him off. Not just because he was a person of color (well, only to Americans), but because he was in international character who didn’t get much play as it was. How many superheroes are there in Africa anyway? Is it unreasonable to assume that given Africa’s size, it probably has even more costumed folks running around than does the US? (Why does it seem that the ratio of superfolks to average folks is so much higher in the US than in anywhere else in the world? But that’s like asking why movie asteroids and space-creatures always hit Manhattan — wouldn’t Mexico City or Shanghai make just as much sense as Manhattan?)

  19. ~wyntermute~
    July 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm — Reply

    I’m with brainy… The DCU seems to exist only in the USA, the USSR, China, and a handful of “lucky” member nations who somehow managed to produce a B-list or better superbeing. Canada gets…. Sparx, and SHE moved to Metropolis for … well, I really dunno. I’m just trying to agree with the pirate. :)

  20. Big Money B.G.
    July 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    I love the “Yell for Science!” idea, DiDio needs to get on that one. Stat. However, I’m reminded of a more familiar battle-cry when I read this, and whomever has the comic rights to “G.I. JOE” should jump aboard the bandwagon…if such a bandwagon exists…

    “SERPENTOR: CRY FOR COBRA-LA!”

    COBRA-LA-LA-LA-LA!!!!!!

  21. Salieri
    July 9, 2009 at 4:44 pm — Reply

    There are a few authors who try to promote the international DCU. Morrison came up with a large part of the Great Ten and all of the Super Young Team, regenerated the Club of Heroes with new members, created a corresponding Club of Villains, and even used Final Crisis to briefly touch on the worldwide effects of a superhero book – Freedom Beast had a brief cameo in FC #4 during the inter-Watchtower communications.

    • July 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm — Reply

      There are a few authors who try to promote the international DCU. Morrison came up with a large part of the Great Ten and all of the Super Young Team, regenerated the Club of Heroes with new members, created a corresponding Club of Villains, and even used Final Crisis to briefly touch on the worldwide effects of a superhero book – Freedom Beast had a brief cameo in FC #4 during the inter-Watchtower communications.

      There seems to be a thought process that “B-List” heroes will never be cool, and are best used as cannonfodder or plot hooks than as real characters. Grant Morrison did CREATE Freedom Beast, so naturally he’d use him… With any luck, his death will actually mean something. It’s not like DC has a plethora of superheroes from Africa, do they?

  22. ~wyntermute~
    July 10, 2009 at 1:36 am — Reply

    [i]There are a few authors who try to promote the international DCU. Freedom Beast had a brief cameo in FC #4 during the inter-Watchtower communications.[/i]

    I don’t wanna sound like I’m harping on this too much, but it honestly _does_ strike me as weird. Marvel has Wolvie, Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier (I think I got that right, but correct at will), Weapon Omega (I think that’s the Dark X-Men guy?), and ones I cannot even think of at the moment. From A-list to, like, F-list they have somebody Canadian. DC must think that we up here are all too blinded by the adamantium to even buy their comics, and thus don’t try for even a TOKEN canuck? Like, I’ll even take a friggin stereotype. Okay? I’m serious about that last part. Give me a beer-drinking hockey-loving lobster fisherman. Throw me a friggin bone, Dan-D. “Snowbird” or “Canada Goose” or …. Okay, not Canada Goose. That’s terrible.

  23. Jacin B
    July 10, 2009 at 10:33 am — Reply

    I suppose the could include a Canadian named “The Goose” but what would his super power be? Making women yelp in surprise? I think he’d get slapped a lot.

    • Salieri
      February 22, 2010 at 10:39 am — Reply

      If he’s anything like the Canada Geese I know, he’ll just hang around Britain all the time, reducing the population of ducks and white geese and getting his poo all over the grass of our parks.

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