Or – “AARGH!Â I AM CRYING FOR JUSTICE, PERHAPS!”
Y’ever read a comic and think to yourself,Â “I’ve already READ this one!”Â Not in the sense that the book takes on familiar themes, or that it rips off something else, but that you haveÂ physically held and processed the comic in question at some point in your life?Â
Imagine how odd that sensation must be when the book is brand-new.
Previously, on Justice League – A Cry For Justice:Â The Justice League of AmericaÂ 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.Â 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 whatÂ the organizationÂ stands for.Â (Anybody who has been reading the book might have similar questions, at the risk of sounding a bit snarky…)Â The various stressors have officially reached a breaking point, and the volatile personalities of the League are about to make things even worse…
So.Â First question: When does this take place?Â Answer:Â Got no idea, except “After Final Crisis, before Blackest Night, and a while ago.”Â 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 andÂ hasn’t-been-a-member-in-yearsÂ Plastic Man) about the recent events.Â Hal is tired of waiting for the bad guys to make their move, and demandsthat the League become proactive and “hurt [the villains]Â back.”Â 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.Â 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.Â You hate to see that.) and they stomp off in a huff.Â Well, technically, they fly off in aÂ big green force bubble, but the effect is the same.Â 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.Â (Isn’t he dead and/or transformed into a Kafka-esque horror?)Â 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.’Â Ray goes all grim and gritty, torturingÂ Killer Moth for informationÂ and literally yelling out that he wants “JUSTICE!”Â
Far away, in the art deco paradise called Opal City, we findÂ a sad-faced funeral director tellingÂ a mysterious someone how sorry he is for his loss.Â We see a man in the casket, and his bereavedÂ partner takes his leave, blows up a carÂ in blind rageÂ at (presumably) whatever or whomever killed his boyfriend.Â Â TheÂ display ofÂ power is accompanied by aÂ scream as the man criesÂ out something in the lostÂ alien language of Talok III, a scream that translates to “JUSTICE!”Â (I believe I am sensing a theme.)Â Mikaal Thomas, the Starman of the 1970’s stalks away from the burning wreckage to find his fate.Â On the plains of Africa, a lone golden gorilla sits alone, surrounded by the bodies of his dead…Â Hmm.Â What does one call a group of gorillas, anyway?Â A herd?Â A clan?Â A flock?Â (“Have you heard my new band, ‘A Flock of Gorillas?’)Â 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.Â (I am saddened at the death of an interesting minor-leaguer, and the loss ofÂ another of DC’s heroes of color.)Â Congorilla’s rage bursts open like a blister in the sun, and he leaps away screaming “I want JUSTICE!”Â That’s a gorilla who knows what he wants.Â Â 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.Â 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…”Â 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.”Â Sadly,Josh is exactly right.Â 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.Â That’s THREE big crossover thingammies ago (four if you count Trinity) which in comic termsÂ might as well have happened during the Ming Dynasty.Â 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.Â Don’t get meÂ 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.Â 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, whichÂ feels very forced.Â Still, though, there are bright spots on the horizon that give me hope for this book.Â I like the appearance of The Atoms, I LOVE the return of the Mikaal Tomas Starman, and am intriguedÂ to seeÂ how Congorilla is going to fit into a new Justice League incarnation.Â 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.Â 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.Â It all combines to give us a comic that shows promise, but already feels dated.Â Justice League – Cry For Justice #1 earns 2 out of 5 stars overall, but I still want to make it clear that I do recommendÂ the issue.Â 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.