Or – “Understatement Time…”

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James Robinson says in this issue’s text piece that this series is “maybe the darkest tale the JLA have ever been a part of,” and he’s absolutely right.  There have been a number of seriously disturbing JLA stories (Identity Crisis for one, Professor Ivo’s murder of Vibe & Steel and attempted murder of Vixen & Gypsy for another) in the history of the group, but with last issue, this one started vying for #1 moment of “AIEEE!” in JLA history…  Given that I’ve had some bad experiences with CFJ thus far, can this issue turn the tide?

Justice League – Cry For Justice #6

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Written by James Robinson
Art by Scott Clark
Cover by Mauro Cascioli

Previously, on Justice League – Cry For Justice:  A strange series of events has led a group of JLA veterans (Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan and Ray Palmer) to turn away from the main Justice League team in rage.  At the same time, several other heroes (Freddy Freeman, Kara Zor-El, Mikaal Tomas, and Congo Bill/Congorilla) have been drawn into a web of deceit that has brought all of them together to oppose the schemes of Prometheus.  Once the most feared villain on the planet, ‘Methy has been laid low in recent years, but now is poised to return to greatness by blowing up cities…  or something.  In a brilliant show of mind-changing, Hal and Ollie decide to bring their team to the Justice League satellite where their pals have been waiting.  Something weird happened then, which SEEMED to be either Supergirl or Shazam turning on the Justice League, sabotaging the satellite and doing something eeeevil.  Oh, and also, someone ripped off Red Arrow’s arm, which means that someone with super-strength (or with a big knife?) has gone rogue, which still leaves the question of whether it’s Freddy or Kara who have snapped. 

We open with our caped couple circling one another warily, and Freddy finally lets the other shoe drop.  “How did you work it out?”  Kara explains that Kryptonians don’t do well with magic, and that if he used his magic lightning (as he claimed at the beginning of issue #4), she would have been badly messed up.  Also, he said the word “Shazam,” something that only SHE caught, what with Hal and Ollie and Ray being consumed with dark and gritty JUUSTIIIICE!  The League shows up, and Prometheus takes them all down: shooting Supergirl, taking out Zatanna’s voicebox, melting Plastic Man, blowing off Red Tornado’s head, and letting Black Canary and Mikaal Tomas take each other out.  The Guardian, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl fall next, Vixen and Dr. Light are injured, and Donna Troy impaled by the wrists.  In what I think is a setup for her leadership role in the core Justice League title, though, she rips herself free.  Firestorm, Starfire, Donna and Green Arrow go down, and Ray Palmer gets a taste of his own obnoxious “Have you ever had a sinus headache?” routine.  Jay Garrick and The Shade arrive, and get dropped just in time for a bloody, enraged Donna Troy to launch herself at Prometheus and beat him within an inche of his life. 

The Shade gently stops Donna from murdering Prometheus (a move which I think everyone, especially Donna’s ex-boyfriend Red Arrow, will regret) and the heroes capture the big bad dummy.  Hal, Oliver and Black Canary interrogate him, and Prometheus explains that his plan was about more than just beating the heroes or making a big score.  His motive was larger than that, as he wanted revenge for all the years that the League had taken from him.  Thus, instead of BLOWING UP cities, his device will protect them in an impenetrable forcefield, and move THE ENTIRE CITY out of space/time.  Jay Garrick responds that everyone would live, but Prometheus is cool with that.  “Yes,” he responds, “and you’d all know it.  But with limitless possibilities of where they’d been sent, you’d NEVER find them.”  Green Arrow isn’t interested in hearing this, claiming it’s all a bluff, but Prometheus steals a page from the Adrian Veidt playbook, explaining that Green Arrow’s home town of Star City was teleported away five minutes ago.  The issue ends with a brief explanation of why Batwoman was supposed to be in this title, and why she ISN’T, as well as a quick Batwoman origin, a tale of his youth reading comics, and some discussion of what makes Cry For Justice what it is…

So, what IS Cry For Justice?  I think, oddly enough, that it’s extreme darkness and depravity, with the maiming and the deaths and the nastiness, may be a precursor to good things for the League, at least if Robinson’s tone can be believed.  This issue is nicely done, with beautiful art by Mauro Cascioli (DC Comics official website has incorrect information, apparently) Scott Clark especially the first-page confrontation between Supergirl and Faux-zam and this issue is the first that doesn’t seem to have been reworked and jury-rigged to fit the shape of things to come.  This actually kind of makes sense, in that the first issues were probably in the can by the time the series was down-graded to limited status.  James Robinson is a good writer, albeit one with a host of peccadilloes that must be accepted to really love his work, and I’m glad to see that this issue is not only free of some of the silly angstiness that characterized the first two in the series.  The Atom as a dark and gritty “GRRRR” avenger of the blah blah blah fishcakes simply doesn’t work for me.  That’s the equivalent of saying that Bill Nigh the Science Guy should become the new Batman.  All in all, I have to say that this issue is still flawed but is also the first issue of this series that works as written (Well, mostly works, actually…  Prometheus’ evil plan is inordinately complex and goofy.)  The biggest flaw of the book is that Justice League of America #41 came out the same day and revealed the ending of this story in it’s first few pages.  Because I read my favorite books first, I read THAT tale before this one, and entered this issue a little irritated with the state of the world.  It’s “Who Will Wield The Shield” all over again.  There’s a lot of potential here that may feel less wasted as it folds into the main JLA title, but the final analysis is this:  I liked this one best of all thus far, and it’s still pretty much average.  Justice League – Cry For Justice #6 earns a middle of the road 2.5 out of 5 stars overall, but at least this issue was coherent.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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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6 Comments

  1. Phil
    January 31, 2010 at 10:10 pm — Reply

    I Hate to be that guy but the art is handled by Scott Clark not Mauro Cascioli this time around. This may also lead into why the art seems to fit with what’s happening within the book.

  2. January 31, 2010 at 10:31 pm — Reply

    You are correct, sir. I wonder if Cascioli’s stuff as drawn wasn’t working with the new plot, and there wasn’t time to edit?

    Either way, DC’s website is WRONG, sir! WRONG!

  3. shamon
    January 31, 2010 at 11:37 pm — Reply

    My guess is green arrow kills the baddie and this leads into the fall of green arrow stuff.

  4. brainypirate
    February 1, 2010 at 9:04 am — Reply

    So you didn’t get spoiled by the JLA preview that was posted on the DC site A WEEK earlier?? (I kept waiting for you to mention that last week.) Don’t they have editors to watch out for those problems?

    I’ve been blah about the art — sure, it’s attractive, but it’s often poorly planned out (I believe we DID see Freddy in the room after Kara thought he’d left — and it was impossible to keep track of who’s-in-that-room-when just before Roy was discovered). In this issue, the two-page spread of Prom taking down Z, Reddy, Plas, etc. was way too static to be exciting — in fact, it made the League look silly for being taken down by a guy riding a conveyor belt.

    (Speaking of Roy: Why would Prom risk being caught and sneak off to attack these folks in their own satellite when he’s got much more interesting plans already being carried out? Isn’t that a really bad strategy?)

    But your summary of the story so far made me realize how little has really happened. Lots of talking, but very little action and not nearly as much suspense as it could have had. I had totally forgotten about Hal and Ollie leaving the League (only to come back) and all the whys and wherefores related to that. It makes me realize that the whole “we need to be proactive” argument has turned out to be completely irrelevant to the series — this could just as easily been a regular, “hey, someone’s attacking our friends and we need to find out who it is and stop him/her” storyline and it would have gotten to the same place.

    Hmm.

    • February 1, 2010 at 9:59 pm — Reply

      So you didn’t get spoiled by the JLA preview that was posted on the DC site A WEEK earlier?? (I kept waiting for you to mention that last week.) Don’t they have editors to watch out for those problems?

      I generally don’t have much truck with previews. I don’t avoid ’em, but I don’t seek them out, either.

  5. Carl
    February 1, 2010 at 9:35 am — Reply

    What’s wrong with Freddy saying “Shazam”? Trials of Shazam ended with the word essentially being optional. He could just think it if he wanted, and could control whether he changed or not.

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