Geekery Mailbag: Rise and Cry… for Justice!

I’m crying for something…

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Was Rise and Fall of Arsenal DC’s lowest point? – Kenny

Look, 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year, so we may as well look back on some pretty crappy comics as we stare down the last 5 or 6 weeks of the calendar.

Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal from 2010 was a 4-issue limited series from writer J.T. Krul which dealt with the always-troubled Roy Harper, the former sidekick of Green Arrow Oliver Queen and founding member of the Teen Titans.

While Rise of Arsenal was, in fact, a horrible story that everyone but, apparently, Kenny has spent the last 10 years trying to forget, it’s important to remember that the story is only possible because of the terrible things that lead into it.

For years leading up to 2010, DC Comics had gotten consistently darker. From Max Lord’s cold-blooded murder of Blue Beetle Ted Kord that kicked off Infinite Crisis to the terrible “deaths” of both Martian Manhunter and Batman in Grant Morrison’s multiverse-spanning crossover, Final Crisis, there was a bleakness to DC Comics’ tones that turned a lot of people off. For every story’s ending that promised a better, brighter tomorrow, the next month seemed to kick off something that made everything worse.

That’s where James Robinson’s Cry For Justice miniseries comes in. And since this year has already been significantly bad, we may as well do an issue-by-issue deep dive into the things that led to Rise of Arsenal (and the miniseries itself). It’s really the most appropriate way to end 2020.

Justice League: Cry For Justice 1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Mauro Cascioli

Debuting in the summer of 2009, Cry For Justice was supposed to be a new ongoing Justice League title that featured heroes being more proactive in the battle against the world’s supervillains, but someone, somewhere, for once came to their sense and cut it down to a 7-issue miniseries.

In the wake of the deaths of Justice League stalwarts Martian Manhunter and Batman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan is fed up and confronts his fellow Leaguers. He’s tired of watching his friends die and wants to do something more. Instead of coming together in fellowship with other heroes to react to something a bad guy did, Hal wants to take the battle to them and stop them in their tracks before they can hurt anyone else.

Superman and Wonder Woman try to calm him down, but history tells us that an angry Hal Jordan is prone to doing some very questionable things. This is the guy, after all, who wiped out the entire Green Lantern Corps after his city was atomized, and then he tried to restart time to bring it all back.

Green Arrow, of course, storms off with him and as they travel through space back to Earth in a green bubble, the question becomes: where do we go from here.

Well, it’s time to check in with some other heroes who want justice. First up, the newly-returned Ray Palmer, also known as the Atom.

Yeah, Palmer shrunk down and invaded the nasal cavity of perennial loser Killer Moth to torture him into giving up the name of the man who ordered the murder of one of Palmer’s heads. To say Palmer is being snotty here is both a pun and an understatement, but we see that he is of the same mindset of his fellow Leaguers Jordan and Queen.

In addition to Palmer, we get vignettes of Congorilla and Starman Mikaal Tomas, both of whom have suffered losses and looking to make someone pay.

And so begins another in a string of bad ideas published by DC Comics in the first decade of the 21st Century. After getting such critical acclaim with his Justice Society Elseworlds The Golden Age and his seminal work on Starman, writer James Robinson’s reputation is severely impugned with this miniseries.

I wonder how deep into a re-read of this I can make it before I completely go mad. At least the art in Cry For Justice is pretty.

Thanks, Kenny!