Rise and Cry – A Look At the Worst of DC Part 2

The deep dive continues

I guess we’re going to keep at this.

Last week, in a MAILBAG question, friend of the Geekery Kenny asked me if The Rise and Fall of Arsenal – the 4-issue miniseries from 2010 – was DC Comics’ “lowest point.” There’s no better way to examine that question than by going issue-by-issue of that miniseries and the one from which it was birthed, Justice League: CRY FOR JUSTICE.

Let’s get into the second issue, shall we?

Justice League: Cry For Justice 2
Written by James Robinson
Art by Mauro Cascioli

When last we saw our heroes, Green Lantern and Green Arrow had quit the Justice League after the deaths of Martian Manhunter and Batman during Final Crisis and other metahumans were on a search for “justice” of their own. Starman Mikaal Tomas, Congorilla and Atom Ray Palmer are all on the trail of someone who killed close allies.

The issue begins with Arrow and Lantern on a rooftop in Gotham, where we get some, shall we say… questionable dialogue between the old friends. As Hal tries to confess to Oliver that he never liked Batman (shocking, I know!), Arrow lets slip that he knows about Hal’s threesome with Huntress and Lady Blackhawk, and even back in 2009, I was struggling to understand why writer James Robinson felt the need to include a conversation like this.

Of course, then I checked the book’s credits and saw it was edited by EDDIE BERGANZA and, well, I guess things start to make more sense.

Ollie and Hal were summoned to Gotham City by Jason Bard – private detective, Batgirl’s ex-boyfriend and secret Bat-snitch – to take out a cadre of out-of-town supervillains planning something. The Emerald Allies jump in to take the villains down before they can move on their plans, the reader moves on to the other members of this new proactive party.

On the secret Blackhawk Island, the paths of Congorilla and Starman converge. The two heroes battle because… well, even they’re not sure. The fight we see is over as quickly as it started and the oddest pairing in comics decide to team up to make way to their final destination together. And off they go to Gotham City.

Meanwhile, Ray Palmer discusses the series’ idea of “justice” with Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick, who tells Palmer that his Golden Age predecessor, Al Pratt, was proud that Palmer took the name. This is a very DC Comics thing to do, tying the Silver Age heroes to their Golden Age namesakes, but it’s clear that even writer James Robinson isn’t buying what he’s selling, as he painstakingly walks it back on the same page, explaining that Palmer and Pratt had no connection – not even the same powers – outside of their heroic codenames.

Garrick agrees to join Palmer on his quest for “justice,” but tells him to go on to Gotham City alone, so the Flash can check on some things. Thankfully, Freddy Freeman – who took over the mantle of Captain Marvel/SHAZAM from Billy Batson in this era (Batson had moved on to be the Wizard and guardian of the Rock of Eternity, I believe) – shows up out of nowhere to take Palmer to Gotham.

Neither Palmer nor Garrick (and probably Robinson as well) know what they should call Freddy. Captain Marvel was being phased out and SHAZAM is silly considering that Freddy wouldn’t be able to say his own name without changing back into a regular human, and DC Comics never bothered to come up with a name that makes sense (I still vote for CAPTAIN SPARKLYFINGERS, myself).

So we go back to Gotham, where Arrow and Lantern stand tall after defeating what they call a bunch of low-rent villains, though there are one or two heavy hitters laying in the street. The man who gathered the collection of losers and housed them in a building where they could be discovered and destroyed is PROMETHEUS, one of my favorite villain creations of the 1990s, though he was turned into a bit of a joke as a sidekick for Batman villain Hush in the early-2000s. His inclusion as the big bad of this series does not make me think that he will have a return to prominence of any kind.

As Atom and Captian Sparklyfingers reunite with Hal and Ollie, former Suicide Squad reject Javelin gets up from his beating and resents being called a loser, so he throws a Javelin at the heroes, which is stopped harmless by a big red S, but it’s not Superman. Instead, the guys who should be protected from such an attack by Hal’s Green Lantern ring (which protects the wearer from mortal harm) is stopped by Supergirl, who in this era was transformed by Jeph Loeb into an angsty, angry 20-something.

After the opening conversation between Hal and Oliver, I absolutely cringe at the thought of how Robinson will treat Superman’s cousin here, especially after spending the last five years watching Melissa Benoist treat SUPERGIRL with such reverence within the ARROWVERSE.

With that, the hunt for Prometheus is on – and Ollie and Hal haven’t even met Congorilla yet! What have I gotten myself into…