Rise and Cry: A Look at the Worst of DC Comics Part 6

Make it stop!

It’s finally time to fight the bad guy!

Last month, 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.

As we hit the penultimate issue, Prometheus hits back hard against our heroes.

Justice League: Cry For Justice 6
Written by James Robinson
Pencils and Inks by Scott Clark
Colors by Siya Dum

In his DC Comics debut, PROMETHEUS made his way to the JLA watchtower on the moon during a press gathering to unveil the League’s new members. The villain disguised himself as Retro, the winner of a fan contest to take a trip to the moon. The two-issue story in 1998’s JLA 16-17 by Grant Morrison showed Prometheus systematically take down the members of the JLA, old and new, until he was finally stopped by Catwoman.

A decade later, Prometheus gets a rematch with a significantly less powerful League.

As we pick up from LAST ISSUE, we see that Prometheus once again disguised himself, this time as CAPTAIN SPARKLYFINGERS Junior, gaining the trust of Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s new Vengeance League and positioning them where he needed them to be. The battle goes pretty well for the villain, once again using his seemingly-limitless database and arsenal to take down each hero. But just like the first confrontation, the appearance of a villain throws him off momentarily.

When Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick brings The Shade up to the JLA Satellite to consult, it throws off Prometheus’ plans ever-so-slightly, but it was enough for a very angry Donna Troy to take him down and pummel him, nearly killing him before Shade talks her down.

But capturing Prometheus doesn’t end the threat. Like any good supervillain, he has contingencies in place. While his plan to bottle off major cities and send them hurtling through time and space (seriously? THAT was his end goal?) may have been thwarted, Prometheus instead sets off his back-up plan: he blows Star City all to hell.

Of all the members of Hal’s Vengeance League, Oliver Queen was the one guy who tried to serve as the conscience of the group. Oliver questioned Hal’s TORTURE tactics and was likely the only sane voice in a group that had been driven over the edge with anger and grief. In return, Prometheus leveled the city he called home as the issue comes to a close.

The sixth issue of the miniseries was probably the best so far. It focused more on the battle between Prometheus and the villains and kept the morally-compromised ideologies to a minimum. But, man, that final page was a gut-punch. Millions of people dead as a villain enacts his greatest act: completely breaking yet another hero. It’s bad enough that Oliver had to see his former ward lose an arm in the last issue, now he loses his home, too.

Unfortunately, this seems pretty par for the course for DC Comics in the earliest years of the 21st Century.

Can we possibly hope for things to get better in the final issue of Cry For Justice? It doesn’t seem likely. And as if all this wasn’t bad enough, we still have to get through the Rise of Arsenal, as well.

Hopefully finishing this project doesn’t break me, too.