Rise and Cry: A Look at the Worst of DC Comics, Part 10

A bad day for Roy Harper

Back in November, 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.” Now that we’ve finished our look at CRY FOR JUSTICE, we’re getting deep into the heart of the question.

Justice League: Rise of Arsenal 2
Written by JT Krul
Pencils by Geraldo Borges, Mike Mayhew and Kevin Sharpe
Inks by Marlo Alquiza, Mike Mayhew and Mark McKenna
Colors by Hi-Fi and Andy Troy

This was a hard issue to read. Roy Harper has been through a considerable amount of trauma. Not only did  PROMETHEUS rip off most of his right arm, but the big bad’s machinations caused his city to crumble, resulting in the death of his daughter. That kind of one-two punch is enough to put anyone in a bad mood.

On top of all of that, the hot-headed Harper wants to take revenge out on Prometheus, but he can’t. His mentor, Green Arrow Oliver Queen, already KILLED Prometheus with an arrow between the eyes. Now, Oliver is in prison for killing the villain; the Electrocutioner, Prometheus’ button man who activated the device that destroyed Star City, is in prison; and Harper doesn’t have anyone to punch.

The weight of all of that is enough to collapse anyone. It’s understandable that Harper is spiraling. As a recovering drug addict, spiraling here includes falling back into his old habits, abusing the pain pills to ease what he’s going through. And it’s true of too many people that his closest friends – people who know that he’s hurting – don’t see how bad it is for a man who lost his arm and his daughter.

And if this were a story about normal people, all of this may make sense. But it’s a story about super-powered people, and some of them are medical and scientific professionals who are scanning Harper’s body regularly to give him a new right arm. It’s a little hard to believe that Cyborg didn’t sense a problem before it escalated to warn people, or maybe even try to talk Roy down from the ledge a bit.

Speaking of that replacement arm, not long after telling Harper that the poison Prometheus used in the blade that chopped off his arm would prevent him from getting a prosthetic, Cyborg and his team come up with a prosthetic, robotic arm for Harper to use. Comic book science! Attaching the arm seems like a pretty painful experience, as it connects past Roy’s damaged nerve endings to allow him to use it as a regular arm.

So, of course, Harper spends the rest of the issue taking the arm out and putting it back on like it’s a pair of slippers.

And then, Cheshire – the mother of Roy’s non-dead daughter – comes back, just as angry at Roy as Roy is at everyone else for Lian’s death. A murderous assassin looking to take you out is tough enough when a hero is at his best, but Roy is not anywhere near his best. And we end the issue with Cheshire standing over Roy, ready to kill him.

It’s easy to see this story going downhill fast, as it’s already devolving into a kind of kind of physical and emotional torture porn.