Rise and Cry: A Look at the Worst of DC Comics, Part 11

One more to go

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 3
Written by JT Krul
Pencils by Sergio Aniño, Geralso Borges and Kevin Sharpe
Inks by Marlo Alquiza and John Dell
Colors by Hi-Fi

As we hit the penultimate chapter in what is one of the worst story arcs ever done by DC Comics, things absolutely do not get better for Roy Harper, the hero known as Arsenal. His daughter was killed by the megalomaniacal PROMETHEUS, who also sawed off most of his right arm; his mentor, Green Arrow Oliver Queen is in jail after putting an arrow in Prometheus’ head; and all the stress of the situation has caused Harper to slide back into his drug addiction, which is fueling his rage at the world.

The tragic story could be a harrowing tale of trauma and how a recovering addict who finds himself in a terrible situation deals with it, or maybe even rises above it with the help of his friends and family. After all, the four-issue miniseries is called “The Rise of Arsenal.” One would think overcoming the negatives in his life would be the path of the story.

Instead, Roy Harper cradles a dead cat that he thinks is his dead daughter and gets his ass kicked by one of his best friends in a drug-induced fury. And that’s not even the most cringe-inducing moment of the issue.

No, that honorific goes to the opening scene, a confrontation between Harper and the assassin Cheshire, Lian’s mother. Cheshire attacks Harper for letting Lian die – though Harper correctly points out that he did his best to protect her while she ran away to continue being a killer for hire – and the pair have it out in Harper’s apartment. The rage turns to grief as they both start to mourn the loss of their daughter. The grief quickly subsides to lust, as they start hooking up.

There’s very little transition there to set the stage for these mood changes, it all just kind of happens in sequence and it’s all very jarring. And probably in bad taste, though I suppose I should be used to that, eleven issues in to this story.

Just when you think the story may ease into Roy and Cheshire talking through what happened, Cheshire makes it clear that Roy couldn’t perform because of everything that’s on his mind (plus the drugs). Harper takes that as any man being written by bad sitcom writers would and storms off to patrol Star City.

And that’s where he busts up a drug deal, buys heroin off the dealer instead of sending him to prison and uses in a back alley after having a conversation with a hallucination of his dead drug buddy.

After Harper nearly kills a bunch of gang members who he believed was an army of Prometheus and imagines a conversation with Lian, who is actually a dead cat, Batman comes calling to get Roy some help. But this isn’t Bruce Wayne. No, Bruce Wayne was, at this point, thought to be dead but was actually lost in time after getting hit with Darkseid’s omega beams. Instead, this Batman is Dick Grayson, former Nightwing, former Teen Titan and one of Roy’s closest friends.

Unable to calm Harper down, Batman beats him up, knocks him out and puts him in a rehab facility, where Harper continues to talk to his dead drug buddy as the issue comes to a close.

Going all the way back to the first issue of Cry For Justice, this whole story line has been immature people writing scenes based off of, “hey wouldn’t this be cool?” moments without really threading them together. At times, they even outright ignored the continuity of their own story. Having Roy in a rehab facility – strapped to a bed – should be a sign that things are about to turn around, but nothing about this series leaves me with any sense of hope for a happy ending.

Thankfully, we have just one more issue to go and we can put all this nastiness behind us.