Justice League: Cry for Justice #1-2
January 3, 2011
Trust me - by the end of this, there will be a LOT of crying.
The episode opens up on a black screen with white text that reads, "Location: Earth Orbit...", before it fades out. We cut to Angry Joe on his ship hovering above Earth, playing what appears to be one of the Games from the Civilization series. Unsurprisingly, he's living up to his name at the moment.
Angry Joe: Goddammit, Montezuma!!! Civilization Bullshit!! GAH!!
Before Joe can do anything more, something violently rocks the ship and knocks Joe around in his chair.
Angry Joe: What the hell...?!
Moments later, he receives a message from one of his many followers regarding the disturbance.
Angry Army Soldier: Angry Joe, there's some sort of portal opening up over Earth.
Angry Joe: Put it on screen.
AA Soldier: Yes Sir.
As Joe watches the monitor, his face goes from a neutral expression...to an (understandably) horrified one.
Angry Joe: ...oh my god...
Theme song and opening credits play before fading into the title card. The song is "Justice Must Be Done" by Sam Keenan before fading in to Linkara sitting on the couch...a very visibly annoyed Linkara resting his head in his hand, contemptuously staring into the camera. He is clearly not looking forward to this one.
Linkara: ...I hate this thing. I hate this thing more than any other comic I've reviewed. Yeah, I hate it more than Countdown. Yeah, I hate it more than Amazons Attack! Even the Silent Hill comics I didn't hate as much as this because they were just incomprehensible!! But this?!
Cut to the cover of Issue #1 of today's topic: the now-infamous Cry for Justice, which eventually cuts to the cover of The Titans #1.
Linkara: (voiceover) If someone created a power plant that ran on hate, my hatred and burning anger for this comic could power the entire world for the next thousand years. That is how much I hate this thing and hope to never again be forced to see it, or be reminded of it! Of course the problem is that I am reminded of it all the time, every single time that I look at my comics, particularly the series that actually got me started! But we'll get to that in the final installment of this three-parter...
Cover of the Starman Omnibus.
Linkara (VO): I think right away a lot of the disappointment stems from the creative team. This is beautiful artwork and a critically acclaimed writer. James Robinson is the former writer of Starman, a series from the mid and late 90's, that I actually recommend people to go out and find! Hell, they're still collecting it now in the Starman Omnibus! It's a glorious tale about superheroes, romance, complex characters, and even quite a few tragic moments while celebrating one of the other superheroes that Siegel and Shuster created besides Superman. Robinson could do no wrong as a writer!
Cut to the theatrical poster for Comic Book Villains, a long-forgotten average movie about dueling comic book shop owners.
Linkara (VO): ...well, besides for Comic Book Villains, a movie that seems to hate comic book fans with a passion, but that's a topic for another day.
Fade to covers from the Justice League of America series.
Linkara (VO): But no, Robinson is NOT a bad writer! Hell, I started buying his run on Justice League of America because it actually felt like a superhero book! Mind you, it devolved pretty rapidly into crap, but I blame that on a long, boring ass crossover, and editorial mandates about who could actually be on the team and wow, I just keep getting off track with this, don't I?
Linkara: I really don't mean to, but that's what this comic does to me! There are a lot of factors that go into how much of a colossal failure this is, so let me try and explain this as best I can.
Linkara (VO): In 2008 it was announced that James Robinson would release a new Justice League ongoing title. Dan Didio, executive editor at DC, said that the book would be about, "justice and seeking justice, rather than responding to emergencies, letting the problems come to them, and being almost entirely reactive". Robinson later explained that the Justice League "is rarely about bringing villains to justice, or even bringing justice to the world at large, they're attacked and they defend themselves, or there's a crime in progress and they go and fight it. My thinking was that if you have 'justice' in your name, then you should do something about bringing justice to people or bringing villains to justice".
Linkara: And that's the problem in a nutshell. This is a recurring trope in superhero comics; the "proactive superhero team."
Linkara (VO): Essentially what the two said was that the Justice League is an ineffectual organization because all they do is respond to crimes and emergencies when they happen.
Linkara: One: yeah, that's kind of how it works! They're not a criminal unless they've committed a crime! And while you can work to prevent emergencies from happening, you can't respond to an emergency that didn't happen. Two: if you're so upset about the creative direction of a series THAT YOU PUBLISH, perhaps you wanna think about reworking the premise of that book, instead of implying that there's something wrong with a book that you're then saying isn't worth our time!!
Linkara (VO): Next, there's that "bringing justice to people or bringing villains to justice" bit. Let's start with the latter: what exactly do you call fighting supervillains and putting them in jail? Isn't that exactly what you said a second ago was what the Justice League was doing? You can't even stay consistent in the same freaking paragraph! Ah, but that is the problem, "bring justice to the world". What the funkenwagnel is that suppose to mean exactly? Social justice? Criminal justice? Transitional justice?! Let's play college professor here and just say this: define your terms! Ugh, I'll get into more ranting later when we start hearing the dialogue... More or less, the book started to fall apart as it was being written and even while it was being released. Instead of an ongoing series, it became a mini-series. Instead of a book about a new second Justice League team - yeah, that's worked so well in the past, by the way - it instead became the launchpad for the rest of the DC Universe. Much like how Countdown was suppose to define and introduce the stories at the time, Cry for Justice was suppose to help redefine the Green Arrow stable of books, because a bunch of bad decisions there led to a mediocre and facepalm-worthy book that was losing readers fast.
Linkara: Once again, we had editorial mandate to blame for this garbage. But enough of my ranting. Let's dig into Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 and #2, and may God help us all...
Cut to the cover of Cry For Justice #1.
Linakra (VO): I'm reading from a trade here - which I paid full price for... Jeez, I feel sick for having done so - so no looking at the covers. What I will comment on is the logo. I've spoken before about how logos should be unique and awesome. The Justice League logo is great, in that classic style of a big organization that's golden and glorious, with a superhero shield attached to it. The problem is the "Cry for Justice" part; specifically, the font. I want you all to back away from you computer screens for a moment and glance at the first word. Yes, this series has been repeatedly mocked as "Gay For Justice." Well done, editors. No one caught an easy way for people to make fun of your comic, immature as it may be? Let's first take a look at the introduction by James Robinson. Now, let's give some credit to the man. He freely admits that the book is rife with problems, a lot of which is the changing direction of the book during its publication. To quote him, "this book is one of the weirdest and darkest stories he's ever written, and he's not proud of that fact, and he knows that the book gets people angry, but he stands behind it."
Linkara: Admirable, Mr. Robinson. However, that doesn't make up for the fact that it still blows chunks.
Linkara (VO): We open to the orbiting Justice League satellite, where Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, is talking to the other members of the league.
Hal: I have something to say. I don't think i can take this anymore.
Linkara: (in a flat, disinterested tone with a similarly dull expression) I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore. You can tell be the expression on my face.
Linkara: (voiceover) Oh and by the way, apparently the planet Psychlo just blew up outside since the space next to Earth has a huge purple nebula within it.
Hal: And how many more of us will be taken? ...With each crisis, more of us fall. Now Bruce is gone. And J'onn.
Linkara (VO): Hal is referring to the events of Final Crisis, where the Martian Manhunter was killed - he's better now - in a pointless fashion to show us a villain in that story was "fo' serious, yo." Batman was also apparently killed, but instead he was sent back in time in a story that was a lot better than this one. Superman tries to reassure Hal, but he's despondent about the situation.
Hal: Begin again? Like before? Like every other time? Doesn't answer one thing. Our name. Justice? The "Justice League"? Justice for-- Of-- What?
Linkara: ...Well, technically, "of America". That's the full name. People just shorten it to Justice League because you do more than help America.
Hal: We wait for villains to do wrong and then go after them, or we wait for them to attack us. Might have worked then.
Linkara: As I said, diddly-dur-hey, Hal! That is how it works! Criminals have to commit a crime before you can track them down!
Hal: But these aren't the villains of yesterday, and our being "good" and "true" isn't scaring them back into the shadows. Not anymore.
Linkara (VO): Wonder Woman asks what he's saying.
Hal: I'm saying this will not stand. I'm saying they hurt us, we hurt them back.
Linkara: (with his fingers resting against his cheek) ...Okey-dokey, Hal. How do we do that?
Linkara (VO): ...I said how do we do that, Hal? Well?
Hal: We have to track down Libra and every member of his "secret society" of scum. We have to track them all down, all the villains, all the evil.
Linkara (VO): And then what, Hal? ...Hal?
Hal: Justice League. Justice Society. League, society, community of heroes. Cool, I'll put the coffee on. What about justice?
Linkara: What about love?!
Linkara (VO): This is seriously lazy-ass writing if ever I've seen it. "We have to track them down." Nah, really, Hal? I figured the league members were just gonna sit around and play video games all day! I mean, come on! Hal is just bitching for the sake of bitching. And "what about justice?" Okay, Hal, what's justice? Are you planning on killing them? Torturing them? Maiming and mutilating?! There is no answer! The entire foundation upon which this story is built is weak and shoddy!
Hal: I am the LAW in Space Sector 2814.
Cut to a clip from the 1995 film adaptation of Judge Dredd. It's the clip you'd expect in response to a line like that.
Judge Dredd: I AM... THE LAW!!!
Hal: And that includes Earth. Time I stepped up. Someone needs to stop groups like Libra's from ever taking flight in the future.
Linkara (VO): Yeah, the last time you had that kind of mindset, Hal, you got possessed by a yellow space bug made of living fear that almost had you destroy the universe. Funny how continuity works. Green Arrow joins Hal because...uhh... I have no idea. Yeah, they're best friends, but I have no idea philosophically why he's being this much of an idiot.
Hal: You want a league. I want justice.
Linkara (VO): A league is a type of organization. You want justice, a metaphysical concept that you can't even properly define. Don't pretend you know what you're talking about! Anyway, the two leave in one of Hal's energy bubbles. I especially love how the rest of the league just stands there, dumbfounded by how stupid the two are acting. It's even better if you think of it like they're the two's parents.
Linkara: (imitating a parent's voice) Aw, those two little scamps are just over-tired. They'll come back in an hour and want a nap.
Linkara (VO): Speaking of, after all their melodramatic lip about justice, suddenly the two are talking about how they should've used the teleporter - I don't know what actual difference it would've made; either way, they get back to Earth - and what good buddies they are. Here's another headscratcher; they're passing through a whole bunch of asteroids on their way back to Earth. Where the hell did those come from? Was the artist under the impression that the JLA satellite was around Pluto and we're seeing them pass through the asteroid belt? Anyway, the total shift from "serious business" to "my wife is gonna kill me" is a harsh one, one of the many problems of this book. We cut to our good ol' Great Disaster-stopping pal Ray Palmer, fighting alongside Ryan Choi, the new Atom. ...or rather the dead Atom, because DC, in their "infinite wisdom," killed off Ryan Choi to kick off their then-new series, Titans: Villains for Hire. Yeah, remember way back in my review of Titans #1? When that book reached the 20's, DC split up all the characters and handed it off to a villain and made it about villains. What's better? DC already has a book about a team of villains! Secret Six!! The difference being that Secret Six doesn't suck. Anyway, I'm kind of getting off track. The reason I bring all this up is because the scene with the two Atoms fighting side by side is a great one. The two praise each other in narration captions. In a different story, this would've been great. However, it's quickly ruined by how the scene concludes. The two are fighting the perpetually badly-dressed villain Killer Moth. Ray Palmer starts interrogating Killer Moth about a friend of his who was recently tortured and killed for information about "Time Pool" technology. Killer Moth refuses to talk but Ray Palmer decides he's got a better way to get information.
Ray Palmer: Have you ever had a sinus headache so torturous, you thought your head'd explode? What if I shrank to microscopic size, entered your skull, then began to grow? Imagine how that'd feel.
Linkara: (with hands in face and groaning, clearly dreading the implications behind the line) Oh God... You're serious!
Killer Moth: You're heroes, you don't act that way.
Ray: He's a hero. I'm Ray Palmer. Welcome to pain.
Linkara: (takes his hands off his face) ...Soooo, where do I begin, hmm?!
Linkara (VO): Let's start off with the continuity and character bits, since that's always exciting, isn't it? Ray Palmer, as we've discussed before, is a scientist! He's not Dirty friggin' Harry or Jack flippin' Bauer, who will stoop to torture for information! Supposedly, the impetus for this sudden shift is the death of this friend of his that, as far as I know, we have never seen before and will never be mentioned again. That's superb storytelling right there! It's even better if this character did exist, and they just didn't bother to show his death. Way to make a supporting character actually matter, eh?! Next, there's the method of torture. Remember Countdown, and how Ray Palmer was hiding out on some alternate universe Earth? Well, that's because of another mini-series called Identity Crisis that I absolutely hate... Which I'll get to eventually, I promise. In that story, Ray Palmer's ex-wife, whom he still loves, murders a friend of theirs. And the method of killing her? Shrinking into her brain and growing slightly! That's right, Ray is now using the same method that his murderous ex-wife used! The same one that made him so emotionally crippled that he retreated into Countdown. Brilliant. And finally, there's the third part of our trio of terrible. "I'm Ray Palmer. Welcome to pain." Do I even need to say anything about this?! And in case you're thinking that that was just a bluff... Yeah, next page, we immediately see Ray do it! Torturing Killer Moth!! Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!!! Anyway, Killer Moth gives away that the person responsible was a villain named Prometheus. We'll get into him a bit later. Ray tells Ryan Choi to go back to his hometown.
Ray: Me, I'm taking this all the way to Prometheus's doorstep. I want him to pay. Yeah... ...JUSTICE!
Linkara: And you yelled that out...why?
Linkara (VO): We cut to Opal City, where Robinson's Starman series took place. Here we meet Mikaal Tomas, a former Starman himself, and he goes into a funeral parlor, since apparently his boyfriend was killed off panel due to a supervillain attack. Outside, he unleashes his pain and rage, blowing up a random car and walking away.
Narrator: His words don't have a direct translation to any on this planet. But their meaning does-- JUSTICE!
Linkara: Hey.. He just cried out, and it was for justice! It's all coming together now!
Linkara (VO): We cut to Africa, specifically the Congo. One of James Robinson's strengths has been taking old, goofy characters and giving a fresh spin on them, and thus we have one of those kinds of things. This is Congorilla, originally a human character named Congo Bill who got transformed into a gorilla during the Silver Age. His entire tribe of gorillas has been slaughtered, along with another superhero named Freedom Beast. Oh goody, killing off B-list superheroes. That's always a good sign for a comic, right? Anyway, with the death of his friend, Congorilla has the expected reaction.
While the camera focuses on Congorilla's reaction, the audio track plays Darth Vader's infamous exclamation of the word "No!" at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
Linkara (VO): And so Issue 1 ends with Congorilla screaming that he wants justice, along with a caption simply saying "Justice."
Linkara: JUSTICE! Now with a fresh scent of pine!
Linkara (VO): Issue 2 opens with Green Lantern and Green Arrow in Gotham.
Hal: I have a confession to make.
Linkara: I'm pregnant!
A dramatic musical sting plays to give Linkara's silly declaration more weight.
Oliver: If it involves you, the Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and a bottle of Grappa, Dinah already told me. And all I have to say is, "Well played, sir."
Linkara: (fake laughing) Implying that two ass-kicking superheroines from Gail Simone's critically-acclaimed Birds of Prey series had a drunken threesome with Hal Jordan! (more fake laughing, then shifts to a growling, guttural tone) Hilarious.
Linkara (VO): James Robinson: man of class, ladies and gentlemen. Fortunately, in a recent issue of Birds of Prey, it was implied that Hal just got drunk off his ass and passed out. "Well played" indeed... So, what's he actually confessing?
Hal: I don't like Gotham.
Linkara (VO): That's a stupid confession.
Hal: Actually, I'm lying.
Oliver: You do like Gotham?
Hal: No, that wasn't my confession.
Linkara: Then why did you bring it up?
Hal: Truth is, I didn't like Bruce.
Linkara (VO): Again, why did you bring up Gotham as your confession, then? Dear lord, this thing is only two pages in and I already feel like we've been sitting through a ton of padding! Anyway, we cut to Blackhawk Island where Congorilla - and yeah, I know he wants people to call him Bill in the book, but frankly how can you go wrong with a name like Congorilla? - and Mikaal are fighting. After they blast each other for a few panels, they finally stop and talk, realizing that neither of them are bad guys. Again, thanks for the padding! The two-page spread of the two yelling at each other was totally necessary!
Congorilla: What brings you here?
Mikaal: My love was murdered. I seek justice. You?
Congorilla: My friends. Justice, too.
Linkara: Hey, we should start a band!
Linkara (VO): They trade expositions about tracking down who killed their respective loved ones, their trail bringing them to the island. They put together that this was a stop-off point for the murderers, but the trail is now leading to Paris. They decide to team up and take a plane. See, this is all the entire scene needed to be; them meeting on the island and going on the trail. Back in Gotham, the two Green heroes meet with Jason Bard, a lesser known supporting character of the Batman books. He called them...because I guess he has a Justice League communicator or something that lets him call Green friggin' Lantern.
Hal: Yeah, well, I know this is Gotham where it's law apparently that people conduct every important conversation on a rooftop, but is there a reason we couldn't have met in your office?
Oliver: Don't be rude, Hal.
Hal: Rude? I'm freezing!
Tom Servo (from the MST3K episode "Warrior of the Lost World"): Whiny-man!
Linkara (VO): Bard tells them that there is indeed a reason why they're on the rooftop, then proceeds to say that he's heard on the streets that they're hunting supervillains. Um...how? Did Superman fly off to Gotham and say, "You know, Green Arrow and Green Lantern are really gunning for supervillains!" Furthermore, this can't be too long after the first issue, can it? Also, they're superheroes. How is hunting supervillains any different from what they do normally? Anyway, he says there's a building nearby with supervillains in it that are waiting for instructions from Prometheus. Sooo... what the hell are they doing on a rooftop since this information could have easily been given in a warm office and they could have just jumped out a window? Oh yes, and to show how much of a brain trust we're dealing with, the two immediately jump down to go attack the building. On their own. For the record, Prometheus managed to beat Batman and most of the Justice League singlehandedly. And now those two are just gonna go charging in not knowing how many villains are in the building and what sort of power levels they're up against! So why go into such a blatantly bad situation?
Linkara: Well, obviously it's because JUSTICE!!!
Linkara (VO): We cut to the Flash Museum in Central City, where Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, is meeting with Ray Palmer. The museum has been wrecked up pretty badly and Jay says that three guards were killed, showing us...uh... I don't know. I thought the middle was Charlie Chaplin, but he's got the wrong hat and people on Twitter speculated that the other two were Laurel and Hardy, but Hardy usually has a mustache and Laurel's hair isn't right. Another fan on Twitter said they're supposed to be Winky, Blinky and Noddy, a Three Stooges homage that used to pal around with Jay Garrick. Oh, goody! More supporting characters dying, and off-panel, at that! Yay. The two continue to talk and pad out things, Jay telling him he needs to stop blaming himself for all the people who keep dying around him.
Ray: I tried. I found another world. I even found another Jean Loring.
Jay: And what happened?
Ray: Fate reminded me that I'm Ray Palmer.
Linkara: Welcome to pai- uh, er, sorry. I just have to do that every time I say my name.
Linkara (VO): Uggggh, why, James Robinson? Why would you mention Countdown? We're all trying to pretend Countdown never happened! Furthermore, things got screwed up because Bob the Monitor and his band of idiots came and screwed up your life, not because "fate reminded you you were Ray Palmer!" What a load! Captain Marvel shows up too all of a sudden. Just to confuse you all, this is actually Captain Marvel Jr., who at the time of this story was the new Captain Marvel taking over for his mentor. Comics are confusing, especially the bad ones. Anyway, he's come in because he was investigating another high-tech robbery. While the Flash follows up on a hunch, the Atom and Captain Marvel fly off to Gotham, since their trail ends up there too. Back in Gotham-- BULLCRAP!! No, I'm sorry, but this is bullcrap! The fight happened off-panel?! Plus, they did all of this without any difficulty!?! No, I'm sorry, but I can see Black Manta, Scarecrow and Doctor Polaris in a pile of at least ten supervillains! I don't care how good you are! Those guys, plus another seven or so, are still gonna cause problems, no matter how "B-list" they are! This doesn't make the heroes look like badasses, it makes the writer look lazy for not bothering to show us how they could have won! Ray Palmer and Captain Marvel show up and they say "hi" to each other.
Hal: So what brought you two here?
Linkara: Justice stays crunchy, even in milk!
Hal: Justice, huh? Funny how that word's everywhere all of a sudden.
Linkara: I hope it doesn't become annoying or something that people can latch on to to make fun of.
Linkara (VO): One of the villains, Javelin, wakes up and tries to throw his namesake weapon at the heroes, but is stopped by the arrival of Supergirl, ending Issue 2. These comics suck! The premise is based on idiotic, cliched writing that has nowhere to go, when the characters aren't screaming about justice - and what a nice little coincidence that they all happen to be yelling it at around the same time - they're violating due process and torturing people - yeah, I forgot to mention that bit; Mikaal apparently tortured a guy for information too - the villain of the piece still hasn't actually appeared in the story, and as this goes on, more people will be senselessly killed off! And by the way, people, right away the story betrays the entire concept they were talking about, since all they have done is respond to villainous activity; the exact thing they said they weren't going to do anymore! As this series progresses, more characters will be added and forgotten about and the heroes will act like idiots and immoral pricks, leading to a resolution that will just make us all feel sick!
Linkara: Dear lord, I can't wait to get this over with! Tune in next week--
Linkara's communicator suddenly goes off, cutting him off.
Linkara: Oh, uh, hang on a second.
Linkara answers whoever is on the other end.
Linkara: Yes, Angry Joe?
Angry Joe: Uh...yeah, Linkara, you said you got captured and held captive aboard a ship one time, right?
Linkara: Yeah... Why?
Angry Joe: Oh, no reason... Uh, say, um...that ship you were on, it, uh...wouldn't happen to look anything like this, would it?
Angry Joe presses a key on his computer and sends a feed of the outside of the ship down to Linkara. He gets up from his couch and looks on in bewilderment at what he's seeing.
Angry Joe: How does that look to you...?
Linkara's expression quickly sours; it appears he recognizes the ship quite clearly.
The camera lingers on Vyce's ship as it leaves the frame. Cut to credits. After the end of the credits, an ominous message appears, signalling the time remaining before Vyce arrives on Earth: V-Minus 42.