Justice League – Cry for Justice: A Very Short Review

This seven-issue series will doubtless appear soon in trade paper format, and is the kickoff of this summer’s Big DC Event, which is going to revolve around Green Arrow.  It is a crazy idea.  This story is seriously flawed, and bodes very badly for the upcoming spinoffs.  Certainly you, dear reader, could save yourself some money by avoiding Cry for Justice — we’ll have to see about the comics to come.

The overarching flaw with this series is neatly summarized here. We could argue that the commodification of violence and abuse is a problem plaguing society as a whole, and is not limited to comics alone — heaven knows all you need to do is to turn on talk radio or go to Capitol Hill yesterday to hear billingsgate that used to be beyond the pale.  However, we must tend our own garden here and focus on the Justice League.

My complaint today is that not only is Cry for Justice violence-porn, it’s stupid with it.  I carefully reread all the issues in one sitting, to be sure.  The story is full of holes.  And it is really badly told.  Characters flit in and out pointlessly; themes begun in the first issue or two peter out without resolution; people who appear to be the protagonists vanish completely and inexplicably.  It is as if the script leaped from first draft to publication without a rewrite.  Or, more probably, there was hamhanded editorial interference — insisting on gratuitous killings of characters, for instance. (“We have to kill his grand-daughter, so that he can have a breakdown for our summer event!”)  Even the artist changes by the last issue.  There is no unity to it.  This is fatal.

A good example of the failure of thought is the villain of the entire piece, one Prometheus.  (You haven’t heard of him? Not to worry.  Nor has anybody; he’s a cipher.)  Comic books can get away with a lot, but Prometheus is a notably motivation-free villain.  Can you just go around killing people and manipulating your fellow rogues’ gallery chums without some plan in mind?  Apparently you can — just for the hell of it.   Resources and powers just appear as you need them, without cost or stress.  The villain exists solely as a plot driver, without the slightest pretense to realism or sense.

You can’t insult my intelligence this way, guys.  Readers of these reviews will know that I am kindly to a fault, as sweet as cherry pie with a lattice on top.  But this one is a double thumbs down!

(Totally off-topic PS:  I am going to be speaking  on writing and SF at the main branch of Norfolk Public Library, on E. Plume Street in downtown Norfolk, VA, this coming Saturday afternoon.  Everybody who reads this is invited!)


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About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Justice League – Cry for Justice: A Very Short Review — 2 Comments

  1. When I was working in comics there was a free-floating ongoing dialogue going on about what kind of motivations a Bad Guy had to have to be Bad, and whether a Bad Guy could just be Bad sui generis (like Hannibal Lecter pre-Hannibal) or had to have a psychologically complex backstory. My answer, helpfully, was usually: Yes. By which I meant that you could go either way; for the purpose of the story, what a Bad Guy had to have, more than backstory or dossier, was a Reason for what he’s doing. Doesn’t have to be a sane reason (the Joker likes to cause trouble. It gets him off. He particularly likes to cause trouble for Batman, and to cause him pain. It’s not a good reason but it’s a compelling one), but it has to be a reason (hell, Adrian Veidt thinks he’s saving the world).

    This trend toward “let’s rip out guts–it’s so edgy” makes me irritable…

  2. It’s almost impossible to convincingly upgrade a third-tier villain, too. If he’s so gosh-darn stupendous, how come the Teen Titans mopped the floor with him year after year? And, if you are a Secret Villain out to Destroy the Justice League, why are you recruiting losers and wannabes to do your evil will? A man is only as good as his tools.

    IMO it is better STYLE to invent a villain de novo, rationale and all, and hope he takes.