The Sound of One Hand Clapping
SPOILERS FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRY FOR JUSTICE #5 AHOY
You’ve either seen or heard what happened in last week’s issue of Justice League: Cry for Justice #5 by now. In the last few pages, an apparently mind-controlled Freddy “Shazam!” Freeman is revealed to have ripped off Roy “Red Arrow” Harper’s right arm above the elbow. Supergirl cauterizes the wound with her heat vision prior to taking on Freddy (whom it would seem is doing the bidding of Prometheus) on the final page. I have a variety of thoughts on this, so I’ll just separate them out and take them one at a time.
Is this a big deal in the DCU?
One of my first thoughts, after “Really?”, was “Is limb loss a big deal in the DCU?” Granted, you’ve got a lot of characters that have lost one limb or another over time, but does that mean Roy will be forced to be armless, a la Ollie in “The Dark Knight Returns”? If he is, I’d have to kinda call bullshit.
Why’s that? Because Roy is teammate of long-standing with Cyborg, who has had most of his body rebuilt repeatedly. Acquaintance Mr. Bones sporting a cybernetic leg back in the ‘80s. And that’s just the beginning. The thought that a Justice Leaguer couldn’t be immediately outfitted with a rockin’ cybernetic arm is kinda laughable. And if I’m not mistaken, Roy actually holds his bow with his LEFT arm, meaning that he’d be doing the pull with his right hand. Imagine the test you could put on that bow if you had a powerful robot arm pulling back; Roy would be able to put a conventional arrow with a proper head through a tank.
You could also consider this from another angle. In the DCU, would it be impossible to grow a new limb for Roy or reattach a limb? Between Dr. Mid-Nite, Mr. Terrific, and various other experts, labs and even mystics, are we supposed to think that they couldn’t fix that? Superboy was a complete clone. Other characters have been cloned or woven from whole material (Baby Wildebeest, to use a Titans example). I suppose the counter-argument would be, “Why didn’t they do that for Risk after Infinite Crisis?” Answer: he was right; no one likes him.
SPOILER PUPPIES Are Hiding Roy's Fate. Click To Reveal!This is a big deal to readers.
A lot of fans feel betrayed by what they see as the frequent maiming and killing of heroes that they enjoy following. And Roy’s not exactly a new guy; he’s been around in some form for 68 years as of last month. The most obvious manifestation of this discontent where the Justice League is concerned in centered around characters associated with the Justice League International. In recent years, Blue Beetle II, Rocket Red, and more have been killed off. Most recently, Tasmanian Devil, a JLI supporting player and one of the few gay super-heroes in the DCU, was killed and skinned for a rug by the villain of this very series. While it’s a truth of both comics and the real world that terrible things happen to heroes, a number of readers feel disenfranchised when actions have been taken to these extremes.
Also, for a character with a lengthy history and presence in the DCU, the move (which could be very easily overturned, as noted above) feels a lot more like a cheap shock, an easy jolt to punch up a cliffhanger. In recent years, that seems more likely to frustrate and anger fans rather than get them back for the next thing.
What would an one-armed Roy add to the DCU?
This, set against points one and two, is another thing that bothers me. At least with one of the most horrific permanent injuries in comics, the shooting of Barbara Gordon, the character fulfilled a solid purpose as Oracle. One supposes that someone of Roy’s spirit wouldn’t forsake adventuring due the partial loss of a limb, but you’re opening up multiple cans of worms if you try to do that. Certainly, in real life, people like Rick Allen and Dave Dravecky have either returned to their former profession or found purpose in the aftermath of such a loss. However, there are obvious dangers associated with having a one-armed adventurer, and the possibility of derision, parody, or good intentions gone awry run rampant.
Why are archer families hard to keep together?
To be honest, I’ve been kind of mystified by the way that Ollie’s extended family has been treated since he and Canary got married. Connor was nearly assassinated, basically lobotomized for a while, had his power-set changed, and was shuffled off to limbo. Mia was gone for months, only turning up again recently. Arrowette’s been in limbo for years at this point. And now Roy’s had his arm ripped off. At least they haven’t put Ollie in prison to jibe with the long-festering “SuperMax” script, but there HAS been this bizarre marriage breakdown that he and Dinah have gone through when he ran off with Hal at the beginning of this mini after Hal FINALLY realized that super-villains have been killing heroes. No shit, Hal; if you remember, you had a fair bit of heroic blood on your hands too. It’s not exactly news. Hell, it wasn’t the first time that someone on the League had been killed while you WERE alive. Remember Clark in’92? How about Vibe and Steel, or did they not count because they weren’t in the Satellite Club (and yes, Hal did work alongside that League, at least in JLA #250 that I recall off the top of my head)? If there’s some kind of master plan that dictates that Ollie is better as the Grell-flavored driven loner, then why did they even go in the marriage direction in the first place?
So what do you think, readers? Is this a temporary turn with a quick fix? What does this do to your opinion of “Cry” as a whole? Let’s talk.