SPOILERS AHOY! Warning, there are SPOILERS for CRY FOR JUSTICE #7 Below. Do not continue reading if you haven't read #7 and don't want to be SPOILED.Justice League: Cry For Justice #7
Written by James Robinson
Art by Mauro Cascioli, Scott Clark, and Ibraim Roberson
Published by DC Entertainment
Justice League: Cry For Justice #7 is certainly destined to go down as the capstone of the Dan DiDio era of DC Comics. While the pendulum has certainly swung in both directions over the past five years, the DiDio regime's penchant for wanton death, destruction, and outright carnage has never been more evident than in this, the final chapter of James Robinson's post-modern Justice League opus. While issue #5 gained instant notoriety for the fate that befell Roy Harper, what happens to his daughter, his foster father, his home city, and the man responsible for the entire affair will certainly propel issue #7 to the forefront of the market.
In the course of 22 pages, James Robinson deconstructs the entire Green Arrow mythos, killing Lian Harper outright, destroying Star City and decimating it's population, and betraying what few values still remained for Ollie Queen by placing an emerald fletched arrow directly between the eyes of Prometheus. Yes, Oliver Queen is a murderer, and the villain that James Robinson touted as the most credible threat in the DCU is his victim.
The storytelling throughout the series has fallen remarkably flat. Panels often feel out of sequence, dialogue just seems to float in out of nowhere, and characters often feel non-existent. This is especially apparent here, where the presence of at least three interior artists does no favors for the pace and flow of the issue. It appears as though the series' main artist, Mauro Cascioli, contributed only the first, and two final pages of the book. Incidentally, those three pages are the best of the entire issue. While Cascioli's art has often been frustrating, it is at least distinctive and stylized, and often well executed.
The two fill-in artists who contribute fail remarkably in this issue. Scott Clark and Ibraim Roberson do their best to match Cascioli's style, but neither has his flair, nor his grasp of anatomy and composition. In particular, the double page spread where all players present argue over whether to turn Prometheus free in exchange for the codes needed to save their cities feels crammed and flat, and the scene of the two Flashes, Jay and either Wally or Barry (I'm honestly not sure who, nor when the issue takes place), features some very poor figure drawing.
For his part, Robinson has managed to pull things together a little bit over the last two issues. The revelation of Prometheus's identity, and his scheme were dastardly enough, and after reading last issue, I almost wished that (minus the gore), this had simply been the first arc of a burgeoning series as was originally planned. Now, I feel cheated again, wishing that this book had spent much more time focusing on Green Arrow, and less on characters such as Mikaal and Congorilla, who never really came into their own throughout the series.
I do give Robinson credit for several things with this series; for one, he successfully affected actual changes to the DCU. How those are felt remains to be seen, as they have yet to crop up outside of this title, but actual status quo altering events have taken place. Further, I feel as though his intent, which I believe was to tell a silver-age style story with modern sensibilities, comes across far better than some of the recent efforts by his peers to do the same. At least the motivations were clear, and the directive fully visualized.The results of his experiment are, however, abominable. The marriage of styles is so jarring that it serves only to make the violence that much more shocking. The death of Lian Harper, in particular, feels hollow and spiteful. While it is mentioned again over the course of the issue, the scene in which Oliver Queen holds her lifeless body feels emotionless and condescending, simply begging for our hearts to skip a beat while refusing to let the moment find resonance, instead moving forward at a throwaway pace while Green Arrow musters the strength to concede that there is no choice but to free Prometheus to save those who still live in Star City. In this moment, Green Arrow shows remarkable but reluctant restraint, thinking for once of the big picture and less about himself and his own emotions.
What comes next, however, flies in the face of all that, as James Robinson seems almost driven to relegate Oliver Queen to the same place that his friend Hal Jordan once occupied after the destruction of Coast City.
Green Arrow's willingness to murder Prometheus, and his execution of the act are perhaps the most actually shocking and satisfying bits of the story. As Prometheus waltzed casually out of the JLA's satellite, I honestly felt a bit of rage. How could this happen? Why didn't they simply take the codes and recapture him? Of course he had contingency plans for their attacks, but the script made it seems as though the team had already gotten the codes when they let him leave. I was expecting to find that the next chapter in Robinson's story, wherever that may lie, would focus on the hunt for Prometheus, but upon turning the page, my anger was sated by as visceral and cold a murder as any committed by its victim in these seven issues. I can't help but wonder if the sense of vindication I felt at this scene made me as cheap and as garish as the book itself often seemed, but I wonder, was that Robinson's intent all along? To justify the breakdown of Oliver Queen and his family by tossing us into a maelstrom of effectively worsening scenarios? Have we as an audience been tricked into a Michael Bay-like last kiss, asteroid heading to earth, cue Aerosmith moment of self-righteous fury? My guess is that yes, we absolutely have.
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