Thursday, 2 July 2009

Justice League: Cry For Justice #1

Green Lantern Hal Jordan lays down the law to the Justice League, annoyed that the team isn't proactive enough in terms of going after villains and ending their threat for good. He reminds them that as the local representative of the Guardians of the Universe, he is the law. And he's going to step up before more heroes such as Batman and the Martian Manhunter get killed. So, with the ever-loyal Green Arrow, he exits the League satellite to do ... something. If you're not with him, you're against him, apparently, and Ollie so wants to be against him. Rubbing.

The reduced version: GL throws a hissy fit and tosses his toys out of the pram. Ollie is gay for Hal.

Let's look at this again. While Hal has in the past told the Guardians where to stick their rules, and led segments of the Corps in battle, he is at heart a company man. Not only does he follow regularly stupid Guardian orders, he's a disciplined member of the USAF. Yet here he's unhappy with his third team and rather than properly talk the whole thing over, quits after a discussion that must take all of two minutes. It's not convincing - either he's a man who respects rules, or he isn't. While claiming to be the former, here he's demonstrably the latter.

I'd say he was showing uncharacteristic disrespect here for Black Canary, one of his oldest friends and current League leader, but writer James Robinson ignores her status here. Rather than being front and centre, and calling Hal out, she's whispering in the background to her husband as Hal addresses, basically, Superman and Wonder Woman. As for what Ollie - not even a current League member - is doing pledging his loyalty to Hal, rather than standing by his wife, heaven knows. I'm also not sure why Supergirl and Plastic Man are, silently, on hand, although the former is slated to join Hal's new team.

The rest of the issue features vignettes of GLJL members to be - there's Ray Palmer, teaming up with former Atom placeholder Ryan Choi; Starman Mikaal Tomas visiting a funeral home; and Congorilla facing his own tragedies. Each scene ends with the formerly mild-mannered heroes deciding that they want . . . JUSTICE. Say it loud, JUSTICE! Their reasons are, to be honest, rather contrived. Starman's boyfriend has been murdered, Congorilla's old pal B'wana - sorry, Freedom - Beast has likewise been slaughtered and, er, a scientist pal of Ray Palmer's that we've never heard of has also been killed by criminals. Gawd, couldn't they get his old lab assistant Enrichetta Negrini out of mothballs and kill her? I always liked her, how can she still be alive?

Like Hal's outburst, these heroes' reasons to be cheerless are less than compelling. Heck, if losing not one Jean Loring, but two (>ahem Countdown<) weren't enough to make Ray Palmer shrinking violent, the death of some acquaintance isn't going to to do it. And never mind his having debuted in comics in 1940, in the DCU Congo Bill has been active in Africa for many a decade, so why would a bunch of poachers suddenly get his gorilla dander up? As for Mikaal, wasn't he meant to be a lovely hippy space alien?

Will we have more of the same next issue? The team members sure look annoyed in the banner house ad currently adorning DC message boards. Is this going to be Grrreen Lantern, Grrreen Arrow, Supergrrrl, Congrrrilla, the angriest Leagrrrs of them all? I do hope not - if I wanted scowling, ill-motivated maverick heroes I'd dig out my old issues of Extreme Justice. As this is Robinson, I actually have extreme optimism, I am the Super-Pollyanna. But next issue needs to be a lot better than this one if I'm going to stay on board. No more unconvincing motivations. No more 'we-don't-care' editing. No more horrible sub-Superman/Batman (who knew that was even possible?) back and forth man-crush dialogue involving the Atoms. And a reminder that these characters have smarts as well as guts.

Mauro Cascioli's illustrations are impressive, realistic and intense, perfect for a grim and gritty throwback title such as this. It's more natural than much painted art, with no obvious model shots a la Alex Ross. I prefer more traditional linework in my superhero comics, but he's put an awful lot of work in and I'll certainly be looking at this book again and again.

I'll give issue #2 a try, but a word to the wise - if Ollie Queen calls Hal Jordan 'baby' again, I'm out of here.

1 comment:

  1. I was SO upset that Dinah (Black Canary) wasn't acknowledged as JLA chairperson! It's been brought up in the main title, but not a whisper in this series. No respect!

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