By James Robinson (writer), Mauro Cascioli (artist)
The Story: Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, tells the assembled JLA that he’s had enough and that it’s time to put the justice back into the Justice League and to take the fight to those who make the evil in the world. However, not many are willing to follow where he’s headed. At the same time, Ray Palmer (the Atom), Mikaal Tomas and Congo Bill come to views very similar to Green Lantern’s.
What’s Good: Almost everything. Robinson starts us off with a very strong concept: that some heroes are taking the initiative. They’re not going to act like police respecting Miranda rights; they’re going to take the informal war between good and evil on the offensive. This is a very “mature reader” perspective to bring to such an iconic series. which has been long overdue. It’s similar to the switch that detective fiction took in the 1920’s when American writers found the British cozy mysteries too contrived and artificial and instead introduced the gritty, realistic American detective that had to confront brutal criminals in violent ways. This is the can of whoop-ass that is going to put the JLA at the center stage of the comic book industry for months.
The concept of justice itself is very emotional and it allows Robinson and Cascioli to shine some powerful lights into the inner worlds of Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Atom, Congorilla, and Mikaal. The emotions they uncover are raw and visceral, making the storytelling powerful both in words and pictures.
Speaking of pictures, where has Mauro Cascioli been all my life? He’s freaking awesome! The lighting is brilliant and he’s got some tricks of shadowing and light that put such texture onto the page that you have to see to believe. And if you really need convincing (as if the cover doesn’t convince you), look at the flashbacks of Batman and Martian Manhunter tragedies. Look at the billowing clouds of fire and smoke bursting out of a car. Look at Congorilla’s face! The art is just unbelievable!
I also loved Robinson’s message to the readers at the end. He tells us what JLA: Cry for Justice is about, what he thinks it will do and where the characters are coming from. And to top it off, we got a punchy little Len Wein/ Ardian Syaf/ John Dell two-pager at the end on the origin of Congorilla.
What’s Not So Good: My only compaint, other than some slightly over-developed biceps in places, were two pieces of clunky dialogue. My pet peeve is when dialogue is used to tell readers something that the other characters on the page already know. It’s just not genuine. Superman indulges in some (“We all know exactly who and what we’ve lost”) and so does a mortician (“I guess you know the details. He was visiting….”). These are tiny notes in an otherwise flawless symphony.
Conclusion: JLA: Cry for Justice is expected to do big things for the DCU and set up conditions for Robinson when he takes over the main JLA title. This is big stuff and it shows. Buy this book!
A Second Opinion
Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 is a lot like the majority of comic books throughout the 90s; the art shines, and the story/ writing tanks. Each subplot reeks of a lack of originality, inconvenience, camp, and unimportance.
In the part where Hal Jordan calls out the Justice League, and decides to serve his own brand of justice, the dialogue is made up corny and cliche banter. With phrases like, “You and me. Old times, new times, all the time.” and “I’m saying this will not stand. I’m saying they hurt us, we hurt them back,” Robinson is unforgiving in shoving stock moments down our throats.
In the second part where the Atoms are raising hell in a dive bar, it’s text box galore, where Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi take turns jocking one another, just like Superman and Batman in Public Enemies. It’s unoriginal, and it’s annoying to read the same words from each character… Robinson fails to give Ryan Choi a memorable voice, while the faux-badass attitude he has tagged on Ray Palmer is laughable. “He’s a hero. I’m Ray Palmer. Welcome to pain.” WTF?!
As for Congo Bill/ Congorilla, who gives a shit? It’s obvious that DC and Robinson knew he is/ was going to be the least cared about character in this book; which is why they had to throw in a last minute origin wiki at the end. Are we really going to be seeing origin tales for characters that we should already know and care about?
It’s unfortunate that this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I was duped into thinking that this was going to be one serious story with “Identity Crisis like” themes and situations. Instead, I got a book that features a poorly written tale and an article in the end from the writer in which he tries to assure me that what I’m reading is going to matter.