Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - JLA Comics

Justice League: Cry For Justice #1 Justice League: Cry For Justice #1

Justice League: Cry For Justice #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 1, 2009

Cover date: September 2009

"Cry For Justice: The Beginning"

Writter: James Robinson
Penciller: Mauro Cascioli
Inker: Mauro Cascioli

"The Origin of Congorilla"

Writter: Len Wein
Penciller: Ardian Syaf
Inker: John Dell

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

"Cry For Justice: The Beginning"

Hal Jordan confronts the rest of the Justice League about their approach to fighting against the threats that non-powered police and military can't. Hal feels they are putting out fires instead of bringing the fight to the villains that would just as happily destroy them like Libra killed the Martian Manhunter or Darkseid killed Batman. Superman argues the point but Hal finally leaves to deal with the matter in his own way. Oliver Queen joins Hal out of dedication to their friendship.

Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi attack Killer Moth and his gang to get info on who orchestrated the theft of the Time Pool technology and why Moth and crew tortured Mike Dante, an old friend of Palmer's. Using his shrinking ability Ray gets the name of the man behind it all; Prometheus.

In Opal City the former Starman Mikaal Tomas visits the body of his friend Tony who was "collateral damage" in an attack on a S.T.A.R. Labs facility while visiting his parents in New York. Mikaal compliments the mortician on the fine work before leaving and after a small tantrum begins his search for those responsible for Tony's death.

In Africa Congorilla mourns the slaughter of his troop and bids them all a sad farewell. Freedom Beast stumbles on to the scene and tells Congorilla that he tried to stop those responsible for the troops' deaths and be the hero he was learning to be. After Freedom Beast dies Congorilla leaps away, crying out for justice.

5Story - 5: I'm just going to say it.

This book was worth the wait.

After delays, somewhat dodgy continuity and I will admit a good deal of anticipation CRY FOR JUSTICE has finally hit and I was very happy with the result. Seriously. I have not enjoyed the first issue of a book like this in a very long time and that was such a good feeling to have. It was almost hard to stay objective and while I did have two problems that would normally have made my overall score lower the sheer visceral thrill I got from reading the book far outweighed those concerns.

The first concern comes from the sometimes heavy handed nature of the writing. All of the main players in this book are angry. Really, really mad. They have had enough and are not going to take it anymore. Men who are up to no good have hurt the people these heroes care for and a frosty can of...well you about to be opened up. Hal, Ray, Mikaal and Congorilla all express either in dialogue or thought panels that they are after one thing; JUSTICE! Once was good, twice made sense, three times I started to lose focus and the final cry for...well... justice made me a little tired of all of the posturing and chest thumping by the end of the issue. Here's the thing though; as repetitious as it got it also produced this strong swelling of righteous anger within me. I related to it on a deep and personal level. It reminded me of Black Adam's journey in the pages of 52. I got behind what the characters were feeling and the fact that they have been pushed to a new level.

Was it a bit out of character? Maybe. I never thought of Ray Palmer as the type of guy to say something like, "Welcome to pain!" but considering the events of the last few years I can't says as I blame him. His ex-wife that he still had feelings for killed the wife of one of his best friends just so they could spend some time together (yes, that was an oversimplification) and then became an all-powerful bad guy or girl I guess. Ray has had a bad time of it. So his change in behavior makes perfect sense but that is kind of beside the point. The older I get the more I believe that most characters need to act "out of character" because if they stayed "in character" all of the time there would be no drama. No one acts the same all of the time. Experiences, both good and bad, shape us and change us and sometimes a tragedy can cause a person to go out of their mind. So while Ray's behavior was a bit over the top I can get behind what the characters were feeling.

That line of thinking leads into my second concern, which is the fact that the impetus of this brave, new League is that Hal Jordan thinks that the team should be more proactive, especially after the deaths of J'onn and Bruce. At first it kind of bugged me. Oddly enough it bugged me because I thought it was out of character for him to act this way. This was before I had to remind myself where I stand on that issue but for a few minutes there I went through a series of thoughts that sounded a lot like, "You know, Hal's a cop at heart. Sure he's a hot head and has been something of a maverick as a Green Lantern but he seems kind of by the book to me. Heck, the organization he belongs to is extremely reactive, so it seems kind of weird that he uses his status as a Green Lantern to say that he is going to go after the bad guys before another hero goes down is just kind of funky." But after the whole character/out of character debate raged once more in my head I started looking at it from another, broader perspective.

When you consider the evolution of characterization in comics we went from characters serving the plot to the plot serving the character. For a few decades there (the sixties through the nineties, again generally speaking) we were given stories where the protagonist had a set personality and the stories revolved around that. What would this event or that death do to our hero? How would he or she react? For the past five years or so a new type of characterization has come into some of the more mainstream books; characterization by story design. If James Robinson wants to tell a story where Hal forms a new League to be more proactive then Hal's personality will shift to suit that idea.

This goes into a larger theory I have about the fact that comic book storytelling has shifted to the point where a single story, even if it leads into something larger, is more important than over arcing continuity. There can be call backs to previous stories and such, but what is most imperative is that the characters be allowed the room to breathe and react properly to what is going on. The five to eight issues that the stories take place in are what is most important, not the future and not the past.

This makes sense with how stories are distributed these days because comics are turned into collected editions as soon as an arc ends the story inside has the potential to reach a wider audience than it would have ten to twenty years ago. A person picking up a trade in Barnes and Noble or off Amazon needs to be able to read that story and not have to worry all that much with the previous years sometimes decades worth of continuity. There is the likelihood that four years from now a person that has either never read a comic or maybe hasn't read a comic in years will pick up CRY FOR JUSTICE in a collected edition and he or she won't care that Hal is "acting out of character". They'll read it and take the story on its own merits and in the broader sense the series will live on longer because of that wider distribution.

Is that a good thing? Well, a part of me is feeling cranky and wants to start complaining about how comics were better when I was young and that these darn kids with their digital cameras and Facebook pages should stop playing on my lawn but the more rational side is like, "Hey, as long as I like the story and the medium has a shot at near literary immortality it's all good."

A third concern that just occurred to me is that we are one issue in and only half the team has been introduced. This thing is only seven issues long. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of time, but I could be wrong about that.

Other than those points I was very impressed with this first issue. Robinson hooked me. There was a lot of energy to the writing. The events seemed to matter. It reminded me of his work on STARMAN where even the most minor of plot points was so freaking interesting. I like the fact that the established characters are getting thrown in with the more esoteric ones. Who would have thought that Congorilla could have been the character I felt the most for? It is a tribute to Robinson's skill as a writer that this happened.

I also dug the text piece at the end. I miss those. I also miss letters pages almost as much as text pieces giving the behind the scenes stuff as well.

I am genuinely excited about where this story is going. I like the other characters that have yet to be introduced and I look forward to seeing how they all interact and where the plot is going to take us.

5Art - 5: I didn't think I would feel this way but the art in this first issue was amazing.

In some ways this series feels like an amped up, in continuity sequel to Alex Ross' JUSTICE series and that has almost entirely to do with the painted art in this series. It's not that Cascioli and Ross draw in the same manner, but the fact that both stories were painted and the fact the characters, even the obscure ones, had that iconic feel made a comparison of the two artists almost impossible for me to ignore.

This is not to say that Mauro Cascioli is a poor man's Alex Ross. Far from it. I really dug his style when I was reading the TRIALS OF SHAZAM and that hasn't changed at all. Not only is his storytelling very strong he has a good handle on the subtle expressions as well as the broader outrage and righteous anger most of the characters were feeling. I like his take on Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen in addition to the rest of the League. I also liked his versions of the lesser known members of this new League, such as the seventies Starman and especially Congorilla. Given the tone of the series a more traditional comic book approach to the animal kingdom would have seemed out of place. Mauro took the time to get the finer detail of not only Congorilla but the other members of his troop as well.

As much as I am looking forward to the rest of the story I am eagerly awaiting the art as well.

"The Origin of Congorilla"

Congo Bill was a legendary explorer and adventurer who received a magic ring from his old friend Chief Kawalo on the Chief's deathbed. Bill didn't buy into the superstition and magic of the ring until he became trapped in a cave-in. With no means of escape Bill's only hope was to try to use the ring and after rubbing it his mind was put into the body of the mythical Golden Gorilla. Bill freed his body and started a new life of adventure and excitement.

4Story - 4: As in 52 this origin was short but sweet. It gave us the bare bones origin and did so in an entertaining way. This was a real surprise too because I wasn't expecting it. Robinson indicated that there may be more of these and I for one hope there are.

4Art - 4: This was a definite departure from the art in the main story but I enjoyed it just the same. There wasn't much of a story in this origin but it served its purpose. Congo Bill suffers from being a dark haired man with a pencil thin mustache, so the comparisons to other characters like Tony Stark spring to mean. The reason I don't harp on the subject is that Bill came first and there were dozens of other similar looking characters at the time. Congorilla had a lot more detail than I thought he would and I really enjoyed the facial expressions Syaf and Dell brought to both characters.

5Cover Art - 5: I'll go over both covers at once since they form one image.

This is an impressive piece of art. Yes it is yet another, "Hey, let's put out two covers and maybe sell two copies of the same book," maneuver that both Marvel and DC have been doing of late but the nice thing about that maneuver is that it is a choice and in all honesty I bought both covers to this issue because I couldn't decide which one to get.

So you win this round, DC.

Honestly I'm glad I did. As I previously mentioned Mauro Cascioli is fantastic artist and has succeeded in producing a wallpaper worthy image or images when you factor in the fact that it was split into two. The heroes look dynamic and the "faces of villainy" behind them promise an exciting story. Sure only five of the characters appeared inside this first issue but that really doesn't matter to me. This cover succeeded in getting me jazzed about this series.

And Lex Luthor looks like Kevin Spacey. In fact, that looks like a reverse image version of that first picture that was released back when most of us were starved for any information about the then upcoming SUPERMAN RETURNS.

Then again that could just be me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2009

February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.