In Which I Fix the Problem of James Robinson and "Cry for Justice" Once and for All

I’ve been avoiding James Robinson’s “Cry for Justice” series — I read the first issue or two, didn’t like them, and decided not to waste my money on any more of them. I haven’t regretted it for a second.

And, well, we now know how it ended. Spoiler warning? Nah, who cares, I’m saving you from having to read it for yourself. Roy Harper, better known to DC readers as Speedy, Arsenal, and Red Arrow, gets an arm cut off by Prometheus, who later blows up a few cities and kills Roy’s five-year-old daughter Lian. Green Arrow kills Prometheus in retaliation.

Quite aside from Robinson’s increasingly hacktastic writing, this is an absolute giant metal vat of toxic, chemically-enhanced, acid-based crap.

As we’ve said multiple times before, DC wants to embrace its golden and silver ages, so we get Hal Jordan and Barry Allen returned to life, as well as promises of the “Brightest Day” series, but at the same time, they want everyone to think they’re hardcore tough guys. And because they’re immature morons, they think adult comics have to be drenched in gory violence and gratuitous sex.

I’m all in favor of sex and violence in comics. I’m in favor of sex and violence in all fiction, because they’re some of the prime motivators of human existence, and you’re completely mad if you try to bleed those out entirely.

But Robinson’s and DC’s creepy obsessions are quite a bit more than I want to read in a comic. I’m tired of reading superhero comics where the writers slaughter people and destroy cities to prove that their villains are unusually evil. I’m tired of comic writers who kill really awesome, cool, fun characters like Lian for the sake of cheap shock value. Lian’s death didn’t mean anything to Robinson — he needed something “shocking,” and his writing skills are apparently weak enough that the only way he knows how to shock or to motivate a character is with the tired, hoary cliche of killing off a supporting cast member.

Robinson’s “Starman” and “The Golden Age” are still some of the very best comics of the ’90s. But since then? Nothing but crap. Right now, if you pick up one of his comics on the strength of his past work on “Starman,” you’re going to get suckered into reading a bad comic book.

So here’s what I’m gonna do for you. From now on, everyone can safely consider everything that happened in “Cry for Justice” to be non-continuity. It never happened. Future writers may feel free to write stories in which Red Arrow has both arms, in which Lian Harper is still alive, in which Prometheus is still available to use as a character. “Cry for Justice” never happened, Robinson’s runs on “Justice League” or any other comic series never happened. Ignore everything he said, ’cause it never happened.

How can I do that, you may ask. How can I do that when I’m not a comic writer, when I’m not running DC, when I’m lucky to muster a hundred hits a day on the blog?

Here’s how I can do that: Because it’s the only answer that makes sense. In “Cry for Justice,” Ray “The Atom” Palmer tortures a guy by jumping around in his brain. In the mainstream DC Universe, he’s just been picked as an Indigo Tribe member because he’s compassionate. In “Cry for Justice,” Green Arrow gets the drop on Prometheus and plants an arrow between his eyes. In the mainstream DCU, Prometheus spanks Batman without that much effort. How do you reconcile “Cry for Justice” with everything else in the DCU? Pick the one that makes sense and decree that the other was just badly written fan-fiction. It’s a happy accident that picking the one with the non-jerkwad Ray Palmer and the non-inept Prometheus is also the one with the two-armed Red Arrow and the not-pointlessly-killed five-year-old moppet.

That, and it looks pretty likely that I’m a better writer than the current non-Starman version of James Robinson. At this point, we’re ALL better writers than the non-Starman James Robinson.

And that’s all there is to it, y’all. “Cry for Justice” never existed. Lian’s fine, Roy is fine. Go forward from that point from now on, and never pick up another comic by that hack James Robinson again.


  1. MetFanMac Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 7:05 am

    It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when “headon” (what you described) and fanon is immensely preferable to whatever the comic book companies are putting on the shelves.

  2. Scott Slemmons Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 7:42 am

    (looks deeply ashamed)

    I don’t even know what “headon” is. I thought it was the headache remedy you rub directly on your forehead… 🙁

  3. Sado Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    I think Headon is what happens when you drive into a retaining wall.

    Seems like a lot of comics these days need a near-immediate retcon. This, Spidey and Mephisto, etc.

  4. RAB Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

    “Quite aside from Robinson’s increasingly hacktastic writing, this is an absolute giant metal vat of toxic, chemically-enhanced, acid-based crap.”

    Beautifully put and I agree with every word. I agree with the whole post, but would add one thing: don’t be surprised if someday you reread Starman and see it suffers from the same weaknesses as Robinson’s later work. The good things were so good, and so novel at the time, to conceal the shortcomings. Looking back objectively, the stories were sometimes slow and ponderous, full of self-conscious Deep Meaning and Significance, and the dialogue and narration could be overly dense, awkward, and stilted. The problems were all there, but the comic gave us so many good things along with the bad that we overlooked the warning signs. Amazingly, Robinson found a way to eliminate the good bits and focus exclusively on the bad.

    (To be completely honest, though, I always hated The Golden Age and couldn’t get through the whole thing.)

  5. swampy Said,

    March 8, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

    I am interested in how Green Arrow has now crossed the line in deliberately killing a super villain and how the others will react.Superman has done it, Wonder Woman has done it, Green Lantern has done it..hmmmm

  6. Maxo Said,

    March 9, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    You’re a better man than me, Scott — I couldn’t get past the first issue of “Cry for Justice.” I’m a little curious to see where the new writer takes Green Arrow from here, but I hate the way DC got there in the first place. You’re right — “cheap” is the perfect way to sum it up.