Monday, November 15, 2010

In defence of Cry For Justice

Caution - big spoilers ahead.
I decided to re-read it the other day, for the humour.  And then I realised something, so many bloggers talk about it like it's absolute crap, but that's not a particularly accurate representation of it.

I admit, when I first read it I found the first few issues hilarious.  The dialogue and the narration seemed quite, quite funny, and not intentionally so.  On a re-read, with the benefit of hindsight and having had time to mull it over, I can see more nuances in it that I didn't see before.

Some of the narration in the first couple of issues if pretty dire, especially that around Congorilla and Mik.  The dialogue, on the other hand shows real wit and a deft handling of (some of) the characters.  A lot of it is banter - teasing between friends, mocking each other, being comfortable with each other.  It seems to me to portray a group of people who are comfortable in themselves and with each other and have the confidence within them to speak as they see fit.  A lot of the dialogue is very natural.  It showed to me how Robinson could be really really good, and probably was in Starman.

Ollie's repetition of 'Oh Boy' in issue number 1 seems real, as does Dinah's reaction to him.  What doesn't fit later on is when Ollie tells Dinah 'Pretty've just turned real ugly' because Dinah told him off for running off with Hal.  I don't think Ollie should be that cruel and petulant.

There are still things I don't like - Ray Palmer using torture, the killing and skinning of the Tasmanian Devil, Roy's maiming and Lian's death (which wasn't fully explored and was, I still feel, dealt with badly).  Ollie and Hal deciding to go on another walkabout also didn't make a lick of sense, especially Ollie.  To reconcile this in my head I think I shall have to believe that Ollie has been pining for the old days and has wanted to do something different and juvenile, so Hal's offer came along at just the right time.

I am pleased by Kara's detective powers in the series, not just as a Kara fan but also because It would seem to complement and back up her science training as seen in her own book.  I am not best pleased by her crying as soon as Hal questioned her motives - that seemed bizarre.  Although possibly it could have been improved with a different artist - imagine her being shown to be crying tears of frustration instead of sorrow.  Compare this with Kara's developing crush on Freddie which was nicely handled.

The other thing which impressed me as much as it did the first time, was Donna saving the day.  Despite being crucified to a wall, despite being shot in the leg with an arrow, the way she barrelled through there and took Prometheus down took my breath away.  That is the single most impressive thing I have seen Donna do, and it was joyous.  It gave me new respect for her as a character.

The last couple of things to mention about the plot (and then I will move onto the art) is that on a re-read, with knowledge of the new Justice League about to be formed, this story makes a lot more sense.  You can see why and how things were set up the way they were and it feels more satisfying when you know where it will lead.

Then there's Ollie killing of Prometheus - I wrote at the time this issue came out that this did seem in character for Ollie.  In his own book he'd been getting darker and more savage for a long time.  I didn't particularly like this new direction, I prefer a happier, confident more carefree Ollie, but we got some good stories out of it and I continued to read and enjoy it.  On re-read, I still think that this is in character for him, as he was being written at the time.

Now, the art.  I think this book would have been very much improved (for myself), with a different artist(s).

Mauro Cascioli does paint some very pretty pictures, but there's not a lot of movement in them.  It's static  - each panel looks like a snapshot.  I prefer my comic art to have an air of movement about it.  He also doesn't always manage to convey expressions or feelings to the same degree that simpler, less complicated pencil lines can do.  For me, this is a negative.  Others may feel differently.  Then there's his tendency to draw women's costumes with really high knicker lines, to the extent that I can tell they've all shaved or waxed to at least a Brazilian standard, if they haven't had it all taken off.  This is purely a political viewpoint of mine, I don't expect everyone else to agree with it.  On the plus side, although he can't draw realistic clothes (in terms of how they hang and fold) the bodies he draws are of a more realistic body shape, which is something that simpler drawings always achieve.

For the last 3 issues we had Scott Clark provide a lot of the art.  It appears that Clark is trying to ape Cascioli's style but he doesn't quite have the ability or finesse to pull it off.   The art isn't detailed enough, there's less character and expression in his subject's faces and the women are even more (and needlessly) sexed up.  There's a particularly bad panel of Speedy, here, where for some reason she appears to be posing on a rooftop with her bow.  It would make more sense if she had an arrow in her hand, but she doesn't.

, fun fluff.  It's not groundbreaking.  The idea of heroes stopping the bad guys before they do something really bad was done in Justice League Elite.  There's lots of bad editorial decisions, but I can see why Robinson has so many fans.  There's a hint of greatness in there that was stifled and overshadowed by many poor events.


SallyP said...

Cry for Justice drives me nuts. As you say, the first few issues were quite hilarious, and I was prepared to enjoy the whole thing in a campy sort of way. And then it took quite a turn, and all fell apart, which was a darned shame.

But Robinson CAN write when he feels like it.

notintheface said...

I agree with some of the high points you described, but even those had some holes:

1. Supergirl's detective skills were cool, but they were then offset by how stupidly Kara was taken down by Prometheus. (Hint to Kara: When somebody with Prometheus' rep shoots a projectile at you, use your super-speed and GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.)

2. Donna's beatdown on Prometheus was a highlight, but it begs the question of how she alone was able to get the drop on him. My theory: Prometheus said he considered Hawkman one of the most dangerous JLAers, so maybe his secret weakness is heroes with clusterfuck origins.

Saranga said...

@notintheface: Well, Kara's bright, but her reflexes aren't always up to scratch. That's my theory.

As for Donna, I put it down to speed and brute strength. He had marked her as dealt with so didn't think to watch out for her. Hence she was able to barrel into him and take him down.

But I think I like your origin theory better.