Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Justice League: Rise and Fall (comics)

Writer: JT Krul
Artists: Diogenes Neves, Mike Mayhew and numerous others
Collects: Justice League: Rise and Fall #1, Green Arrow vol. 4 #31-32, Rise of Arsenal #1-4*

Don't let the title fool you. No one "rises" in this book and the Justice League has nothing to do with it. The only thing to be witnessed here are a couple downward spirals.

After the events of "Cry for Justice" - the most hated miniseries of the past five years - the Arrow family is in a bad place. Roy's lost both his arm and his daughter. Green Arrow has killed the man responsible and knows he's likely to lose everything. The elevator only goes down from here.

I actually have some sympathy for JT Krul and I'm willing to give him a bit of a pass for this. While the prospect of writing Green Arrow must have been enticing, he had to clean up a mess or two first. This entire volume hinges on the events of Cry for Justice, a story that essentially carpet bombed everything that had been done with Green Arrow in recent years. Krul was being handed the keys to a broken kingdom.

The Green Arrow half of the book finishes off whatever Cry for Justice didn't. There's a real feeling of "putting the toys back in the box" here. Connor Hawke reverts to resenting Ollie, his "family" of characters is splintering, his secret identity is blown, the Robin Hood motifs seem to be coming back into play and he's an outlaw in his own city. Oh, and Black Canary visits him in prison to leave her ring behind, telling him their marriage is over**. Yeah.

It's less a story and more of an epilogue to Cry for Justice. Obviously, the final act of that miniseries required some measure of follow-up, but I'm not sure this happened to be the most entertaining way to go about it. If they couldn't come up with anything, they could have just gone the Batman & Robin route with the new GA series; jump right in and give a few lines explaining how we got there.

Mixed is the best way I can describe my feelings. I got the impression this was DC's way of taking Green Arrow back to the old Mike Grell status quo. While that's not exactly a bad thing, I don't think all of this was necessary to get there.

The other half is "Rise of Arsenal". I don't even know what to think about this one. There's some merit to the concept, especially the relapse; it's pretty much fact that most recovering addicts will relapse at least once. It's a lifelong struggle; in Roys case the trauma he'd just gone through doesn't exactly help.

On the other hand, it isn't handled well; I can buy into his sorrows and nightmares over his daughter, but the book completely lost me with the hallucinations, which actually start way before he's back on anything. His worst one actually happens after he decides it would be a great idea to go chasing the dragon; I'm not particularly knowledgeable about drugs, but I'm pretty sure heroin is not supposed to cause a hardcore fight-your-best-friend-to-the-death hallucination. Not unless it's cut with something else, which doesn't seem very likely.

Some unintentionally hilarious moments abound, though. During the biggest hallucination, we find out that Roy nearly killed three guys protecting a dead cat he thought was his daughter. Better still, I'm this close to absolving this storyline of all it's sins for giving me the phrase "whoring through space with Kyle Rayner". It was directed at Donna Troy, but I can't help imagining the male version of it would be Captain Kirk and Kyle tag teaming any and all alien women across the galaxy.

That a comic of this does not exist is a crime; DC needs to call up IDW this instant and get a Green Lantern/Star Trek crossover going.

That said, little of this works if you don't care about Roy or his daughter. If you feel bad for him, you probably knew these characters beforehand; Roys actions over the course of the story veer further and further from the path of a hero. It's easy to grasp his sorrow and memories of his daughter, but without prior context there isn't enough here to tell you why you should care about him or feel bad.

Oh, yeah, then there's the fact that it all revolves around a dead kid, one that was cute as a button. All to give Roy a heel turn that went nowhere. I get that they felt the need to shake the character up, but come on.

The Score: 5 out of 10

There's no reason to buy this unless you really need to see Roy protect a dead cat and huff heroin.

* I wish DC would go back to printing the contents somewhere in the volume, because I'm getting really sick of having to go look it up. Sure, it only takes an extra two minutes, but it's annoying.

** Canary doesn't come off well here, but to be fair to her, none of the main characters really do.

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