Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Open Letter to James Robinson

If you don't want spoilers for Cry for Justice #7, turn back now. If you don't know what the hell I'm talking about and just come to this blog for the funny videos, you're under no obligation to read this, but needless to say I'm pissed off, I'm opinionated, and it's my friggin' blog and I'm a consumer and a critic and I have a lot to say about this issue and events that take place within it.

Allow me to introduce you to Lian Harper, daughter of superhero Arsenal/Red Arrow/Speedy/Roy Harper and supervillainess Cheshire.

This is how I was first introduced to her way back in The Titans #1 released in 1999. I didn't come onto the book until 2000-2001, but it was my first comic book series and the run remains one of my favorite series of all time.

In comic book time, Lian was roughly 5-7 years old and probably had reached the age of 10 by the time Cry of Justice #7 hit the stands.

And now she is dead. But of course, people are already rolling their eyes at my anger and frustration over the death of a comic book character. "Comic book characters don't stay dead," "She'll be back in a year," "She's just a fictional character, get over it."

Yeah, funny thing about that - SUPERHEROES come back to life. SUPERVILLAINS come back to life. Not so much innocent children. In all my time reading comics and especially reading comics history, only ONE occurrence springs to mind of a supporting character child coming back to life - in an issue of Wonder woman, and even then it was part of a long story-arc that Greg Rucka had planned and crafted from the start, but even if he hadn't, the point still stands - supporting cast, especially children, are not so lucky when it comes to returning to life.

And it's sickening to think that you, Mr. Robinson, have fallen so far with this maneuver.

This is hack writing at its worst. Grant Morrison, in the pages of Animal Man, once freely admitted that killing off loved ones is a cheap and easy way to gain pathos and drama out of the characters. It's hard to tell if he was being critical or supportive of it, but I can't help but remember how at the end of the story, the loved ones that he had killed off in the book came back to life, demonstrating the triumph of the character to get the ones he loved back after suffering for so long.

Taking this literary tactic of making the protagonist suffer back farther, I can imagine the Book of Job from the Bible and the Hebrew texts, wherein Job's faith is tested by God by losing everything he has and suffering greatly... but the thing that a lot of people forget or leave out is that at the end of the story, he gets it all back and better than before.

So I ask, Mr. Robinson, where is the relief for Roy Harper, who in this miniseries has lost not only his arm in an earlier issue, but his daughter, as well? Is there some great reward for all his suffering in mind? Or is this just cheap pathos made for a sub-par miniseries where he wasn't even the focus? Hell, he doesn't even get revenge for all that he's lost - that falls to Green Arrow, who kills the murderer in cold blood. While I admit a sense of satisfaction that the supervillain responsible got an arrow through his brain, at the same time I'm disgusted by your treatment of Oliver Queen, who is now a full-fledged murderer in his own right.

I expect better of my heroes... and the writers who craft their tales.

Should we even touch on the fact that this is technically a Women in Refrigerators issue, as well? Where a female character has been killed to advance the story of a male protagonist, and even then her life is but one amidst the THOUSANDS that were killed to justify Oliver Queen deciding to slay the villain? Maybe I shouldn't, since others would probably latch onto that one point, ignoring everything else I have to say.

In many ways, Lian reminds me of my cousins that are around the same age - young, innocent, full of life, and fun to boot. It horrifies me to think that anything could ever happen to them, that their lives could be lost with such abandon. And yes, in life that DOES happen, which is why we're so terrified and sickened by it... but that's the thing - when a writer has control over a universe like this, we would hope that they wouldn't be so callous as to throw away a life in such a manner.

You can put their lives at risk, fine - it happens all the time and we want to bite our nails in anticipation with how things are going to turn out all right, but this is just terrible. It's cruel, it's unnecessary, and it's disheartening.

The reason I care is because you WANT ME to care. If I didn't care about fictional characters and how their lives progressed, then why the hell should I ever be excited or saddened by the developments in a plot? Why should I cheer triumphantly at a victory and be saddened by loss if I shouldn't care about these characters and the situations that occur to them?

I'm frankly too angry and depressed to think more coherently about this any longer, so I shall simply sum up by saying that it is wrong to throw away a character's life, especially a child's life, so needlessly. I expect better of you, James Robinson.

Today at the comic book store, I realized it was a slow week with only two titles that I wanted to read. I decided to pick up a trade collection to fill in the blank space and I had decided upon the second Starman Omnibus, since I had been meaning to finally read Starman.

Then out of curiosity I read Cry for Justice #7. I promptly put the Starman Omnibus back on the shelf. It's sad, really - I was really thinking I'd enjoy actually owning Starman and not just reading summaries and analyses of it. Subsequently, I am dropping your Justice League book. That I was really enjoying, but you have made it clear, Mr. Robinson, that we do not think alike when it comes to how characters, particularly child characters, should be treated.

Cry for Justice will most certainly end up being on Atop the Fourth Wall some day. And even if Lian Harper hadn't died, then I leave you with this inciteful bit from the webcomic Comic Critics to show you why it will anyway:

Cry for Quality

To sum up, I expected better of you.


JiBé said...

I haven't read issue #7 yet, but I don't mind the spoilers. "Justice League: Cry for Waffles" is not good enough for me to care.

I'm roughly in your position : I've heard great things about Robinson's Starman, and when I heard he was going to write the Justice League, I was very excited. But this book has been horrible, and his JLA hasn't done much to redeem it.

Poor Lian...some of the sweetest moments I remember from DC comics have come from her and as you said, she's always been an adorable and very fun character. In fact, she was pretty much the only interesting thing left about Roy Harper.

I don't condemn character death on principle, even for a child character, but I fully agree that any time a character dies, it must be treated well. It's a powerful, dramatic moment, it should not be used as a cheap way to try and inject some interest back into a washed-out superhero. I wasn't interested in this "Fall of Arsenal" bullcrap to begin with, and now I'm determined to stay away from it.

The Window Keeper said...

I'm not rolling my eyes. In fact, I'm in agreement with you, completely. I find it completely unacceptable to put a character, main or minor, through hell with no light at the end of the tunnel or story purpose, especially if that means sacrificing a child. It's repulsive to think that someone thinks that's a good idea. I can site several occurrences where I killed off one of my characters, but for a purpose, not for the sake of killing. And never a ten year-old.

Oh, and bonus points for getting the whole story on Job. That frustrates me too when people only focus on the bad.

Lou said...

That this comic might turn up on your show is the only redeeming aspect to any of it I can think of. I cannot believe that they killed of Lian. Completely pointless shock value/fridging, moving one story along while preventing countless others.

the4thpip said...

After they had Kobra kill babies on live TV, I really didn't expect anything less from DC. It seems they think to become mature and relevant, you need to be cruel and tasteless.

theorangefrappe said...

This is such a good example of why I love your work. Not just for the "funny videos," but because you care so much about the subject matter - even if the people who actually created them don't seem to. Much like Robinson doesn't seem to give a rat's behind about this.

I hate killing off characters so soullessly like this. There were so many things that could have been done if this hadn't happened, so many stories left in Lian's future. But they were all just tossed to the wind for the sole purpose of shock and to take something else away from an already suffering character to make him interesting. You know that if you have to resort to hack writing to make a character develop then, pardon the internet lingo, "UR DOIN IT WRONG." Robinson is indeed 'doin it wrong.'

Keeva said...


I haven't read this series, but the fact that anyone could consider killing off Lian make me want to hit things.

Your post is much more articulate than I can hope to be on this topic, so I'll just say thank you for writing it.

Queen Anthai said...





FotoVerite said...

Without reading the book I can't comment fully on why you find this particular death so egregious. If it's as throwaway as you make it out to be it is indeed lazy writing.

Best thing I can point to is the death of Ianto on Torchwood. Terrible show it is; he was the one bright spot in that mess and it was done so terribly that I swore I wouldn't watch another show that RTD writes till the end of time. It's shows that he doesn't consider his characters anything more then playthings.

Which is especially funny since he is actually effecting a real human being who is losing a job for a terrible narrative. Joss Whedon he is not.

But I will remind you that Job doesn't really get back what he loses. He gets replacements for his sons and daughters which I always thought was a hack job on gods part. You don't say hey I killed three of your sons but here's six new ones.

Kitsune Sniper said...

It's the 90's again.

Character dismemberment? Check. Killing off characters just to "create character advancement"? Check.

I am shocked that this is the same person that wrote the Starman series, arguably one of my favorite runs, ever.

And I won't be buying the collections because of that, either.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I don't even know the character in question and I find it disheartening and depressing.

Won't people ever learn that pointless killing of characters is never a deep and edgy move to make.

*shakes head*


Anonymous said...

I gotta say, CFJ has been pretty bad.

HOWEVER. I strongly urge you to read Starman, Linkara. It might be hard to appreciate because of this issue, but Starman is seriously one of the best super hero comics ever.

Don't let 1 bad comic ruin a writer's other quality work. Come on, Frank Miller wrote All-Star Batman and Robin, but I can still enjoy his Daredevil and Dark Knight Returns. Grant Morrison's Final Crisis wasn't all that great, but he still wrote Doom Patrol and Animal Man.

Give Starman a try.

The Toon Geekette said...

Funny thing, I actually just checked your blog specifically to see if you had anything to say about this development on your Twitter.

You know, even though I actually started buying back issues and such late last summer, I still consider myself a bit of a newbie when it comes to superhero comics. However, even though all I knew about this series came from scans and such on the 'net, I could still tell this series was a piece of crap.

So, when I stopped by one of my local comic shops today, and I noticed a sign saying that the new issue of Cry for Justice was the final issue, I thought to myself "Oh, hey, that thing's over with? Good riddance!" But alas, my joy was short-lived since, when I got home and checked scans_daily and saw their most recent entry...well, to be honest, I'm surprised I didn't punch my computer screen in rage.

It's kind of funny, but, judging from what I've read on Wikipedia, scans_daily, and elsewhere, comic book writers don't seem to like the concept of their main characters having kids. Catwoman has a baby, but then she has to put her up for adoption. Black Canary adopts a cute little girl, but then she has to go into hiding. And, of course, in One More Day, Spider-Man gives up not only his marriage, but his future daughter just to satisfy his guilty conscience. Am I the only one seeing this pattern? Should I actually read more comics before jumping to this conclusion?

Well, whatever, it's still a phenomenally stupid plot twist that really doesn't feel necessary, and I eagerly look forward to the day you skewer this series.

Film is a Theory said...

My screenwriting teacher had a name for events such as these. She called it DoSo (Death of Significant Other), and she pretty much said of it exactly what Morrison did.
Although, especially in comics, you'd think this trope would have run its course. Over the course of comics history how many similar scenarios have we seen? Don't they all pretty much turn out the exact same way, too? It's not like anything interesting is being done with that particular kind of story arc. The supporting cast deserves better.

M-Speed said...

How senselessly cruel. That's about all I can say. It is a terrible sign in the industry when even little girls are suffering shock deaths.

Unknown said...

It's not wrong to be deeply affected when characters are hurt or killed. It's a sign of good writing IMHO - you care so much that you forget they're just people on paper and it affects you.

I haven't read this series but based on what information I could find (plus the heartless death of this little girl, I need to go look up some comics with her in them now) I wouldn't want to. I don't like character death but if it happens, I want it to have an impact and to have meaning. Mostly, I firmly believe that character death should be treated with respect, even if it's a villian.

This had an impact but not the good kind. This was senseless and pointless and the whole series itself just seems to have been an excuse to let heroes murder people. "Cry for Justice" is appropriate - I can't see any trace of it here.

RIP Lian, you didn't deserve this fate.

Blackout Creature said...

Going into college in the late 90's I never really read many comics. I was a fan of the old X-Men cartoon and of course Batman:TAS, so if I walked into a store and for some reason they had a comic book for sale that didn't look too ridiculous (remember, this was they heyday of Image) I might pick it up and generally ignore it after reading it once.

Then when I started college I walked into the local comic book store in the new city I lived in and picked up a copy of James Robinson's Starman. I don't remember which issue or which storyline, between picking up more back issues and the trade paperbacks over the years its all kinda blurred together, but I remember how amazing it was.

Before this comics either seemed to be the outdated messes I saw in my early childhood or the mostly incoherent stupid messes that populated the market in the early 90's. This is the first comic that I read that felt modern and edgy without trying too hard to be too "modern and edgy", it was intelligent, didn't talk down to you, and just flat out told great stories with great characters that you cared about. To this day I will still argue with anybody that James Robinson's Starman is without a doubt the greatest comic book series EVER.

Even more important though is it made me a full on comic book fan. Each week I would go back to the comic book store and buy different series, becoming a fan of each of them. In fact I will also argue with anyone that in pure quality and creativity, that late 90's DC was the peak of the industry. Since then, In the last 5 years the only other DC book I've read i that I really feel has been of the same quality as those late 90's books has been Blue Beetle (and maybe Booster Gold, love the character, but the juries still out on the current series).

Most of those comics I loved are long since canceled, or rebooted and butchered beyond recognition thanks to editorial policies at DC over the last 5 or so years that, to put mildly, i REALLY disagree with. I've seen writers who I used to love and respect and look forward to reading every week destroy stories and characters that I loved in some vain attempt to restore the status quo of the 1970's so they could bring back there childhood to modern comics no matter how much the comic reading fans have moved on. But I always put James Robinson above these people. I always put Starman above these stories.

I kept thinking if only Robinson was still around, if only Starman was still around, maybe I'd be reading awesome stories about Kyle and Conner instead of rehashed stories of Hal and Ollie. Maybe I'd be reading fun stories about Young Justice instead of incredibly outdated stories featuring the 80's Teen Titans. Maybe I'd be reading about Linda instead of Kara or Cassie instead of Kate. But most definitely I'd be reading about Jack Knight and Opal City. MOST DEFINITELY.

Then DC announced the return of James Robinson with Cry for Justice, and I couldn't wait to read about it. Then I read what it would be about and I was horrified. More Hal Jordan? SERIOUSLY? But I figured it was still James Robinson. If anybody can make me care about these horrible characters, its him. Then I picked up the first issue. To say it was horrible beyond belief would be an understatement. I couldn't believe that James Robinson could write something this bad. This had to have been ghostwritten, or completely editorially controlled by Dan Didio that the only part of the story that Robinson actually wrote was his name in the credits.

But it continued in issue 2 (which I didn't buy, just skimmed through at my comic book shop). And I never looked back from there. Never considered buying or looking at another issue. It saddens me that the story got to this point, that Robinson's writing got to this point. Another part of everything that made me love comic books dying.

Kitsune Sniper said...

@Anonymous (March 3, 2010 5:07 PM): Frankly? If I was Lewis, I would avoid the Starman trades. Because it hurts to see a writer that produced such a high quality work... do something like -this-.

Kylie said...

I think you said it best in one of your AT4W reviews that when a character dies, it should be their "crowning moment of awesome." I'm not a really big fan of going with the overly dramatic death, but if it's written right, I usually enjoy it. Especially if it lingers a while and you are on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happends.

And no, I'm not rolling my eyes at this. I'm also not bothered by the fact that you wanted to write a small rant/letter in YOUR blog. Like you, I think people should be able to write pretty much whatever they want. I thought that it was very well written, and you threw in some very good points. I actually read this comic over at a friend's house, and I threw the thing on the floor in anger. Trust me, you hit the nail on the head with this, my friend.

You are also completly right when it comes to child death in ANY media. I just find it politically incorrect and disgusting. What is it with the media with children anyway? They are in TV shows where they shouldn't be and saying lines they shouldn't understand; and now Lian. Ugh. What's the world coming to, Linkara?

So, over all, you are comepletly right. The comic was a pain, and I'm just as disgusted as you are. I am also happy that this horrid comic getting the AT4W treatment. I'm hoping that you burn it, and put it with the remains of the "Superman at Earth's End" comic.

Way to go, Linkara/ Lewis. You said what needed to be said, and that always earns my respect. (As if you didn't have my respect already.)

Mountain King said...

First thing I want to tackle, believe it or not, is your throwaway reference to Animal Man. Morrison killed off Buddy's family as a cheap way to have him question everything. He admits that, as himself, after Buddy undertakes the journey and meets him. He then, without reason or explanation, brings them back. Hitting the reset button for Animal Man before showing that in real life that doesn't happen. He doesn't support it, just acknowledge it as a tool used by comic writers.

Now that's over lets get to the point:- Killing some one off is the first resort of a hack writer to expand a story, you can write out a character and spend months pulling it apart. You pointed this out but lets look deeper. The closer the victim is to our hero the better. Look at Joyce Summers from Buffy... On second thought don't as that was pulled off well.

Instead lets look at what happens when they kill someone off in a soap opera. It doesn't matter who or what soap because the exact same thing happens. Everyone involved (including the milkman, who was having an affair with the woman next door) is pulled through the emotional spectrum, whether they want to or not. Grief, anger, revenge, envy, acceptance, ect. Death is the easiest way to give stale characters and story lines a boost for a month or two. Then, in comics, you bring them back and start the whole cycle again. Hitting the reset button as if it never happened...

Unfortunately that isn't the most insidious part of the sorry event:-

To do this with a much loved supporting character, especially a child, isn't just a devastating blow to the character but the reader. This is exactly what is wanted by publishers. You are already emotionally invested in this little girl. Knowing that they are going to be brought back to life (after this sort of fan outburst you know a trip to whatever passes for the DC underworld is on the cards) you keep reading, if only to find out how.

A marketing gimmick, make no mistake that is exactly what this is, will have past readers and fans picking up this and following new issues. Even if they haven't picked one up in years. Complaining about it on blogs and forums that generates more marketing.

I would never have read One More Day if it wasn't for the outburst. Same for Batman RIP. I won't do it again and I suggest the only way to stop this sort of cheap gimmickry is to simply stop acknowledging it. Much like terrorists need the news these hacks rely on reviews and word of mouth to spread their atrocities. Always looking for a horror even more elaborate than the last.

I think the next one would have to be Twin Hitler's, goose-stepping on the grave of a Jewish superhero while torturing their loyal pet cat. Alright that was dark (extremely? oh yes) but who knows what depths DC and Marvel, sorry Disney, will sink to just to boost readership. As soon as the cold blooded murder of a helpless kid is on the table the door is open to anything. Even Bambi's mom...


Anonymous said...

Three things.
1)It's cheap to just put away Starman. Robinson's work can stand on his own. CFJ may have been a failure, but that doesn't mean it jades his other work, especially if it's one that runs counter to the theme of his current output

2)Roy's relief is coming I guess in "Rise of Arsenal". It may or may not be a poisoned chalice.

3)Ollie's been a full fledged murderer before, in the Grell era of his comics. Continuity aside, it's been a road he's traveled before.

lilmaibe said...

I can only agree with the idea that WIRs (women in refrigerators) are overdone and do not really speak for that good writing abilities.
(On a sidenote: Wasn't the thing with Job basically blatant cheating on god's side as he would have otherwise lost a bet with the devil?)

Jer Alford said...

They pulled the same crap with Donna Troy's son, Aqualad/Tempert's son, Starfire's ubborn child, and Wally West's unborn kids. I hope Dick Grayson never tries to have kids with Oracle because the poor toddler will just end up getting whacked too.

Anonymous said...

To my recollection, no. The best was to see if Job would forsake God. All Job did was demand a satisfactory reason why these events happened.

The Mad Scientist said...

Even as someone with only a casual interest in comic books, I have to say I'm in complete agreement with you. There's a reason why children don't get casually destroyed in any form of media, be it books, comics, movies, or television. Robinson should be ashamed of himself, and even though I draw a lot of humor from your videos, Lewis, I will be sharing your fury when you tear this comic apart on a future episode of AT4W.

Anonymous said...

Er...I come here for the funny videos.

H2O589 said...

Of all the crappy things from 90's comics I do not miss, I especially don't miss the days of killing off supporting characters to make a comic more dark or edgy. Even 90's kids doesn't like when a kid gets murdered in a comic.

Seriously what's going on with these people and the lack of respect they give to the characters?

Anonymous said...

What's most infuriating about this is that DC has gone from Women in Refrigerators, to Raped Women in Refrigerators, to Girls in Refrigerators.

I can't even begin to imagine what's next.

But I won't be reading it.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Wow. I had hoped it wouldn't happen. I've fought harder than I should have, convincing myself that the DC Universe still had a chance at redemption. Even with Teen Titans turning into a bloodbath. Even with the "Blackest Night" psuedo-zombie nonsense, laughing at how little death means as a storytelling element. Even after hearing what they did with Captain Boomerang, the Eventitis, Barry Allen being the source of the "Speed Force", the Hal Jordan overpraise...all of it.

Something finally snapped here. I can't do it anymore. I'm sure I'll blog about this on my site, but here's an AT4W exclusive.

The main DCU is as dead to me as the Marvel Universe. Once I realized that I couldn't come up with the rage Lewis has here, and for a 10-year-old is when I realized. DC just...doesn't care anymore. And two parts of the problem are now part of the editorial round table (seriously, I'm still waiting to hear what half of these "High Five" titles even mean).

I've been a DC guy since I was a little kid, mostly thanks to Superfriends. But now? I just don't have it anymore. Maybe I haven't for a while.

It's just wrong.

A. Conroy said...

Wait, what?!

Kinda like you, I bought the first issue of Justice League: Cry for Justice to try and understand the love people have for James Robinson and his Starman works. I stopped after that issue because of the lack of progress and advancement.

But to end the story pulling this stunt? That's just so cruel. I'm currently having somewhat of a problem with Geoff Johns and his choice of killing characters I just got into before and during Blackest Night (Tempest, Damage, and especially Owen Mercer), but this is just so mean-spirited and unnecessary. How is this going to help the Brightest Day promotion?

You pretty much summed it up, Linkara. There is so much stupid and anger generated by this series.

Anonymous said...

I was having a bad day today. My car broke down. I wound up missing an entire day of work so I could sit in a garage waiting room with no reading material besides old Redbook magazines and Women's Day as the time it would be fixed got pushed further and further back. The car repairs cleaned out my bank account and my emergency credit card. I'll be lucky to have the gas to get to work for the next week without pawning more of my DVD collection...

... and yet, this was not enough.

I had to come home and find that my favorite comic writer of all time, who wrote my favorite series of all time - the one that gave me my nickname - had not only found a way to make the most critically panned comic of the last year even worse. He had done so by committing character assassination on my all-time favorite superhero, Green Arrow. And he did so by turning his own story into a third-rate remake of Longbow Hunters - the only Green Arrow story older than 10 years that anyone seems to acknowledge in continuity anymore.


Linkara, thank you for having said what I would have said only with a lot less cursing given the day that I've had.

That being said - give Starman a chance. It actually is good. I think you would like it. And I cannot begin to speculate just what the hell happened to James Robinson in the last few years. Because Cry For Justice is not reflective of his usual output or level of quality.

D. William Pfifer said...

Killing off loved ones in general is one thing - it doesn't necessarily make for a bad story. Killing children can work for a story if handled well - like Rorschach's defining case in Watchmen.

I haven't read the comic you're talking about, but it doesn't sound like the death of this ten-year-old girl was necessary or handled well. A professional writer should know better than to kill off the young daughter of a character who the series isn't even focusing on. It doesn't increase the readers' emotional investment in the story; it just ticks them off. And it takes any sort of canonical fun away from that character in any book he'll go on to be in - not to mention the wasted potential of Lian herself.

"...Green Arrow, who kills the murderer in cold blood. While I admit a sense of satisfaction that the supervillain responsible got an arrow through his brain, at the same time I'm disgusted by your treatment of Oliver Queen, who is now a full-fledged murderer in his own right."

That's a big part of the reason I don't get into many comics. For all the good writers out there, there are too many that end up trying to write for characters that they don't get, or that they think need to be reinvented or reinterpreted. It just gets too confusing and annoying.

Here's hoping things improve soon :/

JD said...

@The Toon Geekette

Kids can tend to bog a character down, or at least some writers feel like it. The problem with kids is that... well they're kids. They're not especially exciting. When they're babies they just poop and drool. When they're toddlers they just act cutsey but have little in personality.

I can see the reasoning, though there are ways around it. Mr. Fantastic's daughter is nearly as smart as him (though lacking experiance), and Franklin for a while was nearly omnipotent (and is possibly again). Connor on tv's Angel went from a baby to a teenager over night(from a viewer's perspective). Etc etc.

But it's all a rather moot point here. While I haven't been reading CfJ but if what Linkara says is true then she was about 10. By this point she can be developed into a full fleshed out character. Heck, they can do the same thing they did with Stature and have her jump a few years quickly and be a teenager and make her join the Teen Titans if they wanted...

But this just sounds bad. I'm not someone who shouts "Women in Refrigerators" at the drop of a hat it does seem like something just there to add cheap shock value and add cheap emotion out of Roy based on Linkara's description.

Eh, I was pretty excited to hear James Robinson getting back into regular comics again. Starman remains a highlight of DC. It should be required reading for how to write a series with a start, middle and end. But most of his recent work has gotten so-so reviews at best (I did enjoy the Blackest Night Starman issue though) so maybe he's peaked. I dunno. But I do know that I'm just going to enjoy my Starman hardcovers and not ever buy Cry for Justice.

Matt said...

Another vote that you really should ought to read Starman. You know how all Garth Ennis writes these days are about cannibal rapists and horrible superheroes because he's 'taking the piss?'

The dude also Hitman. And that shouldn't be taken away from him. The same goes for Starman.

(That said, this might be a thing that would turn me off a creator so I can't blame you if you don't.)

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque said...

Why does Liefeld keep getting work?

Why does Jeph Loeb keep getting work?

Why did no editor ANYWHERE think "Hey wait, kill a 10-year-old (or younger) kid? That's not right, fellas. That's not right."?

Cry For Justice was terrible from the first issue, and it never got better. James Robinson is a decent writer, but he's not at the level where he shouldn't have editorial oversight.

Or did editorial push Lian's death? When JMS was given the deplorable duty of erasing the spider-marriage with a deal with the fucking devil, he had the integrity to speak out about it. So which is it? Is Robinson a terrible writer or a coward? With Starman and Golden Age under his belt, it's difficult to argue for terrible writer, but I'd still rather think that of him than that he's a coward.

AmuroNT1 said...

What is the obsession with tearing down heroes piece by piece only to build them up again? Is it just "follow the leader" based off of "Born Again"? Yes, Frank Miller did it well with Daredevil, but that's Daredevil. It was patently absurd when Devin Grayson tried to inflict it on Nightwing, possibly THE best connected DC hero, and it's pretty dang absurd with Arsenal, who may not be as influential but is still known and respected.

I'm sure this storyline will see Roy get back on drugs. It's rather distressing how so many writers are either willfully or ignorantly passing up years of character development because of knee-jerk reactions to a single standout incident (Hank Pym? WIFEBEATER! Dr. Light? RAPEMAN!)

Laurie2733 said...

Don't worry Linkara, no-one's rolling their eyes at this. I,for one,am pissed as hell.

Being a Titans fan since I was a kid, this is extremely, EXTREMELY depressing for me. I always found Lian to be a bright spark, a character that you could always depend on to be cheerful, bubbly and full of life.

And now shes dead.


WHAT THE HELL!?! What is the point of so mindlessly murdering a sweet, innocent girl who brought a ray of sunshine to the otherwise fairly dark DC world?!

I don't think anyone, including you, would be AS mad if her death had actually meant something. If it had been a major developement, vital to Roys character and done with dignity then, yes, these things happen.
But when her death was nothing but a freaking PLOT DEVICE to cause Roy more pain and suffering which probably won't be resolved, healed or rewarded, then someone seriously needs a certain someones Green Ranger Dagger jammed through their throat.

...Man, even then, Robinsons death would have more meaning than Lians. At least it would be a relevant death with a reason and purpose (other than for more 'cape angst')

Apologies for leaving an entire essay of ranting as a comment, but I'm beyond furious with this. Goddamn, they killed an innocent little girl for no good reason. I thought we read comics to ESCAPE sick stories like this!!

....rant over, I'm going to go drink something strong in memorium to Lian.

Chin up Linkara, think of Blue Beetle. There is good in this world if you look hard enough. :)

spiderman1989 said...

Jeez Diddio, you really sunk low, hell lower than Quesada even. I gotta say I'm ashamed of DC for this, for whatQ! Shock deaths and profit. and Robinson I was looking forward to reading Starman vol.4 but now you just seem heinous you make Jeph Loeb look like Geoff Johns now. and I tip my bare head at thee Lewis its sad when DC does something as killing a child.

Anonymous said...

You took the words out of my mouth, Linkara. I mean, Cry for Justice sucked already, but this is a new low. I can't wait until this series shows up on Atop the Fourth Wall. It deserves a good burning.


Anonymous said...

And this isn't the first time James Robinson's killed off a character for no good reason.

I found this article by a guy named Caleb. Maybe it'll give you a laugh:

SynjoDeonecros said...

Huh, how ironic; I've just today experienced a similar situation with one of my favorite Archie Sonic characters getting the same treatment.

What's wrong with the industry, now? What's with all of the sudden inexplicable calloused treatment of secondary and tertiary characters? I mean, I recently had a huge argument with a Transformers fan over the writing style of one of the earlier shows, and his take on characterization and their place in the overall story seems very close to this: characters are little more than tools to push the story and whatever point you're trying to make of it, and you can do whatever the hell you want with them, in order to fulfill that goal, regardless of how the fans react or if it makes sense. Characters getting a bit too "humanized" and "real" for you? Then you're writing them wrong, and need to flanderize them or cut them off, entirely.

That must be what comic writers have regressed to: the idea that bad fanfiction written like you're moving pawns on a very linear chessboard is the way to go. Make the villains overpowered and one-dimensional, sure; I'm sure the fan backlash over the Iron Dominion, the Red Hulk, and the Dark Avengers won't be TOO scathing. Character development? What's that? Just give them stock personalities and ton of petty internet-esque drama, and the fans will gobble it up. Ran out of plot and don't know how to fill the massive plot holes you've created? Just kill off people in a massive bloody slaughter, and let the editors sort them out. It's pathetic. I've actually seen independent furry porno comics with richer characters, deeper storylines, and better thought-out conflicts than any of the drivel pushed out by Marvel, DC, or Archie. And, considering that a lot of those comics are fanfic, that actually means that the fans are treating the franchise their fapping to with far more respect than the official writers are! And that's sad, when you think about it; a fan's wet dream being more true and respectful to the source material than the actual source material.

But this is going into a rant, so I'll just sum up by saying: I feel your pain, I agree with your assessment, and I wish you luck on finding a new, better book to read.

Patch O'Black said...

I plan to do an episode in my own series about why I have not picked up any comic series regularly for a bit over a year now. I now have a new reason to not resume my previous purchasing. DC (and, to a certain degree, Marvel) have been treating supporting characters as disposable. Deplorable. If they want my cash, then they need to keep these interesting characters around, not sacrifice them on the altar of "drama and pathos". You're letter sums things up nicely.

Anonymous said...

I went and read the entire Doom's IV miniseries today. It was terrible.

But... and this sounds insane... I actually got more enjoyment out of that than today's Cry For Justice.

Hilariously enough the word verification captcha I got is "terbl."

greenjeans said...

This is why my superhero comic purchases now are limited to TINY TITANS. Yes, I only buy TINY TITANS for my superhero fix now, because the mainstream DCU is garbage from head to toe. Not one book is worthy of my time or money. If the characters aren't being degenerated into blatant Marty Stus designed to cater to the readers' worst impulses (Bruce Wayne/Batman), turned into everybody's whipping boys (Superman), reduced to paper dolls with no real characterization (Wonder Woman), or just helpless puppets stuck in agonizingly stupid events (every GL and Flash in existence), it's nothing but gore, nihilism, cruelty, misogyny, soft porn, and meanspiritedness all around. It's a horrifying state of affairs when the only book DC puts out that does right by the characters is an Art Baltazar series aimed at pre-schoolers (albeit with a POWERPUFF GIRLS sensibility). It's like DC doesn't even want to try to put out good product. They'd rather impose their own fetishes and sick fantasies onto the comics even if it doestroys them completely.

(The less said about Marvel, the better. All I'll say is that Joe Quesada has pretty effortlessly destroyed everything Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko built and turned it into a twisted monument to his own narcissism. There's absolutely nothing of salvage there, and hell will freeze over before that company sees a dime from me ever again.)

What's even sadder is, as Synjo said, fan fiction gives the characters far more love and respect than the real comics do. Take a look at the Black Cat's BATMAN & SONS on Deviant Art. Ostensibly a parody of the worst excesses of the Miller/post-Miller Batman, it actually treats the characters with genuine love and believability. It's become a fan favorite series for exactly that reason. You don't get anything of the sort in DC's wares and haven't for years. Is this what it's come to? Fan fiction having to step up and do what DC and Marvel are refusing to do? Or worse, fan art and/or private commissions? Because I've been taking the latter route myself in recent years, and trust me, it's given me far more joy and satisfaction than any of the mainline comics from the Big Two. That should not be the case at all, but there it is. And I'm no fool; I know TINY TITANS won't last forever. When that book goes bye-bye, I'm done with superhero comics, if not comics altogether. It'll be strictly art collecting from then on for me. And if I want to see new stories about my favorite heroes...well, I can write. I've got screenwriting and word processing software. I should NOT have to feel like I have to take matters into my own hands to see the characters I love done justice, but if the "professionals" in charge won't do it, if they'd rather suck on purpose and cater to their lowest common denominator, then I guess I have no choice but to take matters into my own hands. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

And the comics industry wonders why it's dying a slow, protracted death. When you devote your every waking moment to destroying that which made you successful in the name of being "badass" or "realistic," maybe you deserve to go down in flames.

astupidfan said...

Damn.I read the first two issues, dropped it and avoided it. However, I hoped that Robinson would turn it around after the first two issues got poor reviews (I know comics are written in advance but I figured the last couple could at least be made satisfactory). Still, WHAT THE HELL? How could this have happened? James Robinson wrote friking Starman, a series that made Ted Knight, who was an admittably corny golden age hero, into a complete badass and it knew how to kill off a character (Ted Knight's sendoff is amazing). I read his Blackest Night Tie-in and it was actually pretty good.
But this, this is inexcusable. I am disgusted with this and a lot of other deaths that have been popping up lately (Like a previous poster said:Owen Mercer...what the hell?)

astupidfan said...

While these may be fictional characters, they are more than ink and paper. They are reflections and carefully created constructs of all the multiple writers who shaped and wrote them. Every movement, utterance, and action is first envisioned from the mind of its creator, Also, characters, especially in long running series, are made up of every second work, every drop of sweat and every stroke of the keyboard or pencil that go into bringing that character to life...and that's only the creators and subsequent writers and artists.
The fans also take that character into their environment ("my friends are these people, I live at this house, this character is related in this way to another character and behaves as such.") While a small part of an evironment for most, it is still a part.
Some comic book characters also represent a wish from creators and fans alike. It's been said that Superman was created as an invincible hero that couldn't be killed by lowlife thugs who were robbing a clothing store in the lower east side. I personally see Superman as an ideal, an honest and pure hero who brings justice without killing, no matter what. In "Whatever happened to the caped crusader?" Batman is shown as an eternal hero, who will give his life for his cause and never backs down or lose hope. Booster Gold is even a hope that no matter our losses and screw-ups, we can still make good. Starman had Jack Knight, a character who was a bit awkward and was a collector who reluctantly became a hero and had a great run. Ted knight, while still being true to his golden age origin, was also a character who bore the weight of helping to create the atomic bomb and rose from that and the death of his son to save the city he loved (while dieing of cancer) and even making peace with his archnemesis before they died (making up for the sins of the past, aging successfully, and dieing at peace in a true hero's death).
This brings me to supporting characters. While they may not be the most remembered, they help bring depth to a character and help ground them. For instance, without his family, I could not see Jaime Reyes as the blue beetle. He would just be another teen in a superhero suit. Without Gordon and Alfred, there is no Batman. Without Mary Jane or J. Jameson, it's not Spider-man. Without Skeets, there is no Booster Gold.
Now I will admit, there have been good send offs in the the past. However, and here is the point of this piss-poor rant that I've been tossing out for the past half hour, when you screw this up and kill a charcter for shock value, regardless of importance, you are spitting on every ounce of effort that went into their creation; You are ripping a piece of the readers and writers' environment out, you are spitting on whatever ideal that character represented, you are hurting whatever character he or she supported, AND YOU ARE GIVING NOTHING IN RETURN.
So to return to you, Robinson, I'd like to tell you what you have done. You have murdered a child that was created some time ago without giving anything back to all the people who worked on bringing her into being and continuing her existence. You have violently ripped a piece of environment away from all of the fans and aforementioned writers, artists, and editors who kept her in the series. You have spat on what ideals Lian may have represented (I haven't read much with her in it but I would guess that an innocent child can grow up and be raised by a single father might be a nice thing for people to be able to believe in). You have also hurt Roy Harper, destroying a huge part of his current existence by robbing him of his daughter. I hope you're proud of what you did.

CJ47 said...

Dear Cry For Justice


Everyone with a soul

Corey Van Slyke said...

On a killing level, this is worse than Countdown. As much killing we saw in Countdown. I do not recall them blaintantly killing children in order to develop another character. Even IF they bring Lian back to life. It still won't erase the fact that they killed her in the first place. Lewis, do us all a favour and RIP THIS ISSUE APART A.S.A.P.

In my opinion, Lian is too good to be in Cry For Justice. R.I.P. you brave soul.

Unknown said...

I disagree with this sentiment that 'children should never die in fiction'.

a) They die in real life. Children are even murdered in real life. If this makes you feel sad, frankly grow up.

b)'Political Correctness' can be damned and die in a fire. 'Political Correctness' is an alternate spelling to 'limit of freedom of expression because some people might feel bad'. Again, grow up.

Moving on, your sentiments to THIS particular death of a character (who happens to be a child just as she happens to be female) is totally justified based on what you have told us. Cheap dramatic writing hack is a cheap dramatic writing hack.

DarkFusion said...

I may not be much of a comic fan, Linkara, but I pretty much agree with you as I've seen this happen in anime and manga and don't like it much either (the only case this ever works in is in war themed storis and even in those it can be overused (I'm looking at you Gundam Seed/Destiny and Code Geass).
Two examples, and from the same author Yuu Watse, are Fushigi Yugi and Ayashi no Ceres (spoiler ahead). In FY, our heroes defeat one of the Seiryu seven (the bad guy group), Amiboshi, presumably killing him. Shortly thereafter, Amiboshi's younger brother takes revenge by killing our main hero, Tamahome's, entire family, which is comprised of his father, an almost bedridden man, and younger siblings (all of them children). This event really only serves to make us want to see the bad guys beaten, but it also feels more like it was just a convenient way plotwise to unattach Tamahome so he wouldn't want to stay in the world of four gods. Another problem that arises is that the series tries to make Suboshi a sympathetic kind of villain, but that's really hard to do considering he killed a helpless old man and children without any show of remorse even after it's revealed to him his brother's still alive.
In Ceres, we start to see the beginning of a subpairing between our secondary hero Yuhi Aogiri and secondary heroine Chidori Kuruma. Unfortunately shortly thereafter Chidori gets kidnapped by our main villains, experimented on, and then dies protecting Yuhi. While it is a noble sacrifice, and one of the saddest scenes I've seen in an anime/manga, it parallels your comic in only serving to make a character, Yuhi suffer when he's gone through a bit already. His mother disappears from his life in childhood, his older half brother who takes care of him dies, his sister in law nearly goes into a permanent coma, and the girl he originally falls for (our main heroine) ends up with someone else (and before making any assumptions that Chidori was going to be a consolation pair up I can assure you that is not the case). And all this happens near the end of the story and at the end the only consolation Yuhi has is that some of his friends are still alive and he still has ahome to go back to, that's it. The author did make a sequel novel to try to fix this by pairing Yuhi up with a clone of Chidori, but it really doesn't work considering the novel makes it perfectly clear that they're two different people (THAT is a consolation pair up).
Having said that rant, I hope your critique gets through to someone in the industry and give us one less of this horrible cliche.

Paul S. said...

I’m also disappointed in James Robinson’s latest work but… keep in mind that this incarnation of DC comics as of late has been a fricken sausage factory that’s chewed up and spit out Sean McKeever, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid, Dwayne McDuffie and a variety of other talented pros. A company so hell-bent around building future events to that point that I can’t help but wonder if Robinson’s imput into the overall direction of the series was limited to knodding his head after Dan Didio said “Ollie’s wanted for Murder and Roy’s lost his family you have 6 issues. We need to build for a book Justice League Rise & Fall”

I’m not going to let this trash series ruin a classic run like Starman (whose one universally hated issue was also the result of editorial fiat.) If you look at any good-to-great creator’s runs in comics you’re going to find some black spots, hell there was a time some fans actually called Kirby “Jack the Hack.” I won’t hold this against Robinson but… I ain’t happy. Not one bit.

Alex Stritar said...

All of a sudden, I feel I made the smart choice by only getting some back issues of Exiles when I went to the comic shop today. This saddens me, and I have no knowlage to the character of Lian other than what you've provided in your Titans #1 review. Is it to late for her to come back as a Black Lantern?

As far as James Robinson goes, only thing of his I've read was that Blackest Night Starman tie-in. Found it to be pritty good, probably will check out the actual series. I think my liaberry has some trades of it. Figure I'd check it out after I got finished with Sandman.

Unknown said...

This is the reason I rarely pick up new comics. Every damn series is a bloodbath. I'm not a 90s kid anymore! Who is? Death has lost all meaning in comics. Either it's a marketable hero/villain who will return, or it's a supporting normal who will be slaughtered.

When they do this shit constantly it becomes par for the course. Why should I care? What should I feel? In this case they clearly got their fans to feel something. Disgust, anger, and frustration. Way to go!

Emi said...

*two thumbs up*

The Window Keeper said...

To "Anomynous" user telling people to grow up:

Yes, children die in real life. Yes, to an extent, political correctness is wearing VERY thin. And, yes, if done right, it can be affective. I can site an example right now: "Heavy Rain." Yes, children die in it, but the story is still very good (amazing, actually).

But, the fact that it still repulses people shows something: that killing children in fiction just for the sake of killing a child in fiction, while does evoke a reaction, causes it to be of disgust and "intrigue." I don't mean intrigue as in, people should write like this all the time, but in the sense of "it's different." The fact that readers of the comic and this blog are disgusted by this death, as well as other deaths of children shows that we have grown up. The reason I'd never right a child death in any comics is because, even for a horror comic, it would come off as, "Why did you do that?" Would I have a story line revolving around someone who killed a child/children that served the over arcing story? Sure, but not for violence's sake. For a good example of this, I'll site (as much as I hate to) the early Spawn issues with Billy Kinkaid.

This isn't nearly as bad as it has gotten though. Alan Moore did a run of "Mircleman" that was even worse. By name, Miracleman #15, and for the sake of not disgusting anyone else, I'll leave you to look it up yourself. That being said, what happens to the child in that happens in real life too. And it serves a purpose. Does that mean we shouldn't be repulsed by the comic? No. Does it mean we have to like it? No. But it also means that the reaction people are having to this are mature, and understandable, disgusted reactions.

But, this is me speaking for myself. I can't begin to speak for anyone else's state of opinion. All I can do is keep in mind that I don't have to agree with what they say, but I'd die for the right for them to say it (and not because I'm military, but because I really would).

Unknown said...

Whoa, I thought MARVEL was the place where the main heroes are shunned and the supporting cast are murdered for cheap kicks. Granted, most of my knowledge of comic universes comes from the Spider-man cartoon show from the 90's, The Messiash Complex and The Superman cartoon show. But still.

TheMobRules said...

Oliver kills people all the fucking time. He's hardcore like that.

MetFanMac said...

Your rant is a awesome as that comic is horrible.

Me, I'm less eloquent: ROBINSON, YOU %$^&*$%@#$^ (>@$%$&%$%? PIECE OF !#!!&&$*~><* %^*&#$&!##(%^@$% ?^*^&@!&^*?~~# ^%%^#$&#$@%&^#^!!!!!! HEY &%$#&$*&#$$# DIDIO, IS THIS WHAT YOU MEAN BY ?$^$%&@*&?@^&!!* "BRIGHTEST DAY", YOU *&^%$#@!~?<&$#%(???

Ben Weldon said...

"Drama is not your puppy. It's a tiger. It's not meant to make you comfortable. It's meant to make you feel alive" ~Paul Cornell

Crystanubis said...

(thunderous applause)

Playah said...

Everyone pretty much summed up what I think about killing Lian, so I'll just mention that she's one of my favourite characters from DC PERIOD. How can I not love a 6 year old (back then) who broke a thumb of Vandal Savage when she was held hostage?

One thing I like about Manga is that when one title screws up (Im looking at you, Naruto), there's always dozens more titles that are still awesome (Im looking at you, One Piece and Fairy Tail). If a major superhero comic screws up royally, it affects the entire universe. And since Marvel and DC pretty much are a complete garbage nowadays (Sentry vs Ares anyone?), good luck finding some substitute. There's fanfiction, but its harder to find then you think. There are also other companies and independent comics which hold some quality (Im looking at you, Empowered, Authority and... damn, I cant think of any other), but what can fill the void from two companies (counting other smaller companies that are now part of them) that have been a part of your lives for almost a century? Yeah, we're doomed as fans. Those are dark days and for some reason, NOBODY can see the light. You know guys, there's a REASON why 90's were called DARK AGE. Come to think of it- have they ended? Or maybe they still havent? Or maybe we're in a new era that makes Dark Age look tame? Here's a question for other discussion- when this era of comic ends (whenever it happens) and another begins (hopefully for better, yeah, Im dreaming), what will it be called? I nominate "Chaotic Age", becouse thats exactly whats going on- villains turn good, heroes do weird stuff, politics start affecting comics, editors are writers, writers are being pushed, everything we love dies, hardly anything new and good appears (I dare you- count me 10 things that DC/Marvel did right AND didnt screw up past decade (Jaime Reyes is #1).

Or maybe its something else. Here's my theory- writers actually write awful stuff ON PURPOSE. What is it? Internet flame wars! Imagine some popular comic reviewer (Im looking at you, Linkara) bashing a comic and provoking (subconciously) others to go out, search for it, BUY it and then destroy it, thinking that it will prevent more of them to appear. Except its the opposite- profits from sales are used to make more awful comics, which are then reviewed and destroyed again, and circle closes. To the point that being bashed by famous internet reviewer is a sort of Rite of Passage for newcommers.

Writer#1: Hey look, Linkara just bashed my comic book!
Writer#2: Wow, nice.
Writer#3: I wish he bashed my comic too :(
Writer#2: Some other day, man, some other day.

Yeah, its stupid, but at this point I wouldnt even be surprised if my crazy theory turned out to be true.

Anonymous said...

Well said Linkara....

I was sickened enough in Infinite Crisis when Baby Wildebeest, a former Titan... watched his Mother Pantha's head punched off by Superboy Prime and then got heatvisioned in half when he attached the abomination of a character in a berserk rage after seeing her death. Shame there wasn't as much outrage for those two characters as there is for Lian. Even if it's just as disgusting and unnecessary.

And it was to drop tons of angst upon Red Star, who was Pantha's BF (Possibly Husband) and Baby Wildebeest's Father. Meh. Meh to DC in general for the way it kills women and children left and right.

Remi said...

She was one of my fav suporting character!
Isn't it better for characterisation to have a hero having ppl to interact with from outside of his real of competance?
Can a hero be a father to his children without them taking-up the hero mantle eventually or being used as leverage against them, or like here tragedy to advance the guy?
For some reason alll i can think of now is Cable, Magog. Bleh, if Robin can clone superboy someone can surely find a way to regrow his arm, some application of the Shaggy man cells perhaps.

If Plastic Man and the red Tornado can have kids without them dying, why can't arsenal? What kind of Shakespearian curse is there on the Titan-exTitan, why can't those guys be happy?!

Anonymous said...

I really hate that gimmick too, it's why I stopped watching Joss Whedon stuff. It's so much more interesting to have the conflict come from within, or from interpersonal disputes. Killing off random loved ones, especially characters who brighten up the setting and thus better frame the darkness by contrast, is amazingly cheap and doesn't serve to enhance the story in any way that a better written conflict might.

And I like a little happiness in my stories. Utter despair, utter pointlessness, a lack of even a small break in the pain...hell, that happens enough in real life for my taste.

m121 said...

First, I'd like to say that I disagree with a lot of the commenters here that mainstream comics are all tripe and crap now. There are some very good books on the shelves if you know where to look. Detective Comics continues to be one of the best comics I have EVER read (although I'm worried about its future after Rucka leaves), Batman and Robin combines Morrison's creativity with a level of accessibility that his books usually lack (and suffer for), Deadpool's main book is usually good for a laugh, and even for those who don't like Blackest Night, Green Lantern Corps remains a stalwart beacon for how character interactions and relationships should be done on a team book.

As for the article itself, while I haven't kept track of C4J, nor I have I read Robinson's previous work (including Starman), I totally see where you are coming from with your reluctance in trying this writer's previous, critically acclaimed work due to his current atrocities. I am currently getting into Kamen Rider fandom for the first time in my life, and one name that is pretty consistent as a writer in the franchise is Toshiki Inoue. I watched through Kamen Rider Kiva last month, and thought it was one of the most horrible piles of tripe I've ever seen, with rampant sexism, inconsistent characters, and plot contrivances all over the place. Later, I watched Kamen Rider Hibiki, which was fantastic for the first 29 episodes, until the writing team was kicked off and, wouldn't you know it, Inoue took over. Yeah, he basically murdered everything that was good about the first half of the series by the end of his second episode. Despite these horrible experiences, I keep hearing that Kamen Rider Agito, a series Inoue wrote previously, is one of the best shows in the entire franchise. Despite all of the praise heaped onto it, I'm terrified to try it due to the writer's more recent work.

I also sometimes have trouble revisiting a writer's older work that I HAVE read and enjoyed when they release newer crap. Like you, I really enjoyed Hush, but I can't bring myself to reread the damn thing due to the fear that somehow everything I enjoyed about the older work would somehow disappear and be replaced by the writer's current drivel.

Speaking of Loeb, am I the only one who finds it sadly ironic that this came out on the same day as "New Ultimates"? Comic book stores deserve better than this.

PS: Lewis, you should totally watch Kamen Rider Kuuga or Den-O. With your background in Power Rangers and traditional American superheroes, I think you'd greatly enjoy them.

Jeremy A. Patterson said...

But what about the Global Guardians? Are they truly destroyed, because I would rather see a rebuild of The Global Guardians storyarc that would focus on this intriguing team!


Anonymous said...

To steal a line from LPEF in reference to that move: "WHAT WERE YOU COCKROACHES THINKING?!"

StacyHD said...

Y'know, for all the stupidity of books like DC COMICS GOES APE or SUPERMAN IN THE SIXTIES, at least kids aren't dying in them. I just got in from MightyGodKing's blog and heard the news. Aie-yi-yiiii. . .

I would encourage you to stick with Starman Link, but I can understand if you let it sit on the shelf for a while. Much like Jeph Loeb, Robinson was a titan of the industry whose return to comics has been. . .problematic at best. I can't believe a writer of such talent that moved me with such amazing tales like the Talking With David stories in Starman or the Shade mini-series would reduce to hackery that's beneath the most depraved writer of any '80s slasher flick. It boggles the mind.

Who edited this dreck? Who sat there and looked at it and gave it a stamp of approval? My first impulse would be to attempt to track them down and have them explain what the hell was going through their wheelhouse that made greenlighting this mess look like a solid call. But really, what's the point?

I'm so glad I steered clear of this whole mess and kept my money focused on Power Girl and Warlord. Those books will always get my business, because they're fun. You do remember what fun is, right DC? It's what comics used to be before you decided death and shock tactics were viable marketing tools instead of a natural consequence of given story.

Grr. . .gonna need about forty minutes in the Angry Dome to work this rage out of my system but I won't subject you all to it. For now, I'm going to go pull my Metamorpho Showcase down off the shelf and try to remember why I love this hobby so much. It can't just be inertia. . .right?


Unknown said...

You ain't the only one hating this that's for sure

Mags said...


Angry, ranty Lewis scares me. If anybody needs me, I'll be hiding behind the sofa for the rest of the week...

ShadowWing Tronix said...

"I'm so glad I steered clear of this whole mess and kept my money focused on Power Girl and Warlord. Those books will always get my business, because they're fun. You do remember what fun is, right DC?"

See, Power Girl lost me in the second issue, with Ultra-Humanite's "Secret origin" story. Not only did it slow the pace of the story, but...let's just say the way he and his assistant celebrated turned off in the worst way.

And greenjeans, if you like Art's work on Tiny Titans, you should really check out Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, or the current Walker/Jones run on the comic version of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Great stuff, and outside of the two "Marvel Adventures" titles (getting an unnecessary renumber/reboot/relaunch/rewhatever in a couple months), and Walker's run in The Incredibles, the only super hero titles worth reading anymore.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

Except for Linkara's stuff I mean. (Sorry, Lewis. :) ) And mine if I ever get started.

Juan said...

Actually I think resurrection is the cheapest of plot developments, it strips the death of a character of all meaning, one of the resons I prefer to read elseworlds and stand alone works over the mainstream line of comics. NowIam not saying that "Kids dying is kewl dude" but Linkara seems to focus more on the fact that it was a kid dying, and practicaly saying that characters should be immortal or that every world should have their version of the dragonballs. A death doesn't make a story betetr or worse. The same is said about how a charater dies, Death is not pretty, and you are not even ensred that somebody would know about your demise, or that it was worth something, I think you are closing your mind too much about treatment of situations in narrative, but oh well.
I am NOT defending this comic, because I haven't read it, I am just giving my opinion in this review of yours.

TheHeroOfTomorrow said...

Honestly, Link, I know what you're going through. Just recently I lost a favorite character in a manga I kept up with. Granted, this character is not a child, but he was an underutilized character and one I really wanted to see more from. Plus, the author even once stated that killing off characters was a bad idea because it gets sympathy from the audience that the story doesn't deserve. I was angry when it happened, and I doubt that it will be revoked. So to all One Piece fans out there, rest in peace, you-know-who--to avoid spoilers.

Andrenn said...

Wow, just...just wow, this is so pathetic and sad to see such a disgusting cheap character death done. Sadly it's a regular thing in comics and its why I hate it whenever a hero has a kid or gets married, we can never just have these characters develop. Nope, gotta kill them off as soon as we can, and if we don't kill them off, kill them eventually and make it as cheap and stupid as possible like they did here.

Great post, Linkara, I totally agree.

Emerilla said...

I loved Lian. I think that I actually first saw her in an issue of The Outsiders, and then I saw more of her when I started reading The Titans, but she was one of my favorite characters.

She was always just so adorable, and she reminded me of my niece. It drives me crazy when a character I like dies, but what really ticks me off about this is that she just...well, she's killed off for no real reason other than to advance the plot, when I'm sure the same thing could've been accomplished without killing her or any child, for that matter.

And of course, I have this compulsive thing where I absolutely have to finish everything I read--book series, comic series, or anything really. So I'm hoping there's some deeper meaning to all this, rather than just 'Oh, look! It's drama!!' If not, I'm probably going to cry.

Kudos to you, though. I'm glad I'm not the only one outraged by this...

Shobogan said...

I honestly just stared at this post with my mouth open for a bit, and now I'm just seething.

It pisses me off so much when characters are killed off for cheap angst. This isn't a decision that should be taken lightly. It needs to be done well, it needs to mean something, it needs to be just as much about the dying character as the ones they leave behind, it - just - goddammit.

In other words, even if I didn't love Lian, I'd see where you're coming from. This reminds me - bitterly - of Sarah Essen's death, though at least that was in a good comic.

Anonymous said...

I thought Justice League: Cry for Justice was overall a bad comic series. And if anyone reading this comment do me a favor and check out my Comics in 5 Panels tribute video of Justice League: Cry for Justice. Just follow the URL:

If there are some things that were left out, just remember that this was a tribute video made for entertainment and I only had 5 panels to work with.

And another thing I would like to say is that James Robinson is officially the Jeph Loeb of DC comics.

Anonymous said...

*reads link*

HEY! JLElite was good. :( It had Cass Cain in it and a British cyborg and everything.

Anyways, Cry for Justice wasn't all bad. It had... um... The Shade in it, he's cool right?

I think that he is anyways.

Fandango said...

It's definitely a cheap plot point if you're just doing it with nothing in mind. If they want the character to go a particular way, then I'm cool with it. Reminded me of Bauer's wife in 24.

The House of C.R.P said...

Wow. DC is truly messed up. You know, I have never been able to find any recent DC miniseries or comics in news agencies or book shops.

If they do stuff like that in their comics, I think I know why.

Well, at least my favorite series, Fullmetal Alchemist has been handling character death well. I won't say who, but.......Well things recently......Errr....

rdfox said...

You know, I'm not a big fan of the whole "WiR" thing. I think, as a term, it's been thrown around so much that now, it's lost all meaning, since just about any female character's death is claimed to be a fridging. (See also: "Mary Sue".)

But they just killed off an eight-year-old girl, purely to give one character more angst and turn another one rogue with an act that, at most, would be ruled second-degree manslaughter (extreme emotional disturbance) in court and get 3-5 years, tops.

Yeah. There's no other way to put it. Lian got fridged. Not only that, she got stuffed into the fridge's goddamned FREEZER. And then they had Mr. Freeze encase the whole thing in ice, just to make sure.

Yet another reason why I don't go to cons: after this, there's a good chance that, if I met James Robinson or the editor who approved this, I'd punch them in the face. Very hard.

@CBRBeast: At least Wildebeest and Pantha were bona fide superheroes. It's like the difference, in my opinion, between unnecessary civilian casualties in a war, and unnecessary *military* casualties in a war. One's an atrocity, the other is just a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am being heartless...But I am not sad at this. It may be due to the fact that this is a completly throwaway death that can and will be reconned in a few months, 3 years tops. They tried to do this for pathos and drama and they FAILED. They think that just because it is a characte death that we will care. But we didnt.

And the worst thing is, in Japan in a magna called "One Piece" We just had a character death of the main's big brother Ace and you know what...IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. Y'know why, because death is so rare in the series that a death of a minor character that has a big connection to the main becomes a big dramatic moment that would make you cry. Here, its just "HOW DARE YOU KILL THIS CHARACTER IN SUCH AN ABRATARY WAY!!!" It feels tacked on and worthless.

Anonymous said...

They killed off an innocent little child? To be honest I didn`T read the event itself really through but this is... no. I am sorry, but child murder is something I don`t want to read in a "normal" comic book. For christs sake I mean... wtf? they killed off such an innocent girl? What is this? Ultimatum for the JLA?
I beg you Linkara, kill this aboration off. Let it burn behind the fire walls of the fourth wall.

Anonymous said...

...Is it too late for Wally to grab Linda and the twins and go dimension-hopping again?

bfe said...

Yes, C4J was a crap series. Yes, The death of Lian was a cheap and shoddy stunt that everyone could see coming a mile off and added nothing but a collected eye roll and head banging from readers everywhere. It was pretty much indefensible.

But in the end, that is all it was, one bad story. I am not goiing to call for James Robinson's head for a single bad mini and an ending that had the stink of editorial interferance all over it.

The fact is, Robinson is putting out some good stuff even today. His Superman has gotten me interested in characters like Mon-El and the Guardian, which I would have never thought possible. It's very fun and traditional SUperhero fare. No dead kids anywhere to be seen

I also think his run on the regular JLA stuff is off to a good start. Issues 41-42 were the best I have read since the relaunch.

I can inderstand why Linkara and others feel the way they do. I feel the same about this particular mini and I am glad this ordeal is over.

But on the whole, I do not think things at DC are as dire as all that. There is a lot of cream amongst the crap.

I also respect readers talking with their wallets and not buying anything else Robinson has written, but I think they will be missing out on some good stuff.

I didn't stop reading Paul Dini after Countdown, although I was sorely tempted to. I am glad I didn't.

Just sayin'

Unknown said...

"I expect better of my heroes... and the writers who craft their tales."

I just noticed what a great sentence this is. This is a common theme of Atop the Fourth Wall and a perfect thesis for this letter. It's depressing when our heroes never seem to get a break or get rewarded for not being a hero.

Derkus said...

But Job had more of a goal as a story then just to grind some fictional toddler into fresh angst. Not to mention most versions of the story tend to gloss over whether God brought back his initial family or just conjure up a new one...and hopefully I just didn't give someone in DC ideas. Regardless there was so many more ways Cry for Editors could have been handled.

Anonymous said...

Maybe she'll be ressurected in Brightest Day?

Jim said...

As is often the case, I think the truth on this book lies somewhere in the middle of the argumentative extremes. Just a few thoughts...

To the Doomcryers and Naysayers:

* There does seem to be a point to all this. New directions for Ollie and Roy are a good thing, being as it is that GA/BC has been selling very poorly and Roy has languished after being shuffled out of JLA. Was this the only way to create those new directions? No. Aren't they basically turning Ollie into Hawkeye and Roy into Ultimate Hawkeye? Yeah, looks that way. But they are bold changes to each character and the story did a good job of setting the table for what's next.

* I wouldn't be too quick to lay all the blame for this at Robinson's feet. We have no way of knowing who was responsible for the Lian decision. Could be Robinson, could be Krul, could be an editor or any combination of the above. This is kinda like the beating Winick took for Leslie Thompkins and Graduation Day, even though the mandate for those stories was obviously isolating Batman from his allies and setting things up for the Teen Titans/Outsiders launches.

* At the very least this is helping to force a big change of pace in the JLA for a while, GA/Arsenal revamps that could be great with Krul at the wheel, and on the heels of Flash Rebirth and Blackest Night and in the midst of Batman Reborn and Superman's current status, it's a good thing that the DCU is so in flux at a time where DC's front office is, too. The new leadership situation at DC has a very unique opportunity to shuffle the deck however they want now. Let's hope they don't squander it.

To the Naysayer-Bashers:

* You gotta admit that whoever's responsible, the execution of this series was godawful. There were some very bright spots here and there, and I do think there's reason to be excited about what comes next, but there were a lot of tangled and dangling threads left by this plot, the delays caused an editorial fiasco so bad I can't remember one worse, and when you compare the beginning to the end, you can't convince me that this was what Robinson had planned. C4J was a mess.

* I think they could have gotten Ollie to where he ended up without Lian's death. The 90K dead in Star City should have been enough, and if a character really had to die to drive the point home, why not use one of Ollie's supporting characters (Mia, Connor) instead of Roy's?

* As for Roy, if DC felt so strongly that he needed a big change, why make him a damn clone of Ollie in the first place? Red Arrow on the JLA with his own "pretty bird" that segues into a disastrous romantic life? Couldn't be less original.

Prior to that, Roy had a wonderfully unique position in the DCU...

- Single father.
- Recovering addict.
- Unexplored parentage.
- Native American ties.
- Agent/Spy history with CBI/Checkmate.
- Past loves include assassin and superhero.
- Tons of superheroic pals.
- Lots of potential villains, related to Vandal Savage.

This guy didn't need a dead kid and the nickname "Lefty" to make him interesting. DC regressed him with the Red Arrow garbage and now he's paid for it. Same thing happened with Donna Troy after Byrne made her a clone and Faerber whacked her with the retcon stick.

Roy could have anchored a solo book. He had tons of UNIQUE potential. Now he's either Winter Soldier or Ultimate Hawkeye after spending a few years as an Ollie clone.

To sum up, CRY FOR JUSTICE was a poorly conceived and executed mini that did manage to leave things in a place where good might come from it.

Catena Lady said...

You said it all, Lewis. Bravo, sir.

ShellyS said...

Well put. I've "Lian" since her first appearance, and Roy Harper is my favorite character, and I'm just sick over this. I feel like a member of my family died.

Joel Hook said...

What! They killed off Lian?! I don't follow comic books completly diehardadly, but Lian reminded me a lot of my little sister who is about the same age, I was hoping that one day that Lian would become a superheroine herself, but sadly not.

日本文化のマニアック said...

a) They die in real life. Children are even murdered in real life. If this makes you feel sad, frankly grow up.

Wait, hold on, children dying isn't supposed to make us sad?!?! Yes, children die in real life - but people are generally sad when that happens!

I'm not 100% opposed to killing characters. Actually, I'm often in favor of it if - and this is a big "if" - it is important. A death should either be a Crowning Moment of Awesome or a total Tearjerker or the ultimate Moral Event Horizon. It should be a game-changer. It should have an impact. It shouldn't be resolved quickly or callously. It shouldn't be simply "fixed" by a lone act of revenge. I can't attest to how this was handled in this comic book, but I get the impression it didn't do any of that.

This is actually my one big gripe with "Lost." Not the romantic plot tumors, not the dragged out mysteries. It kills characters and then forgets about them. A handful of deaths have been real turning points, altering characters and changing stories. But all too often they're put in just to woobify one of the other characters. And said other character is usually male, which is the problem with the stuffed in refrigerator trick: it reinforces the idea that only the male characters matter.

(and yes, tvtropes is ruining my vocabulary)

Reed Benson said...

I think it's a it's a major jumping of the gun to say that James Robinson's talent is dead because he wrote one bad story. His Starman stuff was great, and I've heard good things about his current work in whatever Superman-related comic he's doing now. So I'm not writing him off just because of this. Besides, there's always the possibility of editorial interference.

Taranaich said...

The worst thing about this whole situation is the old "all publicity is good publicity" maxim. By killing off a little girl in a meaningless fashion, people are outraged. People are talking about the comic. It's becoming more high profile as a result. Controversy breeds exposure.

A vicious circle to be sure.

StacyHD said...

Y'know it's odd; for all the exasperation this move has bestowed upon me I can't say I'm all that upset about it now that I've had a chance to take a breath and step back. Yes, the act taken was a horrible one and I think Cry for Justice will be up there with Identity Crisis as one of the most mean-spirited stories ever written starring the heroes of the DC Universe. But y'know, I never read Cry for Justice and I never read Identity Crisis (well, the first few issues my brother bought but once I saw the writing on the wall I was out of there fast).

One of the conclusions I've come to as I've gotten older as a comics fan (and I am older, despite all my protests and clutching my action figures to my chest in denial) is that I've determined to pick and choose what I deem to be personal canon. Like a lot of fans I frickin' loved Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's run on All-Star Superman, and remember pining for that take to be the 'real' Superman as I wandered through the aisles at my local comics shop. And then it hit me like Zeus' thunderbolt:

The 'real' Superman doesn't exist.

The Big Two certainly act as though the books that have been published (more or less) since the '40s and '60s are the 'real' adventures of the characters in question, but do they get the final say? No, I think not. As the person who puts money up front at the till, I think I get a say on what I choose to take in as my entertainment. Simply put, my formula breaks down like this:

If Enjoyment = Story, then Purchase = 1

If Enjoyment < Story then Purchase = Nil.

If Enjoyment = Story, then Story = Canon

If Enjoyment < Story, then Story ≠ Canon.

This is usually after I purchase about 3-4 issues on a given title to try it on, though your mileage my vary. Simply put, vote with your wallet. If a storyline or direction the company takes is objectionable to you, take that money and put it toward something you do enjoy. For all their talk of 'telling challenging stories' and 'taking the characters in a new direction post-9/11'(and what a tooth-grindingly irritating crock -that- was) if you don't pay, they'll notice the problem. The creators may feel no impetus to change, but hit them in the wallet and you'll find them suddenly much more amicable. I find that a better long-term strategy than outrage at some of the shock tactics they've written in order to move product. To paraphrase Danny Glover, I'm getting a bit too old for that feces.


Ps. And yes, James Robinson is a heckuva talented writer but I make my offer here and now to edit his non-Shade dialogue for absolutely free. Just sayin'.

Turkish Proverb said...

Sad thing is that I was more disappointed by the fact the thing she died in was crap than anything. I can handle the death of a child, even one I loved like Lian, but when its in a badly written book like this, I just... ugh...

Crystanubis said...

I think children must present a real dilemma for writers and editors. They're sort of an investment, if anything, and with staff changes (not to mention, in some cases, creator's rights), they can present that little extra obstacle of continuity to overcome when jumping onto a new book. It's like how only some episodes of the Batman Animated series featured Robin but most didn't; some writers will know what to do with them, others won't. Granted, that could be said for any supporting characters, but unless those children have superpowers or are at least being groomed to take up their parents' mantle, they'll be benchwarmers until they come of age at least.
Age is the other issue. There's really nothing set in stone that comics progress in real time, let alone at what rate they would. Some spell it out, but most just take The Simpsons route ("I should NOT be 30 by now"). This goes all the way back to Earth 2; DC felt the need to answer the supposed question "how can characters like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman be around since the late 30s, get involved in current events like WWII and the Korean War and even Vietnam, and yet not age?" Sure, Wonder Woman is immortal and Superman is an alien, but Diana Prince and Clark Kent are supposed to give the impression of normalcy and a predictable mortality.
The point is that even if the child character has any staying power or intended longevity, there's bound to be huge gaps and leaps in their timeline; this may be fine for an established character, but for a developing one, it just creates a lot of logistical problems.
Of course, more often than not, these logistical problems get solved in rather silly ways (how many versions of Supergirl are there?). On that note, you are absolutely right that characters get written out and killed off in such ludicrous manners that it does more harm than good to their potential resurrection or retcon. When any new character is introduced, great care must be taken so that they don't just become a MacGuffin.

Anonymous said...

Pointless character deaths are something I hate most, even worse when it is a child. I watched one show where they bought n a character who was probably the best in the show, gave her one storyline (Secretly the daughter of another character) and then killed her pretty much out of no where with a random car convenently coming round corner just as other character accepts shes her daughter oh how tragicly conveniant. Even the character that killed her got no punishment. That was bad enough but to do a cheap throwaway death to a child character,pure undiluted hack writing failire.

Yankee Boy said...

I totally agree I tried picking this title up but after the first one I immediately put it down. Robinson was totally off with this one. And as the book continued it was all down hill. I wasn't too upset about Roy getting his arm amputated but the whole destroying Star City and killing Lian was just too much.

How much do you have to put these characters through to try and make them appealing to readers?

I am a big Green Arrow fan and Robinson just screwed him up royally. He could have just stopped at destroying Star City and he would have ended at the same climax of GA killing Prometheus. Killing Lian was just adding insult to injury. I'm very disappointed.

On the bright side, J.T. Krul is heading both GA's fall and Arsenal's rise and what I've read in the BN: Titans and BL Green Arrow I'm confident he can right this ship.

But only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way. I mean, it was bad when Donna not only lost her husband, but also the baby boy she came this close of getting killed because of some future catastrophe yet not past.
It's harsh to be superhero, as family and friends can be under attack, and it does tend to happen. But with seen this happen in Identity Crisis, and it had enough body count and tragic history for everyone for the decade (Tim had a rough ten years, his parents and two best friends dying as well as supposedly dead girlfriend). The last thing Dc readers want to see is a dead little girl, let alone one of a single superhero father who has gotten over an drug addiction. I first learn of Lian back in the 90s Superboy comic, when the Guardian, Jim Harper, was Roy's great Uncle, thus making Lian's great great Uncle. Sadly, with Guardian's return, so was any connection he had in Superboy's comic.

As for Green Arrow being a murder, we've seen it Smallville, and it should be left there.

Unknown said...

I really have to question the Job comparison. Frankly it was a cop-out there too, and not even a good one. Job didn't get his wife and kids back, he remarried and had new kids. The originals got to stay dead.

KKDW said...

well while I haven't read Cry for Justice or anything by James Robinson (or anything that Lian Harper ahs actually appeared in!) hearing about this makes me kinda angry, and I've just been discussing this with my brother over Live Messenger and when I told him that apparently Cry for Justice isn't very good he said "Oh dear god...So the character wasn't even killled off in a good comic, that just makes it even worse...". So really I hope someone presses the ressurection button or the retcon button for this.

Also I couldn't help thinking that this would be a lot worse if it had happened before Blackest Night...

Anonymous said...

Just a note Green Arrow has killed before. It was a big part of Mike Grell's run (one of the 2 deffining runs on the character) that Ollie WILL infact kill if he's pushed to it.

If you read just his first mini Longbow Hunters you'll see Dinah is kid napped and is brually beaten and he kills the man who did it.

Maverynthia said...

Is this the part where I point out that it was a female character that died... like so many female superheores? I bet if she was a boy she would have become some form of sidekick or something.

Then again maybe I'm reading too much into it, however given the back history of superhero comics killing of female characters I'm not all that surprised... or impressed.

The'at said...

What I find funny about all of this was the whole book about a team going on the (!X-treame!) Pro-active stance, torturing super-villeins to get information about what might happen. But in the end we get half of a major DCU City wiped off the map, another supporting character needlessly killed off, and the villain killed re-actively for his actions.

RocMegamanX said...

Meh, I didn't mind the spoilers.

I hardly read comics anyway...the last publicated comic I read was Watchmen.

Anyway...would you say that this is a worse death event than Countdown, though?

Unknown said...

So uh . . . yeah. What was that whole "Brightest Day" thing you were talking about again, DC?

Why the heck did they even make "Cry for Justice?" For one, it's like "Identity Crisis" redux (and that bit from Valerie D'Orazio's memoir about "The rape pages are in!" still makes me facepalm). For another, it's been almost completely overshadowed by the far superior "Blackest Night."

Seriously. WTF?

Jeremy A. Patterson said...

Come on, Linkara! What do you think of the near-destruction of the Global Guardians?


Anonymous said...

The only other villain, I can think of, that's killed a child is Black Manta when he killed Aquaman's kid.

MattJ said...

I was looking forward to the Fall of Green Arrow storyline, but this killed my interest in it. It seems like almost everything is being plagued by lazy storytelling lately.

sardonyx said...

I haven't read this series at all (got so behind with all the DC crossovers as of 52 that I just gave up on them all) but I'm saddened to hear what happened, as well as to hear that James Robinson's work has slipped. His Starman is amazing!! One of my more favorite series ever!! Please don't think ill of it based on Cry for Justice.

Me, I stick with 60s/70s DC comics mostly. Maybe with that much time between when they were written and now, it's easier to let the plot failures go and to even find them a bit charming.I wonder if we will look at this era's work the same way in 40 yrs.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting real sick of how people are saying how DC is crap now and comics from 60s, 70s, etc. were SO much better. Yes, I know people are upset that a character people loved was killed and that it was forced writing. But, to say like this is some grand event showing how comics, nowadays, suck and DC, in general, sucks is pure BS.

This is just of one many mistakes that both Marvel and DC have made in the past. They've made plenty of mistakes in how they use their characters and what happens in their books. That still doesn't mean they've done good stories, made characters better they were in years, and made good moves in how they run their company.

I know it doesn't bring Lian back, but please! Get some perspective!

Mela said...

"I'm getting real sick of how people are saying how DC is crap now and comics from 60s, 70s, etc. were SO much better. Yes, I know people are upset that a character people loved was killed and that it was forced writing. But, to say like this is some grand event showing how comics, nowadays, suck and DC, in general, sucks is pure BS.

I know it doesn't bring Lian back, but please! Get some perspective!"

I'm with you on this - I get a little sick of every high profile bad story or decision equalling that everything out of DC is bad. I'm apparently the only one enjoying "Blackest Night" (it's the first zombie story that makes any sense to me), and I especially love that they're giving my beloved Legion a much-needed push. This doesn't excuse "Cry for Justice" or Dwayne McDuffie's horrible treatment, but it puts them in an entirely different category than Marvel, where the rot is a lot deeper ("Hey, retailers! Send us the competitor's product, and we might consider giving you a comic with Deadpool dressed as a pimp on the cover!"). I'll take the newer stuff I like over a thousand more issues of "Young Justice" and its overrated sitcom writing or the looniness that led to HEAT any day.

That said, I am saddened and upset to hear about them killing off Lian in such a shabby way. At least Selina's baby & Sin were written off screen in such a way that they can come back logically someday and are currently safe & sound. I think it goes back to what KC Carlson once said about heroes with kids - "Any responsible reader will be reading the big fight scene and will wonder, 'Wait, who's watching their kids?'" He has a point, but it doesn't excuse the constant bad treatment of kids in comics. This is probably the extremest example I've seen thus far, but it's so frequent it's alarming. Can't they take a cue from "The Incredibles" and see how awesome a family of heroes can be?

But yeah, I agree with you that this is an unnecessarily bad development for characters that had rich histories & deserved better, and I agree with anyone who says that "Cry for Justice" was a waste of ink. I don't agree with anyone calling for Robinson & Didio to be lynched and for everything to go back to the late 90s/early 00s when everything was supposedly warm & fuzzy. If I had my way, we'd go back to the 80s, when the X-Men were cool without being overexposed and when people actually read the Legion, but I won't be upset if that isn't happening. Still, this is comics fandom, and if there's one thing we're known for it's our lack of moderation.

ShellyS said...

I'm enjoying Blackest Night. Even with all the deaths, it's been a helluva read. Sure, there have been some weak chapters, but all in all, it's lived up to the hype.

Cry for Justice had a lot of hype. The 2 issues I read were bad. The last issue, which I skimmed was awful. Good writing will grab me while I'm skimming and compel me to buy the book. Not this. The art was poor, not close to the level of Blackest Night or what I'd come to expect from the hype.

Killing Lian made no sense. It wasn't handled in any way interesting. It's been drawn out and was even anti-climatic because there have been other books already in print with Roy in a coma and people talking about how he'd lost everything. It didn't take a genius to realize Lian was being killed off. I skimmed the issue in the hope I was wrong and she was being spared, but no, I was right. I've been thinking this for a couple of months now and I hated being right, but it would've been better if it had been written well, and not dragged out for months and still more time to come. Roy still has to be told, which probably won't be til his mini-series starts in 2 weeks.

Lian was of more use to the DCU alive. She was a fun, delightful little girl and she gave Roy a perspective few characters have. It also made him stand out among his fellow heroes as a single father. Now he's just another guy in a costume, about to get a cybernetic arm (ho-hum; Cyborg's way ahead of him there) who will probably be bitter about things (nothing new there, either).

Amanda said...

I'm not sure if you'll ever even get around to reading this with so many comments (115!), but I agree with everything you said.

Not only was it a cheep horrible stunt to pull, I really feel that it will ultimatly take away from part of what made Roy Harper an intereting character. There aren't a lot of single parent super heroes out there, and I always felt that that, along with who her mother was, created an interesting dynamic for the character. But now that's all gone. And how many characters were out there who were just normal little girls who happen to have a superhero for a parent? I know there are a lot of legacy characters who were the children of heroes, but Lian always seemed unique to me. Maybe it was her age and her innocence, I'm not sure but she seemed to fill a unique place in the DCU. I was looking forward to seeing her grow and develope and feel that I have been cheated out of stories from her future. It was unnessecary and it will be a long time before I take a chance on anything written by James Robinson again.

All of that aside, I do enjoy this piece on a more current comic. I often wonder what you are reading and what you think of the more current stuff coming out. I wouldn't mind seeing more text pieces where you talk about your thoughts on what you are currently reading, good or bad. But with your epic videos I would understand if you didn't have the time.

Thanks for not helping me not to feel alone in my outrage over this!

JiBé said...

Just found an interesting article that calls out this cheap tragedy trend in comics : "Superhero tragedy porn" : that's quite appropriate for such trash.

Meiriona said...

Not. Freaking. Cool.

As if Roy hadn't had enough with Lian's ABDUCTION AND BRANDING BY CHILD SLAVERS IN OUTSIDERS, now to senselessly murder one of the only bright points in the lives of ANY of the former Titans is going too far.

I am not amused.

StacyHD said...

Let me state for the record that if you're enjoying the current crop of storylines I have zero problems with that. It's obvious books like Blackest Night and Siege are selling and selling well and if it gives people entertainment I haven't a problem with it. I just need a forum to vent my own personal frustration over stuff like this and Linkara was generous enough to open the floor, so naturally I was going to take the oppurtunity to express my exasperation.

I did recently get back from Seattle, where I'd attended the Emerald City Comic Con and hoo boy. . .Robinson looked like he'd aged ten years. He went on record as stating he's 'never going to kill another character again' at the DC Nation panel. It was revealed there that the recent horrors endured by the Emerald Archer and his group are leading into their next project, which will doubtless be to tear the character down before building him back up again.

Which sounds fine to me. . .but really, was there much need for it? Much like Barry Allen sacrificing himself to save reality, I was quite content with Green Arrow being the cranky liberal with a heart of gold who stood against the notion of mind-wiping (one of the only times I'll ever use Identity Crisis to back up an arguement) and always tried to do the right thing, even if he often screwed his life up in trying. To make him into 'The Hunter' makes about as much sense as making Peter Parker go all grim 'n gritty as 'The Spider'. This is the guy who dresses up like Robin Hood and uses boxing glove arrows to put down bank robbers. Yeah, I love Mike Grell's grittier take in The Longbow Hunters, but that was 13 years ago guys. Let's try something new, huh?


Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with fun comics or serious ones. I wasn't trying to say that you were one of the people to say DC sucks now, superhero comics from 60s, 70s, 80s, blah, blah, blah, blah.

The problem I have is that some people here have so little perspective on the whats happened to characters, whats going on in the industry, and so on. Yes, killing Lian was done very poorly and the changes to Green Arrow and Red Arrow was forced. But, for every character that gets screwed over, people seem to miss a lot of good going on at DC, right now and in the past. I mean, characters like Sinestro (who was pretty much seem as a joke for almost 40 years) was given new life in Green Lantern and has been more interesting then he's been in years. Greg Rucka and J.H. Willaims III have had great success with Batwoman in Detective Comics. They've had so much success that Rucka and Williams that they were awarded a GLADD award. Hell, Batwoman is going to get her own series soon. This is great news in advancing the place for women and homosexuals in comics! I'm surprised that Linkara hasn't mentioned any of this news since he's always been one to champion women in superhero comics. Other good news is that Zatanna (a long-time fan favorite character) is getting her own series that's being written by Paul Dini (one of the writers of Batman: TAS).

If comics were so much better back in the day, does that mean that fans want comics from 60s where Wonder Woman was written more as a love smitten idiot who came to Man's World because she wanted to be with Steve Trevor? Or how about issues of Robert Kaniger's Wonder Woman where she fought lame villains like Paper Man, The Glop, and Mouse Man? Do fans really want to read about the incredibly sexist adventures of Superman Girlfriend, Lois Lane? Yes, women in superhero comics get screwed over from time to time, but I would say there have great advancements and their place in superhero comics is certainly better now.

And for all the BS that superhero comics aren't fun these days, what about series like Power Girl, Incredible Hercules, Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, and so on? If you want to read something fun, read some of the ones I've mentioned. Yes, there are serious comics like Captain America, Daredevil, etc., but so what! Isn't it good to have diversity in anything?

Johnny J. said...

bfe, I completely agree with you.

As far as I can tell, C4J takes place between that uncomfortably vague area between Final Crisis and the start of Blackest Night. So Lian might come back in Brightest Day.

But more over, please Lewis: Don't give up on James Robinson. Don't lump everything he's ever written into the rubbish bin, just because of this. Enjoy Starman, Justice League, and the Superman titles.

I know you are pissed off, but every writer has a point in their life where they make their serious blunders. Just remember that not all of them stay there, like Frank Miller or Jeph Loeb, but rather rise up above it and can make awesomeness again.

Chance Thulin said...

Lewis, while I agree with most of what you said I have to argue with your statement about Green Arrow. If you are disgruntled about this being a cold blooded murder then you have to take into consideration Grell's run on Green Arrow in the late 80s starting with the Long Bow Hunters mini series. Ollie has killed before, knowingly and willingly, against non-supervillains and common thugs. This attack on Prometheus in the end of Cry for Justice might have been a surprise but it is not outside of the character when you take into account the Longbow Hunters series. Ollie was hurt in the same, if not similar way as Roy by Prometheus and this caused emotional distress. Now, while Longbow Hunters was actually a great and quintessential Green Arrow story that demonstrated Ollie being pushed to kill for the ones he loved in a natural progression via the narrative Cry for Justice was not.

Yes this was a bad story and we didn't need a rehash of the pre-One Year Later story of Star City being blown up, except with Prometheus playing the role of Merlyn and Lian getting killed. Regardless, the end at least allowed for some form of justice to be claimed. Ollie was pushed and he went back to how he used to be in the 80s because of the necessity of knowing that Prometheus won and was going to do this all over again. If Ollie was willing to kill in Longbow Hunters to protect Dinah from a normal, non supervillain who was going to kill her than he sure as hell would find the guy the destroyed the city that he worked for over a year to bring up from the ashes. He sure as hell would make sure that Prometheus met the fate he deserved for killing Lian and maiming Roy. Though this is considered revenge it can also be considered justice.

Why do I consider this act as both revenge and justice? Because when a death toll gets to genocidal levels and the perpetrator admits his guilt and gets away scot free then you find justification in the murder. Ollie killing Prometheus in his home in the Ghost Zone was akin to a Jewish man killing Hitler in his own home.

What should be debased isn't Ollie but the treatment of all the other heroes in the DC universe towards him. He has killed people before and yet they are surprised? Barry was dead at the time so he gets a pass, but Hal was alive and he knew about it, so did Dinah. They all knew. Why are they so mad at Ollie when Hawkman did the same things, if not more, for less. Hawkman, for instance, cut off Matter Master's arm without hesitation or even a start of a confrontation and has killed before yet no one seems to care. Adam Strange has killed people before yet they do not get mad at him. The post-Cry plot for Green Arrow is almost as bad as Cry itself just because of how poorly everyone is characterized in their shock towards Ollie.

While this story was abysmal I will say that it is not fair for you to turn away from Starman, which is one of the best comic series of all time, because of this story. It would be hypocritical of you to do so considering your praise of early Frank Miller and debasement of modern Frank Miller, since this is a similar case. Frank Miller had several good stories in the earlier years, as you know. The best of which being his runs on Daredevil and The Dark Knight Returns. Those were great stories. James Robinson, right now at least, runs in the same vein. His quality is not the same as it once was. Though his Superman stories at the moment are hit and miss at times Starman and the revival of JSA were good stories and deserved their praise. Don't let this story sour you on his earlier works.

Sorry if I seemed hateful in this post. I meant more to play devil's advocate and state opposition to your points, even to potentially start a dialouge if you are interested. I hold nothing but respect for you as a fellow comic enthusiast. I just wanted to voice my opinion on certain aspects of this letter, while still agreeing with the fact that Killing Lian, especially in such a horrible story, was wrong.

Thank you for your time


ShellyS said...

Very thoughtful comment, Chance. I do agree that it isn't out of character for Ollie. And he certainly has a history of going off on his own quest for justice and leaving his loved ones to fend for themselves.

YhuntressE said...

Reminds me of a line from the Filthy Critic: "Killing children (in fiction) is like cocaine: a cheap, easy high."

rerun said...

Just in case you need further encouragement. Don't let the Loeb-Claremont effect push you away from reading Starman.

shikome kido mi said...

Hmm... I'll say that killing small children in fiction can be well done, but it's extremely hard. It needs to be integral to the story and treated with all the gravity such a horrible thing entails (and I mean gravity not badly done angst).
That said, as a throw away part of a larger killing drumming up angst and rage for a character that doesn't even get revenge or anything it's pretty much a trashy move.

But one moment about Job: Job does NOT get the people he lost back. He gets new people. Because the point of that story is you can't question Jehovah and get answers, he does what he wants and, if you're lucky, rewards loyalty eventually.
But if you're related to the guy he was testing you're still dead.
It's basically a 'bad things can happen to good people but you can't do anything about it' moral fable. Though, let's face it, sometimes that's a useful life lesson.

Anonymous said...

The Didio Regime has done it again. I didn't really understand the animousity towards Didio up till recently until I heard about the ending for Cry For Justice. While Robinson will definately take the heat for this shock and awe clusterfuck, this doesn't look good for the editorial staff at DC as well.
At this point I rank Cry For Justice with several other crappy stories below such as:

-Gwen and Norman sleeping together and having kids
-Peter and MJ's marriage being erased after One More Day
-Orpheus going out like a pussy from d-list bat-villain called Black Mask
-Replacing the original Azrael with a lame and boring character and then bringing him back as a Black Lantern zombie
-The Imperial Guard, Corsair, D'Ken, Havok, Black Bolt and the X-men looking like idiots to make a crappy character named Vulcan look good
-Making Bruce Banner into a deadbeat father
-Turning Iron Man into an armored George Bush
-Making Spider Man reveal his identity to the whole world for no plausible reason

Anonymous said...

Actually Job was about not losing faith. Throughout the whole story people were telling him to renounce God or something because of all the terrible things that happened to him, but since he didn't God rewarded him. The moral was more about keeping your faith even in hard times and you just may be rewarded. Think back to all the stories about Jesus healing the sick. He always says "Your faith has made you well" or something like that.

NINJAMAN87 said...

call me a heartless bastard but i liked cry for justice, i never read the issues were lian was in and frankly i didnt care for her, i never knew who she was because im mostly a darkhose and dynamite fan with the comics, also in not really into the whole hero types mostly i prefered the anti-hero types.
And the reason why Roy couldtn get revenge for her daughters death was because he was in a coma from an attack by prometheus either way i still like and think that her death was neccesary to move the character because she had nothing else to do. a note from ´Life is Beautifull´ were the father gets killed because he reached his goal.

NYman said...


Hi. I am a professor of Hebrew Studies and a comic fan. One of my former students told me about your site and work and I just had to see this for myself.

It's odd that I focus on such an old post, but I do so for two reasons:

1. Cry for Justice was horrible on multiple levels. It was mean spirited and pointless. There was no redeeming quality, and as of this date, no real decent character development for Roy.

2. To correct some misunderstandings on the Book of Job:

a. Job is a parable written to conceptualize the Problem of Evil (why bad things happen to good people). As such there is a lesson to be learned and it is focused on the character of Job and his response to G-d and the outside influences that surround him.

b. Job did indeed question and challenge G-d. This was not out of imprudence or mistrust but because Jewish tradition is based on a dialogue with our maker. Job was angry at G-d. But he knew that simply walking away would not give him answers, and he knew that G-d himself did nothing against his family (the devil here is written as a stand in for natural tragedies which are a part of everyday life).

c. Thus the lesson of Job is not blind obedience. But rather engagement. Whereas his friends wanted him to turn form G-d, Job knew that he must face his Maker and argue with him. A relationship with G-d is not simply kneeling before him and offering gifts. It is the willingness to sit down and speak with the Divine, knowing that sometimes the answers are not what we want (but are what we need). True love of G-d is being willing to be honest with your feelings and knowing that you will go through both good times and bad times.

But knowing all the while that your Deliverer is walking with you.

His fallen family (as recorded in the Oral Torah) was lifted up to the right hand of G-d and Job was restored and started a new life. All was made well for those who can endure

I believe Rabbi Yehuda said it best here:

Unfortunately, this is a far cry from what is in the tubes at DC these days. Oy vey!

Emp Gonzo said...

I just want to add one little thing to this, not really a biggie but, Green Arrow has killed people before. Just putting that out there. So that bit wasn't really out of character.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just something I'm not used to from DC, but I've become extremely disillusioned about how mean-spirited the character deaths are.

I've kept trying to give them a chance, they produced my favorite superhero story ever in Kingdom Come and I keep wanting to think that they're different than Marvel, more nobler, but the more I see, the less I can tolerate it.

Gehenna's end in Blackest Night is what did it for me. They wanted to include her solely to kill her, and they had to do it in the cruelest way possible, purely torturing her in the process. And when everyone else of note in the miniseries did come back at the end, she was left dead solely so Firestorm could be tortured. Storyline wise, they could have kept Jason Rusch's character the same without keeping her dead, but where everyone else came back, even the villain, she is just trotted out after death to taunt the hero.

I'm not against character deaths in comic books. When done well, a timely death can become iconic. It can shape the way characters act (Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy), and can turn a character from being an ordinary villain to a complete and total badass (The Executioner). But comics books now just seem so intent to tr to use death not as an effective story-telling means, but a way to force emotion into a story that could very well be done without it.

It doesn't make the actions of the villains more sickening, it just makes the actions of the writers and editors more sickening.

Ming said...

Personally, I think Cry for Justice had a good concept. Somewhere along the way, however, it became an excuse to destroy the Green Arrow family. Maiming Red Arrow was bad enough. I don't know if it would be better if Star City was sent into wherever Prometheus intended to send it to. But killing a little girl like Lian Harper is something you do not do -- even if the plot says so.

I don't mind a little death or destruction. We've seen cities like Coast City, Bludhaven, Stamford, and yes even Asgard destroyed. We've seen loved ones die -- like Gwen Stacy, Alexandra De Witt, Sue Dibny (her murder was the point of Identity Crisis), Jack Drake. There were instances of children dying as well like Arthur Jr. and the Lizard's son. Still, there are some things comic book writers and editors do not do -- killing children just for the sake of shock and violence is one of them. What happened to Lian Harper, the best thing to happen to Speedy and the only thing that was keeping Speedy whole, was unacceptable and barbaric.

The only good thing that could come out of this travesty was Prometheus's death, which was going to happen anyway.

I can't even look at Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow and/or Lian Harper without thinking about those horrific images of Cry for Justice and Rise of Arsenal. I can't even look at some of the post-Brightest Day stuff without thinking about those two series -- especially Green Arrow, Justice League of America, and Titans Villains for Hire. I wish we could bring Lian Harper back from the dead, but let's face it: the only way this (how old is she anyway? 8? 9? 10? she couldn't be more than 10) girl would come back is either through a retcon punch from Superboy-Prime or as a Black Lantern zombie. (Well, maybe not as a Black Lantern zombie but you get the idea . . .)

The worst part of all this is how this has affected Roy Harper. He's gone from noble hero/single father who's recovered from his demons to criminal-killing psychopath with the worst aspects of Rorschach and Punisher. He's joined the cast in Titans Villains for Hire, but it's only a matter of time before Arsenal double-crosses the team itself.

With what Roy Harper has become in Rise of Arsenal, I fear for the future. I fear that someday, DC will do a storyline where every superhero team will launch a massive manhunt for Arsenal. It will start with Arsenal doing something incredibly horrific (somewhere along the lines of John Horus from Black Summer) and will mostly be Arsenal beating up cops and deploying every countermeasure against superheroes just to show he can. It will happen, that's the thing I'm afraid of.

And it will all because of that one horrific panel from Cry for Justice 7.

ShellyS said...

Ming, your fear is also mine. And I fear that someone will be forced to kill him. Or that the person to bring him to justice will be a former friend, perhaps Dick/Batman or Black Canary, or even Green Arrow. It pains me to the core. I can't read anything with him in it now. For once, I'm glad he's not mentioned in the books I am reading. I'm trying to pretend it all never happened, but it hasn't been easy. If I'd known they would do this to him, I would've preferred they just have killed him outright.