I have had a rough few days.
Tuesday, my car broke down on the way to work, leaving me stranded on the highway for an hour waiting on a tow truck. I spent another hour IN the tow truck trying to find a garage that was still open that early in the evening. I then spent another hour waiting for a friend to give me a ride home.
Wednesday, I wound up missing an entire day of work so I could sit in a garage with no reading material besides old Redbook magazines, as the time my car 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. This 24 hours of Hell was not over yet.
I got home to find an IM from a friend telling me what had happened. I had further e-mails and messages on LiveJournal. All telling me the news.
The news? That my favorite comic writer of all time (James Robinson), the man who wrote my favorite comic series of all time (the same one which gave me my nickname) had not only found a way to make the most critically panned comic of the last year (JLA: Cry For Justice) even worse. He had done so by committing character assassination on my all-time favorite superhero, Green Arrow. And he did so by turning Cry For Justice into a third-rate remake of Longbow Hunters.
Now for those of you - like me - who have been skipping Cry For Justice since the first issue, let me explain the idea behind the series, briefly.
Sick of seeing their friends die because of supervillain attacks that could be prevented, Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) quit the Justice League to form their own team. They recruit some similarly minded heroes (Supergirl, the Ray Palmer Atom, Batwoman and Captain Marvel) and they go around torturing super-villains in order to find out about big criminal acts before they happen.
Eventually, this new team uncovers a plot by the super-villain Prometheus to murder several superheroes. This turned out to be a feint regarding a greater plan to use the JLA's own teleporters to destroy the hometowns of numerous superheroes by sucking them into the void. This plan is revealed after Prometheus (who has been masquerading as Captain Marvel this whole time) somehow severs the arm of Roy Harper (aka Red Arrow).
The series has been panned by critics and fans for a number of reasons that aren't worth going into at the moment. Suffice it to say that all of those complaints were a drop in the bucket compared to the bile that has risen regarding Issue #7.
To make a long story short, Prometheus blows up Star City - Green Arrow's hometown - to show that his is serious and threatens to destroy 50 more cities if he isn't let go. Reluctantly, the heroes let him escape to his personal dimension. Ollie and company find out that among those killed in the destruction was Lian Harper - Roy's daughter and Ollie's granddaughter.
Upon returning home, Prometheus gloats and lets his guard down. Enough that he doesn't see the arrow with his name on it coming...
Now, there are a lot of reasons why people are upset about this story.
The Lian Harper fans are upset that she's been killed off for the obvious reasons but also because this death has come at a time when DC Editorial is making a big deal about making the universe lighten-up. It's harder to come up with many things darker than killing a little girl to give her father and grandfather more angst.
The old-school DC Comics fans are pissed for pretty much the same reason above - more death and angst. With a young girl, no less.
The Women In Refrigerators crowd is upset because Lian has become the latest statistic - one more female character sacrificed upon the altar of Drama, in the name of giving a male character motivation.
The Roy Harper fans are upset that all of these bad things happened to him as a secondary consideration. Yes, he has suffered, but not because of anything he was doing as a character. He was a supporting cast member in this story and - by proxy - Roy's injury was less about developing Roy as a character and more about pushing Ollie one step closer to the line he crosses at the end of this issue.
And then there's all the James Robinson fans who can't believe that the man who gave us Leave It To Chance, Starman and The Golden Age could ever be responsible for... this. Those of us who cry so we do not rage and rage so we do not cry. Like the kid who watched Shoeless Joe Jackson leaving the courthouse, we want to cry out, "Say It Ain't So, James! Say It Ain't So!"
These are all fine reasons to be upset. But that's not what has me upset.
What has me upset is not what has happened or even why it happened, but WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.
The only reason this was done was to set up two upcoming stories - The Rise of Arsenal and The Fall of Green Arrow.
From the DC Comics NewsBlog
... the hunter becomes the hunted ... as the FALL OF GREEN ARROW begins. I personally guarantee that Ollie’s life will be drastically changed following these two issues, as the Justice League of America comes after the Emerald Archer.
Roy Harper’s lost his arm, his daughter and now a chance at revenge. What does Red Arrow think of his former mentor’s killing spree, and what dark path is he journeying toward that even his friends and teammates won’t be able to prevent?
This too, has a lot of people upset.
Quite a bit of the fan base is upset that Cry For Justice is being used as a springboard for any story, much less THIS one, after all of the various continuity conflicts and bad characterization that filled Cry For Justice.
(To mention a few brief examples, how Ray Palmer - the man held up as an avatar of compassion for his enemies in Blackest Night is pictured gleefully torturing supervillains in Cry For Justice and how Oliver Queen - the one hero who objected to the torture and the idea of using extreme violence throughout Cry For Justice - ends the story by killing a villain.)
The Roy Harper fans are less than happy with the implication that the end result of Cry For Justice is Roy Harper becoming a villain.
And the Green Arrow fans are downright pissed that - at a time when DC Comics is boasting about how things are going to lighten up and be happy and wonderful post-Blackest Night - our hero is going to become a pariah among his own kind and a fugitive from justice.
And THAT, is what has me the most upset about all of this. That all of this death and stupidity has been brought about to set up that story: Green Arrow kills someone and the entire world turns against him.
Is it because I hold to the idea that Ollie is too good of a good guy to ever kill someone?
No. Given what happened to his city, his son and his granddaughter, I'd be very surprised if he COULD hold his temper in check. In fact, given how she gets when she's in Mama Bear mode, I'm amazed Dinah didn't beat him to it.
Is it because this basic idea was already done nearly 25 years ago in The Longbow Hunters (Ollie kills to avenge a loved one) and later on in Mike Grell's Green Arrow run during The Black Arrow Saga (Green Arrow #35-38. Ollie is accused of a crime and becomes a fugitive)?
No, but it is a bit worrisome that the one old-school Green Arrow story they keep in print in TP format is now being ignored for the purposes of acting like Ollie has never killed in the past under questionable circumstances.
What really bothers me is that it makes no frelling sense for the vast majority of The Justice League and most of the big-name heroes to have ANY issue at all with Ollie's actions here.
Superman? I can't imagine he'd be happy about Ollie doing this but it's not like he can throw stones. After all, he became judge, jury and executioner for three Kryptonian super-criminals in a parallel dimension.
Wonder Woman? Ignoring that the Amazon code allows for killing enemies in battle and the various sentient monsters Diana has killed for being a threat to humanity (Medusa ring a bell?), there is also that incident with Maxwell Lord to consider.
Batman? Okay, he WOULD have issues with this but Bruce is still pushing up the daisies and joined the bleeding choir invisible. For now, anyway. And yes, I know Dick Grayson is Batman now. But given that he once beat The Joker to death when he thought The Joker had killed Tim Drake, I figure he'd cut Ollie some slack even ignoring Dick's friendship with Roy Harper.
The Flash? Barry Allen killed Professor Zoom to save the life of his wife. BEFORE Crisis On Infinite Earths, no less!
The Green Lanterns? They're allowed to kill in the line of duty now. Hal Jordan and John Stewart are military or ex-military, so they're likely to be understanding that some people just need killing.
Hawkman? Yes, I'm sure the guy who is basically Conan with wings and a huge mace is going to give Ollie a lecture about not losing your temper when it comes to your family.
Black Canary? Well, even if you ignore that Dinah killed to save Ollie's life in Mike Grell's Green Arrow and that Dinah tested as a killer on the magical radar of the murderer-hunting hero Harvester in Birds of Prey... again, Mama Bear instinct regarding Lian? Prometheus is just lucky Ollie got to him first and made it quick.
Yes, I am worried that this proposed story is already built on a weak foundation and that it's rehashing territory that has already been explored quite well. But even that is not what upsets me the most.
What upsets me the most is that after last week's Green Arrow book by J.T. Krul, I was really looking forward to seeing what he was going to do with the characters in this storyline. That enthusiasm is gone now, replaced with a sense of dread that this relative newcomer won't be capable of making something good grow out of the earth that James Robinson and DC Editorial have salted.
I don't envy Krul the task he has before him. Still, if nothing else, there is hope. A slim hope. A blind hope. But hope nonetheless.