Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 (September, 2009)
“The Origin of Congorilla”
Writers – James Robinson & Len Wein
Artists – Mauro Cascioli & Ardian Syaf
Inker (back-up) – John Dell
Colorist (back-up) – Pete Pantazis
Letterers – Steve Wands & Sal Cipriano
Associate Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Here’s another one from my post-unemployment return to comics in 2010ish. I went to the shop and asked a guy I talked to from time to time to catch me up on a few things DC.
He told me that Cry for Justice was the sort of thing that needed to be seen to be believed. He said the art was ridiculously good… and the rest was, just ridiculous.
As luck would have it, the shop had the entire seven-issue series bagged up for like… ten bucks. I figured why not?
We open on board the Justice League Satellite, and Hal is being kind of a pill. He’s upset that during the latest (Final) Crisis they lost two of their number, Martian Manhunter and Batman. He asks Superman where they go from here, and receives the reply “We start again.” Hal ain’t diggin’ the sound of that. Nearby, Ollie knows some stuff’s about to go down.
Wonder Woman shows a bit of concern… this isn’t the Hal she’s used to. That tells me she doesn’t know Hal all that well, or she hasn’t seen him through temper tantrums toward the Guardians… but, to be fair… that was the pre-[Green Lantern] Rebirth Hal, not Arthur Fonzerelli with a ring like we have here. She asks Hal to clarify his beef, and he gives the ol’ Cable-circa-X-Force reply that they need to be more proactive. The League needs to stop waiting for bad things to happen… and be on the offensive. Ollie’s got a funny feeling…
Superman suggests Hal settle his tea kettle for a moment, but he ain’t having it. He says the heroes are too focused on the “League” and “Society” aspects, but have all but forgotten about Justice. And so, we have our first hero “crying for Justice”… get used to that, I don’t wanna bury the lead, but that’s the theme.
Superman says he can’t let Hal go all Justice-Crying-Vigilante, and Hal reminds him that he is “the law” in Sector 2814, which is something he tends to bring up whenever it’s convenient. Before he stomps his feet and storms out (in a construct bubble) his old pal Ollie decides to join him.
In the bubble, Hal and Ollie have a… strange conversation. The kind of conversation that doesn’t exactly look weird on paper, but I couldn’t imagine these words coming out of any human’s mouth. I mean, Ollie asks “Remember back in the day… when I lost my millions and became liberal–” Eh? That just doesn’t sound like a sentence a human would say. Anyhoo, the jist is… they’re friends till the end, and ooh boy is Dinah gonna reem Ollie out for this one later.
We shift scenes to what looks like an old timey saloon. In it, Atoms Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi are beating up Killer Moth and his gang. After the fight, the Atoms start interrogating the Moth. Turns out “Time Pool” technology had been stolen, Palmer’s buddy Mike Dante was killed… not sure if any of that matters, but it facilitates this scene. When the moth won’t talk, Palmer threatens to shrink down, climb inside him… then begin to grow. Moth ain’t scared because the Atom is a hero. Palmer corrects him… claiming that Choi is the Atom, and he’s just Ray Palmer.
Annnnnd, he does just what he threatens. He climbs into Moth’s noggin and starts to grow. Killer Moth decides it might be best to come clean, and so he provides a name… Prometheus. Afterward Palmer sends Choi back to Ivy Town, because he is going on a hunt for… Justice! There’s our second hero “crying for Justice”.
We shift scenes again, this time to Opal City. We see the early bits of this aside from the point of view of our character. He is visiting a funeral home to view (who I’m assuming to be) his boyfriend. He is about to be referred to as Starman, but he corrects the director. On his way out, he blows up a car. There’s no Justice, I tells ya!
Finally, we head to the Congo, where we see a golden gorilla sitting among dozens of dead primates… and an older man named Bill. This is Congorilla/Congo Bill, of course… and if I’m reading this right the gorilla form has become separated from the human “host”. It’s not entirely clear… or, perhaps I’m just too dense to see it.
Congorilla is approached by Freedom Beast, who I think was a successor to B’wana Beast, but I’m not sure if I’m remembering that right. He says that he “tried to stop them” before dying.
After thinking for a moment… you’ll never guess what Congorilla is about to cry for…
We get a back-up feature so we might learn the origin of Congorilla… which is appropriately titled “The Origin of Congorilla”. Let’s see, Congo Bill was an explorer who was given a ring by his dying friend Cheif Kawolo… and is told that if he were to rub the ring, his mind would be transferred into the body of the “Golden Gorilla” of the Veldt… and it does!
Well, chalk one up for truth in advertising! The cover promises crying for justice… and damned if the story didn’t come through. Not gonna lie folks, this was not an easy read.
I will say that I received it… differently this time around. Back in 2010ish, I thought this was laughably bad. Like one of the worst things I’d read in quite some time. Fast forward the better part of a decade later and, I dunno… it’s still pretty cringy, but at the same time I can’t deny that there is a certain level of comfort.
I mean, let’s take a look at that opening bit with Hal. Now, he’s acting like a jerk… sure. But… we can see that there is a history between the members of the League there. There’s a long history that we experienced with them… not just told about. Even now in our post-Rebirth DC Comics landscape, I still don’t feel like we’ve entirely got our “history” back… and I’m doubtful that we ever will. At least to the extent that I’m looking for.
So, in that regard… just nods to the past and an almost tangible feeling of “history”, I can’t downright hate this book. Even if we jump ahead… we have the Atoms, so the post-Infinite Crisis “legacy” lives on, which I love. Also, Mikaal Tomas, a character who came from obscurity to be a strong supporting character in the second volume of Starman… and Congo freakin’ Bill. These are pretty deep cuts… and illustrate, at least to me, how much the DC Universe means to Robinson. Can’t hate that… though, I know for a fact I did my first time through.
Now, let’s cry. It almost feels like a rib, doesn’t it? It’s like we readers are being messed with… these characters are literally “crying for justice”. I get that justice is one of those primal needs (sometimes one of the more primal) but how weird is all this? It’s like nothing bad has ever happened to them before, and now all at once… they crave the justice, and actually vocalize their desire! Like I said above with Ollie’s “becoming liberal”, these are sentences that, when said aloud, really sound silly.
The proactive team approach… has been done before. This is almost Extreme Justice 2.0, which proved (at least to me) that you can’t really do “X-Force” with the Justice League. Not every super team can pull this sort of thing off… and the way I see it, characters like Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen are just too iconic to be put into the “Cable” role. It doesn’t feel right…
Speaking of not feeling right… what the hell is the Atom doing threatening to pop dudes’ heads off? I mean, I get it… you’re angry, but threatening to expand inside a bad guy… and then starting to do it? Yeesh. Maybe he got some of his ex-wife’s Eclipso on him or something. Also, Mikaal Tomas exploding a random car on the street… while looking for justice? I’m guessing the owner of that car might want some too! Eh, maybe it was his car… either way, it’s dumb.
The art… is amazing. That was like the “big draw” (pun!) to this book. It’s just gorgeous to look at. I can’t remember if there were shipping delays on this one, but with the level of detail and quality being put in, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Overall. Hmm. This really isn’t for everyone… the story is weird, the characterization is all over the place, and a lot of it borders on cringy… but damn is it pretty! It’s available digitally… for $2.99. I wouldn’t spend three bucks on this regardless of how much I dig the art. I don’t think it would be too difficult to come across this in the cheap-o bins… which is always your best bet!