Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RE: Atop The Fourth Wall's Cry For Justice Review - A Video Response In Two Parts

The last couple of weeks I've been watching Atop The Fourth Wall's video reviews on the comic book series Cry For Justice.

I was compelled to create my own video to serve as a counterpoint to many of the criticisms and arguments brought up in Linkara's aforementioned review.

So I contacted the man to inform him of my intentions, and with his blessing
I present his series of reviews alongside my own response.

Like my friend Mike Priest would say, I hope you find them "edu-taining."

AT4W: Justice League: Cry for Justice #1 and 2

AT4W: Justice League: Cry for Justice #3 and 4

AT4W: Justice League: Cry for Justice #5-7

RE: Atop The Fourth Wall's Cry For Justice Review - A Video Response In Two Parts (Part 1)

RE: Atop The Fourth Wall's Cry For Justice Review - A Video Response In Two Parts (Part 2)


  1. I disagree with you on the torture thing. First of all, it's not like Batman isn't known for torture. Hell, one of the panels you showed during it has someone (I presume Palmer's wife), saying to Ray that "Please Ray - You're not Bruce." For Palmer, the torture is relatively out of character, unlike Jack Bauer or Batman, who, as I just said, are known to torture.

  2. The issue Linkara had with the death of Lian was not that it was "Out of character" for her or Speedy, but instead it took away one of Speedy's most defining traits, a single father who is also trying to be a super hero. The writers kill her just for the shock value.

  3. I'll admit, I enjoyed both this and Linkara's review, because they both make valid points. I'll start off by saying that I'm edging more towards Linkara's way of thinking for many of these points, but I figure I'd like to chime in with my own responses. I agree that the "no killing" rule is far too overplayed and a long-standing artificial restriction put in place by the Comics Code Authority, which, for many reasons, I detest as a general rule. I'm a big fan of a lot of the EC comics stuff from back in the day (thanks to my father's interest and insight from the era, as well as reprints), and the whole Seduction of the Innocent nonsense killed some truly great comics with powerful and important messages.

    But I digress. The "no kill" rule and mindset is one that is commonly ingrained into the mainstream heroes as a result of an overreaction and a desire to protect the children, and we've been moving away from that for a long time, but I think the more important issue for the no-kill clause (and the revolving door of death is the static nature of the stories, linked in part to nobody wanting to recreate the Joker. Now, clearly part of the problem is that we like to see our heroes win (and it was mandated under the CCA), and we like the interaction between the heroes and their most memorable opponents, but how long is that really sustainable? It's not, not without straining all credulity in the process.

    The bigger issue, I think, is that the stories must go on. We have this huge, twisted amalgam of tales spun through decades, referencing themselves over and over again, retcons running wild and nobody really able to make heads or tales of the beasts. As writers come and go, different stories are told with different effects, but there is always one things lacking, one thing that prevents the stories being told from having any real impact.

    They don't end.

    Now, I'll freely admit at this point that this is the first video of yours so I don't know if or how you touch on this subject yourself, so if I'm preaching to the choir, I do apologize and will make an effort to see more of your stuff in the near future. My point being, however, that most of my favorite books throughout my life have been mini-series, elseworlds/what-ifs, and of course, self-contained plots, because, well, they have proper story structure.

    I'm of the opinion that the major companies should have the alternate universes showcased more. Ultimates were a great idea, and All-Star should have been similarly fantastic (I've not read either because I keep hearing very mixed reviews on them), but the point is that the writers should be given proper control over their creations and be allowed to tell the stories they want to tell. Look at the absolutely fantastic job Timm and company did from B:TAS to JL:U. It was, for the most part, coherent and massively enjoyable. Imagine, now, that "The Batman" or "The Brave and the Bold" were in the same continuity. Regardless of how good they might be (and I do love NPH as the Music Meisteeeeer!), it just doesn't fit.

    At any rate, it's getting long and spiraling off into too many tangents, but I wanted to thank you for posting these videos and starting the discussion. I'm hoping, desperately, that this sort of discourse can be continued. I love comics, I think they're a fantastic medium, and they deserve a good, hard look at how they're used by our current crop of creators.

    Have a good one, one fan to another.

  4. My oppinion (not having read Cry for Justice) is that Linkara isn't criticizing the concept, but the delivery. "Green Arrow shoots Promethius in the face" - ok, fair enought; "Green Arrow stands there like a jackass and mumbles 'Justice'" - moronic. IMHO. And the little girl dying and all the other characters that Linkara didn't even recognize: killing them, even just for shock value isn't a terrible thing, but that was their first and last appearance in the series (or was it?). No buildup.

  5. Whereas I appreciate you took the time to counter Linkara's review, I can't stress how you seemingly missed the main point of what he was trying to say. There's a huge huge difference between complaining about the meaning of "JUSTICE" rather than complaining about the way it's told to the audience. Yes, it's clear that GL wants "Pro-Active Justice" similar to the Outsiders and such. However, Robinson does NOT tell the story well at all about them seeking this form of "Justice." In the story, they are still clearly just responding to threats and putting out fires. They didn't hunt after Prometheus because they wanted to bring him to "Justice", but rather they hunt after him because he WANTS them too, which makes all this "Pro-Active Justice" talk utter fucking bullshit.

    In regards to the whole Lethal Force is Authorized thing after the Sinestro Corps War, there is an almost immediate story after it regarding the creation of the Alpha-Lanterns, in which GL Laira is brought in for questioning due to killing a Sinestro Corps member IN. COLD. BLOOD. This clearly shows that while the GL Corps may have the authorization to kill a Sinestro Corps member, there are still moral & ethics laws to be upheld, just like any police organization.

    In regards to Ray Palmer torturing someone, once again it seems like you missed the point. The excuse of "well Batman tortures people for information so why does Ray Palmer doing it bother you" doesn't work because it's 100% completely out of character for Ray Palmer, a scientist, to not only be torturing someone, but doing it in the almost exact same way that his wife killed Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis, an act which LITERALLY made him shrink into another universe in utter depression. That is what makes it completely out of character, and it is absolutely not hypocrisy to have a valid complaint about this kind of sloppy, shitting writing.

  6. And finally, the whole Red Arrow/Lian complaint... Since you mention Kyle Rayner, I'll just say that I am a huge fan of his. His Green Lantern run was when I first starting collecting my own comics, and I've always been a huge fan of his character, watching him grow and seeing him develop. I also love Hal Jordan as a character too, reading all the collections my father & brother collected of Green Lantern. Now, when they said they were going to bring him back in Green Lantern: Rebirth, one of my greatest fears was that they were going to kill off Kyle Rayner for "shock value" or to make Hal Jordan once again the prime GL. Not only did they NOT kill him, but they honored him for carrying the torch and continued to further develop his GL career in Green Lantern Corps, as he was made one of the Honor Guard. This is what I respect about writers like Geoff Johns. He respects the history he is given and builds upon it.

    Almost the same thing can be said about Roy Harper. He started out as a sidekick, went through some real crap, but eventually grew into Red Arrow and joined the Justice League. It was growth as a character, and that growth came a lot from his young daughter, Lian, whom he was raising by himself. To say that Lian's death was somehow "in character or not in character" is not the fucking point. The point is, they chopped Roy's arm off and killed his daughter FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN SHOCK VALUE. All of his character growth, his development, his life lessons, his daughter, gone in an instant FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN SHOCK VALUE. Dick Grayson got to grow from Robin to Nightwing to Batman. Kyle Rayner grew from being the lone GL to carry the torch to one of it's most honored members. Wally West grew from Kid Flash to eventually taking over the mantle when Barry died, to still keeping the Flash mantle even after Barry came back.

    I'm not saying death in comics is bad, or that bad things don't or can't happen to people for story telling purposes, but when the story has NO purpose other than altering the course of Green Arrow & Red Arrow as well as trying to build a new JLA, then what happened to the characters, especially Lian Harper, is literally meaningless. Lian's death was meaningless, and not meaningless in terms that sometimes death is meaningless in the sense that saying that sometimes someone's death IS meaningless which is true in life, but meaningless is that her death was ONLY for Shock Value and ONLY to change Roy Harper & Oliver Queen and move their characters and the books they are in in a different direction. It's complete and utter disrespect to the history of the characters and the fans of said characters, told in a poorly written & jumbled mess which, even at the end of the comic, never actually gets to the point of the "Pro-Active Justice" they were supposedly going to seek, and even after this gutter trash, nothing was done to create a more Pro-Active Justice League.

  7. On the subject of the whole Justice thing:

    1. Sure, the concept of proactive justice is something that comes up a lot in comics, and would be a good story. But, outside of Green Arrow killing Prometheus, there ISN'T any real proactive justice, except for torturing people for information. They aren't really looking for anyone until they are told Prometheus is doing something. I.e. a crime in process. Basically they just go around TALKING about justice, but they aren't really doing anything different other than sort of hanging out with different people. MAYBE the story was that the heroes didn't really know what they were talking about, seeing as they all basically throw Green Arrow under the bus for doing exactly what they were talking about. Well, the only other thing

    2. If the fact that the villains are making excuses for their reprehensible actions makes them unrelatable then how can the heroes, the ones who are supposed to be the protagonists, just make excuses to murder (there was no argument of self defense, or in the line of fire, or moment where there is no other choice like the Max Lord situation, etc) or torture. Also, the story seemed to try very hard to make Prometheus into a good villain (i.e. someone we want to see get his comeuppance) but immediately kills him off. This means, at the end of story, we've retconned him back into being an ubermastermind, but he's dead.

    The story did a few things:

    a. Built up Prometheus as a villain. But he's dead, so outside of the story, it provides no lasting story.

    b. Form a new Justice League. This was sort of succesful. It did sort of cause the impetus for the team to shift, and in the end, they had a new team ... but they didn't really form a new team, they just made another interim team. The one thing it did was introduce Congorilla and Starman to the team, which is a good thing.

    c. Change the status quo of Green Arrow's family. It broke up his marriage, sent him into a spiral, and changed who Roy Harper was. A lot of the deaths were basically meaningless ... killing off secondary characters that weren't doing a whole lot. In the long term, the main outcome has been Green Arrow running around in the woods in his own book (his murder of Prometheus sort of set it up, as well as the explosion and Brightest Day, but it doesn't really come up. He's already gone back to not wanting to kill). It got him broken up with his wife and had his identity revealed (which in turn caused him to lose his company, etc). There were likely other ways to get to that point. Similarly, it has lead to Roy joining up with Deathstroke in the Titans books. So, it worked to change their status quo.

  8. Part 2:

    3. The thing is, Batman isn't Superman. Superman isn't the Atom. And Atom isn't a torturer. He has had wives taken away from him ... after one of them did EXACTLY what he was doing inside people's brains. He knows that it can kill people (sure he's more careful at it than Sue Dibney). And in the Buffy clip, Giles says it himself. He's NOT a hero. He's doing the things that heroes shouldn't do it, because heroes need to be held to a higher standard.

    4. The Hal hate ... well, a lot of the arguments he makes in the comic are VERY similar to his entire thought process as Paralax. Sure, it was retconned that he wasn't a murderous psycho, but he's still probably the one guy most people would be suspicious of Hal talking about taking matters into his own hands. And, as people have pointed out. Like with real cops "lethal force authorized" doesn't mean that "lethal force is automatically justified". Nor does it equate to torture being authorized either.

    5. The one good thing with Hush was his more recent stuff of his being sort of interesting as a decoy of Bruce. Now that Bruce is back, he's basically useless. The argument isn't that Gotham Knights was a bad comic, but that Prometheus was a punk. It was apparently supposed to be Onomatapeia that was going to be in that situation (which was why he was punked by Green Arrow in the comic), but Kevin Smith nixed that. So they just put Prometheus in the role instead. I wasn't too sad about the Birds of Prey stuff being retconned, although admitedly it was just a running joke of getting hit in the nads. And ultimately, while getting hit in the nads

    6. They retconned the Longbow Hunters. When he returned from the grave, they went out of their way to get rid of the period of time when Green Arrow was going around and killing people. He was a pre-longbow hunters version of Ollie. Sort of like how Hal was given a pass on all the Paralax stuff with the whole "you were infected by a giant space bug" thing when he came back.

    7. The explosion thing is basically the same argument as the whole "Batman is perfect" argument you had in the videos. There was a LOT of stuff in the book meant to make Prometheus even more into anti-Batman. It's meant to look like a Xanato's Gambit where he has all the angles covered ... but so much that happens is entirely coincidential. It's not the technobabble he has a problem with. It's that he somehow KNEW to prepare for those exact heroes despite most of them just coming together at random (I don't think there is any mention of the villains causing them to all start screaming out Justice randomly, other than killing their friends ... but then again, Prometheus had nothing to do with Krypton exploding, so how did he know to include Kryptonite?)

    8. Sure, he didn't use red shirt nobodies. But, because he killed them off panel with no context, they are basically the same as red shirt nobodies except for the people who liked them and would be peeved that they get killed. The complaint is that killing people off panel is pretty lame IN GENERAL. Killing off "useless" characters has been a crutch in comics for a long time to make a story seem more important. It makes other deaths less impactful (and any meaningful death is still not meaningful since if the character is important enough to make an impact, they are important enough to either be brought back to life, or at least inspire a legacy charcter to take their place).

  9. The problem Linkara had wasn't the idea of proactive justice. He had a problem with these particular characters behaving 180 degrees opposite to their established character. Like if you had Mr. Rogers and Elmo starring in "The Mechanic" or "The Expendables" and behaving like Statham.

    I understand why Linkara was peeved about the Little Lian situation. Robinson barely even mentioned her previously in his story. Robinson didn't even show her and her father interact, before he wasted her. Such disrespect for the readers.

    And the thing about "well, Morrison killed my favorite characters, so I'm gonna kill off HIS favorite characters! Nyah Nyah Nyah!" doesn't serve anyone in the long run. Robinson may have but gotten his "revenge" on Morrison, but he only sullied his own story in the process. I can't believe you co-signed on that shit in your video. You didn't even looked convinced that this was a good way to go for Robinson when you said it.

    Oh yeah, what kind of video editor and plug ins do you use? That looked really good.

  10. Sigh.....I understand how you feel...However, if you were to kill someone who hurt your family, is that justice to the basic law enforcement? No, it's not. It's a crime. Superheros are supposed to not kill their opponents, to come down to a villain's level. Revenge is exactly the motivation of my comic book villains. That is wrong, and it is perceived as wrong by many.

    And the biggest problem is Lian Harper dying for nothing else but a moment to improve Green Arrow's plot. For example, Supergirl's death back on the Crisis of Infinite Earths served the entire plot of the work and was incredibly moving to the motivations of all involved...and then the comic went a step further with the plot that no one remembers her. She is the true extent of a hero because of that reason; she gave her life not for recognition, or for the honor and the good to be seen, but to simply fight for good.

    A death should never be used to simply advance another's plot or to make the reader shocked. You're cutting off possible stories with that person and those that are alongside them, and piss off fans of their character in other series. It is a cheap narrative device that points out bad writing to me, and clearly to others.

  11. For me the simple point is this. Heroes can kill vilans yes just like cops can kill criminals. But what they cannot do is execute them. There is a big difference between Killing someone in self defense or because it was the only option left. And killing them just because its easier. If society decided to kill the Joker or Two face or any of his rogues gallery Batman would have no problem with it. The point is that he's not the one that should decide for them. To do that would be to place his own interest above those of the people he protects.

  12. Continuing what I was saying before about killing, yes Hal Jordan is authorized to use lethal force as are all the green lantern members, but there is a difference between killing in the line of duty and murder. A green lantern who kills someone who does not pose an immediate threat to his life or the life of others will be stripped of their ring and sentenced to jail time. This was done when a member of the Sinestro Corps was killed after surrendering even though the vilan was an admitted murderer at the moment lethal force was not needed to apprehend him and as such killing him was viewed as murder by the Corp.

    If Hal was with Green arrow when he killed Promethius and did not try to stop him he could be tried as an accesory to murder.

  13. Killing a guy who's coming right at you (Parademon example) or in the process of wiping out an entire city (Doomsday) is self-defense. "Proactive justice" is seeking out someone and killing him before he can cause harm (again). Two very different things. There's the whole "immediate threat" thing and whatnot. Plus, one most certainly gets you a "no criminal prosecution" card, the other one could very likely land you in jail.