*Spoilers for JL: Cry for Justice and the recently released Starman/Congorilla one shot ahead*
Man, where to start. I admit it. I bought Justice League: Cry for Justice. The art was a major draw (although it ended up being pretty offensive in several places and then the artist couldn’t even finish it despite delays) and seemed to contain some characters that I cared about (like Batwoman, who ended up being like three panels of the thing). It ended up being pretty terrible. If you want to know just how terrible it was you should follow the link in the sidebar to Atop the Forth Wall and watch Linkara’s excellent review of it (parts one and two are up now and part three should be up next week).
But as bad as that was, I’m not going to dwell on it too much here. That isn’t what got my attention today. It is important that you know, in case you didn’t read it, that one of the major problems with the series was the insane amount of character death, most of them minor or supporting characters and many of them off panel. The death that got the most attention was probably that of Roy Harper’s (Red Arrow or Arsenal depending on when you are reading) daughter Lian. That one was like a punch in the gut to me, and felt amazingly unnecessary (especially considering poor Roy had just had one of his ARMS TORN OFF). But again, that isn’t what I’m here to rant about.
You may remember a little quote that was floating around after Blackest Night that “dead was dead” from now on. Now of course, we all rolled our eyes knowing that it certainly wouldn’t last. We all know how these things work. But the point was made that they probably wouldn’t be using character death/resurrection as a gimmick for at least a while. The “revolving door of death” in the DCU was apparently going to be closed.
Again, I knew that this wasn’t going to stick for too long. But I figured the editors would be keeping a tight leash on this particular idea and that when the first post Blackest Night resurrection happened that it would be a big deal and would have to have some strong writing to work around the “dead is dead” idea. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was wrong.
In the Starman/Congorilla one shot this month (which, for full disclosure, I have not read) the Tasmanian Devil was resurrected by having his remains thrown into a Lazarus pit. Let’s backtrack for a moment. Tas was killed off in the afore mentioned Cry for Justice and, to add insult to injury, his skin was MADE INTO A RUG so that we could all see just what a badass Prometheus was. That’s right. Not only was this character brutally murdered in a rather offhanded manner, but he was skinned and put on display. It was rather distasteful and got quite a reaction when it happened.
One of the reasons that it was a big deal (other than the outright grotesqueness of it)was that Tas, while a rather minor player in the DCU, is one of the few openly gay heroes. And when there are so few of them in the comic universe the loss of even one is felt strongly by fans who are gay and who support gay characters.
Now here’s the rub. Tas was killed in Cry for Justice and brought back in Starman/Congorilla. The writer for BOTH of these works was James Robinson. Wait, what? At first this seemed like it was perhaps some half baked apology for the wonton death of Cry for Justice. But upon reading an interview on Newsarama it seems as though Robinson claims this was “planned all along.” He had always planned for Tas to be brought back and to end up as the boyfriend of Starman (another of the established gay characters). Did I mention that Starman’s previous boyfriend was killed (off panel) in Cry for Justice too? So Robinson’s master plan was to kill the old boyfriend and then kill the soon-to-be-new boyfriend and then bring the new boyfriend back to conveniently take the place of the old (and apparently forgotten) boyfriend?
And now here is the other problem. The big solution to “dead is dead” is the Lazarus pits? Are you freaking serious? Why don’t we just go throw all the bodies of dead superheroes into the Lazarus pit and bring them back too? Why not Lian Harper and Ralph and Sue Digby and all of the other heroes that people miss? Because it’s a terrible idea, that’s why. It has been established many times that while the Lazarus pits are powerful, people have a tendency to come back wrong. Insane wrong usually. Batman decided against bringing Jason Todd back this way. Tim Drake had the opportunity to bring back his parents and best friends (who got better anyway…) and turned it down because he knew that it wouldn’t really be them and this it wasn’t natural. Heck, even when Dick Grayson threw Bruce’s not-body into the pit it was as a last resort that he knew was incredibly dangerous and could have massive side effects. It was a desperation move. But Tas doesn’t seem to have been effected at all. The Lazarus pits were established as a poor solution to death BECAUSE of how broken they are and how many questions are raised if people are brought back with them without consequences.
*Sigh* Even if this was “the plan all along” (which I do not buy at all) it is a terrible plan and some editor somewhere should have put a stop to it. And by it I mean the death in the first place. You want Tas and Starman to hook up? Groovy. You want to kill off Starman’s current boyfriend as a plot device before that? Well…okay, I mean we wish you wouldn’t but it’s not a complete deal breaker. You want to ignore the big status quo change that we have been pimping in the DCU not even a year after it was made so you can kill this character, among a sea of others, for shock value and then almost immediately bring him back? Sorry Mr. Robinson, we’ll have to see another draft of this; I’m afraid this just doesn’t work.