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.

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