The Rise of Arsenal #3



Sometimes–most of the time, really–writing for ComicsAlliance is really fun. This is not one of those times, because today, I’ve reviewed Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #3, which is rapidly becoming one of the most universally reviled comics of the year.

I’m a little late to the party on this one, so I tried to dig a little deeper than just the events of the issue, but for another really good take on it, check out this week’s Awesomed By Comics, where Evie and Aaron sum it up a little more eloquently than I manage.

36 thoughts on “The Rise of Arsenal #3

  1. Man, what the hell has happened to DC? Putting aside anything Morrison or Simone is doing, it’s like the whole company has turned into Image circa 1995. Except WildCATs was more subtle and well written.

  2. C’mon, Karsten, I’m a catastrophic pessimist, and even I don’t think it’s ALL shit. I will admit that it’s incredibly hard to look past some of their recent abysmal titles — and I’m not even going to try to defend them, because “Cry for Justice” and “Rise of Arsenal” really ARE that bad — but it’s not like they don’t have plans for Batwoman and Power Girl. We also have to wait and see what happens with the Legion. And Batman! Time-traveling Batman!

    We just need to nuke all the recent Arsenal and Green Arrow-related titles out of continuity, that’s all. Where the hell is Superboy Prime when you need him?

  3. “Cry for Justice” and “Rise of Arsenal” really ARE that bad — but it’s not like they don’t have plans for Batwoman and Power Girl. We also have to wait and see what happens with the Legion.

    That right there is some quality quiet desperation hope.

  4. Right, where did I put my DC Editorial Voodoo Doll? I think it’s time for a spin in the dryer.

  5. He gets into a fight w/ five or six guys after shooting up? Does he vomit them into unconciousness?

  6. Wait…volcanic vagina? Did someone lose a bet and have to come up with an idea even stupider than haunted vagina? This is the only explanation I will accept.

    Looks like my strategy of buying DC books that came out no more recently than 2-3 years ago is working beautifully.

  7. Adler- Oh, I’m all about time traveling Batman- And the current Batman and Robin, the Secret Six, The Birds of Prey…Morrison and Simone are banging it out of the park over and over. And I LOVED Rucka and Williams III on Detective, my favorite run since All Star Superman, but until Batwoman launches it’s just another glaring absence…especially since the alternative is what, a tepid series about Aryan Batgirl? Fuck that.

  8. Anyone who thinks that the entire DC line is reflected in god awful shit like Titans and Rise of Arsenal needs to pull their head out of the blogging community and actually take a look at the books. The vast majority of DC’s output is at the very least competently put together, with a few fringe books that occasionally have tips into either side of the quality line. Are they interesting or particularly good? It depends at what vantage point you stand at.

    But, outside of the two franchises of Green Arrow and Teen Titans (Which have been complete and utter shit long before DiDio decided to take the reigns), there’s very little at DC that can be pointed at and said “This is objectively awful. This is a creative failure on every level.” Maybe you can throw that line at Brightest Day, but even that could go end up turning out a win by the end. Well a win for most people, I doubt there’s anything Johns can do to win Chris over at this point.

  9. Just to clarify on what I said so I don’t come off as some slobbering fanboy. I am in no way saying that almost everything DC puts out is good, far from it. There are quite a few books that are either not to my tastes, or I just find too average or menial to spend time reading when there are books like King City and SHIELD to be read instead.

    What I am instead saying is that while run-of-the-mill could be used to describe the fair-share of DC books, gobsmackingly horrible, is not.

  10. So, does anyone else think that the “rise” referred to in the title of this series is about Arsenal getting his, erm, libido back?

    How well is this book selling? Because that’s the sort of language DC listens to and not folk (rightly) ranting on a blog.

  11. OK let me get this straight… A guy who styles himself “Arsenal” can’t get it up for the mother of his children so he decides to get high and go in for some man on man group “ultraviolence” for some ah release, and then you tell me there’s no subtext here..?

    In the immortal words of GOB: Come on!

  12. @Karsten: We should start a petition to have DC put the word ‘Aryan’ just above the Batgirl logo – I can’t be the only person who would respect that existential honesty to the point he’d buy the book.

  13. When I read the first online reviews and spoilers for this book, I thought they were jokes, and kept waiting for the real spoilers to come out. Then I found out that, no, he really does fight six guys over a dead cat while high. Nice work, DC.

  14. It’s not that DC isn’t printing good books.

    It’s that… seriously, who approves this? There are always going to be bad comics, but when things like this start getting past editorial you really have to worry.

  15. “The vast majority of DC’s output is at the very least competently put together”

    I’m going to use this the next time one of my foreign colleagues asks me what we mean when we say “damning with faint praise”.

    DC’s overall quality has fallen far from where it was just a decade ago. They’ve fallen into a “shock value” formula for most of their books – relying not just on “events” to move books but on dragging their characters through one degrading moment after another. There are a few creators who notably are not relying on pure “shock schlock” to sell their work, but they are few and far between (and what the hell happened to James Robinson, anyway?)

    But the market is rewarding them for it. Which makes perfect sense. When you’re marketing to a dwindling fanbase of jaded adult readers and you aren’t reaching out to pull in new readers, upping the ante month after month becomes a priority. Otherwise you just shed readers. So you do one of two things – you up the stakes week after week OR you find a creator who has a strong, large core fanbase of readers who will follow them anywhere and you give them as many books as they can write and hope for the best. (Which explains why Johns and Bendis write so much for DC and Marvel respectively).

    DC and Marvel have both been following this tactic, but DC’s output has become a homogenous mass of sameness that only a few creators have seemed to escape from (Grant Morrison and Gail Simone as far as I’ve been able to tell – and Simone’s work can still be fairly shocking stuff, it’s just that she has a unique voice in her writing and she’s very good at making it story-driven rather than shock-driven) while Marvel seems to have confined their homogeneity to the core Avengers titles and have let creators have more freedom (Jeff Parker, Fred van Lente, Greg Pak, Abnett and Lanning, Jonathan Hickman). Even the stuff by creators at DC who should have their own unique voice – like JMS or James Robinson – reads the same as the rest of the work DC is producing these days.

    I’m sad to say it, because I’ve long thought that DC had the upper hand when it came to letting creators create – at least since the 80s DC was always the company that let their books have a unique “voice” while Marvel was the company that had a “Marvel style” that most writers conformed to. But sometime in the last decade or so that seems to have flipped around – DC has become the company with the “house style” with their superheroes and Marvel has become the one with a number of unique voices. I wish it weren’t true because, frankly, I am a much bigger fan of DC’s characters than I am Marvel’s and I don’t think the direction they’ve been going is a particularly good one. But if it’s making them money I doubt they’ll change focus anytime soon.

  16. “DC’s overall quality has fallen far from where it was just a decade ago. They’ve fallen into a “shock value” formula for most of their books – relying not just on “events” to move books but on dragging their characters through one degrading moment after another. There are a few creators who notably are not relying on pure “shock schlock” to sell their work, but they are few and far between”

    This is demonstrably untrue and is one of the root arguments I had in mind when I made this post. “Shock schlock” is only applicable to event comics and guess what? That’s something that both companies are very guilty of, unless we all want to make the argument that having Sentry tear Ares in half and having Loki killed off at the last second in Siege was not made with the singular goal of shocking the reader for 5 seconds until they moved onto more pressing matters.

    The idea that every DC book is about making every character miserable is purely the invention of the fanboy. Even the Green Lantern books that get their fair share of flak around here, don’t make it a habit of somehow making Hal Jordan and his colleague’s a miserable bunch of sad sacks. Sure, you can make the argument for Barry Allen’s mother’s death, but the book moved onto lighthearted adventure months ago. But, seriously, how many of the average DC ongoings involve making the titular character a miserable piece of shit? It’s certainly not any of the Big 5 books, and it’s certainly not the majority of their B and C-List titles like Power Girl, REBELS, Doom Patrol, Secret Six, or any of the Red Circle books.

    It’s such a cop-out that anytime a writer doesn’t perform, it’s automatically the fault of the company. James Robinson’s work all reads like James Robinson’s work, just without the flair for creativity and plotting he once. Is that DC’s fault? Maybe in the case of Cry for Justice, but no one held a gun to his head and said “Make Face the Face as boring as humanly possible” and the fact that Brave and the Bold is so poor (In my opinion) is because it’s JMS operating without an editor to say “This is probably not a good idea”.

  17. Oh and for the record, I agree that Marvel has been knocking out of the park lately. It’s an unprecedented creative golden age for the company, only because their talent scouts were smart enough to pick up Hickman, Aaron, Fraction, and Fred Van Lente before the competition knew what hit them.

    That doesn’t mean that every DC book is suddenly shit because of it.

  18. I for one would TOTALLY read a comic that was just Batman cruising around in his cool car.

  19. The central problem with DC’s current output isn’t that it’s mostly bad (although it is); it’s that almost all of it’s worst comics – Cry for Justice, Blackest Night, Brightest Day, and Rise of Arsenal – are the central books around which most of the rest of the company’s titles revolve.

  20. @Michael Simon

    Uh, not really. The Brightest Day books have absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with Brightest Day other than featuring a few resurrected characters. The only thing to spring out of Cry for Justice was Rise of Arsenal, and the only that’s coming out of Rise of Arsenal is that Roy Harper is going to join that shitty Titans book. And Blackest Night had no effect on any of DC’s other franchises other than a single issue tie-in in some of the lower selling books to boost sales and awareness.

    The shit all goes in a shit cycle, while the good books continue to do what ever they want.

  21. Not to get argumentative (ARGUMENTATIVE? IN THE ISB COMMENTS SECTION?!), James, but I think you’re wrong.

    1. Cry For Justice was written by James Robinson, who is also writing Justice League, and the cast of Justice League is reflected by what happened in CFJ. It led directly to the new Green Arrow book and the Rise of Arsenal, which ties into the new Titans story. That’s the JLA, the Titans, and the Green Arrow franchises accounted for.

    2. Blackest Night and Brightest Day have direct impacts on Green Lantern (obviously), Flash, Aquaman, the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the Titans (again). That’s two more major franchises and a few smaller ones accounted for.

    It doesn’t really affect the Batman books, the Superman books, or Wonder Woman, but it’s virtually set the tone for the rest of the DC Universe, not to mention that by virtue of popularity, Green Lantern is the centerpiece of the DCU right now. And that’s ignoring that there’s a post-Identity Crisis storytelling style that’s becoming more prevalent.

    You can argue about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but to say that these aren’t the books setting the tone for the rest of the universe is just shot down by the numbers.

  22. “but it’s virtually set the tone for the rest of the DC Universe, not to mention that by virtue of popularity,”

    Only if your definition of “the rest of the DC Universe” extends only to Green Lantern and a bunch of characters who can’t support their own books. Like I said, the books that supposedly tie-in to Brightest Day, have absolutely nothing to do with the event at large. They just happen to feature a dude who was resurrected at some point. Is it true that DC used Brightest Day as a springboard for new creative teams and what-not? Sure, but that doesn’t mean they have anything to do with the event. I didn’t see anyone deriding Blue Beetle just because it spun out of Infinite Crisis.

    As for Robinson on JLA, I swear to God that if you told me that the guy who wrote Cry for Justice was writing JLA at the moment, I probably wouldn’t believe you. The tone is so completely different in every aspect that you can’t even compare it to Cry for Justice outside of containing a few characters from that cast. Hell, it reads more like the new Bendis Avengers book, just with shittier dialog.

  23. My definition of The Rest of the DC Universe does tend to extend to the Justice League, Green Lantern, the Flash and the Titans, yes. But obviously we disagree, so that’s that!

  24. I’m just saying that in terms of actually referencing the comic, or even being all that much affected by it, Flash, Justice League, and Titans really don’t count for anything. The only way Flash is tying into Brightest Day is by having Digger rejoin the Rogues, Titans just has Osiris on the team, and the Justice League just has Jade and a couple of guys from Cry for Justice. You could argue that the current Justice League formed because of Cry for Justice, but really, but since then, not a single plot point from CFJ has been mentioned. They’re tetritary connections at best, only labeled as a Brightest Day tie-in because it’s the easiest marketing trick in the book.

  25. for chrissakes what just happened in here you guys. You are passing up the easiest opportunity in the world, nay, the UNIVERSE, to make dick jokes, and you’re arguing with each other about sales figures? Let’s stick to the erectile dysfunciton jokes — it’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it! Even if you think you’ve got the longest list of supporting points, the argument will never really come to a head — never mind finish — because everyone here thinks he’s got more shots in his quiver than the other guys. It’s impossible for us to outperform each other because, master debaters that we are, we’ve already got our own preferences firmly in hand and won’t let go — we’re just going to frustrate ourselves. You should turn your cunning linguistic skills to a more rewarding topic. Like Swordsmaster! I hear he has all kinds of swords.

    Don’t make me start talking about sheaths.

  26. Now I am completely 100% in agreement with Sims and many other people commenting that the Green Arrow / Cry for Justice are some of the worst comics you can get right now. But I read a heck of a lot of DC (and Marvel too but that is off topic) and it isn’t all bad. Let me run down what I think is and isn’t working.

    Batman – Smartest move ever was to give Morrison the keys to the Batman franchise. I pick up some of the other titles from time to time as well. All around Great (morrison) to good (non-morrison). I have to say I am really liking David Hine’s Batman work and I am happy he is on Detective Comics and coming onto Azrael. Ok Outsiders sucks pretty hard but that book barely comes out and influences nothing.

    Superman – I think that the New Krypton stuff went on too long, but they took a major risk and for me it worked. It made me pick up Superman and family titles. Overall I think it was a solid story and easily Robinsons best work in DC currently (then again it is his only good work right now). I am cautiously optimistic about JMS on Superman. I am enjoying his Brave and the Bold run for the most part and he can have some great ideas. However, he can also completely bomb at times. I am not worried about Cornell on Action Comics, that will be amazing. And Jeff Lemire doing Suberboy will be one of the best DC books, I am calling it.

    Wonder Woman – Not the biggest fan of the character but people seemed to enjoy Gail’s run. JMS is coming on this as well and I feel a little more sure about it, he proved with Thor that he can play with mythology.

    Teen Titans – Every book with Titans on it is pretty much a failure. And with JT Krul taking over Teen Titans it is sure to be a critical disaster. No defense of this stuff.

    JLA – Again this is a disaster. Some people seem to be liking the newer issues but I just don’t get it. It is a marked improvment over Cry for Jusitice, but it isn’t the MUST BUY book that the JLA should be.

    JSA – I thought Johns did a great job when this book first came out but it lost steam near the end of his run and currently is pretty stale.

    Green lantern – I know a lot of people hear are going to disagree with me but I LOVE this book and everything connected to it (including brightest day). I just see a lot of fun stories going on here and Johns has made me a Green Lantern fan. I loved rebirth, sinestro corp wars, blackest night and everything between. I know Chirs isn’t a fan but I respectfully disagree with him on this (strangely other than Green Lantern I mostly agree with what he has to say).

    Flash – 2 issues in and Johns is knocking it out of the park. I am a huge Wally West fan (read every single issue Waid and Johns wrote) but this series is making me love Barry as well.

    The Atom – Now I am not happy that Ray Choi died, but we are getting a backup written by Jeff Lemire. Everything I have read from Jeff Lemire has been amazing, and he could be writing “Cry For Justice 2 : Cry More” and I would buy it. Jeff Lemire is awesome. I hope they let him write some more A-List heroes and give The Atom a full book by him.

    Legion of Super Heroes – ummmmmm…. I don’t get it. From everything Sims writes they seem like they are pretty cool, I just don’t have the time.

    Jonah Hex – I know it isn’t mainstream, but come on this book is fun.

    Ok there is more but that is the stuff that I am thinking off the top of my head.

  27. Secret Six is fucking phenomenal. To me and my tastes (and I know others do not share this view), it is the perfect team book in terms of humor, action, relationships and non-cliched moral ambiguity. The fact that it doesn’t resemble any other DC book in pretty much any way is how I personally would sum up the overall problem.

  28. For the record, I do actually buy some of what DC currently puts out, but I definitely like their books of 2-3 years ago better than just about anything they’re doing now. It just feels so flat to me, which sucks because I actually do understand the thinking behind Blackest Night and Brightest Day (not Cry or Rise, though-those are pretty much indefensible) and I want to like it, and sometimes I do, but I’m beginning to think I’m just willing myself to like it (I was able to do it for Identity Crisis for a while, so it’s not unprecedented) and it’s turning me off most of DC’s line. Which is a shame, because I do want to like what they’re doing, but I only do so in fits and bursts.

  29. “It’s Brightest Day,
    Post-Blackest Night
    We feel we’re owed
    some joy and light
    But Now we see,
    Nothing goes right
    Beware its horror,
    This Book is Sh-“

  30. Adler can I please use that rant regarding dick jokes for my sigurature? That was actually pretty funny. I know it seems like the quality of DC Comics has gone down hill since Dido took over. Trust me we can all agree on that one. I think its terrible the direction the company has taken thinking they have to either kill characters or make thier lives hell for a couple issues. Its a crying shame that they dont have more free-minded writers like Morrison or Simone or Johns. But really what can we do about it? And what is with all the Nazi jokes just because Steph’s Batgirl?