Is Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #3 The Worst Comic Book Of All Time?
[show_avatar firstname.lastname@example.org align=right]In a word, no.
Heck, it isn’t even the worst Titans comic book of all time (I’m looking at you, New Titans #100…)
But sparks began to fly when Brian Hibbs wrote a scathing review: “I have read the worst comic I have ever read. [...] I felt incredibly dirty and gross after I put it down. [...] Everyone involved in its production, especially the editor, Brian Cunningham, and publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee should be deeply ashamed of what they’ve done here.”
But it didn’t end there. Lying in the Gutters collected additional reviews, including Chris Sims at Comic Alliance, who wrote, “It’s essentially “The Room” for comics, but without the lighthearted fun: Truly atrocious, but so far gone that it moves back and forth between scenes that would be hilarious if they weren’t meant to be serious (the title character beats a bunch of dudes half to death in order to protect the rotting corpse of a cat that he thinks is his dead daughter) and jaw-dropping out of sheer confusion about why someone would do this.” And David Brothers at 4thletter! has his own take, “It’s lazy and stupid and pointless. My post was going to be called “Rise of Arsenal: Wynken, Blynken, and On the Nod” which is some kind of perfect storm of stupid and amazing, but no–not worth it. Rise of Arsenal is lazy and stupid and doesn’t even have a villain.”
You can check out the Lying in the Gutters link for more reviews (most of them not kind).
Now, must admit, I haven’t read the full issue of The Rise Of Arsenal #3. I just flipped through the issue in the store to get an idea of what is happening to the character, for purposes of maintaining this site. What DC has done to Roy and Lian Harper is deplorable and creatively bankrupt, in my eyes. And I’d rather not support it with extra sales dollars.
But while I’m not a fan of the book or its direction, I do know J.T. Krul is a good writer. We’ve seen him write other books quite well. He clearly understands plotting, character and story structure. And hey, no one can knock it out of the park all the time. After all, another good writer named Marv Wolfman also gave us the aforementioned New Titans #100.
Those two incidents do share something in common: Both writers were operating under editorially directed storylines. Marv has admitted as much about the stories of that time period. And it’s equally clear that Roy Harper’s fate was charted long before J.T. Krul ever tapped the first words of this story on his keyboard.
And a few days ago, former Teen Titans writer Sean McKeever lamented the degree of editorial inferference during his run on the book. To quote: “Then there’s “Deathtrap”, which wasn’t anything I was at all interested in writing, outside of the opportunity to do a crossover with TITANS and work with Marv. The story wasn’t ours from the get-go. (I was initially only set to write the one TT issue of the story but then I was asked to come over to TITANS and write the bulk of the crossover.) Add to that that the book had 4 editorial teams in my 22 issues, and other “creative differences” that I won’t get into here, and you get a fairly good idea.”
So you see, the “problems” in Rise of Arsenal #3 are larger than “one bad comic book.” It’s endemic of the DC line as a whole: Too much editorial interference.
Name the “greatest comic book stories of all time” and people will rattle off Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men, Miller’s Daredevil and “Dark Knight,” Moore’s Watchmen and the Wolfman/Pérez New Teen Titans. In all those instances, the writers and artists were allowed to create.
Instead or crafting stories, many of today’s DC writers are connecting dots as best they can – often trying to infuse meaning and motivations where there are none. And the difference becomes apparent on the printed page. There’s no heart, no soul, in these comics. Just a succession of jarring moments strung together in a patchwork of random nothingness.
And until DC loosens the reigns and stops dictating stories, I expect a lot more “Rises” before an eventually fall.
End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:
Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author