Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 – A (Comic) Book Review

Green Arrow is a character I’ve always really enjoyed when appearing in the Justice League books.  At times I’ve even felt compelled to read his solo title, especially when Smith, Meltzer, and Lemire were at the helm.  More often than not, though, I just follow him from afar.

One major thing drew me to his “Rebirth” book, and that’s his reunion with Black Canary.  It’s my understanding that Green Arrow and Black Canary only peripherally knew each other since the dawn of the New 52 back in 2010.  To newer fans this may not seem like a big deal.  To old guys like me, though, that seemed outrageous!   Black Canary and Green Arrow are one of the greatest partnerships and romances in all of comic book lore.  I don’t know when they got together, but I’ve been reading comic books since about 1980 and they were an item even back then.

In “Rebirth,” they come fact to face, join forces, and have an adventure together.  I’m honestly not familiar with the author, Benjamin Percy, but he nailed the chemistry that must exist between these two icons.  He kept each character true to their core but also made sure they amplified the best attributes of the other.  Isn’t that what all great romances are meant to do?

He also ended the book with a nod to the audience, that yes, this has been too long in the making, which I thought clever.

I think one really interesting development with bringing Arrow and Canary together for the “first” time is that even old fellas like me get to see something I’ve never seen before — the advent of the relationship.  Like I said, even in 1980 this couple felt firmly established to my three-year-old eyes.  It’s nice to have them both very young, very fresh, and very inexperienced with each other.  I really hope DC takes its time fostering the relationship and giving them the time they deserve to grow together.  But, man, it’s nice to see them side by side!

In fact, this entire book seemed intent on giving the audience back what it wants.  Green Arrow has his famous goatee again, he once again considers himself a social justice warrior, he’s the most lighthearted I’ve seen him in a long time (which, to me, is a must with GA), and his costume is simple, sleek, and dynamic.

The story itself didn’t prove all that interesting.  Honestly, it accomplished the one thing it needed to do, which was give GA and BC a reason to team up.  And while the writer certainly captured the charisma and charm of this famous couple, there were several instances of clunky dialogue and redundancy.

Even so, if you’re a Green Arrow AND Black Canary fan, I’d consider this required reading.  While the plot concerning the conflict wasn’t great, it still firmly delivered on providing a memorable first interaction between two of DC’s greatest characters.



Green Arrow Volume 5: The Outsiders War by Lemire and Sorrentino

I got into Green Arrow when Kevin Smith brought him back from the dead.  Don’t get me wrong, any kid growing up in the early 80’s loved Green Arrow, but mostly as a member of the Justice League of America.  No, I started seriously following the character when Smith returned Oliver Queen to the land of the living and then began expanding his cast of characters.  Then Meltzer came along with “The Archer’s Quest” and took an already complex character to a whole new level of sophistication.

When The New 52 began, I heard that Green Arrow really suffered in terms of story quality.  I steered clear.  Even as the show on the CW captured my interest, I still kept my distance from the comic book because of its negative reviews.

However, when Jeff Lemire came aboard the title, I knew it was time for me to join as well.  “The Outsiders War” is a fantastic read.

First of all, the mythology Lemire built concerning clans centered upon The Spear, The Sword, The Fist, The Axe, The Mask, The Shield, and The Arrow is something both fresh and unique.  Lemire delivers a fascinating story involving Green Arrow’s past on the island, his father, his half-sister, as well as both Shado and Katana.  The repercussions of this story could have lasting effects upon the character for years to come.

However, Andrea Sorrentino is an even greater force behind this title.  I’ve honestly never quite seen art such as this, and I’ve read comic books for well over thirty years.  The layouts, the pictures within pictures, the sheer fluidity from panel to panel – it is the work of an extremely talented person.  But, even with that being said, the art is even further enhanced by Marcelo Maiolo, surely one of the most interesting colorists in the industry.  If I sat here and described the colors to you, you’d think me insane because nothing is the conventional color you’d expect .  But they work. They work beautifully.

If you’re a fan of the character, I definitely recommend “The Outsider’s War” as well as it’s predecessor, “The Kill Machine.”

DC: The New Frontier, Volumes I and II – A Graphic Novel Review

Note: This review refers to DC: The New Frontier Volumes I and II.

If you are a DC fan-I mean a hard core, DC or bust fan-you will love, and I mean LOVE DC: The New Frontier Volumes I and II.

I remember seeing the first issue of this series when it came out in single-issue format and thinking that it seemed a bit remedial. Overly simplistic. I made this deduction based off of looking at the art alone, not by reading any of it. However, I later discovered this book had been receiving critical acclaim from many established publications such as the New York Times, so I had to give the trade paperbacks a shot. I’m glad I did.

You see, the art is supposed to look a bit unpretentious because the story is set during the Silver Age of comics. For you non-comic book people, that means it takes place basically in the late fifties, early sixties. The Silver Age was when old characters from the thirties and forties received major revamps, such as the Flash, the Atom, and Green Lantern. It also introduced new characters such Adam Strange. DC: The New Frontier takes this Silver Age era and delivers a story with modern day sensibilities. For instance, Superman and Wonder Woman are trying to clean up Korea while maintaining some sort of autonomy from the US Government for whom they work. The space program is in full swing with Hal Jordan desperately wanting to be a part of it so he can reach the stars. A horrifying Batman realizes he may need to lighten up a bit after a disheartening experience with a child. J’onn J’onzz is unexpectedly transported to Earth and must acclimate or perish. We get traditional appearances from Hour Man, Aquaman, and Green Arrow. We see the Challengers of the Unknown, the Sea Devils, the Suicide Squad, and other favorites from the sixties, as well as re-imagined characters like Steel.

You see, in the comics, originally, all these things were spread out over decades, but now, the author and illustrator, Darwyn Cooke, has blended them all together into one cohesive plot line that culminates with all the heroes joining forces in a very non-traditional manner against a foe that could destroy the world.

This collection honestly feels like if heroes were real, this is how they would act with each other and how our government would react to them. DC: The New Frontier is a captivating read and I urge you to give it a try immediately. It will quickly become one of your favorites.

Green Arrow: Moving Targets – A Graphic Novel Review

Warning: If you’ve ignored national media for the last year, you may read some spoilers below…

So why write a review for Green Arrow: Moving Targets you ask? Is it the excellent writing? Perhaps the exquisite art? None of the above; but, don’t get me wrong, both are adequate, perhaps even above average in the comic book world. No, the reason I’m writing this review is because Judd Winick (some of you may remember him from an early season of MTV’s The Real World) has written an HIV positive character into the DC mythos.

Green Arrow’s had some hard luck with his sidekicks. His first junior superhero named Roy Harper, aka Speedy, became a drug addict ironically enough. Well, Speedy cleaned up his act and is now a full grown superhero called Arsenal. Then, Green Arrow discovered he had an illegitimate son named Connor Hawke, who, after dad died, took over the role of Green Arrow. Well, I won’t bog things down with explanation, but the first Green Arrow returned from the dead and now works side-by-side with his son, but not as a sidekick, as a partner.

Enter Mia Dearden. She was a fifteen-year-old prostitute that Green Arrow took off the streets and gave a home as introduced by writer Kevin Smith. Winick decided to take things a step further and revealed she was HIV positive from her days as a prostitute. Although pestering Green Arrow to let her become his sidekick long before her discovery, Green Arrow finally gave in, granting her the control over her own life she desperately needed, and so Speedy was reborn.

Now, despite some obvious issues I have with this plot (How do you rationalize a teenage girl with HIV working as a vigilante who uses a bow and arrows? Why did she have to contract HIV by prostituting? Not everyone with HIV acquired it through “illicit behavior,” you know?), I will grant Winick credit with treating it as sensibly as one can in the comic book genre. He kept Mia strong and assertive, without crossing into sanctimonious territory. Not only that, but Mia’s story is more sub-plot to the overall story taking place in Moving Targets. That overall plot, by the way, paled in comparison to Mia’s plight.

So, would I recommend Green Arrow generally? No, I wouldn’t, though Meltzer’s Green Arrow: The Archer’s Quest was excellent. But, I would give Green Arrow: Moving Targets a read simply to witness a writer introduce a rather pioneering character into the conservative universe of DC.