Thursday, March 31, 2011

Green Arrow Poll Results: Everybody Loves Denny!

I'm going to close the latest edition of Gutter Talk's "Green Arrow Month" with a quick review of the results of our latest poll.  This time I asked you to vote for your favorite chronicler of Green Arrow's adventures.  Unlike previous polls, you were allowed--nay, encouraged, even--to vote for multiple candidates.  
For the most part, the results were no surprise.  Due to the nature of the question this time, I expected fewer responses, as Green Arrow fans are a small subset of comics readers, and Green Arrow fans who read this blog an even smaller clique.  Thus, I wasn't too disappointed to get only about a third of the number of participants this time out as I did in my last poll about movie Supermen.  
I also expected Dennis O'Neil to be at or near the top of the results when all the votes were in.  What did surprise me, however, is the decisiveness of his victory.   O'Neil ended up with 100% of the vote.  Due to the fact that multiple votes were allowed, a few other candidates, including Bob Haney, Mike W. Barr, Mike Grell and Kevin Smith, got a smattering of votes, but everyone, no matter if they voted for several candidates or just one, registered their affection for O'Neil's version of the Emerald Archer.
I guess this isn't much of a surprise after all.  O'Neil did write the fondly remembered Green Lantern/Green Arrow series of the early 70's.
To some today, those stories seem dated and I've even read comments by some people saying that the only reason to read those stories anymore is for Neal Adams art.  Adams art is stunning, and it is true that those stories, like any work of art, are very much of their time, and they are not without flaws.  They tend to be somewhat heavy handed and often preachy, and Green Lantern often comes off seeming not just hopelessly naive, but just plain stupid.  It seems as if O'Neil didn't really like Hal Jordan and he appears uncomfortable with the space opera aspect of the character, which he plays down, keeping the stories, for the most part, literally down to Earth.  
It's clear, to me at least, that O'Neil was much more interested in writing Green Arrow.  Oliver is the real star of the series during O'Neil's tenure, no matter what the indicia may have stated, and the real reason, in my mind, that these stories continue to be worth reading.  Yet, O'Neil didn't make Ollie perfect.  Witness his reaction to his ward's drug use.  First, he slaps Roy around a little, then throws the kid out on the street, and convinces himself that he, as the boy's parent, was in no way responsible for his adopted child's problems, despite having pretty much abandoned him to travel around the country "looking for America."  Still, Ollie somehow manages to retain our sympathy in that story.   What emerges in O'Neil's stories is a flawed, but still heroic and likable character.  
For my part, while I may have first seen Green Arrow on SuperFriends, it was O'Neil's GL/GA stories that began my life long love for the character.

To put it simply, O'Neil defined the modern version of Green Arrow.  All who've followed him, from Elliot S! Maggin to Mike Grell to Kevin Smith, and even J.T. Krul, have merely been building on the foundation that Dennis O'Neil established. 
That's it for the 2011 version of  "Green Arrow Month."  There was, by the way, one more Green Arrow post I was planning, comparing GA to Daredevil, but it never quite gelled when I sat down to write it.  Perhaps if I can make it work, I'll present it at a later date.  If I have enough ideas for more posts on GA, I might just do yet another "Green Arrow Month."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beards and Blurbs

This cover, drawn by Mike Grell for Green Lantern #94, is notable, to me, at least, for the question mark shaped cover blurb floating in the air by Green Arrow's right elbow.  It reads:
When I first bought this issue, as a ten year old in 1977, the blurb attracted my attention, yet while, even then, I did think it kind of an odd thing to emphasize, I didn't find anything else especially noteworthy about it at that time.  Back then, I had only read a few Green Arrow stories and was unaware of the character's history, either within the fictional DC Universe or as a fictional character in the real world.
In 1977, Green Arrow had been around for 36 years.  For most of that time, up until Brave and the Bold #85 in 1969, he had been clean shaven.  When I look at that cover today, I'm struck by how, in such a relatively short time, the beard had become such an integral part of the character's iconography that the editors of Green Lantern thought that its absence was sufficient hook to get someone to pick up the issue.  You must also take into account that back then, the comics industry was still working under the assumption that most of their readers were young children and that the readership turned over about every five years.  Thus, the blurb appears to be aimed at readers such as I was at the time, that is, kids who'd recently discovered comics  in general, and Green Arrow in particular, and didn't know that Oliver Queen hadn't always had that beard.
The industry, and the audience, has changed a lot in the thirty four years since this issue hit the stands.  Such a blurb might not be as effective today with an older audience more aware of the histories of these characters and the fictional universes they inhabit.   On the other hand, by this point in time, Ollie has had the beard for over forty years, far longer than he went without it, so its absence today would be even more noteworthy than it was in 1977, especially to long time GA fans.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Uncollected: Green Arrow

I'm going to kick off this overview of Green Arrow stories that have yet to be reprinted in trade paperback with a round up of what has been collected so far.  There's actually quite a bit available in TPB or hardcover, representing a significant chunk of the character's history.  There remain, however, many glaring omissions.
Green Arrow's Silver Age adventures, beginning in 1958 with the first story drawn by Jack Kirby and continuing on  through the landmark The Brave and the Bold #85, which introduced GA's goatee and new Neal Adams designed costume, are gathered together in one hefty volume as Showcase Presents the Green Arrow.  In addition, the Kirby drawn tales are presented in full color in the slim and affordable volume The Green Arrow by Jack Kirby
In keeping with the current industry practice of rushing out a collected edition almost as soon as the last chapter of a story line or mini-series hits the stands, Green Arrow's most recent exploits, beginning with his resurrection by Kevin Smith in the "Quiver" story line, are all available in book form.  This includes the latest retelling of his origin by Andy Diggle and Jock in Green Arrow: Year One.  A collection of the first half dozen issues of the currently ongoing series is due out in the next couple of months. 
Most of the "important" Green Arrow stories, that is the ones that are essential reading for an understanding of the character as he exists today, have been reprinted in at least one edition over the years.  These include B&B  #85, Justice League of America #75, in which he lost his fortune, and the acclaimed Dennis O'Neil/Neal Adams run on Green Lantern.
I would guess that Green Lantern #76, the first issue of the O'Neil/ Adams series, would be near the top of any list of most reprinted comic issues ever.  I have owned at least three different editions of the story in various forms over the course of my comics reading and collecting career.  These have included a mass market paperback reprinting issues #76 and #77, the two volume Hard Traveling Heroes trade paperback series, and the hardcover edition of The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told  Other reprintings include the first issue of the 1983 deluxe format mini-series that presented the entire O'Neil/Adams run, a slipcased hardcover edition of those issues in 2000, another TPB collection in 2004, and issues of the Silver Age Classics and Millennium Edition series which re-presented landmark issues from DC Comics' history.
The story is due to be reprinted yet again next month, leading off Showcase Presents Green Lantern Volume 5.   This volume will present the entire O'Neil/Adams run, after which the title was canceled; pick up with the series' revival in 1976 which carried on the series' original numbering from #90 with Green Arrow still sharing cover billing; and continue on to #100.  When, or if, there is a sixth volume in this series, GA will be a major part of that tome as well, as Hal Jordan did not regain his status as solo star of his own book until #123.
The major exceptions to the reprinting of milestone story lines are the 1983 mini-series by Mike W. Barr and Trevor Von Eeden and the story in which Oliver Queen was killed.  The mini-series doesn't make any significant changes to the character's status quo, and is mostly notable for being the first comic book actually titled Green Arrow, appearing some forty years after the character's debut.  Still, it's a fun and entertaining superhero mystery story that certainly deserves to be represented for new readers.  The actual issue in which Ollie gets blown up by terrorists is included in Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse, but the story line as a whole has yet to be collected.
In fact, while The Longbow Hunters has long been available in trade paperback, the ongoing series that followed it remains out of print, except for a couple of issues included in For Better or For Worse and a team-up of Connor Hawke and Kyle Rayner included in a Green Lantern collection.  This includes not only the 80 issues written by Mike Grell, but the post Grell issues drawn by Jim Aparo as well as Connor Hawke's entire tenure as Green Arrow.  Two other Green Arrow mini-series written by Grell, The Brave and the Bold Volume 2 and Green Arrow: The Wonder Year are also MIA.
While I  believe, although I've never actually seen it, that there is an Archives edition of Golden Age Green Arrow stories, it is, if it even exists, only one volume.  The majority of pre-1958 GA stories are available only to those willing to pay the undoubtedly sky high price of the original issues.  
While the upcoming release of Showcase Presents Green Lantern Volume 5 is a good start, the bulk of Green Arrow's Bronze Age adventures remain in reprint limbo.  This includes not only the remainder of his stint as Green Lantern's co-star, but also the back up stories from Action Comics, World's Finest Comics and Detective Comics.  The major exception to this, as I noted last week, is "Night Olympics" from Detective Comics #'s 449 and 450, which, while fairly unspectacular, has merited  several reprintings mostly due to the fact that it was written by Alan Moore.
Among the Action Comics stories are Mike Grell's first work on the character, which you would think would rate reprinting on that basis alone.  I'm sure however, though I've not read them, that they're good stories in their own right, as they were written by Elliot S! Maggin.
Nonetheless, despite the significant omissions noted here, which I hope will one be rectified, there's still plenty of  stories available in collected editions for the Green Arrow fan.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Green Arrow In Cyberspace

It appears that I am not the only blogger out here in the wilds of cyber-webland with the Emerald Archer on his mind recently.  
Even more obsessive than devoting two entire months to posts about a single character is dedicating an entire blog to that character.  That is exactly what the blogger who signs his posts "Mac" has been doing for over three years now with The Green Arrow Guide to Revolutionary Heroism. Recent posts have reviewed the first couple of issues of the new Green Arrow monthly series and a new Green Arrow action figure based on that series.
J. Caleb Mozzocco, on his blog Every Day Is Like Wednesday, has an entire category labeled "Green Arrow Is A Dick", though it's clear from reading those posts that he harbors a certain affection for the character.  The latest entry in that category was uploaded on Friday.  Entitled "Green Arrow, possessive a-hole," it spotlights GA's role in Justice League of America #88, and is illustrated with scans of some nice black and white artwork, taken from the latest volume of Showcase Presents Justice League of America, by long time JLA artist Dick Dillin.
Just this morning, the blogger identifying himself only as "Earth-Two" , author of the blog DC Multiverse, offers up a brief intro to two vintage "Kings of Crime", the Clock King and the Storm King, who fought Green Arrow back in the days before he stopped shaving.
As for this blog, I've still got a couple of Green Arrow related essay to unleash on you before April Fool's Day.  Tomorrow, my series "The Uncollected," which looks at comics as yet unavailable in trade paperback or hardcover reprints,  continues with a look at the collections starring GA that are available and those that have yet to see the light of day.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Evolving Origins of Green Arrow (Part Two)

(The second part of my series on the various versions of Green Arrow's origin story over the past seven decades of the character's existence picks up with Mike Grell and The Longbow Hunters, the 1987 mini-series that redefined the character as an urban hunter.  The first part of the series covered the Golden Age origin, Jack Kirby's Silver Age origin and Green Arrow's first mini-series from 1983.  You can read that by clicking here.)
In 1987, Mike Grell crafted a new version of Green Arrow's origin for The Longbow Hunters that suited his more realistic, less super-heroic take on the character.  He later expanded upon it in 1989's Secret Origins #38 and the four issue mini-series Green Arrow: The Wonder Year, published in 1992. Grell envisioned Oliver Queen as being in his early forties and having been active as Green Arrow for about two decades.  Thus, The Wonder Year  takes place in the turbulent presidential election year of 1972.
On a friend's yacht, enjoying what he declares to be his first vacation in six years, a drunken Oliver Queen falls overboard and finds himself the next morning on the shores of a deserted and uncharted island.  In order to survive, he teaches himself to hunt and shoot a bow and arrow.  Where Grell's version differs significantly from all past and future versions is that on the island, Ollie uses only regular pointed arrows.  The trick arrows came later, after he had returned to civilization and adopted his Green Arrow identity.
After stumbling upon a couple of stoners who are growing pot on the island, Ollie captures them and uses their boat to return home.  He turns them over to the police, but doesn't stick around because he doesn't want to get involved.
Returning to work, he finds himself increasingly bored and dissatisfied.  Later, he is attending a charity masquerade ball dressed as Robin Hood, when he foils an attempted robbery.  The next day, the local newspapers dub him "Green Arrow."  Deciding that his little adventure had been fun, he begins his career as a costumed crime fighter, despite not being too happy with the name he's found himself saddled with by, as he puts it, "...a reporter with no sense of style."
Soon, he becomes involved with a former girlfriend who is at the center of a plot to assassinate a presidential candidate.  At one point, he allows men who'd been trying to kill them to escape, despite Brianna, the ex-girlfriend, urging him to shoot them.   "I'm no killer," he protests.
"You will be...someday," she retorts.  "You keep carrying that bow around and sooner or later you're going to have to use it...for real."  Inspired by this insight, he begins to develop his array of trick arrows.
The most recent revision of Green Arrow's origin occurred in 2007's six issue mini-series Green Arrow: Year One, written by Andy Diggle, with art by Jock.  In stark contrast to Grell's somewhat more realistic and down to earth take on Ollie's beginnings, Year One is the widescreen, big budget, summer blockbuster movie version of the story.  It is loud--or would be if it were a movie--action packed and exciting.
The story begins by introducing us to shallow, self centered, thrill seeking and heavy drinking young billionaire Oliver Queen.  Soon, he is betrayed by his security chief Hackett, whom he had considered a friend but was actually working with drug queenpin Chien Na-Wei, aka "China White" in a scheme to steal billions from him. When Ollie tumbles to the scheme, Hackett knocks him out and tosses him off his own yacht into the ocean.  As in all the other versions of the origin, Ollie finds himself on an island where he fashions a crude bow and arrows and hones his natural talent for archery in order to survive.
However, this time the island is not quite as deserted as in previous tellings.  In fact, it just happens to be the headquarters of China White's whole operation.  She has enslaved the native population, forcing them to grow her  genetically modified opium poppies.
Armed with only a bow and a few improvised trick arrows, Ollie manages to pretty much singlehandedly take down an army of desperate criminals, destroy China White's entire operation and free the native population.  The grateful natives give him the name "Auu Lanu Lau'ava," which, in their language, means, as you've probably guessed, "Green Arrow."
Improbable, even preposterous, as it is, Green Arrow: Year One is, nonetheless, the currently "official" version of the origin of Green Arrow.  You can be assured, however, that in a few years, changing times or changing creative teams will dictate yet another retelling and re-imagining of Ollie's early days for yet another generation.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Past Ain't What It Used T'Be: The Evolving Origin of Green Arrow (Part One)

(NOTE: This look at the changes in Green Arrow's origin stories is another of those long rambling posts covering several decades of comics history that I have a tendency to write when I've got too much time on my hands and nothing better to do.  Thus, I shall be dividing it into two parts.)
It's a bit of a cliche to speak of super  hero comics as modern mythology, but you know what they say about why cliches are cliches.  Central to  any hero's myth is his origin story.  Like the myths and legends of old, there are often many different versions of a hero's origin as is it occasionally tweaked or completely rewritten to fit the needs of the story at hand, the changing times and tastes of the readers or the approach of the current creative team to the character. 
In 1992, John Byrne, writing in his editorial column "A Flame About This High" in the letters  pages of John Byrne's Next Men #1, stated that "Origins are a fairly recent convention, as comics go."  It is certainly true that during the Golden Age of the 1940's, many super heroes leapt right into crimefighting without stopping to explain to the reader why they did so or where their powers, if they had any, came from.  Even Batman, who these days can't seem to go a single issue without flashing back to his origin, wasn't granted a backstory until several months after his initial appearance.  Many characters of this period didn't last long enough to even have an origin, disappearing after just one or two outings.   Green Arrow was one of the lucky ones.  Not only was he was popular enough with readers to stick around, but  the editors apparently considered him a sufficient drawing card to warrant his taking over the covers of More Fun Comics within months of his debut.  Still, it wasn't until 1943, nearly two years after his initial appearance, that he was finally provided with an origin.  This occurred in a story entitled "The Birth of the Battling Bowmen," the lead feature of More Fun Comics #89.
According to this version of events, Oliver Queen was a wealthy collector of Native American artifacts who, after his collection is destroyed in a museum fire, is told by a friend of a "gold mine" of such relics at a place called Lost Mesa.  Some criminals who overhear this conversation and think it is about an actual gold mine head to Lost Mesa  to get the gold before Queen can.  Living on Lost Mesa are a boy named Roy Harper and his faithful Indian companion Quoag, who had been stranded there years before after a plane crash that killed Roy's father.  After the criminal gang kills Quoag, Queen and Harper use their archery skills to defeat them.  Queen then takes Harper in as his ward and the two decide to continue fighting crime as the Green Arrow and Speedy, taking the names from remarks made by the criminals on Lost Mesa.  Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths, this story had come to be considered the origin of the Earth-2 Green Arrow.  For all I know, it may be once again, now that the Multiverse and Earth-2 have been reinstated following Infinite Crisis and 52.
Fifteen years later, Ed Herron and Jack Kirby crafted a totally different origin story in "The Green Arrow's First Case" which appeared in Adventure Comics #256. After falling overboard during a sea voyage, millionaire Oliver Queen  washes up on Starfish Island, which, as the name implies, just happens to be shaped like a starfish for no reason that has anything to do with the story.  While stranded there, he makes a bow and teaches himself archery in order to survive, fashioning a variety of trick arrows to help him perform various tasks. Eventually,  a freighter anchors itself off shore. Swimming out to it, Oliver discovers that the crew has mutinied.  After using his archery skills and trick arrows to thwart the mutineers, Ollie hitches a ride back to civilization.  Upon his return, he continues using his new found mastery of archery to fight crime as the Green Arrow.
A revised version of this origin appeared as a part of a flashback sequence in the debut issue of Green Arrow's first ever eponymous mini-series in 1983 written by Mike W. Barr and illustrated by Trevor Von Eeden and Dick Giordano.  When his girfriend dumps him, Oliver Queen takes a cruise to help him escape the pain of his broken heart.  He gets more of an escape than he bargained for when pirates raid the ship and toss him overboard.  He eventually finds himself on a deserted island where he builds himself a bow and several trick arrows and teaches himself to shoot in order to survive.  Eventually,  the very same pirates who stranded him there come to the island to stash the loot from their latest act of piracy.  Ollie captures them using his newly developed archery skills and trick arrows.  Upon returning to civilization, Oliver decides to use these skills to fight crime in Star City as the Green Arrow.  
As you can see, Barr altered a few details from the Herron/Kirby story,  such as changing the mutineers to pirates and making them the reason for Ollie being on the island.  By the way, the  island isn't given a name in this or any of the subsequent future retellings and re-imaginings of the origin and is not depicted as having any unusual or distinctive shape.  The motivation for Ollie being on the ship in the first place is important in that the girl who broke his heart all those years ago naturally comes back into his life in the course of the mini-series. 
(That brings us to about the halfway mark of this overwrought essay, so I'm going to give my fingers a rest from typing and pick this up later.   In part two, I look at Mike Grell's take on Green Arrow's beginning and get to the current "official" version of the classic origin as related in Green Arrow: Year One.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday Comix Raffle to Benefit AFSP at S.P.A.C.E.

"Every 15 minutes someone dies by suicide."
That sad statistic comes from the web-site of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  As far as I'm concerned, once every twenty years is more than enough.  In my life, I have lost two people that I have cared about to suicide.  First, my childhood best friend Eric "Igor" Brown in 1991, and most recently my nephew Steve Pisarchick in 2008.  
Thus, this past weekend at the 12th Annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.), I organized a raffle at the Sunday Comix table, the proceeds of which went to the AFSP. 
Before the show, I took a basket, donated by fellow Sunday Comix member Canada Keck, around the room, filling it with comics generously donated  by many of the exhibitors to be the prize.  Throughout the day, as well, several other artists came up to the table and added to the prize pool.  By the time we finally held the drawing, the basket could no longer hold all the comics that had been donated. 
Selling tickets for $2, or 12 for $10, we managed to raise $168.  To that I added $32 from my own pocket to make a $200 donation to AFSP in Steve's memory. 
I would like to thank everyone at the show who donated comics, all those who bought tickets, and, most of all, my fellow members of Sunday Comix, especially Canada and Max Ink, for all their help and support.  I could not have pulled this off without it.
You can find more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and make a donation on-line, at

Friday, March 18, 2011

Green Arrow Meets....Jon Sable?

Well, not really.  But in the story "Seattle & Die" from Green Arrow (Vol. 2) #'s 15 and 16 Ollie does encounter a character who bears many striking similarities to Mr. Sable.  The story was, of course, written by Mike Grell and drawn by Ed Hannigan, Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin.
It seems that Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, a.k.a. the Black Canary, just can't enjoy a nice quiet night on the town without without finding themselves smack dab in the middle of an attempted robbery.  Whether its costumed crazies like the Riddler in Kevin Smith's Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #12, or a trio of garden variety street crooks as in this story, trouble just seems to find the pair wherever they go.  Ollie and Dinah are attempting to enjoy the music at a Seattle blues club when said crooks appear and demand that the patrons turn over their valuables.  Being who they are, our heroes leap into action to thwart the robbers.  When one of them has his shotgun pointed at Oliver, a man who had been quietly drinking at the bar all night pulls his own gun and kills him and the other would be robbers.  Naturally, he splits the scene before the cops arrive.
Our heroes aren't so fortunate, however, though Ollie is less than co-operative with the police.  Ollie's decided to find the mysterious shooter himself and get his side of the story.  Green Arrow tracks the guy to a fleabag hotel and the two share a drink and talk.  However, the mystery man choses to remain an enigma and Ollie leaves without having really learned anything.  As Ollie drives away, he sees an explosion coming from the mystery shooter's hotel room.
Rushing back to the room, Green Arrow encounters two men who identify themselves as Gavin and Daryl, agents of ASIO, the Australian Secret Intelligence Organization.   After their quarry, aided by Ollie, escapes, the pair of agents accompany Ollie back to his place.  There they tell Oliver and Dinah a story that should give anyone who's read the origin story in Jon Sable, Freelance #'s 3-6 a strong sense of deja vu.
The mystery man's name is Jake Moses.  In a former life, Moses was a long jumper who had once represented the United States in the Pan American Games.  In 1978, he and his new bride, fashion model Alison Gardner, travel to Africa on their honeymoon.  On a photo safari, they encounter a group of rhino poachers who open fire on the safari group.  Gardner along with their guide and tracker are killed and Moses is badly injured.  Upon regaining consciousness, he stumbles upon the poachers and kills them.  As one of the ASIO agents says,"The killin' got in 'im, and he got good at it," He becomes a mercenary who would work for anyone who could pay his price.
The story told by the ASIO agents is more or less a Reader's Digest version of Sable's origin.  Moses himself is essentially a dark reflection of Jon Sable, lacking Sable's moral center or talent for writing children's literature.  Also unlike Sable, Moses is driven by guilt, blaming himself for his wife's death, and increasingly turns to alcohol in an attempt to deal with it. Similar to Deadshot as written by John Ostrander in Suicide Squad, Moses appears to have a death wish, and in the story's climax makes a suicidal leap off the roof of the latest sleazy hotel that Green Arrow and the Australians had tracked him to. His fate is left ambiguous as the story ends with an image of Moses in mid-leap silhoutted by a flash of lightning.
This story leaves me wondering two things.  The first is, of course, what ever did become of Jake Moses.  The second is what a meeting between Green Arrow and the real Jon Sable might be like.  We'll probably never get a definitive answer to either question, though it's always fun to speculate. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Great Flaming Arrows!" Green Arrow Saves the World on Super Friends

I'm not really sure when and where I first encountered Green Arrow.  It may have been a battered copy of a mass market paperback reprinting of Green Lantern #76 and 77 that I bought for a dime at a flea market.  However, the more I think about it, the more I think that it was probably his lone appearance, alongside Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog, on the original SuperFriends in 1973.
Not only was the episode entitled "Gulliver's Gigantic Goof" Green Arrow's only appearance on any of the various versions of SuperFriends, but it was his only appearance on television, period, until the debut of Justice League Unlimited over three decades later in 2004. Since then, he has made numerous television appearances, both animated in JLU, The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold and live action in Smallville.
Many of the so-called villains on the first incarnation of  SuperFriends were not truly evil, but simply misguided.  Their intentions were always noble, but their efforts to improve the human condition inevitably backfired, endangering the entire planet and requiring the intervention of the Justice League.  After our heroes saved humanity they would then impart a valuable moral lesson to the impressionable youth of America.
One such well meaning scientist was Dr. Hiram Gulliver.  It was his intent to alleviate world hunger and over population by shrinking everyone in the world down to  a height of about two inches.  Rather than proposing his plan to the governments of the world or the United Nations, he just goes ahead and starts shrinking people.  In the course of attempting to stop Gulliver, the core group of SuperFriends, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, manage to get themselves shrunken and captured.  It's then up to none other than Green Arrow, despite ending up shrunken himself, to save the SuperFriends and put a stop to Gulliver's scheme.  First, though, he finds time to take a side trip to "Bornego," which appears to be somewhere in Africa, to rescue a pair of animal photographers from "giant" ants with the aid of his trusty trick arrows, as seen in this clip.
The voice of Green Arrow was provided by regular SuperFriends cast member Norman Alden, who also voiced Aquaman.
This one appearance doesn't really show much of the Green Arrow that I've come to know and love over the years, but obviously my eight year old self must have seen something there that appealed to me and would lead me to seek out Green Arrow's adventures in the comics.  Say what you will about SuperFriends, and, truth be told, it really wasn't very good, but I apparently do owe them that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Tec Support: "Night Olympics" by Alan Moore and Klaus Jansen

For the most part, my series of posts on Detective Comics will deal with the Batman stories, but in this special Green Arrow Month edition of 'Tec Support, I'll be taking a look at one of the back up stories starring the Emerald Archer. 
Green Arrow ended his days as a third string back up feature in the pages of Detective Comics in the mid-1980's before finally graduating to his own monthly series following The Longbow Hunters.  For the most part, the series was written by Joey Cavalieri, but in #'s 549 and 550, Alan Moore stepped in to contribute the two-part "Night Olympics," illustrated by Klaus Jansen. The title derives from Moore's comparison of night life in Star City to a sporting event.  

The plot of the story is fairly straightforward, you might even say simple.  It  involves a mohawked, bow wielding punk named Pete Lomax who's decided to make a name for himself by taking out a super-hero.  Thus, the first part of the story ends as gets Black Canary in his sights and fires.  In part two, an enraged Green Arrow pursues and captures Lomax.  
The only really interesting part of the story is the dialogue between Green Arrow and Black Canary toward the end of the part one. They are discussing the impact that the presence of super-heroes and costumed vigilantes like themselves has had on the criminal class.  "We're gradually weeding out all the just-plain-average goons, gradually improving the strain..." Ollie says, "...until only the flat-out-dangerous psychos are left running around."  This was a fairly new idea for 1985.  Such analysis of super-hero conventions was pretty much unknown in the Bronze Age and foreshadows the full blown deconstruction of the genre that Moore would undertake in Watchmen.
Even so, "Night Olympics" is not one of Moore's better works.  The prose in the captions is a particularly dark shade of purple and the sports metaphor becomes strained almost to the breaking point pretty quickly.   Still, Moore's name alone is enough to make this one of the few Bronze Age Green Arrow stories to be reprinted.  It appears in Across the Universe: The DC Universe Stories of Alan Moore, DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore (basically the same book, except it includes "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and The Killing Joke) and Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse.   

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Green Arrow Month Poll

Over to the right, at the top of the sidebar, is a rather lengthy list of names of writers who have contributed to the legend of Green Arrow from the Silver Age to today.  The latest Gutter Talk poll asks you to vote for your favorite--or favorites.  Yes, we're doing things a little differently this time out, and allowing you to vote for more than one option this time.  So, you don't have to lie awake tonight agonizing over whether you really prefer Dennis O'Neil's characterization of the Emerald Archer to Mike Grell's.    You can vote for both.  
Let's take a look at the choices available:
  1. Ed "France" Herron--main writer of Green Arrow's Silver Age adventures
  2. Bob Haney--wrote the Emerald Archer's meetings with Batman and other  heroes in The Brave and the Bold and his solo adventures in World's Finest Comics
  3. Dennis O'Neil--defined the modern interpretation of Green Arrow in the award winning Green Lantern/Green Arrow series  
  4. Elliot S! Maggin--wrote several years worth of GA's adventures in Action Comics  
  5. Mike W. Barr--wrote Green Arrow's first mini-series
  6. Joey Cavalieri--wrote the Green Arrow series in Detective Comics
  7. Mike Grell--writer of  Green Arrow's first ongoing monthly series
  8. Kevin Smith--brought Oliver Queen back from the dead in the "Quiver" story line
  9. Brad Meltzer--followed Smith's run with "The Archer's Quest"
  10. Judd Winick--wrote most of the remainder of Green Arrow's second series and its follow-up Green Arrow/Black Canary
  11. J. T. Krul--writer of Green Arrow's current adventures
  12. Other-- many other talented writers, from Gerry Conway to Alan Moore, have tried their hand at Green Arrow stories over the years, and you may prefer one of them to any of the choices I've listed.  If you chose this option, be sure to leave a comment and let me know who you were thinking of.
As usual, the poll will  be open for seven days and I'll discuss the results here afterward.  
(Also as usual, those reading this on Open Salon, click here to vote.)    

Friday, March 11, 2011

Green Arrow in The Brave and the Bold (Part 5): Volume 3

Back in August, when I reviewed issue #35 of the latest volume of The Brave and the Bold, I had no idea that it was the final issue.  Apparently, neither did anyone else.  There has been, as far as I know, no formal announcement of the book's cancellation from DC, but #36 is, as I write this, six months late. Therefore, this is, for the time being, the final installment of my series on Green Arrow's appearances in B&B.  
Harking back to the early days of the original B&B's team-up format, the latest volume had no fixed co-star, instead featuring different pairings of heroes in almost every issue.  Often, especially during Mark Waid's tenure as writer, there would be continued stories with different sets of heroes starring in each chapter.  Green Arrow is featured in three issues out of the extant thirty-five, with a brief appearance in one more, which about matches the ratio of his appearances in the original series. In the thirty-five issues between #100 and #134 of volume one, for example, the Emerald Archer also makes four appearances.
He first shows up in volume three with #14, teamed with Deadman in a story  by Mark Waid and Scott Kolins entitled "The Ghost Killers of Nanda Parbat."  The two meet when Green Arrow encounters a pair of the titular "Ghost Killers", who Deadman has pursued to Star City.  They are former residents of Nanda Parbat; the mystical Shangri-La hidden in Himalayas that is home to Rama Kushna, the god-like being who gave Deadman his powers and mission; who have been transformed by a demon priest called Siva Anuttara into entities similar to Deadman, except that they kill any living being they possess, after Anuttara imprisoned Rama Kushna in a magical amulet and took over Nanda Parbat. The Ghost Killers have been sent out into the world to spread Anuttara's evil and have set up a base in Star City.  When the Ghost Killers attack Green Arrow, Deadman hops into his body to keep them from taking it.  Still in Ollie's body, Deadman hops a plane for Nanda Parbat to confront Anuttara directly.  At the border of Nanda Parbat, Green Arrow and Deadman are able to jointly control Ollie's body and attempt to destroy Anuttara's amulet with an arrow to free Rama Kushna.  Anuttara easily swats the arrow aside, however.  Fleeing from the Ghost Killers, Ollie and Deadman enter Rama Kushna proper, where Deadman is forced to exit Ollie's body and becomes a living being.  Seemingly enraged by Deadman's delivering them right into their enemies hands, Ollie shoots Deadman, apparently killing him, and flings the body off a cliff and away from Nanda Parbat.  Thus ends The Brave and the Bold #14. Green Arrow had gambled that, once outside of the magical influence of Nanda Parbat, Deadman would simply turn into a ghost again and go off to seek help.  This is precisely what happens in the next issue in which Deadman recruits Nightwing and Hawkman to come back with him to Nanda Parbat, free Rama Kushna, defeat Anuttara and rescue Green Arrow. 
I'm not a big fan of Mark Waid, but this is one of his more enjoyable stories.  Green Arrow's a little out of his element amidst all the ghosts and demons and magical goings on, but he holds his own and his quick thinking manages to ultimately save the day. 
Green Arrow next appears in issues #21 and #22, sharing cover billing with his old pal Green Lantern.  However, despite being featured on the covers, he plays a relatively small role in the story, not even showing up until more than halfway through #21. These two issues comprise the second half of the four part story "Without Sin," written by David Hine and illustrated by Doug Braithwaite and Bill Reinhold.  The first two parts feature GL and the Phantom Stranger and the Stranger continues to play a major role in the stories conclusion, getting more on panel time than ostensible co-star Green Arrow.  My summary of these issues will focus primarily on GA's part of the story.
As "Without Sin" part three begins, GL and the Stranger are on the planet Kahlo battling an entity called the Purge who has possessed that world's Green Lantern.  Purge's schtick is to travel from world to world eliminating each planet's evil by killing the entire population, which he does by possessing the planet's most powerful being, such as, say, a Green Lantern.  After the Stranger banishes Purge from Orlan, the Kahloan GL, he and Hal remain on Kahlo to take care of a few loose ends. However, the Stranger senses that Cora, an autistic girl on Earth who appears to hold the key to defeating Purge, is in danger.  She is in a hospital for children with birth defects caused by trials of an experimental drug called Genesin. A team of killers has been sent to destroy the hospital to eliminate any evidence of the failed experiment.  The Stranger sends a psychic projection to Green Arrow, dispatching him to the hospital to try to save the children.  When he arrives, the killers are already there and manage to get off a lucky shot that grazes GA's head and leaves him lying on the floor helpless as they plant a bomb in the basement. 
In the conclusion, Green Arrow manages to recover in time to stop the bomb from exploding just as Hal and the Stranger arrive at the hospital for the final confrontation with the Purge. While that's going on, Green Arrow pursues and captures the squad of would be killers.  I like the fact that Hine keeps Green Arrow separate for the most part from the magical and science fiction elements of the story, even though that does limit his role.
I've now covered every appearance of Green Arrow in all comic book series carrying the title The Brave and the Bold.  At least those set in the mainstream DC Universe. Perhaps in the future, I'll get around to reading and reviewing the comics based on the  Cartoon Network series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Green Arrow has been a frequent guest star on the show and I'm sure he plays a major role in the comic as well.  Furthermore, I'm fairly certain that some day, in the not too distant future, DC will revive  the title yet again and Green Arrow is sure to be a part of it. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor...

What pops into your mind when you think about ads in comic books?  If you've only started reading comics in the last decade or so, it's most likely slick full page ads for video games.  But if, like me, you are a child of the Bronze Age, the images that come to mind are pages of ads for cheap novelty items, Charles Atlas bodybuilding courses and, of course, Hostess pastries.  Anyone who writes about the comics of the Bronze Age will eventually have to address those ubiquitous Hostess ads.  They are an essential part of what made the comics of the era so special and so fondly remembered today.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that, with their outlandish stories and silly villains, these ads were basically quintessential Bronze Age comics boiled down to one page.
The ads, which ran in DC and Marvel comics for about a decade beginning in the early 70's, featured the company's super-heroes in one page adventures that inevitably involved Hostess Cupcakes, Twinkies or Fruit Pies.  The hero most often would use the treats to distract the villains long enough to allow them to be captured.  There were also ads that appeared in Harvey Comics featuring that company's characters, but, like the books in which they appeared, they are far less memorable.
The biggest portion of the DC ads featured the original Superfriends quartet of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman.  Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Batgirl and Captain Marvel starred in a couple of adventures each, and villains the Joker and Penguin even got into the act.  There were also a trio of ads starring some of DC's lesser known, less popular heroes such as Red Tornado, Plastic Man, and Green Arrow.  
In his adventure, presented below, GA uses Fruit Pies to distract a group of kids from the fact that they are seconds away from falling to their deaths, while he works to prevent that from happening.   Then, as required by the conventions of these ads, he ends the adventure with a terrible pun.  
I have no idea who might have written this ad, but it's glaringly obvious that it was drawn by Curt Swan, who did quite a few of the DC ads.
 (Click on the ad to be able to read it)
We know return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Green Arrow in The Brave and the Bold (Part 4): Volume 2

Nearly a decade after the end of the original The Brave and the Bold, DC revived the venerable title as a six issue mini-series written by Mike Grell and Mike Baron, drawn by Shea Anton Pensa and Pablo Marcos and featuring Green Arrow, the Question and the Butcher.   The story has no title other than The Brave and the Bold and the individual issues are simply identified by chapter number.
GA and the Question teamed up several times during Grell's tenure, but I believe that this is the only of those meetings that Grell actually had a hand in writing. Ollie and the Butcher act as if they've met before.  If you're unfamiliar with the Butcher, that's understandable.  The character, created and owned by Baron, made only a handful of appearances in the early 90's.  Previous to B&B vol 2, he debuted in an eponymous mini-series, then appeared in a two part illustrated text story in the pages of Ms. Tree Quarterly. Following this series, he was never seen again.  He did get an entry in Who's Who, which describes him as "free lance spook" John Butcher, Lakota Indian and former Army Ranger and CIA operative.
As the story begins, Green Arrow stumbles upon a Native American separatist movement with apparent ties to the Irish Republican Army which Butcher has infiltrated.  The Question becomes involved while investigating the murder of lumber baron Owen Hester, who was scalped in an apparent attempt to implicate Indians in the crime, as reporter Vic Sage. Together, the trio uncover a plot to foment a Native American uprising at a Mohawk reservation in Montreal.  The man behind the plot is revealed to be part Indian British Lord Sir Arthur Youngblood, head of the conglomerate that owned Hester's company.  His plan is that the uprising will cause the Canadian government to shut down the reservation, allowing him to swoop in and claim the land for a massive industrial and residential development project.  Naturally, of course, Green Arrow, the Question and Butcher unravel the plot, publicly expose Youngblood's duplicity and save the reservation.
A couple of years later, in an editorial in Shaman's Tears #1, editor Mike Gold wrote :
"...perhaps we should have reconsidered that Brave and Bold series when we knew it wasn't working out.  No knock on Mr. Baron; he did excellent work.  The idea was a good one, but no matter how hard we tried, Grell's style and Baron's style just didn't mesh."
Though it starts off well enough, the story never does quite gel.  Butcher  himself says in the story, reporting back to Sage and Ollie after attempting to infiltrate and gain intelligence on the Indian uprising, that he discovered "Bits and pieces, but they don't quite make a whole," which sums up the series better than anything I could could come up with.
While Pensa does a fine job on most of the faces and figures, his backgrounds are a bit crude and blocky.  I'm not a big fan of the way he draws Ollie, specifically, Ollie's beard and mustache.  He uses squiggly lines that just don't look right to me. It also seems that Pensa had some trouble making deadlines.  That's just conjecture, but it would explain why Pablo Marcos steps in to draw #5 and inks Pensa, who had handled the first four issues solo, on the final installment. At least in #6 Green Arrow's beard looks right.
In the time honored Brave and the Bold tradition, there are apparently some continuity issues surrounding this series.  According to the DC Data Base entry for Charles Victor Szasz (a.k.a. Vic Sage or The Question), because Butcher was a creator owned character who is no longer part of the DC Universe, it is "unclear" whether the events of this story still fit into continuity.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Web-Comic Mocks Sheen and Keane

I'm taking a break from my posts on Green Arrow today to tell you about a blog I just happened upon this afternoon.
The latest media obsession to distract the nation's easily diverted collective attention from such frivolous issues as the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and revolution in the Middle East has been provided over the past couple of  weeks by my "evil twin," Charlie Sheen.  I have been referring to him that way since I discovered that he and I happen to have been born on the same day, September 3, 1965.  Recently, though, he has certainly been going out of his way to live up to the "evil" part, granting interviews to several news and entertainment programs and providing them with a seemingly endless supply of bizarre, but eminently quotable, statements.  Okay, maybe he's not exactly "evil."  Honestly, "pathetic" is probably a better word.  "Insane" certainly fits.
Sheen's recent rantings actually provide a unique challenge for the nation's comedians and satirists.  How can they make Charlie's lunatic ramblings any funnier than they already are? Well, two bloggers known as Jon L. and Chris D. have managed to do just that on their blog The Sheen Family Circus  by combining Sheen's mad mouthings with another pretty easy target for mockery, long running comic panel The Family Circus.   They take old Circus panels and replace the original warm and fuzzy, family friendly and, frankly, not very funny captions with a quote from Sheen that perfectly suits the image.  In doing so, they have crafted an original and hilarious web-comic. 
It's definitely worth reading and I hope they keep it up for awhile.  They've certainly got enough raw material, both in the form of Sheen's blathering and more than fifty years of Family Circus panels, for quite a lengthy run.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Green Arrow Helps "The Cop Who Lost His Nerve"

When I posted about Showcase Presents Green Arrow, I dropped a reference to a story featuring a "stuffed cat arrow" and mentioned that it deserved a post of its own. My friend Mike Carroll, whom I encountered while I was leafing through that volume at the comic shop just prior to purchasing it, appeared to believe that this one six page story alone was reason enough to justify spending seventeen dollars on a five hundred page book.  I wouldn't go that far.  There are plenty of reasons to buy the book, many of  which I covered in my previous post.  However, it is one of the quirkiest and most original of Green Arrow's Silver Age adventures.
Originally published in World's Finest Comics #121, "The Cop Who Lost His Nerve" is the only Green Arrow story written by long time Flash and Green Lantern writer John Broome,  and is drawn, as are the bulk of the stories in the Showcase Presents volume, by Lee Elias.  Broome and Elias team to introduce us to Fred Jenkins, whom the opening caption describes as "...the top rookie on the police force--the most promising patrolman ever to walk a beat."  Later, Green Arrow recognizes him as having been " student at the Police Academy."  However, we are also told that Jenkins has "...a terrible secret" that threatens his future on the force.
Green Arrow and his ward Speedy first encounter Jenkins when they are summoned by the police, via the Arrow Signal, to deal with a robbery in progress.  When they arrive, they at first conclude that their super heroic services won't be needed after all, as Jenkins has apparently captured the perpetrator.  However,  Jenkins becomes paralysed with fear when a cat suddenly appears seemingly out of nowhere, allowing the thief to make a break for it. Fortunately, GA and Speedy are still on the scene to capture the crook using their boomerang arrows.  
After the Ace Archers deliver their prisoner into the hands of the authorities, Jenkins confesses his "terrible secret" to them.  As a child, Jenkins had been badly injured and almost killed in a terrible automobile accident.  Just before losing consciousness, the last sound he heard was the meowing cry of a cat.  Since that time, he has had a paralyzing fear of felines.  
Jenkins' revelation is overheard by a hood called Weasel.  Weasel takes this information to a crook named Artie who immediately begins to plan how he  can use it to his advantage.  While this is taking place, back in the Arrowcave, Green Arrow is preparing a special arrow to help Officer Jenkins.
The next night, Fred comes across some suspicious looking characters carrying a sack and loitering in front of the Sports Museum after hours.  When he questions them, they literally let the cat out of the bag.  When the rookie officer once again becomes frozen with fear, one of the thugs grabs his gun.  Just as this is occuring, GA and Speedy happen by in the Arrowcar. Suddenly, there's a loud "ME-EE-EOW" and another cat leaps out of nowhere,  knocking the gun out of the crook's hand.  Fred recovers from his paralysis, retrieves his firearm and aids Green Arrow and Speedy in capturing the gang. 
In the next to last panel, Green Arrow is shown holding what appears to be a cat with an arrow sticking out of its butt.  (...and where else but in a blog about comics would I ever get an opportunity to write a sentence like that?)  He explains that the cat which attacked the crook was actually a dummy attached to an arrrow.  The meowing was produced by a fluted arrow fired by Speedy.  GA had reasoned that the way to cure Jenkins' fear of cats was to arrange for a cat to save his life.   The logic of that sounds a little shaky to me, but it works.  The story ends with the now cured rookie petting the very cat the criminal gang had sicced on him earlier.
Now retired, former police officer Fred Jenkins lives by himself in a trailer with three dozen cats and a ferret named Speedy. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Green Arrow Showcased

Showcase Presents Green Arrow  collects the Emerald Archer's Silver Age adventures in one five hundred thirty page black and white volume.  Beginning with the first  Green Arrow story illustrated by Jack Kirby, the book brings together stories from World's Finest and Adventure Comics with Green Arrow's early appearances in The Brave and the Bold with his initiation into the JLA in Justice League of America #4. 
We've all heard it said that prior to his revamp in B&B #85, Green Arrow was a Batman wanna-be without much of a personality.  That's true as far as it goes.  Like Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen is a millionaire with a youthful ward who fights crime along side him.   All the faux-Bat accoutrements are on hand, as well, including the Arrow Cave, the Arrow Car, the Arrow Plane and the Arrow Signal. As far as the lack of personality goes, to be fair, most of  these stories were only eight pages long and it is hard to squeeze a complete story and characterization into that short a space.  The stories themselves tend to be formulaic and a bit repetitive.  There are two separate stories in here where GA meets a circus clown who parodies the archer in his act.  Of course, those stories were originally published several years apart and the writer probably never foresaw that they would end up collected in a book together.  
What imagination did go into these stories seems to have been mostly directed to coming with the wide array of trick arrows that Green Arrow and Speedy, and occasionally their female counterpart Miss Arrowette, use to help them catch the bad guys. There were, of course, the ubiquitous net, and handcuff arrows as well as the infamous boxing glove arrow.  Among some of the more unusual were:
  • cloud seeding arrow
  • hypnotic arrow
  • rain arrow
  • aqualung arrow
  • short circuit arrow
  • fountain pen arrow
  • two stage rocket arrow 
  • tumbleweed arrow
  • sun arrow 
  • antler arrow
  • needle arrow
  • baby rattle arrow
  • bubble gum arrow
  • chimney sweep arrow
  • salt arrow
  • inflatable Green Arrow and Speedy dummy arrows
  • combination boomerang-balloon arrow
  • cobweb arrow
  • bloodhound arrow
  • paintbrush arrow
  • anchor arrow
  • avalanche arrow
  • mummy arrow
  • 2 way radio arrow 
  • fire extinguisher arrow
  • blackout arrow
In one story, the Battlin' Bowmen take to sea equipped with an "aqua bow" and special aqua arrows that include:
  • octopus arrow
  • glowfish arrow
  • jellyfish arrow
  • electric eel arrow
Coming from Miss Arrowette's quiver are:
  • hairpin arrow
  • powder puff arrow
  • lotion arrow 
  • mirror arrow
  • hair tint arrow
  • kerchief arrow
  • hair net arrow
  • bubble bath arrow
  • nail file arrow
Then there's the stuffed cat arrow.  But that really deserves a post of its own.
In the final analysis, for what they are, which is basically short adventure stories meant to entertain kids for a few minutes, these stories really aren't bad.  They also feature some pretty good art.  After the Kirby issues, most of the stories are drawn by Lee Elias.  Elias started his cartooning career as an assistant to Milton Caniff, and the Caniff influence is clear in the characters' faces and Elias' use of shadow.  Other artists represented include original GA artist George Papp, Mike Sekowsky on the JLA issue, and Neal Adams on the groundbreaking B&B #85.
Overall, this is a volume that I would recommend to any fan of Green Arrow or Silver Age Comics in general.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Green Arrow #9

In the interest of getting the unpleasant part out of the way as quickly as possible, I'm going to kick off Green Arrow Month 2 by reviewing the latest issue of the current Green Arrow monthly series.  I picked up #9 last week just to see if the series was still as bad as it started out last year.  Of course, I could have saved myself the three bucks by simply looking at the cover and seeing if J.T. Krul was still the writer.  I'll give Krul the benefit of a doubt and concede that he may, in fact, be capable of writing a decent comic book story.  It appears, however, that said story would not be one featuring Oliver Queen.
For those of you who've wisely avoided the Arrow's latest adventures, let me hit you with a little set-up before we get to the review.  After killing the villain Prometheus for destroying a huge chunk of Star City at the end of Justice League: Cry for Justice, Ollie turned himself over to the authorities to stand trial.  Found not guilty by a sympathetic jury of Star City residents, Ollie was nonetheless ordered by the judge to leave Star City and never return.  In Brightest Day #0, a magical forest suddenly sprang up in the devastated area in the center of Star City.  Defying the court order, Green Arrow returned to Star City and took up residence in the forest.  Since then, he has been joined by "Knight of the Forest" Galahad, who may, or, of course, may not, be the Galahad of the Camelot legends.
As Green Arrow #9 begins, GA and Galahad have, in turn, been joined by Etrigan the Demon and Jason Blood, magically separated by the power of the forest, and the Phantom Stranger.  This issue is marginally better than the first couple, but that is damning with faint praise, as the poets would say. Issues #1 and #2 were ineffably awful, whereas #9 is simply terrible. 
By the way, speaking of poets, J.T. Krul is most definitely not one.  His dialogue for Etrigan is clunky and has no flow or rhythm whatsoever. Maybe he should have gotten Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn to write some limericks for the Demon, as they did in Blue Devil Summer Fun Annual #1 back in 1985.  Then at least something in this issue would have been worth reading.
After spouting some lines that I suppose are meant to be cryptic but come off more as simply utterly nonsensical, the Stranger bows out.  He contributes nothing and I'm not sure what the hell he was even there for. Compounding the problem is the fact that artist Diogenes Neves draws the Stranger without ears.  I know that the Stranger's face is traditionally shrouded in shadow, but in Neves' rendering it doesn't just appear as if you can't see his ears, but as if he doesn't have any.  In the final panel of page three, the Stranger looks like one of those grey aliens you used to see meeting with the Presidential candidates in The Weekly World News, but with a hat.  Other than that, though, the art isn't all that bad. Not great, but not bad, either. 
After the Stranger splits, Etrigan's evil begins to infect the forest, causing it to turn dark and attack Ollie, Blood and Galahad.  As they struggle to protect the White Tree at the heart of the forest, Galahad is swallowed up by an evil tree and Arrow find himself battling giant magical spiders.  
That last paragraph perfectly illustrates my whole problem not only with this issue, but this entire series so far.  The premise is all wrong for Green Arrow.   I could certainly see Ollie taking the Robin Hood schtick to its logical extreme and hanging out in a forest, but not a magical forest populated by demons and giant spiders.  Green Arrow is a character who works best in more down to earth settings and stories.  Not to mention the fact  that the stories are just plain bad.  I know I've said that several times over the course of this post, but it seems I just can't emphasize enough what a mess DC has made of Green Arrow over the course of the last year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Green Arrow Month 2

You might have noticed that March is upon us once again, and, just as I did last year, I am unilaterally declaring this Green Arrow Month, in which I shall post a series of entries paying tribute to the Emerald Archer.  
Why  am I doing this again?  
Well, there are a couple of posts I meant to do last year before I kind of ran out of steam, and there are several Green Arrow comics that I've read in the intervening year that I feel are worth writing about.
Some of the topics I'll be covering in the days to come are:
  • Green Arrow's appearances in The Brave and the Bold volumes 2 and 3
  • a review of Showcase Presents Green Arrow
  • Alan Moore's Green Arrow story from Detective Comics #449 and 450 in 1985
  • Green Arrow's Hostess Fruit Pie Ad
  • Green Arrow meets Jon Sable...sort of 
  • a review of the latest issue of the current Green Arrow series
We'll kick off the festivities officially tomorrow with that review of the current issue.  See you then.