Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Green Arrow #1

Here's another hero that no one quite knows what to do with. Like the Martian Manhunter, the Spectre and Aquaman, Green Arrow has been forced to jump through all kinds of hoops in an attempt to find the storyline that will work.

(By the way, other comics companies have characters that have the same predicament - DC doesn't have a corner on the market.)

The character first started as a cross between Batman and Robin Hood, fighting crime with trick arrows and a sidekick, Speedy. He was reinvented by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams as an angry liberal crusader, fighting for the little guy while teamed up with Green Lantern.

Writer/artist Mike Grell brought the character even more down to Earth, ditching the trick arrows and featuring the hero in a series of stories "torn" from recent headlines. After that, he went back to being a (non-powered) superhero, married long-time love interest Black Canary and they fought the bad guys as a team.

Ultimately, in the Justice League: Cry for Justice series, he became an avenger who killed the villain who was responsible for his niece's death - an event that ended his marriage and left him in a dark place.

Which brings us to this, the newest version of the character. This time around they're giving him the full Robin Hood treatment, setting him up as a street-level vigilante who fights thugs, steals from the rich and gives to the poor.

It helps that his hometown, Star City, now sports a large, mysterious (and perhaps mystical) forest in the heart of the city, and the city is in the grip of corruption. The ruling class is living like kings while the regular joes are starving.

That's the setup writer J.T. Krul gives us, and while it's not bad, I have to say that it's not really working for me at this point. The setup just seems too removed from the real world - it almost seems like a fantasy setting.

The subplot featuring Oliver Queen's old company seems promising - but as with most of the storylines here, we'll have to see where it goes before rendering a final decision.

I like the art by Diogenes Neves and Vincente Cifuentes - it's raw and energetic and sets the mood nicely. There may be a few rough spots, and some of the panels spill across the page divide awkwardly, but there's lots of talent on display here. This will be a team to watch.

My gut reaction is that this storyline is going to be tough to sustain, but maybe I'm wrong. You have to think that sooner or later, someone is going to find the concept that clicks for Green Arrow.


Grade: B-

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