Thoughts and observations on Green Arrow, classical liberalism, freedom, comic books and matters of social justice.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shutting Down the Green Arrow Guide

The idea was that I would actually look at the issues of my day through the lens of the comic book character Green Arrow. In a brief 11-12 issues a ridiculous Batman knock-off was given new life and new purpose; comic book's first social crusader. The series didn't last long and neither do the more current iterations of Oliver Queen. Here is a DC hero plagued by inconsistent writing and bad story ideas.

For a good while there I did attempt to tackle matters of conscience, faith, politics and comic books. Not anymore. My politics are gently shifting to match my faith and those beliefs have little to do with what Green Arrow once represented. I say "once" because anymore Green Arrow is only about shooting arrows at people and things and little else. Guys like me buy his comics because the characters remind us of a great run that happened 30-40 years ago.

Green Arrow is not relevant.

Comic book writers rarely are given the freedom to explore political thought in their comics. The liberal bias in the field is readily apparent though, given the embarrassing Obama covers. And that's fine, it's just shallow. Yeah, Adams and O'Neil used images of MLK and Robert Kennedy but that was in context of their murders.The point is the Green Lantern/Green Arrows capture a moment in time for American culture and comics; one that I do not see reoccurring.

Nostalgia should be a gently used spice of life. Carrying the Green Arrow flag is nothing short of a full body plunge into the deep waters of nostalgia. These characters are ever changing to keep up with the market, make sales and then happen to act as cultural sign posts when reflected upon some time later. Where ever Green Arrow goes from here is uncertain but it will be without me. I've hung up the bow and quiver (literally and metaphorically) and am moving on.

Perhaps I no longer need comic book heroes to define that heroic, inner part of me I desperately hope is real and needs only an avatar to be realized. Perhaps my political views are less aggressive and more "other" focused; as informed by my Church. Perhaps I no longer require the little, plastic totems of my youth.

Regardless, I've spent too long on nostalgia and too long on this very post that I know somewhere deep down, NOBODY will ever read. The Green Arrow Guide to Revolutionary Heroism is closed.

It also didn't help that the new "Arrow" show sucks.  


Steve McCarty

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear "Arrow" Creators: Somebody Save Me!

I'm having a real Love/Hate relationship with CW's "Arrow" series.  Well, more accurately it's an on-again off-again love/hate relationship because for some reason I never remember to watch the darn thing.  I think it's on Wednesdays, right?!  Anywho, the episodes I have caught felt like a bunch of Green Arrow fans got together and tried to ape the "Smallville" formula with Oliver Queen as the hero.  "Arrow" hits all the same beats as its predecessor;
  • Exterior castle shots
  • Back alley action scenes lasting about 2-3 minutes 
  • Locations totally devoid of unattractive people.
What "Arrow" doesn't share with young Clark's story might be the bigger problem;
  • No compelling character arc (he's already Green Arrow)
  • No lead character to identify with (from jump street he's been a focused arrow firing machine)
  • No relationship struggle you care about
"Smallville" had the Clark-Lana-Lex triangle (anchored by Mike Rosenbaum) that kept you tuning in week after week to see the progression toward the inevitable tragic ending.  "Arrow" has hinted at Ollie's sister (no idea what he name is) follwoing in his ne'er–do–well footsteps.  Maybe some people are interested in this but I'm not feeling it.  One caveat, in the episodes I've missed the show's producers might have added a wrinkle I'm unaware of, just to be fair.

Then there is Oliver's quest to avenge his city and father's memory, which at this point is the main crux of the series.  Unfortunately, again, we came to know of his mission and father through flashbacks and those are not near as engaging as, say, watching the relationships of father and son between Clark and Jonathan compared to that of Lex and Lionel. 

I know it reads like I'm doing too much comparing to "Smallville" but that show is the test case for "Arrow". And while the former had it more than fair share of problems, what it got right it got right in spades.  Comparatively what "Arrow" misses (see what I did there?) misses but quite a lot.  As  Green Arrow fan this greatly saddens me.

However, the silver lining here is that the how is reportedly doing quite well.  My hope is with this success "Arrow" doesn't continue wit the status quo, but uses the opportunity to improve the product.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Green Arrow #14 Preview

Green Arrow is set to get another reboot (writing/art speaking) this February.  As is often the case, it looks like a good change 3 months out.  I bought only a few issues of the post New 52 Green Arrow.  The artwork was visually interesting but often difficult to follow, and artwork that draws you OUT of the story is never good in comics.

I recall my jumping off point was when Green Arrow was fighting some kind of mutant/cyborg polar bears.  If that's not a "Jump the Shark" "Nuke the Fridge" moment, what is?  The new writer has said he wants Oliver back in Seattle, at least I'm pretty sure that's what he has said.  And with the hood taking place of the feathered cap (seemingly for good) we've come full circle back to the Mike Grell days.

So the globe trotting, magic tech wielding Ollie is going back to a man and his non-trick arrows.  It's funny because I had wondered why DC wanted to make Queen a Jack Bauer clone sans the gun.  The tact of bringing the character up to worldwide status to make him seem level with his superhero piers never seems correct to me.  Stripped down just feels right for an archer character.

Marvel has tried this with Hawkeye with far better success, although issue #4 of the series features some horrendous art by a fill-in artist that would make me never want to pick up the book again if he were the go-to guy 24/7.  This story is about the costume-less Hawkeye in only t-shirt and purple Converse (nice touch!). It is very character driven and a nice change of pace from big explosions/big fights.

The preview art for Green Arrow #14 shows Oliver in full regalia so it doesn't appear to take the same stripped approach, but perhaps we can actually get to know this newer/younger Oliver Queen instead of just seeing what he can do!   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Denis Medri's Wild West Green Arrow

From Project: Rooftop comes artist Denis Medri's Wild West Green Arrow.  Seems fitting to add the American Indian motiff, being that politically minded Oliver would most likely champion their cause!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Comic Book "Seasons" not monthly

Making The Case For TV-Like Seasons in Comics and Fewer Ongoing Promises

Modern American comic books are born and bred on the idea of their releases being ongoing series, continuing a long line of history with no end in sight — unless sales fall. This open-ended promise has turned into a legacy that’s hard for publishers to live up to, with low sales forcing cancellations to what fans thought would be an endless ride.

Likewise, publishers have seen a monotonous march towards higher and higher numbers to be at odds with the tendency for fans and retailers to pay more attention to new #1s, leading publishers to frequently relaunch series with new #1s, sometimes purely for marketing reasons while keeping the same creative team and story direction in the book. And in terms of creators being able to consistently deliver quality work on a monthly basis, it’s become a rarity for comic artists to be able to do it month-in and month-out.

That’s where doing seasons in comics, a la television, could be a revolutionary concept in comics.
And although I throw the word ‘revolutionary’ out there, it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Mike Mignola’s nearly patented the idea of doing a series of short-form miniseries that keeps interest high, keeps #1s flowing, and succinctly realizes that the comics market, thanks to collections, has turned into a format of readers wanting clearly collectable story-arcs.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips took this idea even further in the early 2000s when they had their DC/Wildstorm series Sleeper published as a series of 12-issue miniseries, delivering 12 months of uninterrupted Brubaker/Phillips superhero crime noir then allowing for a break to re-charge and work in advance to deliver another 12 months down the road. It’s a formula they took when they left for Marvel, delivering bursts of Criminal and Incognito as a series of miniseries rather than an un-ending ongoing built up for delays or artistic substitutions.

But unfortunately, this way of thinking hasn’t been able to permeate into the larger comics industry. For the Big Two it’s hard not to deliver comics month-in, month-out (especially when you actively employ a rotating menagerie of artists on a single book), but it creates a disjointed reading experience for those reading the single issues. Is it a deal-breaker for readers?

Obviously not, but it has severely diminished the artistic continuity of books and minimized the importance of a single continuous artistic vision for comics. Instead we get three issues of Artist A, four issues of Artist B, and then a juicy one-off by Artist X. They’re all great in their own right, but imagine if the scheduling were there to allow Artist A, Artist B and Artist X their own space to deliver a larger vision.

This could even play out well on the independent creator-owned front. How many ongoing creator-owned series are announced that actually make it past the twelve issue mark, and do it without severe delays? I’d challenge you to name five in the past two years that did it without sacrificing schedule or creative shifts.

What if instead of ongoings being the status quo and the expected format, for more creator-owned series being a series of miniseries. It gives a more rational, reasonable and realistic expectation for the reader, and also some clear beginnings and endings for the writer, artist and the rest of the creative team. Plus, if it goes well and you do go back for a sequel, there’s always a new juicy #1 waiting for without any cancellation/relaunch shenanigans.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Coomic Book Wednesday

Only three titles interest me this week;
DC may have a Green Arrow TV show on the air, but what they don't have is a Green Arrow comic as good as Marvel's Hawkeye.  Making me break my rule of W4T (Wait for the Trade) I'm buying this book monthly to help ensure its continuation.  More about this in a later post.

I love Halloween.  I love comics.  I don't like zombies anymore (burnt out) but I like reading at least one Halloween comic a year!

Probably won't actually buy this because all I'm intrested in is the SHAZAM back-up story and $4 is too high for a whole comic, not to mention a third of one.

Marvel Legends Hawkeye gets another shot

 While not strictly Green Arrow related, this pic from Action Figure Insider, shows the very well done and impossible to find Marvel Legends Hawkeye that will be re-released sometime in the following year.  Until the DC Universe Classics Green Arrow was released, this was the best comic book archer figure.  Looking forward at getting another "shot" at  this guy!