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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Green Arrow # 1 Review


The new (again!) Green Arrow series has been on the shelves for 6 or 7 months now. While I have been reading them (a week later than everyone else thanks to my subscription?!) I wanted to let the first arc roll out before I started discussing it so that I could comment on what writer J.T. Krul seemed to have begun and on what actually transpired. What I find most annoying about comic reviews are the obligatory "I'll give it a chance" or "It will be interesting to see..."comments. Now, much like a trade paperback review, I can critique the story with a better perspective.

COVER ART










I love the image of Green Arrow looming over Star City's skyline with the forest at his back. You'd see this on a stand and know we're looking at a more fierce interpretation of the character. I don't like the bulging, veined biceps however, just a little too beefy.

STORY








Whoops! This is where the product goes awry. Krul begins his run with a competent, albeit bloody, action sequence depicting GA laying out a gang of street toughs who were accosting a young woman in Star City's "magical" forest; and there is my problem with it, how they got into the forest in the first place. We can assume the gang followed the young woman into the woods but it's her reasoning for being there (as she explains a few panels later) I don't understand.

She thought it would be "safer" in the confines of the giant, dark, ever-changing jungle that just appeared in the middle of town. Really? At least on the streets it's a known environment, even the disaster ridden streets of Star City. Wasn't this town blown up during Judd Winick's painful tenure? These people know how to live in a place that's constantly exploding, but mystical jungle-scapes?

Well, Oliver dispatches the little rascals and leaves them for dead, apparently he's not as far removed from meting out oblivion as he professes. Escorting the rescued damsel the two provide exposition laden dialogue to bring the reader up to speed. It seems the city is coping with recent events as best it can with savaging citizens and corrupt officials. Krul takes an opportunity to correlate Star City's predicament with the events of New Orleans.

Green Arrow laments the nonexistent relief and claims the government as a whole, apparently every office and person therein, were only interested in a "photo-op." Here we find the typical liberal perspective comic writers love to force upon the reader. "Where is our help?" "Who's going to protect me?" "Where's my check?" Furthermore we are told of the evil machinations of society's most sinister pariah, BIG BUSINESS! Heinous corporations are converging on the poor residents of Star City infusing its economy with capital, enabling market growth, creating jobs, and furthering the process of re-building. HORRORS!
I once heard film critic Roger Ebert respond to the question of why so many screenwriters depict big business as the bad guy in films. He said the writer is Hollywood's lowest paid player and thus envious of those with means. I can only assume the comic writer is at a lower financial wrung and thus the bitterness would be far greater.

Add to the mix the tendency of some writers to infuse characters with their own political/social views. This seems especially the case in Green Arrow stories, due to the lasting repercussions of Dennis O'Neil's maudlin, anti-establishment liberal "re-imaging" of Oliver Queen from the early ‘70s; despite the fact that true and classical liberalism, the ideal of limited government and the liberty of individuals from oppression, works better as a reaction to Green Lantern's pro-establishment tact.

But I digress.

As the book progresses we are introduced to Isabel Rochev, the heir apparent to Queen Industries. She wears a mask, of course, and seems determined on reestablishing Queen Industries as a major global, economic player.








Krul also brings in Star Gazette reporter Evan Gibson who may be utilized down the road as Green Arrow's Jim Gordon or Perry White counterpart, allowing for conversational exposition.


I started this comic having read none of the Blackest Night/Brightest Day comics and while that hindered total understanding of the "goings-on" I found it easy to accept there's a big forest in the city, probably caused by some Green Lantern power thingy. Ultimately what matters is the chance for Krul to write Oliver in Robin Hood-esque backdrops. This assumption is reinforced by a last minute appearance of Hal Jordon streaming hi way over the Star City skyline. But what affect does Star City's "Sherwood" have on GL's power? Well it ain't good but that gets traction in issue two.


STORY ART









I think Diogenes Neves' art compares well with most comics today. There are proportion issues here and there, and some overly sketchy artwork, but overall it could be worse. I especially liked the eerie, blue lighting used in the forest.

BOTTOM LINE










Not the best Green Arrow story but not the worst either. What works; the forest, the cover art, Oliver's general demeanor. What doesn't work; aspects of the story art, setting up the new characters, giving the reader something more than the typical two-fisted comic action. I'm really looking for Green Arrow to shine but so far this isn't it. We aren't shown why Isabel Rochev wears the mask (yet) so it comes off as hokey. J.T. Krul airing out his liberal dirty laundry is boring and reminiscent of Judd Winnick's writing, and that's not good.

And while we get less politcal postering over the next issues we also get a story line that stalls and doesn't quite deliver on certain elements set-up in issue one.

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