Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Green Arrow Series (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

Some of you not familiar with comics, or the Green Arrow character, may ask yourselves....what is so appealing about an angry liberal running around rooftops in Robin Hood tights shooting arrows at villains? Well, Oliver Queen (a.k.a., Green Arrow) is like most men in the world today. Really? Yes! He is an expert at one thing, and a complete failure at almost everything else. Pessimistic? No, just "keeping it real".

Oliver Queen was a billionaire playboy, hopping from yacht to yacht, and woman to woman when the ship he was on crashed on a deserted island (or so he thought). To survive, he had to become an expert using the only hunting weapon available to him, a makeshift bow. Honing his skills on the island, after being rescued he returned to Star City and became the Green Arrow (read Green Arrow: Year One for the entire story).

After a failed attempt at a "boy wonder" named Speedy (who turned to drugs and was abandoned by Queen, but would rehabilitate and become the hero Arsenal and is now known as Red Arrow of the Justice League), fathering an illegitimate child (Connor Hawke, who would become the 2nd Green Arrow), and several failed relationships (including the on-again, off-again relationship with the Black Canary).....Green Arrow dies trying to save the world.

Before sacrificing himself to save the world by reigniting the sun, Parallax (Hal Jordan, now the reborn Green Lantern) used his immense powers to bring Green Arrow back to life (see: The Final Night). That is where the Green Arrow series began and includes the following Graphic Novels:

Quiver (written by Kevin Smith, art by Phil Hester)
Sounds of Violence (written by Kevin Smith, art by Phil Hester)
Straight Shooter (written by Judd Winick, art by Phil Hester)
Archer's Quest (Written by Brad Meltzer, art by Phil Hester)
City Walls (written by Judd Winick, art by Phil Hester)
Moving Targets (written by Judd Winick, art by Phil Hester)
Heading into the Light (written by Judd Winick, art by Ron Garney)
Crawling from the Wreckage (written by Judd Winick, art by Scott McDaniel)
Road to Jericho (written by Judd Winick, art by Scott McDaniel)

Green Arrow is one of the more "true-to-life" heroes in the DC Universe, so his trials and adventures aren't filled with aliens, high-tech gadgetry, or many superpowered villains. The stories are gritty, full of emotion, and real-life challenges. Early on in the series, Oliver adopts a teenage girl with HIV (from being forced into prostitution) who becomes the new "Speedy" (Green Arrow's "sidekick"). He tries to forge a relationship with his Buddhist son Connor (who helps him as the "other" Green Arrow), with mixed results. Meanwhile he and Black Canary restart their relationship, but many of life's issues get in the way. Several attempts to kill his son and adopted daughter fail, thanks to Green Arrow's timely involvement. As Oliver Queen he becomes Mayor of Star City, and helps bring Green Lantern Hal Jordan back from the grave of our fiery sun. The series ended with Oliver Queen asking Dinah (Black Canary) to marry him....

This series often deals with real-life issues like HIV, AIDS, deadbeat Dads, relationships (between parents, children, girlfriends, etc.), poverty, among others. I liked Judd Winick's run for these qualities. He isn't as good a writer as Kevin Smith or Brad Meltzer, but he does well with second-tier characters such as Green Arrow. Kevin Smith's run was AWESOME....when he wasn't late (like he is with every comic book he writes), and ultimately DC Comics had to switch writers because of his lateness. Brad Meltzer's run was good as well, but it was short-lived. Winick did the bulk of the writing & about half of the "reboot" Green Arrow & Black Canary.

When I picture Green Arrow, I picture the one drawn by Phil Hester! After he left, the series just wasn't the same. He is a fabulous artist, and is also a good writer (currently writing/drawing the "Anchor" series for BOOM! Studios). Garney and McDaniel are good artists in their own right, but they're not Phil Hester!

With a second "reboot" in the works, I thought I would sum up the first series of our Archer extraordinaire. If you have to choose one to's definitely Quiver by Kevin Smith & Phil Hester (easily one of my Top 10 favorite Graphic Novels). If you like that just skip to the new series, and when you become a huge fan...go back and collect all the others.

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