Saturday, December 1, 2001

The Mount - TV Time

Never before have so many superhero-related TV shows been on prime-time television than in this time in history. Never before have I written an article about all these TV shows. Never before have I had so much gushing praise to write about something. So without further ado, let's talk about Smallville, The Tick and Justice League.

Smallville: WB : Tuesday Nights at 9:00 EST (8:00 CST)

The breakout hit of the three shows so far, Smallville has been described as "Dawson's Creek with superpowers". It's all about life, friendship and love in a small town. The fact that the small town is Smallsville, Kansas and that a teenage Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Pete Ross and Lex Luthor are among the friends and that there are weird green rocks that seem to be bestowing odd powers on people at random is just a coincidence.

There seems to be a pattern to the episodes I've seen so far, with a "monster of the week" theme driving the plot. Hopefully the show can move beyond this, as having one person a week besides Clark developing a superpower and abusing it is going to get really old, really fast.

The acting is good, for the most part. None of the younger actors really stand out, except for Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor). Also worth noting is John Glover, who plays Lex's father.

A quick fun fact: this is the third time John Glover has been involved in a DC Comics related project. He was the voice of The Riddler in "Batman: The Animated Series" and played Jason Wodrue in "Batman and Robin".

Overall, this isn't the kind of thing I'd watch every week, but I think I'm a little out of the target audience. Regardless, it's pretty good if you don't mind angsty teen melodrama.

Assessment: Okay. Will likely have a long life if the ratings stay constant.

The Tick: Fox : Thursday Nights at 8:30 EST (7:30 CST)

The cult indie hit comes to the small screen again: This Time, Alive! A big blue superhero known only as "The Tick" comes to "The City", looking for adventure and an archenemy to call his own. He teams up with Arthur (an accountant who bought a moth suit at an auction), Bat-Manuel (Half Bat-Man, Half Rico-Suave) and Captain Liberty (Wonder Woman, with a streak of strumpet) to fight the forces of evil.

With only two episodes aired so far, it's a bit hard to gage the direction of the show so far. Overall, the humor and characterization from the comics seems transported very well into the show. Patrick Warburton cuts a fine figure as The Tick, giving the role the right mix of obliviousness and innocence, with just a bit of pomposity as he says dramatic lines that would make Adam West wince. David Burke finds the right mix of wannabee hero and bunny rabbit in his portrayal of Arthur.

That said, I really have to question some of the writing so far. For instance, in an early scene The Tick "rescues" some people from a broken coffee machine. As he beats the machine into submission, he says proudly "Java Devil: you are now my bitch!" While the line is funny, it really doesn't fit with Tick's innocent image for him to be saying the B-word. It also makes it seem kind of odd later when he doesn't get any of Bat-Manuel's sexual innuendoes. It's a running gag in fact, with two variations on the line...

Bat-Manuel: (winking) .... if you know what I mean?

Tick: No.

There seems to be a lot of sexual humor for a superhero show. Not that there hasn't always been a link between superheroes and sex jokes. I mean, how long have we had men say, while looking at Wonder Woman, "I wouldn't mind HER tying me up with that Lasso Of Truth". Still, we come about one level below Larry Nevin's "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" essay at some points, with jokes about Bat-Manuel and Captain Liberty's escapades on the rooftops while Arthur and Tick are trying to save Jimmy Carter from being assassinated.

In fact, the second episode centers around the team having to hide the body of legendary "Superman-esque" hero "The Immortal" after he dies while making love to Captain Liberty in order to preserve his image. Very little is said about the image of the other heroes, Captain Liberty's virtue or Arthur's reaction to his childhood hero dying in such a manner. I'm not saying that such humor is bad, but that it seems to be a big part of the humor of the show... and the comic was funny enough without having to stoop to such humor.

Assessment: I really did enjoy the show and think it may easily be the best of the three new superhero shows. Sadly, most of the humor and concept is a little off the wall for most of America. That and a lousy time-slot on Thursday nights will probably mean a quick death for this bug.

Justice League: Cartoon Network : Monday Nights at 9:30 EST (8:30 CST)

Probably the most eagerly anticipated of the three, Justice League is an animated series based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name.

Produced by the same team that created Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, this show matches the animation style of the show well. It also brings back most of the voice cast from before. Kevin Conroy and Michael Rosenbaum return as Batman and The Flash but Tim Daly isn't on hand to continue voicing Superman. He is replaced by George Newbern.

Five episodes have aired so far- the three-part pilot "Secret Origins" and a two parter entitled "In Darkest Night".

"Secret Origins" details the formation of the League after an alien invasion nearly destroys the Earth. Superman and Batman investigate a series of odd break-ins at aerospace-related businesses, leading them to a captured J'onn J'onzz. J'onn informs them of a race of parasitic aliens that killed the Martian race which is now on Earth. Joining them are established heroes The Flash, Green Lantern John Stewart, the Thangarian Hawkgirl... and a newcomer; Princess Diana of Themyscria, who is summoned away from the Island of the Amazons by a telepathic message by J'onn.

"In Darkest Night" details the trial of John Stewart, who supposedly blew up a planet while trying to stop a pirate. Abandoned his fellow Corps members, his only hope lies in the rest of the Justice League being able to prove his innocence.

Justice League is a real treat for old time DC Comics fans and anybody who likes to play "spot the reference". Between numerous references to "The Martian Chronicles" and "War of the Worlds" and cameos by Snapper Carr, Kanjar Ro and a host of other obscure characters, one might think that Dennis Miller had a hand in writing the scripts.

There is also an outstanding use of humor; both personality based (Batman's subtle grimace as he has to swing in through an opening as the rest of the team flies) and wise-cracking. I'm especially fond of Ajuris 5's solution to dealing with mercenary lawyers. (You have to see it to get it).

Sadly, the show does have some significant problems. While the show is a treat for comic fans, the writers assume that the audience is already familiar with most of the characters and concepts involved. I watched the show with some friends who didn't know much about superheroes past Batman and Superman. I found myself quickly trying to answer...

1) How many powers does Martian Manhunter have anyway? There were a lot of cries of "How?" whenever J'onn got a pensive look trying to make telepathic contact and said "I can sense it." J'onn "senses" things a lot.

2) There's more than one Green Lantern? (There's a lot of them... they're space cops)

3) Who are the little blue guys watching everything?

4) Why can't Superman just use his heat vision here?

5) I thought Green Lantern was a white guy?

6) Where is Hawkgirl from?

Of course most of these questions are answered by the end of "In Darkest Night", but it leaves everyone confused until the near the end of Part Two, when the Guardians and their relation to the Manhunters and GL Corps is explained in detail. We never get much explanation of Hawkgirl's powers (are the wings natural or what?) although we do find out she's from "Thangar" (this brought out a course of "huhs"?) or what exactly a Martian can do. It's hard to tell whether J'onn is becoming intangible or invisible. No background has been given for The Flash or Hawkgirl yet, and very little has been given to John Stewart.

There's also some characterization that is bound to irritate, if not offend the classic DC fans. For example, Superman, ever the staunch moralist, seems to have no qualms about taking the lives of alien invaders in "Secret Origins". The Flash is played more as comic relief than as a merely wisecracking hero. Batman here is too close to the Grant Morrison "I can do anything" characterization. John Stewart's characterization here is different than in any other written incarnation; not necessarily bad... just different.

Assessment: Sure to be a hit with comic fans and cartoon lovers alike, but it may be too inaccessible and "insider" for most people.

Thursday, November 1, 2001

The Mount - The Lost Archer Column

I had planned to talk a bit about various things relating to Green Arrow, archery and the world at large back when we were doing the Archers issue. That plan changed with current events, which are still draining me of the urge to write. Still, I'm out of ideas for anything else to write about and returning to routine is a part of the healing process. So reader, please forgive me if this month's column seems a bit fragmented.

Hutch (the editor) and I had a talk before the attacks and discussed the reality of an archer vigilante. He said that he was pondering writing about the impossibility of everything relating to Green Arrow, which sounds funny coming from a man whose favorite superhero had an obsession with Indian Rubber Men and isolated a chemical that gave him stretching powers in his garage. But who am I to judge? (Just kidding, Michael.)

Well, I just recently started taking archery lessons, so I offered to write a counter-point article on how it MIGHT be possible to do it from the prospective of one who knows. Of course if you read last month, you know we didn't wind up doing that.

Archery is a great sport. It builds up your arms and shoulders without making you sweat too much and it's a great way to relax. It is also insanely difficult. I've only had one practice session so far where I didn't have at least one shot go wild and miss the target completely. Still, I manage to hit where I am aiming seven times out of ten. The trick is all in learning how to aim properly.

So I have to admit that while it is extremely unlikely that anyone could seriously make it as an archer superhero, it isn't quite as impossible as you might think. No more so than a man suffering a great personal loss and then devoting his entire life to a crusade to prevent others from suffering as he has and capturing criminals, to the point that he forms a network of others to aid him. Batman? No, I'm talking about a man named John Walsh.

The amazing thing is that all the stuff about archery technique I've read in the Green Arrow comics is accurate and helpful. For example, one of the Grell comics talks about how you have to relax and not worry about where the arrow will go; just trust that it will find it's own way. It's not just zen; it's good advice, because if you worry about seeing where the arrow is going, you throw your sight off and can't shoot straight. Even Green Arrow #1 by Kevin Smith was helpful, with Roy's speech about how Ollie taught him to just wait for the right moment before shooting. I'll take two minutes to line a shot up sometimes, just waiting for my hand to steady itself and my eye to line up the bullseye before shooting.

Speaking of Smith's Green Arrow, I doubt anything I say at this point will make you pick up the book if you haven't started reading it already. If you haven't picked it up my now, either low-tech heroes aren't your thing or you're just not a fan of Smith's work. Well, Different Strokes for Different Folks and all that.

But for what my opinion is worth, it's one of the best books DC is putting out right now and it is well worthy of all the praise and accolade it can receive. By now it's no secret that Oliver Queen is back from the dead, but I shall not give the how and why away here. It's way too complex to explain. Let's just say that the book is a crash course in DC History 101, has a lot of cameos you'd never expect and that it has that most astonishing of all things; a Spectre Hal Jordan that actually seems like Hal Jordan. I'm also fond of Smith's take on Black Canary; just the right mix of tomboy and beauty queen.

Speaking of the Pretty Bird, kudos to Chuck Dixon for restoring the Canary cry. If you haven't read the story in the pages of Birds of Prey yet, go rush out and grab #31-35 now before all the collectors start hoarding them.

And speaking of Chuck Dixon and comics hoarding (oh, am I smooth with the transitions or what?), you might also want to check out Dixon's swan song crossover with DC: The Last Laugh. I'm really enjoying this crossover despite a few problems with the scripting. For one thing, there's a lot of needless repetition, with the same scene being shown from different viewpoints across two books. For example, the new Birds of Prey covers a scene from Dinah's perspective that Oracle watched in Last Laugh #2. This makes a lot of the tie-ins seem like filler. Also, it's hard to keep track of some of the characters... especially the new ones Dixon created especially for this story. There's also a lot of obscure characters who are given major roles here, and it's kind of hard for us to care about them since we don't know who the are. I think I may be one of a dozen people who can identify Dina the US Marshal and hands up all of you who remember the black Mister Miracle. It's not quite Our Worlds at War, but then again that's a bit too high a mark to hit right now. You may as well ask to write the next Watchmen.

And speaking of Watchmen (last time: I promise!), I just started rereading it and it's really freaking me out reading about a pending war in Afghanistan and Pakistan what with everything that is going on in the news. All the conspiracy theories of Rorschach have a certain eerie resonance, when one considers the reports of the anthrax letters coming from Christian Terrorist groups in the US or the Bush family's financial ties to the Bin Ladens. All in all, I wouldn't recommend reading it right now. Dark Knight Returns either.

And if you think I'm going to use that as an opportunity to talk about the new Dark Knight Returns sequel... you'd be wrong. Hey, I keep my promises. And I need something to write about for next time.

So happy trails to you, 'til we meet again!

Monday, October 15, 2001

The Mount - I Believe In Heroes

There was a T-shirt I saw a few weekends ago. I was in Barnes and Noble, getting some coffee and browsing some trade paperbacks, as I often do. And that's when I saw it, worn by a big, muscular guy. Plain blue cotton, with a stylized five-pointed shield shape on the front, red letter on a yellow background. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it? Well, except for the letter it was. Instead of the familiar "S", there was a stylized "F". And then as the man wearing that shirt walked past me, I saw the back. It said in red print... "Firemen: The Real Supermen".

I don't think there is anyone who could argue against that statement after the events of September the 11th.

I believe in heroes. It may sound silly, but despite all the evidence I see on a daily basis to the contrary, I still think that most of the people on this planet are good and decent. And that they will do good when push comes to shove.

Thinking about it, I suppose that's a part of why I read comics. It's nice to see a place where it is easy to see the heroes. And to see the heroes get the recognition they deserve. Of course, heroes don't care if they get recognized or not. But I like to see people who try to do the good things be recognized for it, if only as an example to the rest of us of what we should be.

It's no secret that in real-life it's the villains who get the most focus in the media. Everyone knows who Charles Manson is, but can you name the police who risked their lives trying to capture him? Didn't think so.

One good thing has come of the last few weeks though. It's shown me that I'm right. The heroes really do outnumber the villains! And I don't mean just the ones who planned and orchestrated the attacks. I'm also talking about every person who selfishly tried to take advantage of this sad state of affairs to further their own agendas.

For every con artist who collected money for an emergency fund and then kept it, there were ten policemen working to clear the area around the Towers.

For every person looting bodies in the rubble, there were ten volunteers moving it off of the wounded.

For every vapid political pundit who said we should deport anyone of Arabic descent from the United States, invade the Middle-East, kill all the leaders and convert all the people to Christianity, there were a thousand people hugging someone in tears because they knew someone in New York who might have been in the WTC.

For every mindless bigot who went out and hurt someone over the color of their skin or their religious beliefs, there were about a million people who told a joke to get a depressed friend to smile.

For every evangelist with a microphone who tried to blame the crisis on some group or groups who angered God, there were a few million people who donated blood.

The villains are there. They're loud and they're grabbing for all the attention they can get right now. But the heroes... we all outnumber them.

My heart-felt thanks goes out to every fireman, police officer, medic, doctor, nurse and volunteer in New York who risked life and limb to help get people out of the wreckage of the World Trade Center and everyone who helped to heal them afterwards. Thank you to everyone who hugged someone, tried to get people around them to smile when things looked their worst. Thanks to everyone who gave blood, especially all the people at the donations centers I went to who had the place so overflowing with people wanting to help, that we had to be turned away and told to come back later in the week. You all were a shining example of heroism in a time when most people think that heroes are a thing of the past.

I still believe in heroes. And I like to think a few more of you do too.

Monday, October 1, 2001

The Green Arrow Reading Guide

This guide is also a reference tool for Green Arrow fans who need a quick way to find a certain story amongst their back issues or the fans of the new Green Arrow series by Kevin Smith, who are having trouble finding back-issues of the first series. It is published in the chronological order of the events in the comics and not by publishing date, with the exception of the Annuals. These stories, which take place outside the regular events of the book, can be safely put aside and discussed separately.

This guide is not, it should be emphasized, a substitute for the comics, most of which are worth hunting down in my opinion. This guide covers the 137 regular monthly issues, the DC One Million special, 7 annuals, the 4 issues of the Green Arrow: The Wonder Year miniseries and the three issues of Green Arrow: Longbow Hunters. This last one was once released in a Trade Paperback form, and it will be released once more in the coming months.

Special thanks should be given to:

  • Scott Challman, who helped me in completing my Green Arrow collection).
  • The good people of Lone Star Comics / and All About Comics who also helped with completing my collection
  • Scott McCullar, for the inspiration in writing this thing
  • And David R. Black (who isn't named Scott, but is a good guy nonetheless) for the Warlord Reading Guide ), which gave me a good form to work with in developing this guide.

Year One :
Green Arrow: The Wonder Year #1-4

Set in the closing days of the Vietnam War, this series was notable for several reasons. It was the first in-depth telling of Oliver Queen's origin and introduced several key running jokes of the series, like "Ollie" being paired up with men named "Stan" and Ollie's efforts to get a superhero name OTHER than Green Arrow. The creative team consists of Mike Grell (writer and layouts) Gray Morrow (finished art) and Mike Gold (editor)

The Wonder Year #1- Newly returned to civilization, Oliver Queen finds himself bored in his everyday life. As Green Arrow, he thwarts the assassination of a prominent congressman named Reynolds. Reynolds announces that he will run for President and Ollie, still in his costume, gets reacquainted with an old lover, who is now working for the congressman.

We see Howard Hill, a stunt archer who Oliver admired, for the first time. Flashbacks show how Ollie survived on the island and how he escaped, echoing the story told in Longbow Hunters.

The Wonder Year #2- Ollie and his former lover Brianna Stone (who is going by the alias Kelli Harris) catch up and discuss old times. The story of how Ollie becomes Green Arrow is told in flashback and we see how Oliver and Brianna met in college and became friends and lovers, despite a rocky start (She was a poli-sci major and a Marxist; he was a business major and Jeffersonian liberal) Ollie discovers that the assassination attempt on Reynolds was faked, as an attempt to give Reynold's campaign more attention and fuel his campaign. He then leaves, hinting at the reason why Brianna had to adopt an alias; a murder somewhere in their past.

The Wonder Year #3- Reynolds is killed by a car bomb and Brianna goes into hiding, fearing for her life. Ollie tracks her, and they discuss the incident that drove her into hiding: the accidental death of a janitor when she blew up a campus research lab. This issue shows the origin of the Silver Age Green Arrow costume and shows us the name Ollie wanted as a superhero: Shaft.

The Wonder Year #4- Saving Brianna from an assassination attempt, Oliver quickly finds himself trying to find out who killed Renyolds and is now trying to kill Brianna. It end badly though, with Brianna committing suicide after all the truth comes out. It is in this issue that Ollie first uses some of his trick arrows, including a gas arrow, explosive arrow, flare arrow and blunt-tipped arrows capable of knocking a man out.

Recommended Reading: More of an Elseworlds tale now due to Ollie's being in college in the late 60's and starting his hero career around 1974 not fitting the current timeline, this story holds up well despite a weak premise. The main plot isn't that engaging, the romance between Ollie and Brianna seems tacked on and the cuts between the flashbacks and "now" are somewhat disorienting at times. The flashback scenes are well worth reading though. Overall, this story is only for the most devout of Arrowheads and DC history buffs.

Starting Over :
The Longbow Hunters #1-3
& Green Arrow #1-8

Green Arrow

art by Yusuf Madhiya after Mike Grell

The Longbow Hunters was revolutionary in more ways than one. It gave new life to a hero who had never had a solo book of his own in fifty years of continuity as well as paving the way for the regular series. It also helped pushed the envelope of what could be done in the comics medium and perhaps lead to the creation of the Vertigo Comics adult line as much the more famous Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman.

The Longbow Hunters #1 - Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance move into their new digs in Seattle- an apartment with a downstairs shop called "Sherwood Florist" and Oliver sets to work tracking "The Seattle Slasher" as another serious of mysterious murders begin, the killings being made by an archer. This issue is notable for being the first issue where Ollie abandons his old trick arrows, the first appearance of the new hooded Green Arrow costume and the first appearances of Shado and Lt. Jim Cameron.

The Longbow Hunters #2 -With the Seattle Slasher dead, Ollie turns his efforts toward tracking the "Robin Hood" killer as Dinah goes undercover to bust a drug ring, with unexpected turns linking them both... as Oliver makes a difficult decision when faced with the sight of a tortured Dinah.

The Longbow Hunters #3 - Ollie continues his search for a link between Shado's victims and stumbles upon a plot going up to the highest branches of the federal government; one that will leave Ollie with a substantial windfall. This issue marks the first appearances of Greg Osborne and Eddie Fyers, the later of which will have a major role in the series later on.

Green Arrow #1 -Dinah and Ollie start to see a therapist, Ann Green, to deal with the aftermath of Dinah's ordeal. But Ann's the one who needs help, as a child molester, Al Muncy, who hurt her is released pending a retrial. The case is also a trial for Lt. Cameron, who was the arresting officer on the case.

Green Arrow #2 -With a round-the-clock watch on Muncy, it falls to Oliver and Lt. Cameron to find out who is threatening Ann Green... and if it is Muncy, how?

Green Arrow #3 - Dinah fights muggers while Christmas shopping as Oliver is recruited to find a lost bio-chemical weapon in the middle of San Juan Island, off the Washington Coast. Unfortunately, Eddie Fyers is searching for it too.

Green Arrow #4 - Things heat up on San Juan Island as Ollie, Eddie and a host of other mercenaries and intelligence officers hunt for the missing weapon.

Green Arrow #5 - Someone is killing off gay men in Seattle and signs point to the gangs beginning to expand into the city. Oliver investigates the killings as Dinah discovers her newest employee has been "drafted".

Green Arrow #6 - Oliver goes into the lion's den and runs a gauntlet to stop the gang responsible for the hate crimes. He also puts some of the money he got in Longbow Hunters to good use.

Green Arrow #7 - Ollie goes to Anchorage on a business/pleasure trip. The Business is a number of Tong-run gambling businesses used for drug trafficking and the pleasure is seeing the Iditarod Dogsled race.

Green Arrow #8 - A stolen car leads Ollie along a convoluted path involving a very odd smuggled good into the heart of the Alaskan wilderness.

Recommended Reading: With the exception of #7-8 which depend upon a contrived and rather unlikely chain of events to work, these issues of the regular series are among the best of Mike Grell's work. #1 and #2 add well to the end of Longbow Hunters. #3 and #4 are fun in a spy-thriller kind of way. The subjects addressed in #5 and #6 (drugs, gangs, violence provoked by homophobia) are just as relevant today, if not more so.

The Longbow Hunters is a classic which easily belongs on the shelf of every comic fan. If you don't have it already or can't find the issues at your comic, I highly recommend waiting for the Trade Paperback due out soon.

The Return of Shado and Dark Days :
Green Arrow #9-24

Green Arrow #9 - A year after they moved to Seattle, and Ollie is still dealing with his guilt over the aftermath of Longbow Hunters . Meanwhile, Shado has problems of her own with the Yakuza.

Green Arrow #10 - Ambushed by Greg Osborne and Eddie Fyers, Ollie is blackmailed into searching for Shado and a fortune in gold.

Green Arrow #11 - Wounded and weakened, Ollie learns of Shado's past and more about how much trouble he is in this time.

Green Arrow #12 - Arrows fly and heads roll in this conclusion to the latest Green Arrow/Shado team-up.

Green Arrow #13 - Ollie narrowly avoids death after a day of helping people in and out of costume.

Green Arrow #14 - No good deed goes unpunished, as Oliver hunts for his attempted assassin among all the people he helped the day before.

Green Arrow #15 - An encounter in a nightclub sends Oliver on a search for a mysterious man, who goes by "Archie Leach".

Green Arrow #16 - Oliver reluctantly aids two ASIO agents in tracking down "Archie Leach"; now known to be responsible for a bombing in Australia.

Green Arrow #17 - The brutal murder of a stripper sends Oliver on a quest to track down a man dressed in all black leather, known only as "The Horseman".

Green Arrow #18 - With the Horseman found and leaving town, it falls to Oliver to insure that a young woman's sacrifice isn't in vain.

Green Arrow #19 - The near-death of a young man sends Oliver into a guilt-induced downward spiral and a drinking binge.

Green Arrow #20 - Hal Jordan guest stars, as he takes Ollie camping to get away from it all for a few days.

Green Arrow #21 - Intrigue is in the air, as Shado's newborn sun is kidnapped and used as blackmail to force her to perform an assassination.

Green Arrow #22 - With a four day deadline hovering over their heads, Ollie and Shado begin the search for Shado's son.

Green Arrow #23 - The hunt continues and things heat up as Ollie discovers Shado's intended target.

Green Arrow #24 - Everything comes together, as Ollie is set up to play the patsy and finish off Shado before she hits her target.

Recommended Reading: Some of the darkest issues of the entire Grell run lay within this series of 16 comics. Issue 17, in particular, drew rapid criticism for its' frank look at the sex industry and the exploitation of the women in it, to say nothing of the brutal murder of the woman "The Horseman" was searching for. A man's brains spilling on the floor is graphically illustrated (not so graphic as some comics today, though) in #15 Still, the stories all hold up well... even "Blood of the Dragon" (GA #21-24), which is a bit anachronistic now, considering the real world figures targeted by Shado.

The only issues that really miss are #15-16, since they are really an excuse to do an unofficial team-up between Green Arrow and writer Mike Grell's famous Sable character, whom "Archie Leach" is an obvious descendant of. The issues run a bit flat if you don't realize that. Oddly, some of the funniest moments in the series also come in this run, with Ollie's attempts to get Richard Nixon named as a suspect in a nightclub shooting and the entirety of issues #13 and #14 standing out in particular.

Crossovers & Bad to Worse :
Green Arrow #25-34

Green Arrow #25 - Oliver travels to Nottingham, England on the trail of a witch, who allegedly killed her grandfather.

Green Arrow #26 - Searching in Sherwood, Ollie has odd visions as he continues his hunt.

Green Arrow #27 - A mysterious man from way out of town is harassed over his resemblance to Green Arrow. Guest stars Travis Morgan: The Warlord

Green Arrow #28 - Oliver and his double fight for their lives, as the mobs swarm upon "Sherwood Florist" en masse.

Green Arrow #29 - Ollie joins the manhunt for an oil tanker captain, who caused a major environmental disaster.

Green Arrow #30 - Things in Alaska get worse, as Oliver finds the captain... but gets caught in a fierce storm.

Green Arrow #31 - When a gang leader Ollie confronted before steps in and takes over the drug operation run by Shado's final victim from Longbow Hunters, Green Arrow goes into action to clean up Seattle.

Green Arrow #32 - With Ollie captured, a neighborhood held in siege and the police unwilling to help, Dinah fights a one woman battle to save the man she loves.

Green Arrow #33 - His body is healed but his mind and heart are still hurting, as Ann Green begins to patch together Oliver Queen's bruised psyche and Dinah changes her mind regarding having children.

Green Arrow #34 - Eddie Fyers recruits Oliver Queen to plant a tracking device on a ship as part of an alleged DEA sting. Things aren't quite that simple, and Oliver is dragged away in chains shortly after Dinah announces that she's infertile.

Recommended Reading: Not a single one of these five, two part, story arcs misses their mark. The only real weak link in the bunch is the "Coyote Tears" storyline (GA #29-30) which is a good, accurate portrait of how big business acts during environmental disasters but suffers from the fact that Ollie doesn't really do anything and the oddity of the narration device employed.

The cameos are fun, with John Constantine popping up in GA #25 and Warlord in Issues 27-28. This introduces the now famous running gag about Oliver Queen and Travis Morgan being practically twins, except for their hair color.

The whole series comes together in issue #31-32, where Reggie (the gang leader who makes Ollie run a gauntlet from GA #6) shows up running the drug smuggling ring originally operated by one of Shado's targets in Longbow Hunters. The issues also parallel Dinah's rescue of Ollie with a similar scene from LH.

The prize, and my pick for the best issue of the entire Grell run is easily GA #34. The issue turns the life of Oliver Queen into a true tragedy, where the hero is brought down by his own faults and past misdeeds. The arrest coming so soon after Dinah's tragic news is insult to injury, making things even worse just when you think Ollie's hit his lowest ebb.

On The Road Again :
Green Arrow #35-50

Green Arrow #35 - Ollie goes up a certain creek without a paddle, as it's revealed that he accidentally aided Eddie Fyers in sinking a US Warship. All hope is lost and prison seems imminent, until Fyers himself arranges Oliver's escape.

Green Arrow #36 - Going underground (in more ways than one), Ollie is aided by a homeless teenager named Marriane. With a shaved head and beard, Oliver begins his search for Eddie Fyers as Shado arrives in Seattle, summoned by Dinah to help find Oliver.

Green Arrow #37 - Fyers is shot at with arrows and begins to hunt for Ollie as the FBI hunts them both and Dinah confronts Shado over the father of her child.

Green Arrow #38 - Fyers and Ollie confront each other, and form a loose alliance as they realize they've both been set up as part of a government plot.

Green Arrow #39 - With a meeting with the President going nowhere and public opinion swelling against him, Oliver leaves Seattle for parts unknown.

Green Arrow #40 - Oliver goes into the woods of Washington, making a new friend and taking a very strange journey... in spirit.

Green Arrow #41- Wandering into Canada by accident, Ollie stumbles into a film shoot and a mystery.

Green Arrow #42 - Ollie is caught in the middle again, between the Mounties, the IRA and a new friend.

Green Arrow #43 - More conflicted than ever, Oliver travels to Ireland to stop an assassination.

Green Arrow #44 - Moving into Wales, Ollie helps a man named Tom Jones to defend his land and repair a set of standing stones. Back in Seattle, a cop named Kazcinski asks Dinah out. Despite encouragement from Marianne, who now works at Sherwood Florist, she turns him down.

Green Arrow #45 - Kaz continues his advances on Dinah as the fight in Wales heats up and Tom's son is taken hostage.

Green Arrow #46 - Tracked down in London, Ollie is recruited to track down rhino poachers in Africa with a team of various specialists.

Green Arrow #47 - The hunt continues, as Ollie learns about racial strife in Africa and the ecological concerns inherit in dealing with nature verses domestic livestock.

Green Arrow #48 - Oliver and his team of specialists track a new group of elephant poachers into Mozambique.

Green Arrow #49 - Oliver joins in a traditional lion hunt while Dinah finally agrees to a date with Officer Kaz, who it seems has some kind of secret in his past.

Green Arrow #50 - Kaz is revealed to be a dirty cop, but he tries to achieve some measure of redemption for himself when he kills his corrupt ex-partner and his rapist nephew. He and Dinah are later taken hostage by terrorists at the Space Needle. This prompts a quick return home for Ollie, who shows up at the last possible second to save the day.

Recommended Reading: The low point of the Grell run, most of these stories try and tackle too much as Ollie is moved out of his natural element: the urban jungle.

The Africa stories give a lot of great details about the social environment and ecology of Africa, but very little attention is give to these issues other than a few speeches to Ollie about "this is the way things are". The effect is like that of a hyper-preachy version of a Denny O'Neil Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic, with the story and action being given secondary attention to "the lesson". A good, but funny, example of this occurs when Oliver kills the horse of a fat Christian missionary who lectures his charges upon how man does not live on his daily bread alone. The issue of Missionaries who are clueless to the fact that all the talk of the next world doesn't do much to help the poor shlubs starving to death in this world is an important one. But this and other issues (poaching, the urbanization off Africa, racism toward black-white relationships) are not given nearly as much focus as they might have.

Issue #50 does very little, with Oliver's homecoming being accepted far too quickly and easily. Ignoring the fact that he didn't contact Dinah once in over a year, it is hard to believe that none of the police or military force on the site didn't comment on Green Arrow's presence in the middle of a terrorist attack. Especially when you consider Ollie was branded a traitor and a terrorist in the media months earlier. Moreover, it defeats the point of Oliver having embarked on this quest to find peace inside. He doesn't fulfill his quest at all; he just comes back because Dinah needs to be saved... like Popeye chasing Olive Oyl.

Except for the Black Arrow Saga (GA #35-38) these stories can be skipped.

Back in the Saddle :
Green Arrow #51-62

Green Arrow #51 - Ollie and Dinah are getting reacquainted, when Lt. Cameron arrives with news of another death... and how it might tie to a certain vigilantee.

Green Arrow #52 - Ollie searches to prove his innocence as Dinah and Kaz come to a final understanding...

Green Arrow #53 - Someone is out to kill Eddie Fyers and the only person he can turn to for help is Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow #54 - The fight goes into the Seattle underground, as Ollie and Eddie duke it out with Eddie's employers.

Green Arrow #55 - Lt. Cameron makes a startling discovery regarding the Seattle slasher and a possible copycat killer. He turns to Ollie for advice on how to proceed.

Green Arrow #56 - Oliver begins a hunt for the copycat killer, with Lt. Cameron's support for once.

Green Arrow #57 - An attempt to stop a mugging drags Oliver into the middle of the hunt for a case full of radioactive isotopes.

Green Arrow #58 - The plot thickens as a terrorist plot to poison Seattle's water supply is revealed.

Green Arrow #59 - A child molester is released and Ollie, Dinah and the police are on guard against angry parents. But how can you try to save the life of a man society at large wants dead?

Green Arrow #60 - Ollie stops an assassination attempt, but now a child molester is roaming the streets of Seattle unattended. Can Dinah and the police find him in time?

Green Arrow #61 - Dinah and Ollie go camping while an old argument regarding the draft erupts in a small town.

Green Arrow #62 - Green Arrow and Black Canary find themselves in the middle of a riot as crowds try to get the opinion of one man.

Recommended Reading: Grell repeats himself in many of these stories. The search for the isotopes in #57-58 is very much like the search for a biochemical weapon way back in GA #3-4. In issue #60, after a build up about the difficult choices in dealing with a child rapist everyone wants to see dead but nobody wants to really dirty their hands with, everything is solved in a deus ex machina just like in GA #14.

Still, there are many great character moments here. Particularly in GA #53-54 where Eddie Fyers gets some much needed fleshing out and #55-56, when Lt. Cameron has to swallow his pride and ask Ollie for help.

Even with some repeated plot elements, the only truly awful issues here are GA #61-62, which barely involved Dinah and Ollie in the action at all and tell a story that is rather contrived and hard to swallow. I'm pretty sure that a town cannot declare itself a sanctuary to federal draft dodgers, but I could be wrong.

You must read #53-56. Avoid #61-62 unless you are a completist, who must have every issue of a series.

With His Merry Band :
Green Arrow #63-74

Green Arrow #63 - Ollie is hired by a millionaire to track down Shado and offer her the fortune once lost by her father.

Green Arrow #64 - Ollie goes to Japan to begin his hunt for Shado.

Green Arrow #65 - Shado and Ollie are captured, and the true motives of the mysterious millionaire are revealed.

Green Arrow #66 - In this takeoff on The Most Dangerous Game, Ollie and Shado are put on an island with no weapons and only one way out as they are hunted for sport by an eccentric millionaire

Green Arrow #67 - Marriane leads Ollie into the world of Seattle's homeless to track down a serial killer called "The Smasher"

Green Arrow #68 - With bodies popping up right and left, Ollie and Marriane and a "band" of Merry Men search for a link between the Smasher's victims.

Green Arrow #69 - Someone is bumping off the members of an old 60's rock band called The Electric Unicorns and Ollie is making is his business to find out who.

Green Arrow #70 - Appointed head of security for the latest concert of the last performing member of the Electric Unicorns, Ollie desperately hopes to prevent another killing.

Green Arrow #71 - Ollie goes after a drug shipment only to find a totally different merchandise: imported rare animals and a dangerous panther.

Green Arrow #72 - Aided by a woman who tells him of the legends of the shamanus , Ollie works to protect the missing panther from the collector who wants its' head.

Green Arrow #73 - Ollie and his band help one of their own, Jefferson TwoDogs, with his Vietnam flashbacks. Meanwhile, Lt. Cameron is put in charge of protecting a big witness in a Mafia case.

Green Arrow #74 - When a police sniper goes mad, it's up to Lt. Cameron to determine the how and why.

Recommended Reading: Grell introduces an interesting idea here, giving Ollie a band of merry men made up of the city's homeless. Especially interesting is Jackhammer, a former boxer with a child psychology degree, who cuts a fine figure as Ollie's Little John. Such a shame that the idea was only used for 8 issues.

The latest Shado story falls a bit flat, being nothing more than a tribute (re: rip-off) of The Most Dangerous Game. It is well written if you can get past the unoriginal premise and slow pacing, though.

Issues #71-72 introduce a mystic element to the book that doesn't quite work and issues #73-74 are more about Lt. Cameron finally managing to solve a case without Ollie helping. It's a nice change from the usual DC Comics Police, whom can barely manage to tie their shoelaces without instructions.

Take a look at #67-71 & #73-74. Maybe #63-66 if you don't mind uninspired tales.

Crossroads :
Green Arrow #75-89

Green Arrow #75 - Ollie and Dinah's relationship is on the rocks after a New Years Eve party goes wrong. This is quickly forgotten as a mystery man with a bow tries to bump Ollie off. Shado arrives and explains that Ollie has been targeted by the Yakuza. It's non-stop action that will change Ollie's life forever, assuming he survives.

Green Arrow #76 - Domestic terrorists blow up a blimp at the Rose Bowl. Fyers recruits Ollie to help him infiltrate a militia camp to find the man who might be training the terrorists.

Green Arrow #77 - Ollie and Eddie make it to the camp. Now they need to get out alive.

Green Arrow #78 - With a small army of mercenaries chasing after them, Ollie and Eddie flee into the woods with their captive in tow.

Green Arrow #79 - Ollie is blamed for another murder and things go from bad to worse with the CIA chasing after him and Dinah still not speaking to him. Sounds like Eddie Fyers at work...

Green Arrow #80 - Ollie confronts Eddie as they both confront the CIA. Oliver also has one last goodbye with Marriane.

Green Arrow #81 - A confrontation between Shrapnel and Nuklon in the streets of Seattle sends Ollie out of town, looking for something to fill the void in his life.

Green Arrow #82 - In San Francisco Asked by an old friend to protect her sister from her abusive ex-husband, a Yakuza-trained vigilante called Rival, Oliver has to retrain himself in the compound bow to face this new opponent.

Green Arrow #83 - Checking up on an old model friend in Los Angeles as he hunts for the Yakuza, Oliver teams up with the Huntress as they both look into a connection between several models starving to death and a diet food company.

Green Arrow #84 - Wearing an eye-patch after hurting his eye in a fight with a hijacker, Ollie goes to Las Vegas hoping to relax. A group of assassins have other ideas though.

Green Arrow #85 - A case of mistaken identity forces Ollie to team up with Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke The Terminator.

Green Arrow #86 - A trip to Dallas leads to a hot time in Texas for Ollie, as he works with Catwoman to recover a stolen artifact and return it to the rightful owners.

Green Arrow #87 - A trip to New Orleans sends Ollie into the shanty towns of the Bayou.

Green Arrow #88 - Suffering from a case of under-confidence, Oliver goes to New York to look up some old friends in the JLA.

Green Arrow #89 - Moving on to Gotham City, Oliver has a run in with Anarky, who asks for his help in blowing up an arms factory.

Recommended Reading: GA #75 proves to be everything a special issue should be, filled with a family reunion of sorts and enough twists for three comics. The rest of Grell's run isn't anything special, but it is quite good and ends on a poignant note.

After Issue 81 though things get worse, with the writers changing each month and Oliver being written badly out of character, along with most of the other guest stars.

#83 and #86 are is good examples of this. The reasons for Huntress' presence in L.A. seems more than just a bit contrived. And don't get me started on how out of character it is for Catwoman and Oliver to do what is suggested in GA #86.

#84-85 is one of the stupider stories in comics history, being entirely based on the idea that Slade Wilson (big, weight-lifter build, goatee and white hair) can be confused with Ollie Queen (slightly shorter, not so muscular and blond with a mustache). #87 isn't much better, with Ollie abandoning his usual principals about taking a life for no good reason, where he shoots an unarmed man.

Basically, avoid everything from 80-90 unless you want to burn the issues as a political statement.

The End is Near :
Green Arrow GA #90, 0, 91-101

Green Arrow #90 - A Zero Hour special, this story shows multiple timelines showing the different results as Ollie chases a mugger.

Green Arrow #0 -World weary and sick of his life as a vigilante, Oliver goes back to the Ashram where he stayed many years ago, even as the CIA plots his death. Oliver befriends a young man named Connor and starts to teach him about archery. The two eventually leave together, seeking whatever adventure awaits them.

Green Arrow #91 - Oliver and Connor go to San Francisco, splitting up later. Oliver moves on to Seattle to find Eddie Fyers. Connor puts on a new costume and sets about faking a Green Arrow appearance.

Green Arrow #92 - Ollie and Eddie meet up in Seattle as Connor is captured by the mercenaries.

Green Arrow #93 - The search for the assassins leads to a house in suburbia and an abandoned shopping mall.

Green Arrow #94 - After a fire fight that leaves Eddie wounded, Ollie and Connor discover that Ollie's head is wanted by a sect of the NSA called "Tencount". Meanwhile, an mercenary with a camouflage suit called Camorouge is sent after Ollie as an assassin called the Borozi moves in.

Green Arrow #95 - Camorogue saves Eddie and Connor from the Borozi as Ollie escapes from a dental torture chamber.

Green Arrow #96 - Hal Jordan appears, wanting to make peace with his best friend. Connor and Eddie continue searching for Ollie as the NSA sends out the Force of July to shut down Tencount. Hal also lets slip by accident what Eddie had guessed: Connor is Ollie's son.

Green Arrow #97 - Breaking away from Connor and Eddie after a brief and bitter reunion, Ollie tracks down the head of the NSA. Finding the death order on his head has been removed, Ollie accepts a job working for the NSA as a secret agent. Not giving up, Eddie and Connor contact Roy Harper, hoping he will help them track down Ollie.

Green Arrow #98 - Sent to infiltrate an eco-terrorist group called The Eden Corps, Oliver is quickly invited into the inner circle of the group. The rest of the gang catch up with him, but Ollie sends them away, admitting he is not sure if he is going to side with this group or go ahead with his mission.

Green Arrow #99 - Arsenal abandons the quest, as Ollie gets in deeper and deeper. He discovers that the Eden Corps have a plastics-eating virus and that they plan to bomb Metropolis with it.

Green Arrow #100 - Oliver winds up holding a bomb in his hands, literally... and even Superman is powerless to save him... unless he makes the unkindest cut of all...

Green Arrow #101 - Oliver detonates the bomb before it reaches Metropolis and dies a hero's death, leaving some of the other heroes who knew him to morn and Connor to arrange a memorial.

Recommended Reading : Everything here is worth grabbing, just for the sake of having the year long arc where Oliver Queen is killed... but a lot of these stories are confusing as heck, with lots of subplots within concurrent plots and a lot of elements that seem totally unneeded. The presence of Camarouge (who has not appeared since, as far as I know) and Arsenal come to mind.

The way Ollie dies screams of fake (as if he had the ability to trigger the bomb to self-destruct before Superman could stop him...)and the options Superman gives to save him are obviously thrown in as a gratuitous reference to Dark Knight Returns. Speaking of the Big Blue Boy-Scout, what's the deal with him calling Ollie "Old Friend". Last time I checked, they barely knew each other in the Post-Crisis universe and that the relationship was a hostile one. Mostly on Ollie's side, of course.

Issue #90 is excellent though and was one of the best tie-ins to come out of Zero Hour.

Getting Established :
Green Arrow GA #102-111

Green Arrow #102 - Seeking a meeting with the developer who plans to turn the Ashram into an amusement park, Connor is recruited to investigate a gang of martial artists in Jaguar skins from Mexico.

Green Arrow #103 -Investigating an Aztec temple, Connor finds himself face to face with a half-man, half-Jaguar beast. Meanwhile, Eddie thwarts an assassin that was sent to get Connor.

Green Arrow #104 - Traveling to New York to find Connor's mother, Connor and Eddie are quickly targeted by mercenaries working for Milo Armitage, an arms dealer and Connor's new stepdad. Luckily Green Lantern shows up to lend a hand.

Green Arrow #105 - Tracking Armitage and Moonday Hawke to Gotham, Connor works along side Robin to capture Armitage.

Green Arrow #106 - Desperate to raise the money to buy back the Ashram, Connor takes a job as bodyguard to the boy ruler of a small country.

Green Arrow #107 - Connor moves in with his new boss and his other two, oddly familiar, bodyguards.

Green Arrow #108 - Connor goes and visits his grandfather on his ranch in Idaho. Meanwhile, Eddie goes to Metropolis to help an old 'Nam buddy named Alexander Sterling with a vigilante called the Thorn.

Green Arrow #109 - Connor goes to Metropolis, hoping to find Superman. Instead, he finds trouble as he starts to investigate a certain key figure in the Metropolis organized crime field: a man named Alexander Sterling.

Green Arrow #110 - Connor and Kyle Rayner go on the road, searching for Kyle's father. They wind up in Desolation: the torting capital of the country and a town saved from trouble a generation earlier by Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow #111 - Tricked into putting a weapon into space, the new Green Team, Eddie and a woman called Crackshot have to act fast before several major cities are vaporized.

Recommended Reading : All the best stories here can be found collected in the Green Lantern/Green Arrow Emerald Allies Trade Paperback. The rest of the stories are rather hit and miss, though the joke about the other two bodyguards in GA #106-107 is pretty funny.

Globetrotting Heroes :
Green Arrow GA #112-126

Green Arrow #112 - After a strange encounter with a robbed man on the streets of Frisco, Connor and Eddie go to China in search of a lost city.

Green Arrow #113 - Things get curious and curious, as an ancient princess seduces Connor while Eddie fights an undead warrior.

Green Arrow #114 - Forced to land on a frozen laken in Manchuria en route to Japan, it is up to Connor to delay an army in order to save a group of stranded villagers.

Green Arrow #115 - As they arrive in Japan, Eddie is kidnapped by the Korean Mafia in order to execute a familiar face: Shado.

Green Arrow #116 - Black Canary and Oracle get into the mix, as Shado reveals that the Korean Mafia is going to try and start a new war between Japan and the USA.

Green Arrow #117 - With the threat of war imminent, it falls to Fyers, Canary and Connor to find a missing nuclear weapon.

Green Arrow #118 - Connor and Eddie move into the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia, after finding a picture of a man who looks a lot like Ollie.

Green Arrow #119 - Connor think she's found Ollie, but it's a moot point as they've both been captured by a corrupt general and wild dinosaurs stalk the jungles.

Green Arrow #120 - "Ollie" turns out to be Travis Morgan, so Connor and Eddie return home to the States. After a brief altercation on a bus, Ollie returns to San Francisco to find Master Jansen has been kicked out of the Ashram.

Green Arrow #121 - Connor challenges Fritz Mueller, the new owner and master of the Ashram, to a duel for control. But Mueller is allowed to pick his own champion... and his champion, The Silver Monkey, proves too much for Connor to handle.

Green Arrow #122 - Connor and Master Jansen go to Connor's Grandfather's ranch in Idaho. But Connor doesn't get much chance to nurse his wounds, as a number of people die from drowning... in the middle of a drought...

Green Arrow #123 - A hunt begins for a Native American rainmaker and the extortionist using him as a weapon.

Green Arrow #124 - Connor and Jansen return to New York, and begin investigating Milo Armitage again. Elsewhere, a killer named Nicholas Kotero is about to be transferred to another prison.

Green Arrow #125 - Kotero escapes from prison, as a race war errupts in New York. Part One of "Hate Crimes" along with Green Lantern #92

Green Arrow #126 - With Green Lantern in tow, Connor hunts for Kotero; the mastermind behind the race riots. Part Three of "Hate Crimes".

Recommended Reading : Eddie leaves the series in #120, and it's a good thing too. Something odd I've noticed is that Eddie tends to grab the camera and the focus of the stories when he and Connor are paired up, to the point that the book should be titled "Eddie Fyers: Freelance Gunsel". Maybe this is because Chuck Dixon has an easier timer relating to Fyers as a character (Dixon and Eddie are in the same age range and both are outspoken gun lovers) than to the younger Connor. Or maybe it just seems that way because Connor, despite my wanting to like the character, just never really grabbed my attention that much during this span of the comic's run.

Either way, most of the plots here are similar to ones Grell did with faster pacing and better results. The "Ollie in the jungle with Dinosaurs" story seems slow and sluggish, because we can see the ending of the punchline coming for two whole issues. The "Stormbringer" story just doesn't seem to fit well, with a rainmaking Indian traveling with an extortionist for no readily apparent reason.

With the exception of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern team up issues and #120, #121 and #124, most of these comics can be avoided except by the hard core masochist.

A New Home:
Green Arrow GA #127-1,000,000

Green Arrow #127 -With his mother going into hiding in Europe with Armitage, Connor is put in charge of his mother's house in San Francisco. He makes plans to start renting rooms out but the Silver Monkey returns with different plans for Green Arrow.

Green Arrow #128 - Connor gets a date with one of his tenants, Mia. Jansen gets a job in "insurance", not knowing he is working for the Mafia.

Green Arrow #129 - Connor rescues Jansen and finds out the problems of being a superhero, a homeowner and trying to be both at once.

Green Arrow #130 - A peaceful vacation in Alaska with Kyle Rayner and Wally West is spoiled by the sudden appearance of Hatchet, Heatwave, Sonar and Dr. Polaris. Part 2 of "Three of a Kind" Crossover with Flash #135 and GL #96.

Green Arrow #131 - Crackshot shows up to help Connor with his the superhero business.

Green Arrow #132 - Eddie shows up, hooked on an alien drug that gives the taker superpowers while warping their mind. And then the JLA shows up.

Green Arrow #133 - Eddie, Zauriel, Green Lantern and Connor go into orbit to take out the Alien's base as the rest of the JLA fights an army of super-powered junkies.

Green Arrow #134 - The Brotherhood of the Monkey Fist, the martial arts cult that trained the Silver Monkey, need to cleanse their honor after the Silver Monkey's defeat at Connor hands. This leads to a massive war on every martial artist in the DCU. Part One of a crossover with Detective #723, Robin #55, Nightwing #23 and GA #135.

Green Arrow #135 - Connor faces the Paper Monkey, AKA Lady Shiva in a one on one battle that must end in death. The Final Chapter of the "Brotherhood of the Fist" storyline.

Green Arrow #136 - Connor teams up with a time-lost Hal Jordan to stop the Eden Corps latest attack. Part One of a crossover with GL #104.

Green Arrow #137 - Connor meets with Superman to talk about Ollie and decides to take back the Ashram for Jansen.

Green Arrow #1,000,000 - While meditating, Connor has visions of a future where the descendants sons and daughters of Oliver Queen, biological and in spirit, are protectors of the Earth. He takes this as a sign that Oliver Queen is still alive somehow.

Recommended Reading: Chuck Dixon has written a lot of great books. These are not among them. For the most part, this is because most of the last year of Green Arrow comics were either tie ins to a crossover (DC One Million) or a mere part of another story. This was probably due to dipping sales, so Green Arrow began doing stories that would pair up Connor with better selling characters (Robin, Nightwing, JLA, Green Lantern).

Most of these Crossover stories are enjoyable if you have the whole crossover handy but are a bit pointless otherwise. That cannot be said of the JLA crossover "Like A God" (GA #132-133), which should be used as the textbook example for how not to write a story around a low-powered heroes. The Brotherhood of the Monkeyfist storyline is fun, but nothing we haven't seen before: martial arts cult tries to take on superheroes and gets butts kicked.

Annuals :
Green Arrow Annual #1-7

Green Arrow Annual #1 - A champion archer called Kalesque puts forth a challenge to Green Arrow. When Ollie ignores it, Kalesque starts killing innocents. It will take the wisdom of O. Sensi to get Ollie get over his guilt and fight Kalesque.

Green Arrow Annual #2 - When it looks like The Question has been hurting people in Seattle, Ollie travels to Hub City.

Green Arrow Annual #3 - Ollie, Dinah and Vic Savage (AKA The Question) travel into the Amazon jungle on a hunt for a rare flower.

Green Arrow Annual #4 - A trip to Sherwood Forest while Ollie does some genealogy research gives Dinah an odd dream of a past life when she knew Ollie... as Robin Hood.

Green Arrow Annual #5 - Eclipso possesses Dinah and she turns violent... especially towards Ollie.

Green Arrow Annual #6 - Part of the Bloodlines Crossover, Ollie has a run in with a new hero dubbed "The Hook".

Green Arrow Annual #7 - A retelling of Oliver's origin and how he met up with a serial killer named Nicholas Kotero.

Recommended Reading: Totally avoidable. Annual #1 is okay, but Denny O'Neil has done better. Annual #2 is decent but more enjoyable if you also read The Question. Annual #3 is outright horrible with Ollie and Dinah walking into an obvious trap and The Question along for the ride doing nothing much.

Annual #4 is enjoyable, but really has nothing to do with anything. There is also a lot of debate over whether it adds or detracts from Oliver's character to have him be the actual reincarnation of Robin Hood instead of a spiritual heir. Of course it's all a moot point as Robin Hood was most likely a folk hero himself.

Annual #5 is good only for the character scenes, with Dinah venting her repressed anger over Ollie's apparent cheating on her.

Annual #6 is typical of all the Bloodlines tie-ins. It is bad. Very bad. Super Quasi-Radioactive bad. Buy it to burn it, it is so bad.

Annual #7, aside from establishing the character of Nicolas Kotero as a major threat, is totally pointless and in fact, rather insulting. This retconned retelling of the Ollie Queen story removes one of the greatest elements of Ollie's past. That is, he made the decision to become a hero totally on his own. He wasn't gifted with special powers and just decide to put on a costume and help people. He didn't lose a loved one. He just decided to become hero because the world needed someone to help it. This story takes that away, giving Ollie the motivation of trying to fight back after being confronted with one particularly nasty baddy.

Saturday, September 1, 2001

The Mount - New Writer, Old Path - Green Lantern #129-136 Review

SPOILER WARNING! This column gives away all the details of Green Lantern #129-136, as collected in the new Green Lantern trade paperback! Reader beware!

Judd Winnick took the reigns as writer of "Green Lantern" at a time when few would envy the job. Old time fans were avoiding the book, saying there was too little respect being paid to the old standbys of the Green Lantern Corps. The comic itself, though once outselling all but JLA and some Batman titles, was steadily falling down the sales list. And of course the fan base for the book was still heavily divided over Kyle Rayner's character and an alleged lack of direction in the last few issues of the Ron Marz's run.

And then there was the fact that Ron Marz created Kyle Rayner. And taking over any character from the man who created him would be a task to make any writer nervous. Doubly so when fandom in general was rather resistant towards anything you could do. After all, you weren't really a writer... you were some guy pulled off of MTV to appeal to the masses and try and get normal people to read comics...

It was to most people's surprise that not only was Judd Winnick able to do an adequate job on Green Lantern: he excelled at it. Winnick managed to put new life into a book that threatened to become stale. He gave more In a few short stories, he reestablished some of the old mythology of the Green Lantern Corps. More importantly, he managed to reestablish some of Kyle's fading personality and make him likable even to the some of the fans still smarting over what happened to Hal.

In fact, the book has proven so popular that the first seven issues of Winnick's run have recently been collected in a Trade Paperback volume entitled ("Green Lantern: New Journey, Old Path" ). A doubly fitting title, for this book is as much about Winnick's taking up the path of another writer and trying to improve on it as it is about Kyle trying to continue along the old path of the Corps against some very old enemies.

Something Old, Something New (GL #129)

The story starts with a flashback as Kyle relives a childhood memory where he almost drowned as he wrestles with what appears to be a robotic squid in space. Despite a valiant (and for the most part silent) struggle, he is overpowered and dragged away by the mechanical beast for purposes unknown.

We go back to two weeks earlier, when Kyle was offered a new job doing his own full-page comic strip for a magazine called Feast. A nice balance to the multi-page fight scene earlier, we are given an insider's look at the world of magazine publishing in scenes that are more dependent on words than action. One gets the feeling Winnick is writing from personal experience as Kyle is told he is cute for a cartoonist and various people, male and female, comment on his butt and how the boss lady is going to love him for that alone.

Kyle and John Stewart talk about Kyle's good fortune over coffee in a scene that is both funny and touching at the same time. Winnick's writing here might draw comparison to that of Kevin Smith; another popular writer who started out "an outsider" who was brought into the industry as "a gimmick to bring in the mainstream". The conversation is tangential, with arguments over what music is "retro", why a black man can't listen to "A-Ha" and how it's nice that Kyle is building a life for himself outside of superheroics.

We are then introduced in short order to Terry, a teenage boy Feast hires as a personal assistant to help Kyle with errands and getting his artwork onto a computer. Not too long after, Kyle gets his new computer set up and is working on the first piece when the robo-squid crashes through the ceiling. Changing into costume, Kyle fights off the robot as he moves to into orbit, where we see him get captured again. When Kyle wakes up on the final splash page, he finds himself on a spaceshipfull of Manhunters.

Yes, that's right. Manhunters. The robots the Guardians used to ensure order before creating the Green Lantern Corps. THOSE Manhunters.

Prodigal Son (GL #130)

The next chapter starts with another flashback to an old Corps enemy as we open on the world of Qward in the AntiMatter universe. We find that the Qwardians are still alive, even as their ProtoMatter universe counterparts (The Guardians) have died. We see one of them, a leader of some kind, looking at a video screen image of Sinestro as he tells a minion to "make another... and make it yellow".

Cutting back to the edge of the Milky Way aboard the Manhunter's ship, Kyle tries to fight his way to freedom through a horde of Manhunters in another mostly wordless fight. Beautiful pages of ring projections and exploding robots...

Move back to Earth, where Terry has stopped by Kyle's apartment to find a caved in ceiling and more trashed furniture than one would expect to find in a New York apartment, even if Robert Downey Jr. were the one living there. Thankfully, John Stewart shows up just in time to explain that they were doing construction on the roof and they underestimated some equipment weight (Nice, plausible save from the architect!)

Back on the ship, the lead Manhunter explains what is going on to Kyle, who is now sporting a more severe bowl cut than Guy Gardner ever had and has a lot of circuitry connecting him to the ship. Kyle looks something like a Borg and even makes jokes about "being assimilated".

A brief note: Winnick brings more of Kyle's humor out. Of course Kyle has always been one of the most wise-cracking heroes this side of Spider-Man, but the trait is more noticeable under Winnick's writing. Aside from the Star Trek jokes, as the Main Manhunter explains what is going on Kyle says "Be a good Bond villain and tell me why I'm here." There's even a subtle visual joke as Kyle is chained in classic James Bond position, needing only a trailing upwards laser between the legs.

Anyway, the Manhunters have upgraded themselves after one of their number achieved self-awareness after interfacing with the computers of a ship that recovered it in deep space. They plan to use the ring to further involve and continue their plans of killing all life in the universe. Kyle protests, saying the ring won't work for them. The head Manhunters tells Kyle they thought about that and that the machinery Kyle is wired to will convince the ring that he is still controlling it, even as they give the commands. The issue ends as the main Manhunter puts on the ring and announces "The Ring is Ours!"

Outswimming The Undertow (GL #131)

After a brief history of the Guardians, the Manhunters, the Corps, the Qwardians, Sinestro and the yellow power ring, we find ourselves on Qward once again. The leader is presented with a yellow ring. He is pleased by it, and tells his underling to give it to "one who does not see evil - a chaos bringer".

Back on the Manhunter's ship, the lead robot's attempts to use the ring prove futile. As Kyle points out, the ring requires a will and a soul to power it; something the robots do not have. Kyle then turns their own machinery against him, as he uses his cybernetic connection to the ring to blow a few of them up before freeing himself and putting the ring back on his finger. One more spread of beautiful fighting later, Kyle is back on Earth; trying to recover as he chats with John and Guy Gardner about what happened at a café.

It should be noted that Guy hasn't been written this well in years. It turns out that he brought Kyle and John to THAT particular café because of four modeling agencies close by and spends most of the time commenting upon various women off camera. Guy is here mostly for comic relief, but it's a role he does well. And he is far more likable and respectfully treated here than he ever was in JLA.

We get another character scene here; of Kyle being charming and witty on a talk show. We then pull back to realize we are watching a tape and that Kyle is watching his appearance with Terry, much to his embarrassment. Terry reassures Kyle that he looks fine on TV. It is obvious here that the two have become friends now, despite Kyle's earlier protests of not needing an assistant. This might seem a bit fast, but the artwork shows that Kyle's hair has grown back. Presumably several weeks have passed since the Manhunter incident.

The chapter ends as Jenny Hayden (a.k.a Jade. Daughter of Alan Scott and one time Infinity Inc. member) calls Kyle to tell her that "she's back... down at the pier."

The Orphan's Heart (GL #132 - "While Rome Burned" Part One)

The "she" in this case is Fatality; perhaps the most interesting and long lasting villain to come out of the Marz run of the book.

Fatality, for those not in the know, is the last survivor of the planet Xanshi. A planet that was destroyed, in part, because of a headstrong decision made by a younger and more stubborn John Stewart back in his days as Green Lantern. She has since then become an intergalactic serial killer who hunted down and killed many Green Lanterns. She had fought Kyle and John twice before, seeking revenge against them both. This history is quickly explained to us as we see that Fatality now wields the yellow ring of the Qwardians.

We also get a quick cut to Bellevue Hospital, where doctors discuss a young man with the full 31 flavors of nuttiness; schitzo-affective disorder, paranoid delusions, delusions of grandeur and feelings of persecution. His name is Alex Nero and he is an artist. The kind of artist who draws "the worst parts of the Bible on crack".

We're treated to yet another beautiful smackdown scene between Kyle and Fatality, as the two duel: ring for ring. Kyle is momentarily distracted as Fatality tries to destroy a dock. It is only as Kyle is being thanked for his help that he realizes that Fatality was only distracting him to go after John.

When Kyle catches up with her, she has tied up Merayn (John's blue-skinned, elven, former-Darkstar love-interest) and threatens to torture her as John watches. Kyle shows up and using his mask for a purpose we've never seen before (a targeting site for calculating the trajectory of where he will hit her), he sends Fatality flying all the way to Long Island. He corners her there, questions her about the ring (she woke up with it) and he tries to take it away as Fatality bursts into tears and Kyle is struck by how childlike she seems and slides the ring off. Suddenly, the ring disappears in an explosion of yellow light. This blow's off Fatality's left arm. Ironic, because she lost her right arm in her first fight with Kyle and then had it replaced with a robotic one. Kyle takes her to STAR Labs, where we learn she will be given another mechanical arm.

The issue ends with the Qwardian leader retrieving the ring. It turns out the ring was given to Fatality temporarily as a means to test it. They think the ring will be an even greater weapon in the hands of the one they truly made the ring for: a young demented artist named Alex Nero.

Enters The Emperor (GL #133 - "While Rome Burned" Part Two)

We start again with Kyle, Jenny, Merayn and Guy visiting John in the hospital. Kyle is feeling horrible about the whole incident and the fact that he sympathizes with Fatality. He even ponders how much she is like Hal Jordan, who was also driven to inexcusable extremes by the destruction of all he knew. As Kyle leaves, Jenny follows after and asks if he'd like to get dinner with her.

Through two pages depicting a couple of months, Christmas and the coming of winter, Kyle and Jenny get back together. Terry shows up at the front door as the couple are getting dressed. It becomes rather obvious here that Terry does not like Jenny very much, as Kyle asks to meet him in Radu's coffee bar downstairs. Jade tries to leave here but Kyle wants her to stay and dodge work In an ironic comment upon what has happened in the course of five pages, Jenny tells Kyle she things they need to slow down a bit.

Things slow down indeed, as we cut to nearby as Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern now known as "Sentinel" is flying into New York and spots a group of yellow dogs chasing people on a bridge. Alan fights the dogs, as well as bats and other energy monsters which eventually overpower him.

At Radu's Kyle asks Terry what his problem with Jenny is. Terry shrugs it off as just being stress and worried about deadlines. Kyle doesn't buy this, saying they are ahead of all their deadlines but before they get much chance to argue, Radu signals Kyle with a fake phone call and points to the TV where the yellow ring projections are overwhelming Sentinel. Kyle gives Terry an excuse and flies off to a hurry. He grabs a wounded Alan from the fire as we see the man responsible for all the yellow demons: Alex Nero, now clad in a dark blue bodysuit and black coat... somewhat reminiscent of Sinestro's costume in color if not design.

In fact, this entire mini-series ("While Rome Burned") sets up Nero nicely as a Sinestro-figure for Kyle; something Kyle has seriously needed. The best way to make an archenemy for your hero is often to take the trait that your hero best personifies and carrying it to an extreme. For example, Sinestro was the perfect foil for Hal Jordan because Hal was just a basically good man who wanted to use his powers to ensure the order and safety of others. Sinestro too wished to use his powers to ensure order, but he was so obsessed with his power and his idea of order that he became a fascist and a tyrant as he sought the same goal Jordan did. Similarly, Nero is an extremist view of Kyle Rayner; the free-spirited creator with too much imagination.

All That Glistens (GL #134 - "While Rome Burned" Part Three)

Kyle tries to get Alan out of the scene, trying to talk and reason with Nero. When it becomes obvious that the new yellow ring wielder is too crazy to talk down, Kyle rushes him to Jenny's house. As he is patched up by his daugher, Alan loses his usually calm demeanor and tells Kyle to find Nero... no matter what. Kyle then goes to talk to John (now out of the hospital) and Guy.

A quick aside for a brief joke here. One of the hallmarks of the Marz run was that Kyle would run into a bad guy and then Alan, John or Guy would show up to explain who the bad guy was and why they were significant to the Green Lantern myths. Winnick parodies this subtly, in a scene where John and Kyle are discussing who the new ring wielder might be...

Guy: His name ix Alex Nero. He's a mental patient who escaped from Bellevue about ten days ago.

(brief pause as Kyle and John stare at him)

John: And how do you know that?!

Guy: (undoing MUTE on TV) It's on the news....

Kyle goes to the asylum as Green Lantern and asks to see Nero's record. He finds that Alex has a long history of mental illness and that there is speculation that he might have killed his own parents and framed his dad for murder/suicide. The notes of his last few sessions detail how he had been visited from above and been give great power by "the Qward". Naturally, it was assumed that he was delusional; a misconception Kyle knocks out of the water reallly quick.

The issue ends as Kyle assembles all of the JLA (and Warrior), explaining to them the danger of the situation and how they might even have to kill Nero.

Hiding in Plain Sight (GL #135 - "While Rome Burned" Part Four)

The weakest issue of the mini-series and the TP, this one is almost nothing but pure fighting between the JLA and the projections. The only exceptions are the scenes at the beginning where Kyle explains that he doesn't think they will have to kill Nero, but that they may have to leave the option open. Naturally this doesn't sit well with Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman but Kyle notes (to the horror and shock of most assembled) that he knows his ring has enough power in it to split an atom and that if it comes to that and saving the city and world, they should be prepared for the worst. There is some nice in fight dialogue...

Superman: Remember what G.L said, Guy! These are just constructs. No need to hold back.

Guy: I'm not exactly well known for my restraint, am I Blue Britches? So how are you doing? I know this kind of destruction ain't normally part of your...

(the severed head of a yellow energy demon goes flying in front of Guy as he turns around.)

Guy: ... repertoire. I guess he's doing okay.

Eventually, Kyle and J'onn are able to track Nero to Times Square, where the final showdown begins...

While Rome Burned (GL #136 - "While Rome Burned" Part Five)

This issue is also mostly pure fighting, but at least it doesn't seem so cluttered and meant to take up space.

The rest of the JLA work on fighting the projections and getting people out of the way as Kyle attempts to fight Nero one-on-one. This doesn't work nearly as well as Kyle hoped, the insanity around him shifting and being recreated before he can do much. Thinking that Nero probably has some parent issues (another trait Kyle has in common with Nero, but not quite as extreme), he asks the Flash to run to the psych ward of Bellevue and get a video tape of the Nero Family picnic. Making a big green TV/VCR, Kyle plays the tape for Nero. The tape triggers a breakdown as Nero's ring creates nightmarish visions of his parents yelling at him. Another explosion rocks the area, and Nero is gone leaving only a smoking crater.

The issue, and then the TP, end with Jenny reading the paper to Kyle in bed. Green Lantern is now the more-or-less official guardian of New York City. Kyle's professional career is taking off.

And that's when he drops a bomb on Jade and the reader, pulling out a second Green Lantern ring- the one she wore once before, that somehow got into Batman's hands (If anyone can explain to me how Batman got the ring Hal Jordan gave Kyle in "Emerald Knights", please let me know at ). He offers her the ring, saying she can use it to become a superhero again and that he would also like to marry her.

All in all, Winnick is doing a fine job in revitalizing Green Lantern. True, "While Rome Burn" seemed an issue too long and filled with some far-too meaningless action... but the humor, characterization and plots more than make up for the action issues sometimes being bland or long winded. I highly recommend picking up a copy of the TP, plus GL #137. That way you can find out what Jenny's response is to Kyle's proposal.