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!