Gather round my children. In honor of March and St. Patrick's day, this month, we're going to be talking about a certain emerald-clad hero. None other than Oliver Queen, who just happens to be my favorite handicapped hero.
Okay, so he was only handicapped in Dark Knight Returns. He still helped kick Superman's big blue behind with only one arm and a bow. That's got to count for something, right?!
I know that's a real weak link to the theme of this issue, but I didn't want to write another column about how unappreciated women are in comics. Besides, I really really really wanted to talk about Green Arrow #1.
So if you haven't read the issue yet and plan to or you really don't care about Green Arrow, skip this. Oh, and as always… SPOILERS AHEAD.
Arguably the most anticipated new book in recent years, the new Green Arrow book has been making waves for a number of reasons. The most prominent of these is that the book marks the return of film-maker Kevin Smith to mainstream comic writing, after his critically-acclaimed and beloved by fans run on Daredevil. That and the book was allegedly going to bring Oliver Queen back from the dead.
Allegedly my sweet fanboy behind! Of course they were bringing Ollie back! We all knew it. It was just a matter of how, right? Well, wonder no more. It turns out that Hal Jordan, just before he sacrificed himself to rekindle the sun in "Final Night", used his nigh-omnipotent powers to bring his best friend back from the dead.
That said, how does the book stand up to the Green Arrow writing of the past? Well, it is Kevin Smith. And Kevin Smith is famed for two things: great characterization and good dialogue. He is also known for treating action almost as an afterthought in a medium when action isn't just expected; it's required. So if you're looking for a continuation of the stories written by Chuck Dixon and Mike Grell… you're probably going to be a little disappointed in this book.
Still, what we see in this first issue does give us a good base for a start. It's been a while since we've seen Oliver Queen, so once Smith has it confirmed that Oliver Queen is alive, we take a look at the lives of the three people most effected by Oliver and how they are dealing with their loss. This allows us to find out about the kind of man Oliver Queen was without having to engage in the kind of trite exposition that can make anything unreadable: what my old creative writing teacher used to call "As you know, you are my husband and we have been wed for five years" writing.
Character-wise, everybody is pretty much as they should be. Roy Harper, Ollie's sidekick and son in spirit, reflects upon the conflicts in Ollie and how they have in turn have shaped him into a conflicted man. Dinah Lance, Ollie's longtime girlfriend, thinks about better times and how much more independent she has become since leaving Ollie. She thinks about what Ollie did to make her life a mess and about how much she misses him. And Connor, Ollie's son by birth and heir apparent to the name of Green Arrow… he thinks about how he still isn't over Ollie's death and prays that he will be soon.
The section with Dinah is probably the weakest of the three, due to some rather questionable dialogue. I tried and I tried and I still cannot in my mind justify any woman saying the line "Sisters are doing it for themselves."… even as a joke. "Maybe I'm just P.M.S-ing" also had me rolling my eyes. Oh boy. Menstrual jokes. Boy oh boy is this cutting edge.
And where do we go from here? The final two pages show a mugging being stopped by (in order) a fork arrow… a bleach bottle arrow and a soda can arrow. Then we see a long-haired, long-bearded Oliver Queen dressed in one of Ragman's old robes, telling the man he just saved "You look like you've seen a ghost."
Now that's a great ending!
Final thoughts? Personally, this is easily one of the best stories I've read in a long time and I cannot wait for issue #2. But I've got to admit that this book isn't for everyone. Action fans will probably moan about all the dialogue they have to wade through to get to the fight scenes. And understanding a lot of flashback images is best left only to die hard Green Arrow fans, lest you wonder who the Asian woman with the tatoo and the blond woman Ollie is kissing in Dinah's flashbacks are. Then again, that may not be a problem since the only people picking this up besides devout Smith fans and Arrow-heads are the speculators who are busily snatching up every copy of the book that they can.
One last Green thing: I recently stumbled across an album by an artist called J-Sin Starr. His album is entitled "Three Million New Yorkers Died and You Weren't One of Them"; a reference to a line in Alan Moore's Watchmen.
One of the songs on the album, "Green Lantern: Hal Jordan" is a musical tribute to the greatest of Green Lanterns. Personally, I thought the music was a bit off… it has a sort of 70's funk meets 90's grunge mix that doesn't fit what I'd picture for a Hal Jordan song. Still, I can't help but like anybody who would use the Green Lantern oath as a chorus or the line "Carol Ferris, where are you now?" You can get an MP3 of the song at http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/118/j-sin_starr.html