Sunday, February 9, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Emerald Adventures Examined

You’d think I’d be excited. My two favorite heroes as a kid, side by side again. Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-ups. Always worth checking out. Done often enough to thrill but always maintaining the high quality of the O’Neil /Adams issues. And Judd Winnick writing half of it to boot! Yeah, you’d think Uncle Stars would be feeling pretty darn good about this.

Well, I was… until I heard it being discussed at Ye Olde Comics Shoppe whilst I was in the vicinity. Until I heard one person say…

“Yeah, this is gonna be cool. Kyle and Ollie never teamed up before and they’re going to be fighting drug dealers from space and getting on each other’s nerves! It’s going to be so cool!”

And that’s when it hit me… put it that way and this sounds like a train wreck even with Winnick’s skilled hands penning the tale.

Why you ask? Well, let the ol’ Starman educate you all.

First of all, let’s quickly address the whole “getting on each other’s nerves” charge. The whole dynamic of the Hal/Ollie relationship was something like “The Odd Couple”. One’s a liberal, the other a conservative. One is passionate, the other is methodical. One’s a thinker, the other is a feeler.

Kyle and Ollie, I tell you this as someone who owns every issue of their solo books since 1987, are both feelers. Granted, Kyle has become more serious and thoughtful under Winnick’s direction but this has been more due to progression as a character and Kyle’s finding peace in his role as a hero and loosing all his doubts about his worth than any “change the writer, change the character” action.

And as far as being liberal: well, Kyle has lived with two of his three girlfriends throughout his entire life as a character and it’s clear he was sexually active with all three. All the things, in other words, that the more conservative Hal would berate Ollie about regarding Dinah. The whole “make an honest woman of her” routine that was routinely served up by Hawkman as well.

But I digress. As far as the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow contention goes, I don’t see much potential between the characters as they are now. I hope that there will be come new cause of friction between the two partners: maybe an emphasis upon generational differences or Ollie being uncomfortable working with Hal’s replacement. There would be a precedent for this, with Ollie having admitted his discomfort around Kyle in GA #19 of the current series. Regardless, any attempt to turn Kyle into Hal or make Ollie the conservative, cautious one of the pairing will fly in the face of all convention and anger many fans.

Secondly, this is far from the first time that Kyle and Ollie have met and worked together. While Ollie and Kyle weren’t on clear working terms, they are far from complete strangers the promotions I have read for the approaching team-up suggests. As mentioned, the two have met since Ollie’s resurrection in the pages of Green Arrow, where the two had a one-on-one, heart-to-heart about Hal.

But the very first time these heroes met wasn’t a one-on-one team-up, though the two did hold key roles. It was in the very last chapter of the best forgotten Zero Hour, where a younger and much more inexperienced Kyle Rayner tackled and held Hal Jordan from behind. At the same time, Oliver Queen made the shot that (coupled with the energy of a dozen or so heroes being focused by Damage) caused Hal to lose all control of the time energies he was using to rebuild the universe… or something.

Another meeting would come a year later, in Green Lantern #63 and #64. Hal came knocking on Kyle Rayner’s door, insisting that Kyle was not worthy of the ring and that he was meant to become Green Lantern again. This didn’t sit too well with Kyle or with Ganthet, who was also there to tell Kyle that he was a lousy Green Lantern and that he wanted the ring back. Not to say that Ganthet was going to hand it back to Hal either. Far from it.

So as Kyle got his butt handed to him by a much more experienced Parallax, Ganthet went about gathering all of Hal’s old friends from the JLA who would have sufficient power to fight him or would have a chance of talking some sense into him. This means that along with J’onn J’onzz, The Flash and Superman he also goes about getting Hawkman, Aquaman… and in his last crossover appearance before his death (and the only time outside of his own book we see him in the Connor Hawke costume!), Star City’s favorite son himself… Oliver Queen.

Sadly, Hal is in little mood to talk… though Ollie tries his best to get Hal to calm down. Ironic considering that through most of their relationship, it was usually Ollie who was blowing his top and the more orderly Hal who pled for cooler heads to prevail. And even though he has been depowered greatly since Zero Hour, Hal still has enough power to easily defeat the make-shift JLA that is thrown at him.

Still, as everyone is knocked out, a ringless Kyle (Hal having taken the ring as part of an effort to become a Green Lantern again) attacks Hal with a lead pipe. Hal asks why Kyle is bothering to fight since he has absolutely no chance of winning. Kyle says that he has to fight Hal because what Hal is doing is wrong and that a real hero would never give up, no matter how much the odds were against him. Having a change or heart or attack of conscience Hal gives the ring up to Kyle and leaves after Ganthet turns himself into pure energy and throws himself into Hal.

Afterwards, Ollie and Superman approach Kyle and ask him what happened. Kyle explains what happened and how he feels Hal is no longer a threat but that he wonders if he is worthy of the ring. Superman tells him that after today, he’s proved his worth and Ollie gives a silent agreement.

Shortly after, Oliver died and his unknown son, Connor Hawke, took up his mantle. Not too long after, Connor and Kyle met in New York (GA #104) and would later team up on a number of other occasions, in their own titles and as members of the JLA during Grant Morrison’s tenure on that title.

It was, in fact, one of these stories that brings us to our third point. That and the reason that dear nutty Unca Star’s Spider Senses are tingling at the idea of a plot involving intergalactic ring of drug-dealers.

“Like A God” has the dubious distinction of being probably the worst Green Arrow story ever written. How bad is it? Well, ignoring the presence of the Electric Red Superman, the Hippolyta Wonder Woman in a non-JSA setting, the scene where Connor Hawke blows up a laser turret with one well placed arrow (!) and the fact that the JLA being given a reason to appear en masse in a cameo rarely yields good results…I think I can sum it up with five words.

Eddie Fyers gets super powers.

Okay… all of you die hard Green Arrow fans out there are probably twitching just reading those words. Take a moment and rest… get some water. Maybe some hard liquor. And pour me one while you’re up! No wait… that won’t work….

(pause as Unca Stars goes to get his own tequila)

Ahh… right. Anyway, aliens abduct Eddie Fyers. They inject him with a drug that gives him super-powers. How? They don’t say. And we find out from the JLA that the aliens Eddie encountered were Intergalactic drug-dealers and that the drug Eddie was given is actually a poison that destroys the body while enhancing it. So unless they find the antidote, Eddie and several druggies that the aliens sold the stuff to already will die in a few hours.

Get all that? Good. Then you are probably wondering, what the heck kind of criminal masterminds are we dealing with here that are traveling across the galaxy trying to break into the drug market with an item that kills users on the first dose? That’s just going to kill the repeat business that all small businesses starting out require to function. An army of super strong, flying behemoths who are slowly growing crazier as well as more and more likely to pull the “Hulk Smash” routine, is a fine way to throw a planet into chaos pending an invasion… but it is just bad business!

Of course that was Chuck Dixon. This new story will be Judd Winnick and Ben Raab (never heard of him). I hope that whatever these two put out will be better than that. And in Winnick’s case, I’m sure it will be. Still, I can’t help but shudder thinking about Green Arrow and “intergalactic drug dealers” in the same sentence without shuddering.

Still, you can bet that I’ll give it a shot and read it. Let it never be said that the Starman does not voice his worries without apologizing for it later when he is wrong.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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