Friday, May 21, 2004

Green Arrow #38 - A Review

Written by: Judd Winick
Penciled by: Phil Hester
Inked by: Ande Parks
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Sean Clem Robins
Editor: Bob Schreck
Publisher: DC Comics

There is a popular new term springing up amongst comic book reviewers and fans alike. It’s called “writing for the trade”. This refers to an increasingly commonplace practice among comic book writers, where in an effort to create a nice big trade paperback (usually made up of at least six single-issues) that the publishing companies can sell off in big bookstores to the teaming masses who won’t buy a comic book, but will pick up a “graphic novel”.

This results in some stories that seem stretched out and padded at times with scenes that do not really need to be there and only serve to prove the old saying about how less is sometimes more. Judd Winnick’s “City Walls” arc is a classic example of this phenomenon. In this issue, nothing much happens to advance the plot. In fact, nothing much happens at all.

The plot thus far is that a millionaire who lost his family to crime hired The Riddler to steal some mystic artifacts and then to act as a distraction while he was busy setting up a magical ritual that would surround the city in a dark shell as well as stopping all technology dead in its tracks. This also brought forth a number of demons, who are summoned to the scene of any crime and slaughter anyone who breaks the law. While this works out fine for murderers and rapists, it does seem a bit extreme for jay-walkers and shoplifters.

In this issue, Oliver tries to form an army to storm the evil millionaire magician’s compound (and one wonders just how many millionaires in Star City DO practice the dark arts in the wake of the current Green Arrow volume). He does this by appealing to the better natures of the police (who Oliver has never been friendly with) and the common sense of the crime lords (i.e., If you don’t help me, you’re going to die) and sets about training them in how to use a bow. Amid this, Mia (the long forgotten adopted daughter) demands to help with the fighting, gives Oliver a run for his money trying to beat him senseless. It ends with Oliver telling Connor to get her a mask.

Ignoring all issues of characterization (which I have been ever since not too long after Winnick took over this title – its just easier on my nerves that way), this book has some major problems besides being more heavily padded than Dame Edna’s chest. Many decried Kevin Smith’s run on the Emerald Archer because there was far too much dependence upon the mystic elements of the DC Universe in regards to Oliver Queen’s return from the dead. Winnick’s run, nearly as long as Smith’s at this point, has contained even more mystic mumbo-jumbo and has shown that Oliver Queen really works at his best as an urban avenger. NOT a demon slayer or a monster-fighter. This was, in fact, what drove Oliver from the Justice League in the first place.

Thankfully, the art is still good. Hester and Parks can still make even the most poorly written of Winnick’s works look good. But to quote Kevin S. Mahoney… “The excellent art effort…merely makes a well-dressed corpse of this story.” The Armani suit makes him look nice, but that doesn’t hide the fact that there is no left in Uncle Albert.

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