Monday, May 7, 2012

Green Arrow #9 - A Review

There's a general rule of thumb I've developed after years of reading comics - any comic whose cover depicts an archer hero using guns will inevitably suck.  It was true years ago when I first read Green Arrow #84 and Green Arrow #85.  And it's just as true this week with Green Arrow #9.


The above image should tell you everything you need to know about just how far off the rails this book has run under the pen of Ann Nocenti.  It matters not one whit that once we get into the issue we see that the guns in question are apparently the six-shooter arrows we heard mentioned back in Green Arrow #7.  So the six-shooter arrows are... a gun?  It doesn't matter if the ammunition has pointy arrow-head shaped tips - they are still bullets, not arrows!


I hope you'll forgive me for singling out this one point.  I harp on the guns because to discuss the other problems with this issue in-depth would be repetitive in the face of my earlier review.  The King Lear metaphors are hammered even harder into our heads, as one of Leer's creations is called "The Fool".  There's talk about the environmental damage caused by mining randomly squeezed into Ollie's dialogue with some friendly natives that would be preachy even by the standards of Dennis O'Neil.  The nearby mining town, which is having its' wealth stolen by Leer, appears to have been taken from a stock Western, with the one woman we see dressed as a saloon girl!  I'll remind you all that this story is set in modern day Canada and that this all-in-one general store/inn doesn't seem to be a theme restaurant that would encourage its' employees to wear period dress.  And even if it were, it wouldn't explain the rest of the patrons dressing like refugees from a John Wayne movie.

In the end, three things have killed this book for me, the first being Oliver's inconsistent morality.  The man who refuses to use his weapons when facing down mutant wolves for fear of harming another living creature has no qualms with using dynamite to start an avalanche and bury the abominations unto nature Leer has been creating underground.  To say nothing of the damage an avalanche might do to the already perilous local environment! 

The second factor is the artwork, which continues to be among the worst I've seen in any professionally published comic.  Harvey Tolibao's work continues to be under-inked and badly shaded.  Colorist Mike Atiyeh, who worked on the majority of this book, manages to make it look somewhat better than the previous issues colored by Richard & Tanya Horie...but just barely.  The seperation between Leer and the background is much better, but Ollie's costume still looks like a muddy mess of run-together greens.

The final factor which killed this book for me is Noncenti's half-hearted plotting.  For the past three issues, she's seemed so busy trying to make a statement that she forgot to actually say anything.  For all the Shakespeare references, the symbolic intent of Skylark being a metaphor for how women in general are portrayed in comics and the environmental message, there is remarkably little content to this comic.  We don't even get a satisfying conclusion to the subplot of Emerson's attempt to steal Queen Enterprises, being informed on the last two pages in the thought balloons that Ollie has lost everything... even though Emerson's entire scheme is dependent on Ollie being dead for it to work!

  Though I suspect you've all had enough of pseudo intellectual Shakespeare quoting at this point, I cannot help but be reminded of a quote from The Bard in pondering how to best summarize this three-issue story arc -  "It is a tale...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."  And it has driven me off of Green Arrow for the foreseeable future.

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