Sunday, January 5, 2014

Off Target: Green Arrow (Vol. 2) #90

I decided to start this year off with some unfinished business.

It's been nearly a year since I last looked at Cross Roads - a mini-series that is, for my money, the worst series of books to star Green Arrow ever created.  Written by a number of authors between the time when Mike Grell ended his legendary run on the series and Chuck Dixon officially took over as writer, Cross Roads depicted an emotionally distraught Oliver Queen leaving Seattle to wander America seeking new purpose.  

In previous installments, we saw Oliver Queen team up with Huntress to bring down an evil diet company, recover Incan artifacts with Catwoman in Dallas and blow up a gun factory with Anarky for no adequately explained reason.  But I've saved the best for last, kids.  And for once I make that statement without sarcasm.

Cheer up, Ollie. This issue isn't really that bad!

The issue opens with a fairly standard scene - Green Arrow saving a woman and her child from an apparent mugging/attempted rape.  The criminal is subdued and Ollie checks on the victims to make sure they're okay.  Unfortunately, it turns out the crook is down but not out and he makes a break for it. 

Astute readers will notice one thing immediately about this issue - there is no dialogue!  No caption boxes.  No thought balloons.  Not even so much as a BAM or POW to denote the action!  Well, at least there isn't any dialogue until the very end but we'll get to that.  And for those of you thinking that my reason for saying this issue is "not bad" is because we're not treated to more of Kevin Dooley's dialogue... well, that's a fair cop.  But credit being given where credit is due, the idea to do this issue without any sound cues is an effective one as you'll shortly see.

It's at this point that the narrative splits into two tracks.  One on the top of the page and the other on the bottom.  One showing Ollie catching the crook by the ankle and slowing him down as he runs off, with the other showing Ollie being one step behind in his pursuit as the crook breaks for the roof.  Most of the comic continues in this way, showing the differing action sequences as Ollie tracks the crook on the ground or chases him across the rooftops.

You film geeks are probably thinking the same thing I did - isn't this is a total rip off of Run Lola Run - the 1998 German film that won a boat-load of awards?  It would seem so, as both the movie and this comic deal with depicting how events might have played out differently because of one small change.  Yet this comic came out in 1994, several years before Run Lola Run!

Naturally one of the paths does not end well for Ollie and there is a striking image where Green Arrow stares down at his own dead body.  I'd share it with you but my image host insists it is too graphic to post.  So much for DC Comics' efforts to make this book lighten up, eh?

So what's going on that Ollie can be seeing rather direct visions of his own death?  Well, this comic - in addition to being the final part of Cross Roads - was also a tie-in to a company-wide event called Zero Hour.  I'll spare you the details, but basically Zero Hour dealt with the tiime-ine of the DC Comics Universe becoming unstable and people from various alternate realities appearing at random.

And so it is that Ollie is interrupted in his being freaked out by the arrival an old friend...

The Men's Room at the Hall of Justice is flooded and I know you have a Plunger Arrow.

Actually, we don't find out why Batman came to seek Green Arrow's help in this issue.  Naturally, it does get covered in Zero Hour but I shan't spoil that here.  Suffice it to say Oliver Queen winds up having an important part in the whole thing and it is actually pretty awesome.  And if you don't believe me, just consider this - a big crisis that is shaking the whole universe apart and it's freaking BATMAN who goes out in person to ask Green Arrow for help.

Something to think about the next time someone tells you how useless Green Arrow is. :)

Honestly, this comic isn't bad.  It's not great but it's pretty good at accomplishing what it set out to do.  The action is well paced and Eduardo Barreto did a great job illustrating it. Really, as far as tie-in comics go, it is one of the better ones I've seen. 

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