“Jericho” Part Two: “Seems Like Old Times”
I don’t think any series shows the squandered potential of DC’s “One Year Later” event more than Green Arrow. Coming out of “OYL,” the series had an intriguing setup: With his beloved Star City in ruins, Oliver Queen has decided to stop fighting the powers that be. Instead, he’s decided to become the powers that be, running for and winning the job as mayor of his home town. Also, during the year we didn’t see him, Ollie has renewed his studies of Eastern philosophy and has become an even greater fighter.
It’s a great setup, and the sort of thing that we’ve never seen from an established character. Ex Machina explores the vicissitudes of having super-powers and being mayor of a city, but that comic takes place in a post-9/11 New York. Having Ollie as mayor of a fictional city seems to provide all kinds of unique possibilities for interesting future plotlines. How can a man used to solving with the help of a few close friends and family members handle the must more complicated stress of running a city? What sorts of unique problems does a destroyed Star City have? In the right hands, the series had the potential of becoming a unique look at how a city emerges from a Katrina-like tragedy. Furthermore, Ollie’s growth and training helps show the changes within him that have helped him to change and grow as a person.
Unfortunately, all that potential hasn’t been utilized very much since “OYL.” Winnick took this series away from its strengths, exploring desert islands and the other tangents for many issues. Finally, now that the series is about to end, he’s returned the Green Arrow to its strength. Last month’s issue brought in the issue of complicated internal politics in Star City. Now issue #74 has brought GA’s longtime paramour Black Canary back to the series. And the mix of politics and GA’s extended family has suddenly thrust the lost potential of this series out into the light.
All of a sudden, the series feels like it’s full of energy. Characterization is sparkling; each of the characters seems to have his or her own unique voice, and the voices are interesting and fun. The reunion of GA and Canary provides sparks of another type. The longtime couples hadn’t seen each other in over a year and celebrate by disappearing into GA’s bedroom to get reacquainted with each other. Ollie’s kids are thrilled and embarrassed at the same time by Arrow and Canary’s reunion. And meanwhile the series’ longtime villains are back and are acting true to themselves.
The artwork here is kind of secondary to the story for me. But McDaniel and Owens do a nice job of keeping the panel arrangements fresh and interesting, presenting the characters with just the right mix of whimsy and seriousness. The pair do a fine job of telling the story and staying out of the way.
It’s obvious that the impending cancellation of the series has spurred Judd Winnick to do his best work. It’s a shame that it took so long for this change to happen. If Winnick had jumped into these sorts of storylines right away, he might have made Green Arrow’s OYL transition into something really special. Instead, the current storyline acts as a nice final chapter that tantalizes a reader with the ultimate frustration: a longing for what might have been.