Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)
The book opens with the Green Arrow putting one arrow after another into Solomon Grundy, in a bid to make him drop Roy. While this plan works, and the unconscious Roy is cast aside by Grundy, we see Oliver now has to contend with the lion whose tail he was busy yanking on. As Grundy proves to be quite immune to Oliver's arrows, we see the creature is quite intent on smashing Oliver into a bloody pulp, and the only thing keeping our hero alive is his ability to stay out of Grundy's reach. However, with his quiver almost depleted, and his bow smashed in two, we see Oliver is desperate to come up with a way to bring down Grundy, as the giant is stomping his way toward the helpless Roy. However, when his bid to perform a impromptu lobotomy on Grundy with his last two arrows is cut short, we see Oliver just avoids having his head removed from the rest of his body, as he rolls away from a devastating punch. We then see Oliver manages to come up with a plan that gives him the upper hand over Grundy, and when Roy comes to he discovers that Oliver has managed to defeat Solomon Grundy. We then discover the item that Oliver has come to the Arrowcave to retrieve, and old school fans will probably get a kick out of this piece of memorabilia.
I'm a bigger fan of the super-hero slugfest than most fans my age, so I'm not overly upset when a writer decides to hand over an entire issue to one of these fights. It also doesn't hurt when the battle in question is so well put together that I instantly forget that I've seen battles like this literally hundreds of times before. However be it Nightwing versus Blockbuster, Spider-Man versus Mister Hyde, or Green Arrow versus Solomon Grundy, my enjoyment of these bouts are normally contingent on one thing. The writer has to convey the idea that the hero is clearly outclassed when it come to raw power, and Brad Meltzer does a wonderful job achieving this goal. I mean Solomon Grundy comes across as an unstoppable force in this issue, as we see Oliver's opinions dwindle down to seemingly nothing, as his bow is shattered, his quiver of arrows is completely emptied, and everything he's done to Grundy only looks to have made the hulking brute more determined to rip his head off. The way that Oliver manages to secure his victory over Grundy is also quite clever, and it also comes across as quite plausible, as I can see why this attack would prove so successful.
This issue also does a pretty good job of playing up the idea that Green Arrow is a force to be reckoned with when you back him into a corner, as there's some very impressive moments in this issue, starting with the opening pages where we see Oliver is busy picking the placement of his shots, so he can make Grundy angry enough to drop Roy and come after him. There's also a fun little scene where Oliver has thirty seconds to deal with a charging Grundy, and while his attacks don't bring the giant crashing down, one has to enjoy the one panel where we see the amount of arrows that Oliver was able to unload in the time he was given. It also helps that the story nicely plays up the idea that an enraged Grundy is next to unstoppable, as we see the creature throws a car Oliver's way, and shatters an entire cliff face in his bid to kill Arrow Man. In the end though the most impressive moment in this issue is the scene where we see Oliver charges at Grundy armed with an arrow in each hand, as when this attack fails, and we see Grundy's shadow descends on Oliver, I actually believed the final line that Oliver utters on this page. I'm not sure about one being able to roll away from a Grundy punch though.
Phil Hester turns in a lovely job on this issue, as he's called upon to deliver the sheer unstoppable force that is Solomon Grundy, and the art more than delivers on this front. From the opening page where we see Grundy become a human pincushion to Oliver's arrows, to the sense of doom the pervades the issue when Oliver discovers his options have dwindled to almost nothing, this issue delivers a great looking battle. With the page where Grundy is set to toss the Arrowcar, the series of panels on page ten as the enraged Grundy closes in, and the look of determination on page thirteen as Oliver moves in for one final stab at Grundy, this issue is full of moments that simply grab one's attention. There's also a great little moment in this issue as we see Grundy's fist descending toward Oliver's head, and the thought going through his head is that this is the moment where Hal would've arrived to save him. The issue also does some nice work on the scene where Oliver finally gets the upper hand in the fight, as the art captures the struggle involved in this attack perfectly, in that one-page spread. I also have to make mention of the cover to this issue, as it's a great visual cue of the story one gets inside.
While one can dismiss this issue as a simple random slugfest inserted into this arc to give it a little more kick, truth be told I consider myself a bit of an authority when it comes to comic book slugfests, and this one is exceptionally well done. The fight places the hero in the position of the clear cut underdog, and does a wonderful job of playing up the idea that nothing that the Green Arrow sends Solomon Grundy's way looks to be capable of stopping the creature. The battle creates a nice sense of tension, that steadily increases as we see Oliver's various attacks are only serving to further provoke Grundy. However, the most important element is that when the victory does come, I was left quite impressed by the elegance of this attack, as it doesn't require a sudden weakness on Grundy's part, but rather it underscores Oliver's resourcefulness. The narration by Oliver is also quite entertaining, as one has to enjoy the scene where Oliver spots the moment when Hal would normally make his arrival.
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