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Green Arrow #16

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Oliver Queen & Roy Harper on the West Coast as they near the end of their quest to retrieve all the items that Shade was unable to secure after Oliver's death. However, before they can arrive at their final destination we see the two archers have themselves another run in with Tom Blake (aka. Catman), but before the fight can really get started we see Blake is whisked away by the teleporter Warp from the Brotherhood of Evil, who apparently has plans that involve Catman. We then see that the final object Oliver's looking to retrieve is located in an old airplane hanger that belongs to Hal Jordan's old employer Ferris Aircraft. As the two make their way through the dilapidated structure we see Oliver locates the item he's been looking for, and we see it's the old pickup truck that was used during his cross country trip with Hal. However, after he sends Roy off to secure a means of getting this old vehicle out of the hanger we learn Oliver has another reason to be so interested in this truck beyond its simple sentimental value, as sitting inside the glove box is an extra power ring, and given the ring is giving off a glow, it would appear it's still functional.

Comments:
What had started out as a fairly interesting mystery has turned into a nostalgic trip down memory lane, and since I've never been an avid reader of Green Arrow's adventures before Kevin Smith's arrival, the slide show that the arc has become isn't really grabbing me as much as I had hoped it would. Now I recognize the signposts that Brad Meltzer is using, as Hal & Oliver's 13 issue social awareness raising road trip from the early 1970s is rightly recognized as a run that changed comics. I'll also give Brad Meltzer full marks for coming up with a fairly major surprise that stems from this little partnership, as Green Lantern fans might want to give the last couple pages of this issue a peek. However, to tell the truth this arc has been more about looking back than moving forward, and while I appreciate the fact the Green Arrow has himself a long history with several high-water points, the simple fact of the matter is I don't count myself among the group who can derive much entertainment from looking back on a past that I'm only marginally familiar with. Then again I will concede that longtime fans will probably find this issue enjoyable, as we see Crisis left this classic run untouched.

I will give Brad Meltzer full marks for his dialogue though, as Oliver & Roy play off each other remarkably well in this issue, and both of their personalities are nicely reflected in their comments to each other. From their exchange about bootleg porn videos, to Roy's teasing Oliver about his name, I honestly think Brad Meltzer in one of the few writers who could get away with twenty-two pages where two character simply sit in a diner and shoot the breeze. Now this issue does have its problems though, from the rather awkward way that Oliver has his second run-in with Catman, to the rather shaky explanation for why Catman was at Oliver's funeral, but I'm willing to write these off as Brad Meltzer simply not having enough room to come up with more involved reasoning for these ideas. I do have to say that while most of the issue is handed over to the search for another object from Oliver's past, I have to say that the object that is recovered made is certainly more important than I expected it to be, and I can't wait to see what Oliver plans on doing with this rather powerful object. If nothing else the final couple pages of this issue have raised my interest level when it come to the final issue.

Phil Hester is a pretty solid artist when it comes to issues like this, as there's very little action to be found in these pages, and the talking heads require the characters to have reactions to various statements. Now there are artists out there who would bring more variety to the character's faces, and Phil Hester's faces aren't the most expressive I've ever come across. However, his art does manage to deliver the right reactions at the right time, and he's also quite good at working with the idea that characters use their whole body to communicate, as Oliver's smug attitude during his battle with Catman is nicely handled, and the scene where Oliver finds what he's been looking for is equally impressive in the way that is builds up to the page where the object is revealed. The art also does some nice work on the little details, like the page where Catman is whisked away, or the collection of junk that is litters the inside of the hanger. The page where the real object of Oliver's search is revealed is also nicely handled by the art, as that one page shot made for a great visual. This issue also has itself a pretty nice cover, though I would make one complaint, and that is the image does act to spoil the big surprise we get inside.

Final Word:
This issue made for a rather unimpressive read, as while I'm sure the nostalgia factor will appeal to the older fans, I found the lack of action a bit disappointing, and to be honest Brad Meltzer's plots have fallen into a pattern that a starting to feel a bit too predictable. I mean we have Oliver & Roy on the trail of a mystery item from Oliver's past, and after overcoming the obstacle of the month, we learn what this item is. Now I will concede that this month's item is quite surprising, and it does set up a fairly interesting situation that I hope will be explored in the final issue. On the other hand this month's obstacle is almost nonexistent, as Catman is dumped into the story in a manner that I can only describe as incredibly awkward, and he's removed from the book in such an abrupt manner, that I have to hope there's more to this scene than Brad Meltzer seems to be letting on. Still, the dialogue is pretty entertaining, and the final page surprise is strong enough that this issue earns itself a marginal recommendation.



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