Current Reviews


Green Arrow #23

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Ben Raab
Artist: Charlie Adlard

Publisher: DC

The book opens with criminals speeding through Star City, and from their dialogue it's pretty clear they're on the run from Green Arrow. After we see Oliver uses his arrows to take down all three cars, we see he's on hand when the police arrive, and his attempt to expose these men as drug runners is thrown off the rails when the car trunk is flung open and inside there's only a large supply of bleach. We then jump to New York City where we find Jade & Kyle enjoying a night on the town at a dance club, but when a meeting on the upper levels of the club involving a group of gangsters turns violent, we see Green Lantern has to intercede. However, when one of the thugs pulls out a super-powerful energy blaster, Kyle's quick to discover there's more to these people than meets the eye. To this end when he manages to capture a couple, they lose their human forms, before teleporting away. As Kyle uses his ring to trace the energy signature of their teleporting device we return to Star City, where Green Arrow pays a second visit to the thugs he fought in the opening pages, to discover what's the deal with the bleach. However, when Kyle arrives having followed the energy signature to this warehouse, we see the two heroes don't exactly hit it off. However, after a brief fight the two are quick to realize there's a fairly major crisis in the making.

This opening chapter has an old fashioned feel to it as Ben Raab is almost embracing the clichés that one can find in the crossovers I devoured during my childhood. We have the two heroes investigating separate cases that they discover are connected, and when events do manage to get these characters together, they are quickly going at it like two roosters who found their way into the same hen house. Now having seen this exact same plot play out literally hundreds of times during my early days as a comic reader, I must admit I was a little bored by the entire affair, as it's pretty easy to see where Ben Raab is going next once it's clear he's following the set plot almost religiously. Still, speaking as a fan whose biggest demand from a comic is that it be entertaining, I must admit that I did enjoy the pair of action sequences that involve our two heroes, and I'm also glad to see Oliver & Kyle are at each others throats, as tension between two heroes is always a welcome problem that can be added to the mix during a crossover. Still I am a little concerned that this book follows the established pattern a little too closely, as Ben Raab attempts very little, beyond the simple regurgitation of a well-worn plot that most readers will have seen many times before.

The issue sets up what looks to be a fairly simple plot where the alien visitors require massive amounts of bleach, and to this end one is left to wonder why they felt the need to go about acquiring it using the criminal community. I mean if they were able to attract the interest of these criminals then one must assume they have the funds to pay for this bleach, and they also possess the ability to mask their true appearance so there seems to be very little to keep them from acquiring the bleach for themselves, and effectively cutting out the middle man. However, I understand why the criminals were added from a storytelling standpoint, as we need something that attracts the attention of the heroes, and a person purchasing a massive quantity of bleach is not exactly going to draw much attention. In any event the idea of alien invaders hooking up with the mob is a rather cute idea, and to a certain extent this issue has some fun with this odd couple pairing. The same goes for the eventual pairing of Green Lantern & Green Arrow, as we see both heroes are not exactly ready to share information until it becomes apparent that the case is far more serious than either had been expecting it to be. Still the fight between the two does feel a bit contrived, and the dialogue during the fight is downright goofy.

Charlie Adlard is a name I've seen a couple of times before, but I've never took much notice of his work. However based on his work on this issue I have to say that he would be the ideal fill-in artist, as his style is also a near perfect match for the work of this book's regular art team. His work has a nice heavy look to it that conveys a nice sense of impact, and while the shadows are a bit much in sections of the issue, for the most part the art manages to convey a strong sense of danger & excitement. From the fairly impressive car chase sequence that opens the issue, to Green Lantern's arrival shot later in the issue, this book is quite strong when it comes to delivering the big impact moments of the material. I will say that I would've liked to have seen a little more imagination displayed when Kyle & Jade were busy using their power rings, as simple chain & rope bindings completely undersell the potential open to an artist who gets to detail Green Lantern in action. The art also manages to display a nice sense of artistic continuity, as when a thug takes an arrow in the arm earlier in the issue, when we see him next he has a bandaged arm. This may sound like a rather obvious detail but many times artists seem to forget little details like this.

Final Word:
An issue that feels like it's been plucked out of the dusty back-rooms of the DC warehouse, and the only real change that was made to the material was that the current versions of Green Arrow & Green Lantern were plugged into the story. Now I won't say that I wasn't entertained by the material as the action holds up pretty well, and while the tension feels contrived, and the dialogue that is delivered during the fight is cringe worthy material, I rather enjoy the idea that Kyle & Oliver don't get along. Still the whole plot involving aliens hiring a group of criminals to steal bleach for them feels like an idea where the writer wasn't even trying to make an effort to hide the idea that he's trying to recapture the goofy charm of the Silver Age. The simple fact of the matter is that following on the heels of the smartly written arcs by Kevin Smith & Brad Meltzer this issue feels like the book has taken two big steps backwards.

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