"Straight Shooter (part 1)"
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester(p), Ande Parks(i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Turmoil has defined the past year in Green Arrow. Judd (Green Lantern) Winick is now the fifth writer to assume the role since the emerald archer was reprised; the alumni list includes Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, Scott Beatty and Ben Raab, case you lost count. Even the veteran art team of Phil Hester and Ande Parks bailed for a few issues - thankfully they're back and in top form.
The question that many fans must be asking is: are we finally done with that "reliving the past" thing? Well, yes and no. Winick is moving the comic in a new direction, but he's also paying homage to Green Arrow's down-with-government-up-with-people philosophy, as established during the landmark 1970s Green Lantern-Green Arrow series. Even the cover art in this issue borrows from an old Sean Connery-era James Bond poster. Plus, there's a special guest-appearance by a seldom seen DC hero; someone you might remember from that wacky 80s "Challenge of the Superfriends" Saturday-morning cartoon (OK, it's not exactly the same guy, it's like his cousin or something).
I had forgotten that Oliver Queen was wealthy. You might recall that he inherited a chunk of cash at the end of Kevin Smith's inaugural "Quiver" storyline. Way back in the 1950s Ollie was a filthy rich industrialist, but he gave his money away - afraid he was becoming one of the "fat cats". But this is the 21st century brother, fighting crime takes bread and unfortunately Oliver Queen isn't qualified to stir latte's at Starbucks. Damned convenient he fell into those millions, isn't it?
Perhaps you've noticed that the DC Universe has an identity problem. The JLA time-travels and battles aliens while using magical abilities and supernatural powers - don't even get me started on Captain Marvel. Hell, let's not forget that Green Arrow is back from the dead. but I digress. For the most part DC adventures don't take place in the real world (Gotham City, Metropolis, Star City, etc.) Lately, however, reality has seeped into DC land. Nightwing wears a police uniform more than he wears his vigilante uniform and has been assigned a gay partner meanwhile the Flash raises a family and attends hockey games. Now we have Oliver Queen dressed in a suit and tie threatening a boardroom full of executives. Winick must be leaning towards reality, right? Oh look, a monster.
The art team of Phil Hester and Ande Parks own Green Arrow. The past three issues without them were excruciating, I just can't imagine this character drawn as effectively by anyone else. Hester's strengths lie in page layout and depicting action scenes. Given that Green Arrow generally attacks from range means that half of every scene is split or occurs off-screen, we seldom see an arrow release and connect in the same panel. Yet I am never confused by the events, which is testament to Hester's storytelling skills. Hester is also becoming a minimalist, much like Mike (Hellboy) Mignola or Michael (Powers) Avon-Oeming. His characters and backgrounds are angular and simplified, yet emotions are clearly conveyed.
The basic appeal of characters like Green Arrow, Flash and Batman is their humanity. They're not from another planet; they have lives and relationships outside of their masks. I can buy the fiction of Star City and Oliver Queen's Charles Bronson with a recurve bow, but the moment demons, aliens or ghosts intrude I'm pulled out of that world. Winick does a nice job establishing Oliver Queen's personality, which is consistent with that set forth by Kevin Smith. The Elevast Corporation makes for an interesting antagonist. This is a promising start.
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