Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
The book opens with a group of men paying a late night visit to a construction site, and their acts of vandalism makes it pretty clear that they are looking to keep this project from getting off the ground. We then see this construction is linked to a major project, in which a company called Elevast Corporation has bought up over thirty buildings that are filled with low income families, and they plan on evicting the occupants, demolishing the buildings, so they can build a massive hotel/tourist attraction. As Green Arrow arrives we see he puts a stop to the criminal activity, but he makes it clear that he understands why these men are angry, and as such he looks the other way when the men disappear into the night. It is here that Green Arrow finds another hero has decided to pay a visit to Star City, and we see the like-minded Black Lightning gets along famously with Star City's resident hero. We then see Black Lightning is partially behind the effort that is being made in the courts to stop the construction using the legal system, but the fight isn't going very well, and they've pretty much run out of money to keep up the good fight. We then see Oliver steps in with his considerable fortune, and he lets the Elevast Corporation know that he's sided with the community group they've been fighting in the courts.
I do think the book needed to take a little more time to establish the idea that the developer's intentions are evil, as it sounds like the target has been directed toward the wrong people. I mean isn't it the city planner's job to insure that any new developments aren't displacing a large population of citizens, without ensuring that there is comparable housing available for them to move into? Now perhaps money has changed hands under the table, and these developers disguised their true intentions when they bought the land. However Judd Winick doesn't really take the time to fully establish this, and as such one is left with the decidedly more simplistic reasoning that this project can't move forward because doing so would force these people to move. I mean, it's a reality of life that most corporations are out to make a buck, and what's more the simple rule that comes part and parcel with this idea that to make a profit one has to buy property that isn't highly valued, and develop it so that one is able to turn a profit. Now I'll concede that Green Arrow has long been established as an idealist who defends the rights of the downtrodden, and sticking it to the man is his bread and butter. However, it really would've helped if the writing had given us a better look at the lives this project was disrupting, as the only real look we do get is of a group of violent thugs.
Now that I've let my capitalist roots show, I guess I should take the time to acknowledge that this is supposed to be simple entertainment, and that most times it's for the best to simply sit back and enjoy the show. This issue does mark the first issue of Judd Winick's run, and he gets it off to a pretty good start, by offering up the classic evil corporation taking on the little man scenario that Green Arrow was created to take part in. In fact it's always nice to see an artist delivering a story that is clearly designed with a specific character in mind, as one couldn't simply insert another character into this story and expect the same result. The issue also offers up a fun surprise, in that Judd Winick managed to find the one hero in the entire DCU who may hold an even bigger grudge against big business, and while I'm only really familiar with this character from his time in the Outsiders, that was enough to give me the sense that he should get along famously with the like-minded Green Arrow. Now I must confess I was a bit surprised by the scene where Oliver pays a visit to the developers, as I had thought he had pretty much tapped out his wealth, but then again I'm not overly familiar with events that played out before this series began, so perhaps I'd been operating under a false assumption. In any event I was a bit thrown to discover Oliver was a man of considerable wealth.
I had been under the impression that Phil Hester was moving on to another project, but with his return in this issue, I was compelled to look up what project he had been moving to, and with Kevin Smith's "Brave and the Bold" coming up as the project in question, I think it's a pretty safe bet that Phil Hester will be with us for a good long while. In any event I'm not really going to complain, as his work is a highly energized style, that tells the story in a clear, fairly exciting fashion. In fact, this issue is one of his more impressive efforts on the action front, with his efforts against the thugs on the construction site being a wonderful display of his ability to hold his own in a fight. The arrival scene with our guest hero is also rather impressive, though his power has always been a visually engaging, so it couldn't have been all that difficult to offer up an exciting entrance scene. Still our first look at the character on page ten is a wonderfully imposing shot of the character. There's also a pretty solid sequence in the final pages of this issue, as the creature that I'm guessing will act as the primary antagonist is introduced, and the art does a very impressive job conveying the ruthless nature of the creature, as it tears into a group of security guards. I'm not sure I'm completely enthralled by the look of the character though, as he looks like the Hulk, with a pot belly.
A promising start, as Judd Winick offers up a plot that would seem to be tailor made for the Green Arrow, and one has to love the almost perverse delight that Oliver projects when he's busy making a fuss in the offices of the Elevast Corporation. The issue also adds a new supporting cast member to the book, and while it's a little early in the game to form an opinion about Black Lightning's niece, she does look to move in the same circles as Oliver, and he could certainly use someone to steer him in the right direction when it comes to his crusade against the evil corporations. Now the book could've done a better job of establishing the Elevast Corporation was up to no good, as it's a bit hard to label a company as evil, when their end goal would seem to be of great benefit to the local economy. I mean their "commercialized gentrifying eyesore" will produce hundreds, if not thousands of jobs, and presumably it will revitalized the economy of Star City, so Green Arrow's action while completely in character, end up looking rather shortsighted.
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