"Straight Shooter (part 2 of 6)"
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester(p), Ande Parks(i)
Publisher: DC Comics
The Elevast Corporation is trying to finish construction of a high-end retail center in a depressed section of Star City. Attorney Joanna Pierce and philanthropist Oliver Queen oppose them; apparently the residents of the area have been forcibly displaced and have nowhere else to go. A violent attack against Elevast construction workers forces Green Arrow to intervene, but discovering who is to blame will be another matter entirely.
I can't figure out who is the intended audience for Green Arrow, because it appears writer Judd Winick is trying to please a lot people. There are monsters for the kids, a romantic triangle for the ladies, corporate wrongdoing for the conservatives and social commentary for the liberals. Oh yeah, there are also assassins and costumed super-heroics for those of us that just plain dig comic book action. Of course, I'm playing a little loose with my assumptions of reader preferences, but it's obvious that Winick is pushing a lot of ideas in a small space.
The second chapter of "Straight Shooter" better defines the Elevast Corporation and we learn which side of the morality fence they stand. According to the media, Elevast is simply trying to complete construction on their retail megaplex, The Star Center. The mayor is convinced that the project is good for Star City's depressed economy. When several Elevast construction workers are murdered the police begin rousting the locals, who have an obvious axe to grind. Not exactly a situation demanding bow & arrow diplomacy. Fortunately, the perpetrator of the violence turns out to be a hulking, brutish monster. Whew! This was beginning to sound like a promo for television's "The Practice". Unfortunately, I have no idea what Winick is trying to achieve with this convergence of corporate corruption and H.P. Lovecraft-like freaks who kill for the simple pleasure of it.
Green Arrow does not have a traditional "Rogue's Gallery" like Batman or The Flash; at least none have been effectively established over the last twenty-six issues. Green Arrow, however, has a unique voice; he fights for the common man, he's a social activist. I like the idea that Oliver Queen is fighting the "man", rather than just another hench-man. But the rampaging monster part just confuses me. OK Judd, what gives? Did DC management balk at the idea of Green Arrow fighting city hall? Personally, I would have found it much more interesting to see Green Arrow at the center of a political controversy. It would make sense should Elevast want to see Queen and Pierce removed from the equation. In fact, an assassin is hired, but not for the reasons you might think.
Artistically, Phil Hester and Ande Parks tell a great story. They convey the grit and disorder of Star City's poor section then easily switch gears to depict the slick interior of the Elevast boardroom. Their design style is very energetic, even the talking-head sections are moody and fast-paced. There is a big action scene and it is one of Hester's best yet. When you consider that there are only so many ways to show a man firing a bow it is just that much more impressive that Hester keeps coming up with inventive ways for Green Arrow to use his weapons.
Judd Winick has set the stage for the second and third acts of this six-part story arc; all of the players are positioned. While the story premise is goofy and confusing I still find it pretty interesting. Plus, the art is great and there are some fun character moments. Green Arrow might be a little unfocused as a series, but it compares well to Batman and Flash as one of DC's better super-hero comics.
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