Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)
The book opens with the police of Star City on a tear, as in the wake of the extremely brutal murders of the security guards, they have taken to grabbing up anyone who looks the slightest bit guilty. After Green Arrow arrives and lets a pair of police officers know that he doesn't approve of their casting a wide net policing practices, we join Oliver the next day as he's enjoying spending time with his newest supporting player, the "young enough to be his daughter" attorney who is guiding the case against the large corporation looking to tear down a neighborhood of low income housing. We then look in on this corporation as we see they are busy dealing with a hired assassin, that they've brought in to kill the creature responsible for attacking the security guards. We also learn during this exchange that the corporation was responsible for the creation of the murderous creature. We then join Green Arrow on his nightly patrol as we see he's decided to focus his energies of the construction site where the security guards were ripped apart, and he's quick to encounter the hulking beast that committed this horrific attack. As Oliver barely manages to stay out of this creature's crushing grip, we see he's able to secure a victory with a well-placed stun grenade. However, he then makes a rather unpleasant discovery about the creature.
I realize that the opening scene in this issue is supposed to be a glimpse at the way things really operate, as the minute a crime is committed the police descend upon the poor, disenfranchised citizens who did little more than look like they were guilty of a crime. However in America is a highly litigious country, and I have of openly wonder if the police still go about these mass roundups of people who look guilty, as while I'm sure most of these people couldn't afford a lawyer, I'm sure the promise of a big cash settlement for false arrest and/or imprisonment would entice some lawyers out of the woodwork. What makes it worse is that Green Arrow arrives on the scene, to watch these men being arrested, and he does little more than waggle his finger at the departing police, while these innocent civilians are being lead away. I realize his getting involved in a tension filled standoff with these police officers wouldn't have helped the situation, but there's something rather disappointing about the fact that he didn't put on a stronger showing, as Oliver has never been one to back down from a fight when he believed he was in the right. Plus, having him make conciliatory excuses for the police officers actions felt wrong on so many levels, as Oliver has never been big on seeing both sides of the issue, when he spots an injustice being committed.
While the issue went a bit off track in my mind in the opening pages of this issue, it does a great deal in the following pages to make up for its somewhat dubious beginning, starting with a wonderful little internal dialogue/debate that Oliver has regarding his pursuit of the decidedly younger woman, who just so happens to be the daughter of a man he considers to be his friend. I'm glad to see the age difference is an issue, and that Oliver actually has to debate this issue in his mind, as out of all the DCU heroes Oliver is the only one who I could see pursuing this totally inappropriate relationship, as he has a long & storied history of making the wrong decision when he gets involved in a situation involving matters of the heart (or perhaps another part of the anatomy). I also rather enjoyed Oliver's encounter with the big, bad monster, as the writing even manages to acknowledge that this story feels a bit overly familiar, following on the heels of what was a highly enjoyable encounter with Solomon Grundy. However, this encounter does manage to offer up a fairly exciting sense of danger, as Oliver loses his bow before he can get off a single show, and the last page reveals that his problem is far larger than it initially seemed to be. Plus, the description of what was done to the security guards manages to cast an ominous pall over this encounter.
When I first came across Phil Hester's work on this series I wasn't entirely confident in its ability to detail the action scenes, or the moments where it was called upon to deliver scenes of genuine emotion. However, as we enter our second year not only am I pleased with the level of commitment shown by the art team to this book, but the two areas where I was most concerned have become the art's strongest features. I mean this issue does a fantastic job selling the quiet, but very real danger that the hired assassin brings to the book, and based on this little exchange I can't wait to see Oliver run up against this character. The look of indignation on Mia's face as she spots Oliver making the moves on the young attorney is also nicely captured by the art, as is Oliver's somewhat sheepish expression as he gets a look at Mia. However the highlight of this issue would have to be Oliver's encounter with the hulking brute that tore apart the security guards, as the art has a wonderful sense of motion, and the impact shots are very impressive. Plus, I also enjoy the idea that the art understands how to carry the action from one panel into the next, with the final panels on each page leaving one eagerly jumping to the next page. I also have to make mention of the lovely cover, as it's a wonderfully moody piece, that leaves one wanting to read the story inside.
Personally I think Judd Winick played it a little too safe when he had Oliver back down in his encounter with the police, as one of the more appealing elements of Green Arrow was his willingness to wade into conflicts based on what he felt was the right thing to do, rather than the smart thing to do. I mean I expect Oliver to put on a bit more of a show when he spots the police grabbing people off the streets to advance the interests of a large corporation, and as such having him back away felt wrong. On the other hand the issue does offer up a somewhat enjoyable look at Oliver wrestling with the internal debate of his being a dirty old man, who would jeopardize a friendship for a simple good time. The struggle that Oliver has with the hulking brute that is terrorizing the construction site is also quite exciting, and the big reveal on the final page sets up a pretty interesting problem for our hero to face. There's also a pretty enjoyable introduction scene involving a hired killer, who has some fun with the clichés of this type of character.
What did you think of this book?
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